Where I feel at home

It is the place where my mind, body, and soul feel in sync and complete. I feel a deep peace, a oneness with the nature that surrounds me and a joy that I get to play in the most breathtaking and pristine landscapes. Sault Ste. Marie gifts me with the power of presence. Presence is such a powerful component when you are able to embrace it and bring it into your consciousness. I want to share my story in hopes to share my positivity and love for my home.

Courtesy of Julie Premo
Julie Premo

As someone born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, I can say with absolute certainty that
it is my “home”. My summer haven was in the Prince Township area on a small inland lake. My days were filled running barefoot on the grass, exploring in frog ponds, fishing, and building fern huts. The nights were filled will bonfires, campfire songs, and a nightly sauna. As I grew older we would play hide and seek with over twenty children all different ages. There was an innocence in my upbringing. The stars at night shining so bright to usher in the rest for another long day of playing in the outdoors. At age ten, my camp became my permanent home.

Growing up in the country provided me with solitude that the business of summer did not bring. Most of our friends went to the city in the winter and in this solitude of winter, I found a love for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. In elementary school, I was taught how to build quinzhees and even spent a few nights sleeping outside in the winter.

My friendships in my childhood were fun, playful and easy. We had nature as our playhouse. In summer, I wasn’t even inside. All of my time was spent in the outdoors, having fun experiencing outdoor picnics, swimming, hiking, stealing chives from the garden then surprising my parents by breathing on them and my most favorite pastime was looking for my favorite red poisonous mushroom. I even played lawn darts (they are now banned but we survived lawn darts).

I have been graced with seeing a “Lady’s Slipper Flower”.
I will never forget the sun finding a path through the damp moss and thicket of trees shining upon the beautiful orchids in shades of pink, white and cranberry. Until this day I never have found them again. Primarily because I can’t withstand the mosquitos and the Lady’s Slipper Bloom in prime mosquito time. As a child, I picked one for my mom. My mother was tearing up and did not look happy when I brought her the flower. At this moment, I learned that my role on this earth is to be a protector for Mother Earth.
When you truly love the flower you choose not to pick the flower but instead observe the flower. As an adult, I believe this is why I am so touched by photography. You can capture the power of nature in the purest and kindness way while doing no harm.

As a small child, I can still remember the season of the wild berries. All were found on our small one-acre property. In June and early July you could add small wild strawberries to your cereal, late July brought wild Raspberries, mid-August l enjoyed picking blueberries and in Late August Blackberries. To be able to consume wild berries fresh and spend the time barefoot in the berry patch will continue to be one of my favorite childhood memories.

Every summer my neighbor, also like my second mom, would plan a hike and day at Lake Superior. This was not a place you could drive but rather only walkable by following a stream on the Voyager Trail. The Hike there was about 2-hours long and all downhill.

I instantly fell in love with the power of Lake Superior.
The waves were so big, the water crystal clear, quiet and still and most of all – 100% untouched. We would walk for hours, swim for hours and make time stand still. Just us and nature. Presence at it’s finest. I feel so blessed for the opportunities I was granted in how I
was raised. To explain the magnitude of how much Sault Ste. Marie was home. Under the age of ninteen the furthest I had been out of the City Limits was Blind River, Goulais River, and Toronto on an airplane when I was 9 months old to go to Sick Kids for testing.

My high school years included much of the same. Lots of outdoor activities, lots of influences from neighbors, community members, teachers, and relationships. I developed a love of running when I was 16 and have never stopped since I started. Being a runner in Sault Ste. Marie is an incredible experience. Your options are endless and there is beauty at so many locations. Some of my favorite places to run are Whitefish Island, Hiawatha, The Boardwalk and Fort Creek. In Highschool, I primarily ran the Boardwalk and Whitefish Island. The Boardwalk is such a beautiful addition to our City and I am so grateful we have it here to enjoy! I should probably share how much wildlife along with flora add to why I love the Sault. There is nothing more powerful than the call or seeing a crane in flight. Eating dinner and seeing a Moose outside your front window. I believe a huge part of my growing up was the connection to wildlife.

