Post our lovely time in Grand Isle, R and I had no specific plans, but he needs to be back in Toronto by Wednesday. Originally, I’d thought we’d wander slowly through Ontario, but after much discussion, we went for a slight change of plans and decided to take the southern route back to Toronto instead. It’s longer, because we’re swinging pretty far south to get below Lake Ontario and then go up the other side of the lake and around to get to Toronto, but it offered several advantages.

First, gas is enough cheaper in the US that the cost was probably close to the same. Second, R needs a cheap mattress for his new living situation and we’d like to buy it on the last day possible before arriving at his new place, ie Wednesday. US prices might be cheaper, so being in the US on Wednesday could be handy. Third, driving through the south opened up the possibility of driving by several places where I used to live — this area of upstate New York is where I mostly grew up and I haven’t really been back in decades. And fourth, Niagara Falls! Classic Americana road trip sight — the kind of thing that belongs on a list with the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore.

But along the way is Green Lakes State Park, a gorgeous park, very green and lush, beautiful lakes, pleasant treed campsites and really nice showers — the single room kind, where you have a door, plus control over the water temperature. The weather, typical of this oh-so-familiar area, is gray and gloomy, but we drove around for a while, passing by my old high school, three of the houses I lived in (one of which I couldn’t identify — best I could do was say, “sort of somewhere around here and now we must have passed it”), and the site of every bookstore and library that I loved. In fact, R’s impression of my childhood is probably that I did nothing but go to school and read books, because those are the only things that I remember. Although that said, I do vaguely remember this park as a place where we sometimes came to swim in the summertime.

a camper van in a spacious campsite

Our site at Green Lakes. Very green.

Perhaps it’s because I vaguely remember it that I’ve been feeling utterly phobic about poison ivy. I swear, every random leaf looks like a poison ivy leaf to me. Did I once get poison ivy in this park? Is that why I’m so paranoid?

That’s probably not it, though. Sometimes anxiety manifests as semi-irrational fears in order to shield our mind from less-irrational fears. In this case, I think I am struggling not to let last week’s attack turn into a serious dog phobia on my part. It was so fast, so out-of-nowhere, so aggressive and so brutal. My head still knows that dogs are our friends, but the back of my neck seems to be experiencing some post-traumatic stress, and while I try to talk myself out of it, I worry about poison ivy. Now that I’ve figured that out, maybe I’ll stop. Or maybe I’m actually right that all these random leaves are poison ivy and I’ll be hunting for remedies by the time we get to Canada.

Meanwhile, today is release day for A Gift of Grace. I’m trying not to let that stress me out — Niagara Falls, way better thing to think about! — but I’m not that zen. But I checked and double-checked the files, and I do know that it’s time to let go. So I’ll be working on that while I admire the big waterfall today. But I do hope that all of you reading Grace today enjoy yourselves!