In years to come, we’ll probably refer to the summer of 2009 as the “summer that wasn’t”. I don’t remember when we’ve had so much disappointing weather. Mostly cool and rainy… followed by more cool and rainy. I think I wore shorts twice, and when I went shopping for clothes in the middle of the summer, I bought cardigan sweaters instead of cute little summer outfits.
But… at least it finished well! Gotta look on the bright side, I suppose. We just finished a perfectly lovely long weekend and we managed to celebrate the sun and warmth in almost every way we could. We went for bike rides, we took an artists’ studio tour of the interlake region north of our fair city, we went to the beach (as did thousands upon thousands of other starved-for-summer folks – oh my – the crowds!), we ate ice cream, we went for more bike rides, we went for drinks on a patio with friends, we went for walks – we did it all. Basically, we tried to live a whole summer in one weekend and, short of sitting by a campfire, we almost did.
At least now we’ll be a little more prepared when Fall starts knocking at our door.
In some respects it’s been an amazing summer (creating my studio, launching my website, going on a road trip with my family), but in other ways it’s been sadly disappointing (not enough beach days, way too much crappy weather). Either way, it is slipping away WAY too quickly.
There are still a few things I want to get out of this summer:
1. Visit my dad’s grave again. (It’s a 2 hour drive – not exactly something I can do on a whim.)
2. Sit around a campfire with people I enjoy at least one more time.
3. Go on a few more bike rides with my family.
4. Have more drinks on a patio with some interesting friends who make me laugh.
5. Wandering. Lots more wandering. Preferably with a camera in my hands.
That’s about it. I think it’s a pretty good sign that I’m feeling quite content if my list is that short. Now if only it would stop raining so I could do all of these things!
We are happy, healthy, and… home.
We spent the last week and a half wandering around Minnesota and Wisconsin, starting with a big soccer tournament the girls’ teams were in, hanging out in a lovely hotel with a big waterpark, then camping in a few different places, visiting the zoo and the Mall of America, taking a ferry to Madeline Island in Lake Superior (one of my new favourite places – I want to go back!), and ending with a night in a hotel in Duluth.
I have lots of pictures to download and oodles of stories to reminisce about – not to mention mountains of laundry to do. But for now, I’ll leave you with just a few of the many pictures we came home with.
First off, this picture stopped me in my tracks when I saw it. It surprised me just how happy and relaxed I look. It’s been a little too long since I’ve looked in the mirror and saw that much contentment on my face. Apparently the vacation was the right kind of healing for the lines that have been deepening on my face.
This picture may not seem like much, but if you look closely, you can see by the body language and facial expressions that Marcel and the girls were having a good laugh (at the Minnesota zoo – one of the best zoos I’ve ever been to). I love to watch my family laugh. We did a lot of that on this trip.
And speaking of laughing, the girls were having a hoot on the air mattress at the beach on Madeline Island. I think, for the coming year, when I need to go to my “happy place” it will be that beach on Madeline Island. Pretty close to perfection.
And one last shot of the girls and I on the ferry leaving the island. Ferries have a unique ability to make me happy. There’s just something about them.
If you’re looking for a fun place to spend a few days with your family, and you enjoy a place with relaxed island charm (where you can play pool at the local beach club as you watch baby ducks float past the window), a lovely woodsy secluded campground (where deer wander past your site at dusk), a beautiful sandy beach with crystal clear water (and very few people cluttering it up) and you’re not too far from Lake Superior, you might want to consider Madeline Island. (I have not been paid for this endorsement. Just trust me – it was a little bit of magic.) I think Marcel and I may go back some time for a little “second honeymoon”, but this time we might check out the quaint little inn or one of the bed and breakfasts we saw. (And wouldn’t you just love to attend an art camp here? I think I may add that to my “list of things I want to do before I die”.)
Happily, I still have a couple more weeks off work, so we’ll be doing more fun things a little closer to home.
Oh… and one more thing… it was oh so DELIGHTFUL to come home to REAL MAIL – not just bills and grocery store flyers! I got the first pieces of inspiring art for my studio! I’m so excited! I’ll take pictures soon and show you what showed up. For those of you who already sent yours… thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! For those who still want to… it’s never too late!
Thirteen random happy summer things
1. Wearing sandals. Oh how I love having bare toes! And not having to dig through laundry baskets for socks? Heaven!
3. Wandering. Yesterday (Canada Day) was a picture perfect day for wandering (through Osborne Village, to the Forks), people-watching, eating treats, and listening to music – all with people who are easy to be around
4. Folk Festival! A week from today! Yippee!
5. Riding my bike along the river. The bike ride home from work is the best part of my day.
6. Camping! S’mores, campfires, beach-bummin’, “camper breakfast”, sleeping in a tent – it’s all good.
7. A family road trip. Yippee! I love, love, LOVE road trips with my family. I think we all get along best on road trips (even when cramped in a car that we’re outgrowing), ‘cause we’re all just so relaxed and happy.
8. Warm sun, good books…
9. Holidays. Being away from work for awhile. Re-charging. Oh how I need that. (Sadly, though, I have to split my holidays so that I can go through a hiring process to replace the staff person who just resigned.)
10. Water. I LOVE being near water in the summer – lakes, rivers, creeks, oceans, you name it.
11. Drinks on a patio. It’s my goal to have a few more lovely evenings like this with interesting, creative friends. (Friends in my proximity? Consider this a warning – I’ll be calling you. Unless you call me first, of course.)
12. Summer food. Barbecues. Picnics. Potato salad. Hotdogs from a street vendor.
13. Fun and carefree creative things. Like more wreckage. And finishing up my creative sanctuary in the basement. And doing a little more painting.
Notice any difference between the months? In June, we had to colour code the calendar because there were so many days that two or three family members had to be in different places at the same time. And July? Well, we flipped the page, and suddenly there is a blank slate ahead of us. Ahhhhh… how I love blank slates!
We started off on the right foot with a trip to the beach yesterday, and a family bike trip to the Forks for Canada Day celebrations today. (That’s a 22 kilometre round trip! The longest we’ve done as a family.)
It’s hot, hot, hot, and we’re tired, tired, tired (in fact, Marcel is lying on the couch next to me snoring right now), but we’re oh so happy that it’s summer!
Happy Canada Day and Happy Summer!
Remember my vacation list from a couple of posts ago? Well, my vacation has only just begun, and I’ve already done almost everything on the list. Plus a few other things like:
– visited the farmers’ market with Julie
– brought home a colourful bouquet of flowers, just for fun– had a weiner roast with Marcel’s parents
– ate s’mores around a campfire
– went for an evening stroll in the campground with Julie and Maddie– held hands with Maddie while she drifted off to sleep in the tent beside me
– stared up at a midnight sky blanketed with stars
– pointed out the big dipper to Julie and Maddie
– cooked an absolutely delicious meal on a grate over the fire pit
– waded in the beach while Maddie went for a late evening dip (how delighted she was to be almost the only one in the water!)
– took pictures until Julie was almost ready to swear at me
– ate fresh vegetables from my father-in-law’s garden
– and a bunch of other things that might not make the top-ten-list of ultimate vacations in any travel magazine, but were delightful to me.
About the only thing short of making this the perfect August long weekend was a missing daughter. Nikki spent the weekend at a friend’s cabin. We missed her, but we had fun without her.
Tomorrow brings even more holiday adventure – starting with an anniversary breakfast with my husband. Come back tomorrow and I’ll share our fourteen-year-old wedding pictures, for a good laugh. 🙂