Nana once told me that Georgian Bay rocks emit a smell that our family members are subconsciously drawn to. The idea of being lured unknowingly to the beach still resonates with me. Nana also claimed that it never rained in Balm Beach, and that we had the best sunsets in the world. If you were smart you didn’t take her on, regardless of how misguided her comments may have been. I have traveled to many beaches around the world, and Georgian Bay with its sandy beach and fresh water, coupled with a lifetime of memories, tops my list. If it isn’t the smell that lures me, then it must be hardwired in my DNA to love Balm Beach.
The summers of my childhood were split between my two grandmothers’ cottages, each a kilometer apart. July was spent with Grandma Knott, at the Knott’s Cottage in Balm Beach, and August at the two beachfront cottages, with Nana and Mim in Cawaja Beach. I always felt sorry for kids stuck in “the city” all summer. I couldn’t figure out what on earth they did without a dozen cousins to play with at the beach.
From Victoria Day long weekend to Labor Day Monday we lived in our bathing suits, barefoot, and unfortunately we rarely wore sunscreen. These were the years of baking our skin with baby oil, frying our hair with Sun-In Spray, aka peroxide, and occasionally donning zinc on a sun-kissed nose. My sister, with her pale complexion, never stood a chance of winning our annual tanning contest. Our motley crew ran loose like a pack of wild dogs, soaking up the sun, swimming in the lake and avoiding our parents.