My Watermark is Lake Huron in Pinery Provincial Park.
I’m from Chile and for me the water, the Pacific Ocean, was wild. When I was younger I didn’t know how to swim and it scared me. If I did go into the water I wouldn’t go out further than my feet could touch the bottom, I was terrified to lose touch with the ground.
It wasn’t until I came to Canada that I learned to swim. I finally learned to let go of the ground with the help of some encouraging friends off the coast of Lake Ontario at Hanlan’s Point. I have a lot of really wonderful memories of Hanlan’s Point but it was Lake Huron in Pinery Provincial Park where I was really able to connect with the water.
Swimming off of the beach there is so calm and quiet. It was here I finally was able to swim by myself and float freely without fear. I also remember the first time I saw the sunset over the lake, it was incredible. I’ve been told that because of the curvature of the earth and where they are located the sunsets around the Great Lakes are spectacular, and I believe them. There were so many vibrant colours: the reds, oranges, pinks and purples were unbelievable.
Since then I have been back every year. There have been moments looking across the water when it would remind me of the water off the coast of Chile. It has this silvery quality to it that would immediately bring my mind back to the place I grew up.
I have travelled the world and I have found that the experiences and the history of the people that lived in a place or near a body of water, is what draws me in. This allows me to gain a deeper understanding for that body of water. I remember very distinctly wanting to visit the village of Toba in Japan because that was where for 1000s of years a group of women would dive for abalone pearls. They are called the Ama and they will dive underwater for extended amounts of time holding their breath. They don’t use any equipment and they have developed very unique techniques to survive while diving. While I didn’t get to see them, it was important to me to visit the place to understand the connection these women have with the ocean.
I have found this beach in Pinery Park, where I am able to float so freely, makes me very contemplative. I find myself reflecting on the people who have lived there in the past and the people who now have access to that water. I find myself thinking about how for an unknowable amount of time, generations of indigenous people lived and had access to that beautiful place where I could float and watch the sunset and how that access has changed for them over time.
This place along Lake Huron has encouraged me to be reflective on the deep connection that is water and people and how valuable that connection is. I think this reflection is important because it allows us to take in perspectives beyond our own and connect to people who have lived a different experience than our own. I truly cherish these quiet moments and I am so grateful for the space, the time, and the water that gives them to me.