Summer in Ten

The girl on the right has been a Rider season ticket holder a year longer than she’s been alive. There’s nothing like the first night game. The chill night settling onto the stadium, the hope the team will pull out the infamous 400 points in the final 3 minutes. It’s Rider football baby! We don’t leave to beat traffic. We stay late, we cheer hard, and we sort our laundry into three groups green, white, and green and white. We, the collective Rider nation have opinions on everything football; this is after all, our house!  

I never wake to the sound of an alarm. I set it, and then my body wakes me before the buzzer. My internal clock is set early.  For three weeks I was officially a student again, taking a University course. I was up early to read, to study, to write, to edit, to re-revise and to write more. There was no time to mow the lawn, to visit friends, to enjoy campfires. The work was challenging. I loved every moment.

Attending the Festival of Words is always my birthday gift to me. I love listening to writers share their stories, in their own way without any pressure to take notes, to plan, or to organize. It’s a truly selfish gift. This year, two young authors that offered much delight were my daughter, and one of my students, both whom were attending the Sage Hill summer writing experience. Yet the most delicious moment came Friday noon, experiencing Don Kerr as he shared his poetry. I was sitting in a church basement having eaten boiled wheat salad, when this wind-swept grandpa, looking over his glasses at us, walked up onto the low stage. Here was Saskatchewan’s newest Poet Laureate. He flipped through his current book of poetry, “That. Not that. Those are no good. Ah.” He chose one about his mom and launched in. I know I was sitting with my sister and 250 others, but the room fell away and by the end my Nana was standing there in front of me, having driven the Olds 150 km for the first time without a driver’s licence, mad at my Grandpa. There I was hands clasped: Her girl, Wiens woman strong. Later he shared a session with the author of Lakeland, a former student of his. The two fell into a dance from days long past, chatting about process, and Kerr, still critiquing. If it wasn’t for this photo I’d be certain I’d fabricated the moment. Hmm, maybe I did.

Jess and I were watching a movie this summer, sitting on our worn and quite ugly forest green couch. She looked at me and grabbed my hand, “Thanks for never missing a game, Mom.” Soccer mom, as it means to Jess, is my greatest success.

Essential equipment for summer reading: great literature and one giant hammock.

I’m the kind who notices details, sometimes the big ones and most often the important ones. This day I needed to note the odometer turning to 100,000. I needed to click along with the mechanism; I needed to stay the course. It was the kind of day when the big things and the feeling things kept spilling over. I had just hugged so long to my one of kids.

Years ago my father took a group of family and friends to visit one of his childhood haunts, an abandoned church and its grounds. He shared stories of underground tunnels leading to the stables and to the main residence. He told stories of access hatches and glass green houses. That cool fall day we found some of them, and ventured down the tunnels as far as we could without flashlights. I returned this August with a friend who’s never cached, we entered through the trap door, and signed our name in one of the log books I had since placed just near the tunnel. Though I wanted to, we did not linger; there was no moon.      

Towards the end of summer, Jess and I started out on a Grand Adventure looking for her great-great aunt who died from scarlet fever at 12 years of age. My Nana would tell of her not being able to say goodbye to her sister as they took the body away. We wondered if the sister had been buried on the farm, but not likely, since she was taken “away.” Though we have yet find her grave site, we have leads for another adventure this September. Instead, we cached and snooped, “Just go on, the cache is in there. You have to put your head and shoulders into the furnace to reach it.”

The archivist in my daughter had us snoop through the obituaries in my grandparents’ hometown, some 300 km from where we began our adventure. There, in the upstairs room of the museum, done up to look like a classroom, nun and all, were pictures of my parents, married just five years. Mom can’t remember if I’m in this picture, but I was born the following summer. We have no idea what the heck is going on with her hair. I would bribe her with this photo but she’s my mom, if anyone has the goods, it’s her. I think they sure are handsome!

I snapped this image on my way to White Bear Lake mid-August. I wondered where the rainbow was coming from, and why the moon was just hanging round. The field full of bails made me feel at home, you know, this year of rain and heat and driving these adventures; I know where I am when I see a land dotted with bails. When I arrived at the lake, my friend, tired and stressed from helping her father move from the family home, reflected on the lifetime of photos she and her siblings had had to sort. She said she tossed all the ones without people. She feels no one will ever want a photo of hers if there isn’t a reference point of a person. I like land, and I story for me.    

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