I’m back from an extra-long weekend. We went away for the long weekend (Monday was a holiday in Canada) and then I took Tuesday off too, so it felt like a mini-holiday. It was a lovely weekend, all in all. It was our first camping trip of the summer. For some reason (partly because we didn’t have much nice weather until a few weeks ago) we haven’t done much camping this summer. Hopefully we’ll get a little more in before the fall.

We started the weekend off with a visit to the Austin Thresherman’s Reunion, an old family tradition that we haven’t done very regularly as adults (only twice, I think) but used to enjoy when we were kids. My whole family was there (9 adults, 7 kids), with the exception of my Mom’s husband. And Marcel’s Dad came along too. It was a real treat to have everyone there, hanging out together in a place with a lot of memories.

After a day at the Reunion/Rodeo, we went camping at Spruce Woods with some members of the family. We were going to visit Spirit Sands, but with the temperature hovering around 32 degrees none of us was too eager to exert any energy in a desert. So, instead, we mostly hung out at the beach.

Here are a few highlights of the weekend. Mostly good, but some a little sad.

1. Sharing a picnic with the family in the parking lot before the parade. My family (especially my sister) knows how to throw a kick-ass picnic, even in a parking lot! There were 4 or 5 kinds of salads, several kinds of sandwich fixings, cinnamon buns, rhubarb dessert, watermelon, grapes… ummm… my mouth is watering from the memories

2. Watching Marcel’s dad – like a kid in a candy shop – surrounded by old tractors and machinery.

3. Watching the stooking contest and knowing my Dad could have kicked any of their butts! The delightful, and oh so right, conclusion of this year’s contest was that the 2 gentlemen in their eighties were victorious over all the young up-starts, including the politician who was there for a photo-op (Gina, I’ll try to post a picture once I get them developed). In a grand victory moment, one of the old codgers picked the other one up and held him over his shoulders.

4. One of the moments that made me chuckle was when Mr. Photo-Op Politician bent down to say hello to Maddie. You know the moment – the kissing-baby thing that all politicians think will win them votes. Well, Maddie, one of the friendliest kids on the planet – who happily tells strangers the names of all her sisters, the colour of our new car, her favourite toy, and whether or not she had a bath that morning – basically ignored him. Guess she recognizes when someone’s a competitor for all the attention!

5. Watching the barrel racing in the rodeo. When I was a kid, I dreamed of riding in the barrel race. I loved riding horses, and barrel racing was about as close to glamour, speed, and excitement as I could imagine in my sheltered rural life. The thrill of the race, the speed of the horses, the long hair flowing out from under the cowboy hats – it was magical – both then and now.

6. Ice cream. And MORE ice cream. It was a hot weekend – just the kind of weekend for ice cream. We had some at the Thresherman’s Reunion, some after camping, and then we ended the whole long weekend with one final round of ice cream last night at Banana Boat. My favourite, though, was the visit to Agassiz Drive-In in Neepawa – an old haunt from my youth. A summer growing up wasn’t complete without at least one trip to Agassiz Drive-In. The only down-side to all that ice cream is that it means your three-year-old is ALWAYS sticky.

7. Making s’mores around the campfire. Again, a rather sticky mess with 5 children around, but still worth it.

8. Sleeping in a tent. I love camping and I usually sleep quite well in a tent. We haven’t tented much since we bought a camper, but I do enjoy getting back to the “simple” way. The only problem this time around was that our air mattress had a leak, so by the morning, Marcel and I were sleeping on the ground. We thought we found the leak the next day, but that night we ended up on the ground again. Oh well – it’s all part of the fun.

9. Hangin’ around at the beach. Sunday was mostly a lazy day. It was too hot to do much else, so we found a bit of shade, followed it around the tree – moving our chairs as the shade moved – and spent the day there. The kids had fun, and Maddie made lots of new friends on the beach. (By the end of the day, we thought she’d adopted a new mother, but thankfully, she still came home with me.)

10. Camper breakfast. Usually, when we go camping, Marcel makes at least one “pull-out-all-the-stops” breakfast, with sausages, eggs, hashbrowns, and toast. The girls have taken to calling it “camper breakfast”. Yummy.

11. A visit to my Dad’s grave. Dad is buried in my hometown, which is nearly 2 hours away from where we live now, so we don’t visit often. This was the first time I saw his grave with the headstone. It was a little strange to see his name engraved in concrete – made the whole thing seem so permanent. Even though you KNOW it’s permanent when they die, you don’t really want to be reminded of it, ‘cause then, occasionally, your mind can still trick you into believing it’s temporary.

12. A few moments alone at the site where Dad died. He was killed in a farming accident along the highway, so we erected a cross and planted a few flowers there. We got there a little earlier than the others, so I got a few moments alone, sitting on the rocks, with my Dad. For me, the emotions surrounding the loss of my dad are more pure when I experience them alone. As soon as my Mom (and others, but mostly my Mom) arrives, it feels different. I clam up a bit, because I don’t know how to be real in the face of her emotions. Those moments alone were just what I needed.

13. Having lunch with my sister and sister-in-law and then driving to Selkirk with my sister-in-law. It was nice, for a brief moment, being the “ladies who lunch”. Nice to sneak away from the kids for awhile. Nice to have a few moments with 2 of my favourite women. Nice to drive home from Selkirk with no-one but me in the car.

14. Going to a late-night movie with my brother. Batman Begins. Better than I would have expected – some good summer fun with a few good lines thrown in to satisfy the literary part of my brain. And it was fun hangin’ out with BBB (who reads this blog all the time but NEVER comments – hint, hint!)

There were other things – some of which I may blog about some other time – but that’s enough for now. I’m all full of warm fuzzies now, remembering.

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