The 20th of March - the first day of spring! Can it really be true? I am writing this from Toronto where it really is a lovely, warm, sunny day. Everyone we know in Ottawa has been complaining about our long, cold winter. While it's true that February was especially cold, we certainly have not had the severe storms that have plagued Halifax, where our son Brendan currently resides.
While summer still seems like a long way off, many Ontario residents have been planning their summer holidays. Earlier this month we managed to snag a spot at our favourite provincial campground. I'm not even going to say the name because competition for spots is already way too crazy. You can reserve a spot at an Ontario park five months in advance, so today you can reserve any spot that is available on August 20th.
The strategy for making a reservation is complicated. Well, maybe not complicated, but it requires perseverance. First, you scout through your campground website to see what will come available on the day you want to book and then, on that day, get up before 7 am to prepare. For a solid week, in late February/early March, Pat and I were up well before 7 to attempt to make our booking. I logged onto my Ontario parks account, and went as far as I could go on the campsite reservation form. Everything was typed in and my finger hovered over the last button - "reserve", until the second hand hit the top of the clock at precisely 7. Beside me, Pat dialed the reservation number on the phone, leaving the last digit until the same moment.
Most days my screen went blank or I was completely kicked out of the parks site, as soon as I hit the reserve button. Some days my screen froze and then, when it re-awakened, all the spots that had welcoming green triangles beside them at 6:58, now sported angry red triangles. The best spots are always gone by about 7:05. Somehow Pat got through on the phone two days in a row. The first day the operator slowly went through all the preamble; "Now which campground do you want? How many people in your party? How many tents will you have?" By the time she got around to asking which sites we wanted, they were all gone.The next time we got through, we were rather rude and immediately told her which campground and which site we were after and asked her to do the other details later. It worked! It is not a perfect spot. There is no shade or privacy. However it is close to a magnificent beach and close to flush toilets so we figure we're lucky.
It was a strange feeling, sitting up in bed, in the darkness of an early March morning, with the phone and latop all fired up, ready for action, knowing that at that precise moment, hundreds of other snowbound folks were in the same position, sitting in their beds, preparing to compete with us for these same spots. We are desperate people, longing for summer, for warmth and long sunny days.
Today's sun and temperatures are a hopeful sign. Spring and summer are on the way! It's a day for one of my favourite Beatles songs, Here Comes the Sun. Enjoy!