PICKLES AND GIGGLES
Posted on 08/30/2016 | About Port Elgin, Ontario
“The play area is about a third of a tennis court and they have oversized ping pong paddles. You might have to be over 50 to play. So far it seems to involve standing on the court wearing brightly coloured shoes and talking about the weather. There are no pickles in sight right now.”
That text came from my friend Tony who was observing a group of seniors playing what he discovered was called Pickle Ball in Port Elgin.
He was being asked to join them, reporting that the group would happily stop the game to recruit a new member. An avid sportsman himself Tony was keen to learn more, “Just got the low-down from a silver haired gal. She said the game involves a great deal of giggling.”
Port Elgin is a resort town on the Saugeen Shores in Bruce County. Summers draw thousands of visitors who rent cottages close to the beaches of Lake Huron, with Southampton to the north.
My first time visiting the area, at the age of twelve I stayed at a farm. My friend Marilyn and I hung out with the animals all day and she let the baby calves drink out of her hand, a memory that stays vivid with a city girl. We stayed up late looking at the stars, having never seen such a display.
The view is still compelling, the perfect location to discover falling stars.
The agricultural areas of Saugeen get noisy though, on any given summer evening the quiet is broken by crickets, gulping frogs, yelping coyotes and owls that really do give a hoot.
Driving on country roads means slowing down for horse and buggies (favoured by the Mennonite community), gaggles of wild turkeys, or lumbering turtles.
You may have to wait for chickens to cross the road, and it isn’t uncommon for folks to stop by and ask if you have seen their cow? Sometimes they stop by and ask if you are missing one.
The Saugeen River empties into Lake Huron at Southampton, presenting venues for fly-fishing and paddling adventures.
Canada's oldest and longest marked footpath The Bruce Trail winds through the region and offers some of the best biking trails in Ontario.
If adventure isn’t enough of a call to the Saugeen Shores this might be. Butter tarts. You can buy them at the farmer’s markets, but you can also drive down country roads and find stalls set up on driveways where you can purchase homemade butter tarts, or flowers or firewood.
I am getting another text from Tony who has learned that during a Pickle game “you have to stay out of the kitchen when you hit the ball. You can’t even touch the line around the kitchen, or let your hat fall in it. And “after a good shot you touch racquets with your partner as opposed to high fives or a pat on the derriere.”
He has discovered that Pickle ball is played indoors in the winter, and will probably go to a game. He has to. There are more details to be learned about the game of Pickles - apparently named after a dog.