My Summer Holidays. Part One….. by Janice Hillmer.
(Please note: This essay is not in chronological order. Infact, it’s not in any logical order at all)
This Summer, I went to Canada. Canada is a very cold country – even in the summer, because all the parents have control over the air conditioners. If you ever go to Canada, and there are any parents there at the time, bring a sweater. Canada is a lovely country which seperates the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. (If it didn’t, the oceans would fight). The Pacific Ocean, being more agressive, requires huge mountain ranges to keep it from trying to attack the Atlantic.
It was nestled into a spot of land in the middle of these mountains that my relatives on my Mom’s side decided to throw a family reunion. It was a terrific spot right on the banks of a little itty bitty , but clear as crystal river. There were about 60 of us enjoying a weekend of eating and talking and eating and visiting and eating and socializing… and nobody worried about that ol’ Ocean trying to make its way across the continent. Although, if it had tried to make a move, that might have been okay – it would have doused the terrible fires raging through BC this summer. The fires didn’t affect our reunion, but we could see the smoke sometimes while we were driving.
A couple of times, I dared to venture closer to the Ocean. Once, to visit Jodi and her new husband. We had a great time eating and visiting, and eating and going to see MacBeth. Nothing like a little bit of murder and mayhem to brighten up a Sunday afternoon. It was a good visit.
The next time I approached the Pacific was with my parents to visit Uncle Ken & Aunt Luella. Uncle Bert came over too, because we buried Grandma’s ashes that week. It was hard because I miss her so much, but I was glad I could be there. The visit wasn’t all sadness though (it just doesn’t seem possible to stay sad for long with the family I’ve got!) We all went to see Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance” … and laughed so hard I thought my face was going to get stuck in a permanent toothy grin.
In the great battle between the Ocean’s, there is also a vast bit of neutral territory called the “Prairies” . Infact, I think the prairies are themselves a big oceanic wannabe. They are flat lands covered with ‘amber waves of grain’. I know the americans used the phrase in a song of theirs, but it must have been after seeing Canada’s grain ocean. I loved driving through this part of Canada. You could see anything coming near the road for miles and miles. Not like the mountains where you never knew what was ready to pounce into your lane around the next corner.
Some of my relatives have chosen to live in this part of the country. These must be the relatives who hate to play ‘hide and seek’. (an entirely useless enterprise in a place where there is nowhere to hide. As I said, you can see everything and anything for miles around). I was so happy to be able to spend a few days with my cousin’s in Calgary. Calgary is much easier to get to than Bolivia, where they were living before. As always, it was great to see them and laugh a whole lot. Again, I was worried about the face-sticking problem. Fortunately, I’m still able to manage a scowl when necessary.
I also got to spend a whirlwind “Hi Mom! I’m home to do my laundry” visit in Regina where my folks have moved (Dad retired) to be closer to my mom’s mom (in English, we call such a relation ‘Gramma’). The stay in Regina was a flurry of activity as we all prepared to embark on the above mentioned travels and visits. I was really glad that in the midst of the activity, we were able to make a trip to Semens. My Grampa is buried there, and that trip made me cry too, since I still really miss my Grampa. We also went ‘visiting’ in the Semens cemetary ~ since the town is so small, Gramma knew lots of stories about the other folks buried there. On the way out, I also got to hear tons of stories about Gramma growing up in the Prairies. I loved it.
Okay, I’ve been at this for an hour, and if you’re still reading it, you might want to make sure you haven’t suffered eye strain. I’ve covered about 1/2 my vacation, and will finish up soon.