Our city is blessed with majestic wildlife and to have it at your doorstep is priceless.
The beauty of a beaver dam and to see water lilies in bloom. The smell is one you would never forget, so sweet, so strong and so full. The songs of our so many birds in our area, the call of the chickadee, the flight of the eagle and the beauty of the blue jay. My favorite would have to be owls and I am amazed and fortunate to have seen them a few times. The beauty of a rainbow, the smell after rainfall, the sound of a frog chirping and the splendor in the flight of the dragonfly and butterflies in summer.
Seeing a firefly in flight at night in the stillness of the night.
This is where I feel at home.

After my first year of university, I decided to take a program not offered in my
hometown and so began the phase of my life where my home was not Sault Ste. Marie.
The first year I studied in Sudbury. Sudbury was very similar to the Sault but was definitely missing trees. The second year I moved to North York in Toronto. This move was challenging for me. I would spend time in Downtown Toronto, making eye contact, connecting with people and they would not answer me. It seemed strange to me that it was such a different feel than in the North. I cried every night before bed for 2-months missing the feeling of connecting even in the simplest ways with other people. I came to realize quickly that life is what you make it. I couldn’t change where I lived and how others would interact with me so I needed to make the best of it.

I realized after living in five cities in five years that life is 100% what you make of it.
You can’t find happiness externally, it has to come from within. I love and cherish the time that I had away from the Soo for the growth I experienced and the friendships I made. I did however always feel in my heart (my soul) that I needed my “home”. I would come home several times a year and spend time outdoors, with family and friends. After 6 years away, I decided to move back home. When I arrived home many individuals that had not left the Soo asked me why I moved back. I would share with them my love for my hometown and the pros of cons of living in Southern Ontario versus Northern Ontario. Now, I want to share that yes I can live in Southern Ontario and be happy, I’m adaptive. I’ve done it but it simply comes down to this.

Growing up a child every day when I woke up I would open my curtain, look at the
water and sunrise, pause, take it all in. Those 60 seconds of immense connection with
nature would fuel me for the entire day. It created bliss, joy, and peace.

When I lived away this was not something I could find. I found my sanctuary spaces that would make my soul sing in every location I lived but it wasn’t the same. In the years I lived away, no one and I mean no one chose to “move back home”. This was not something anyone would consciously choose. So in the summer of 2002, after 25 smog advisory’s I told my husband I was moving home for the summer. I had landed a job working in the Soo and I said I need to relax, restore and rebalance. If I didn’t like it, I could always move back down South.

It was over this summer I realized something very powerful about Sault Ste. Marie. The length of the day. Yes – the length of a day. One day in Southern Ontario equals three days in Sault Ste. Marie. Moving home has given me the “Gift of Time”. I believe it’s the power of presence and the connection to nature and ease of access that provide us this gift. Life can be fleeting, it can be short and I don’t know how many times I will get to experience being here so to know I live somewhere where 25 years will feel like 75 years is immensely powerful. My days go by slower, I am comforted by the most spectacular sunrises, sunsets, constellations, and community. I continue to explore all the beautiful inland lakes, St. Joseph Island, Hiawatha, Stokely, Fort Creek, The Sylvan Valley, Clear Lake, Cloudy Lake, and Whitefish Island.

We are a gem surrounded by some of the most incredibly vast lands one could ever imagine.  Even if I hike every weekend in this lifetime I still will not see all there is to see in Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding areas. My husband and I have loved living in the Sault in the old Hospital area since moving home in 2002. We love the mature trees in City living and are proud to be home to raise our children with a strong connection to nature. We are very happy to call Sault Ste. Marie our home.

My wish for you is the power of presence. Go out and play in the haven we have in Sault Ste. Marie. May the beauty of Sault Ste. Marie  and Algoma build memories for you to last a lifetime. May you also feel at home here where your mind, body, and soul are one.

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