Editor's Note: [Header photograph by Meg Meakin]
Christmas time. December 2019; this editor just received this piece of poetry from Patrick Metcalf saying, "My family has been vacationing in the Thousand Islands for more than 25 years. I own a small cottage near Clayton. I wrote this poem for my son Lee, who is now 8. He loves the River! It's simple, but I think anyone who loves the Thousand Islands readily identifies with it.... "Patrick, we do..." So, we start 2020 with:
The Thousand Islands is not a bad place to spend a summer,
You could go to the seashore, but that would be a bummer,
Better to spend lazy days in Alex Bay, Clayton, Cape Vincent, or T.I. Park,
rather than get sand in your shorts, stung by a jellyfish - or chased by a shark.
The River is better, that much is clear,
Sailboats, pontoons, runabouts, and skiffs are plentiful here,
The mighty St. Lawrence runs from Lake Ontario to Nova Scotia Bay,
And cargo ships the length of entire city blocks - cruise the channel night and day.
Thousands of Islands, it’s not just a clever name you can bet,
There are small ones like Wintergreen, Governor's, Lee's, and Orient,
Bigger ones like Wellselley, Grindstone, Murray, Picton, and Bluff
And Canadian ones like Astounder, Deathdealer, and Bloodletter - that make navigation tough.
Everyone knows the fishing is great, and that’s something I like,
Tackle-busting toothy-critters like bowfin, muskie, and pike,
hunt bluegills, pumpkin seeds, crappie, and perch,
while walleyes, red eyes, and smallies - hungrily for minnows search.
The swimming is pleasant but chilly, best to dive right in,
Sheltered coves full of boats tied together out of the wind,
makes the perfect place to swim on a hot sunny summer’s day,
Nothing is more relaxing than bobbing in the water with a frosty drink - most Thousand Islanders say.
Enjoying time is the best thing about this place,
a great setting to slow and ease our pace,
Men long gone built refuges here named Boldt, Singer, and Calumet,
but not even castles last forever...and that is why TODAY is the best day - to have the best day yet.
So let’s go hear the loons on the Lake of the Isles,
Let’s thread the Rift, cruise the Narrows, log more miles,
So much water covered from Memorial Day and beyond the Fourth of July,
One last trip to Potter’s Beach... - How quickly the summer slips by.
And at the end of each day, the sunsets are simply the best,
when the setting sun glows on the horizon in the West,
Over Eel Bay, the sky glows red, purple, orange, and pink,
The moon slowly rises, and the River calms and goes flat... - This is not a bad place to spend a summer, I think.
By Patrick Metcalf
Patrick Metcalf began vacationing in the Thousand Islands more than 20 years ago when his grandmother and her two sisters rented three houses for a week each summer in Fine View on Wellseley Island and invited their families from Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida. Patrick spends as much time as he can each summer on the River near Clayton, NY. He began writing to entertain his son Lee, who is now eight years old. Patrick resides in Shippensburg Pennsylvania, holds a Masters degree in Public Administration, and is a Marine Corps veteran.