When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Family road trip (Up north)

I am writing this post in the car in the final leg of an eight hour drive.  The ride has been quiet today; I think Matt and the boys and I are all feeling contentedly tired and silently reflective in an appreciative way.  We're on our way home after a full and fantastic week-and-a-half long family vacation, and despite the fact that I have to keep looking up from my notebook every thirty seconds or so to keep me from getting carsick while I write, I feel a compelling need to capture the many happy moments of our trip while they are still glowing warmly in my memory, before the miles of highway we're travelling once again put too big a space between me and some of the people and places I love most.

After spending a few beautifully sunny days enjoying the beaches and family-friendly attractions of Traverse City, Michigan last week, Matt and the boys and I headed to good old Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to visit my family.  It is always a pleasure to come "home" again, to see the smiling faces and familiar spots that have all changed in some way since the last visit, but still somehow seem exactly the same.  I loved watching Noah and Will share big laughs with their granny over a pair of wind-up chattering teeth that my fun-loving mom had put in their room, and seeing my dad's smiling eyes that so clearly showed how glad he was to have his children and grandchildren gathered close to him once again.  I loved eating red raspberries, still warm from the sun, off the long-standing bushes in my parents' backyard, and taking the boys to the big, beautiful park on the river where I played as a child.  I loved the big family dinners in the company of my parents, my grandma, my brothers and their families, complete with Pino's sausages on the grill and Grandma D's mouthwatering baking.  I loved joining in with my old community to celebrate Rotaryfest downtown, and hearing the moving sounds of my brother Frank performing with his band on the festival stage.  I loved playing family rounds of Bananagrams (and I think my earlier practising worked because I actually won a respectable number of games against my mom and dad!), and laughing my head off with Matt and my parents around the patio table one evening while we listened to old songs we looked up on YouTube and found wildly funny.  It was wonderful to spend time with everyone, to fill my heart up with happy family moments to draw from when I miss all of these people in the months to come.

Once we left Sault Ste. Marie, Matt and the boys and I headed about forty minutes east to St. Joseph's Island, one of the favourite "camp" locations (which is what we Northern Ontarians call a cottage) for many Soo locals.  The four of us spent the last couple of days of our trip visiting my dear hometown friend Stephanie and her two delightful boys at their newly-acquired summer home, a beautiful and welcoming retreat on the treed and rocky shores of Lake Huron.  Steph and her family have lived in Vancouver for years, and our opportunities to visit with each other are rare, so it was such a treat to have this time with them.  The grown-ups enjoyed catching up in sun-soaked recliners by the water and over simple but delicious dinners eaten outside, and the four boys (who became fast friends) spent hours exploring and having adventures like Northern kids did when I was a child:  building forts in the woods, climbing over rocks, hunting for crayfish and minnows, and swimming like fish themselves in the vast lake's rolling waves.  Noah and Will haven't had a lot of these kinds of experiences in their childhoods, both because of where they're growing up and because times have changed since I was a kid and letting your children loose in a bush to build forts sadly seems somehow dangerous and frowned upon these days.  It made me really happy to see them enjoying a freer, "wilder" kind of life for awhile, with the boys of my good friend (who were so well-matched personality-wise with Noah and Will) to keep them company.  Will summed up his experience perfectly as we drove away from Steph's camp on our way back home:  "I learned something about being at a camp.  You get a lot more cuts on you than you had when you came, and you have a lot more fun and adventure than at home."  What a wonderful adventure we've all had!


I drifted off to sleep easily and peacefully in the familiar comfort of my own bed after a week and a half away.  But when I was jolted awake in the early morning hours by searing streaks of lightning and claps of thunder that cracked and rumbled so loudly I could feel them in my chest, I found myself imagining what the storm would look like moving across the endless expanse of sky above Lake Huron, and remembering how different and less threatening the thunder had sounded only a few days earlier when hearing it through the walls of my mom and dad's house.  You can take the girl out of the North, but the North and all of the wonderful people and memories it holds will always be firmly rooted in the depths of this girl's heart.

1 comment:

  1. What a fun and FULL trip you had. Such precious memories you captured! I'm so happy you all had such a great time. . . even if you did come home with a few more cuts. :)