By Wyn Jones
On any given day in the year, Martinique Beach is magical. The combination of salted air and a foam-laden scent makes it a very special place. I happened to be walking along the strand one afternoon late last August, my dog Amber pounding in and out of the shallows as a warm and glowing sun set the ripples in the receding tide to a diamond sparkle. As it was mid week, we had the whole length of the beach to ourselves, or so I thought. But there suddenly just ahead of us, wading slowly, the water lapping around his knees, was a small rotund figure.
As we approached, he turned and flashed the broadest grin of sheer pleasure one could ever hope to encounter. His gleaming white smile was offset against a tanned face set within a white, week-old stubbly almost beard. His bright red shorts extended to meet with the seawater, and his tee shirt of faded whiteness had a Toronto Maple Leafs logo across its front. His baseball cap, also bearing the team’s logo, was set askance his nut-brown forehead.
After chiding him for his obvious support of such a losing team, he admitted his concern as a devoted fan. “Maybe they need my help” he chuckled, rather obliquely.
For the next hour we walked together to the far end of the beach. He turned out to be the most fascinating company and a wonderful raconteur. Amber had obviously fallen in love with him as she nuzzled against his side. I also noticed that at least a dozen seagulls had flown down and were patiently walking beside us. A small deer appeared from behind one of the dunes and joined what must have looked like a most peculiar grouping. Two older men, a dog, a young doe and several gulls all strolling in the shallow surf and enjoying the afternoon experience. An hour never passed by so quickly and enjoyably.
We always spend Christmas with my daughter and her family in Hammonds Plains. It has become a tradition. Each Christmas Eve, we help my granddaughter compose a letter to Santa that, during the course of the evening, is sent up the chimney with a long list of requests. Before she goes reluctantly to bed, we always put out a glass of milk and a couple of cookies for the old gentleman, just to help him along.
On Christmas morning, there under the tree as always, was a huge pile of gifts that then took most of the morning of organised chaos to unwrap with all the accompanying hugs and kisses. We were coming to the lower end of the pile when I noticed the empty glass and a few crumbs on the plate we had left out a few hours earlier. Neatly tucked under the glass was a piece of folded paper. Written across the page was a simple sentence in a spidery hand. “Perhaps next summer on the beach “was all it said.
And perhaps the Maple Leafs will win the cup this year after all!
The above was written after Christmas last year. I regret that I did not meet my friend this past summer. I guess our late afternoon stroll got pushed back in my memory and maybe I was too busy in my life to spare the time to walk on Martinique. But I thought of him the other day, and with the coming of Christmas, I hope he will pay us all a visit again………. And again, maybe this is the year for the Leafs to win.