Tag Archives: Friends

Swingset

At the end of the forest, or at the beginning depending on where you start, is a lovely little playground. It was empty when we arrived a few nights ago, a weekday shortly after suppertime. We stopped our bikes and looked at the swings.

“I’m just going to go on the swings for a minute.”
“Me, too. That’s why I stopped here.”

It’s easy to fly in a swing and I laughed when I reached the point where, twenty years ago, I would have jumped off when the school bell rang. Jumped, dusted myself off, and run across the yard.

“Jump off?”
“Not anymore!”
“Yeah, I think I’d break.”

Laughing, kicking heels in the woodchips to slow the swing and then spinning, first one way and then the other as the chains unwound and wound again.

“Whoa.”
“I know. I didn’t used to feel dizzy.”

Head tipped all the way back.

“To think I used to do flips on the swings.”
“Try it!”
“No way!”

We watched the trees, looking up at canopies of leaves. Watched the sky, slowly darkening.

“Nice to know that all the school games were the same.”
“I was just thinking that.”

We got back on our bikes, left the forest. The air had changed, growing cooler. Summer ending and fall beginning. We’re often in the forest (“Want to go hug some trees?”) and the swings are not far away.

Lovely to know, indeed.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. – George Bernard Shaw

Missing You

My dad used to say that the best part of travelling is coming home. But travelling also requires leaving home and that remains, even after years of practice, a hard thing. It helps to know when I’ll see you again and that we have all sorts of technology to keep in touch, but it is still a strange thing to go from home to home.

The world is odd, too, with the pandemic that threw into sharp relief the illusion of certainty in which we so comfortably lived. It means that we continue to plan all we want but with a greater awareness of the plan remaining just that – a plan. This is a manageable feeling, at least right now, but not a pleasant one.

I have never found it easy to leave home and I miss you even before it’s time to go. I used to need hours in the airport to ensure sufficient time to cry, but I’ve since learned that the feeling of missing you is just part of me, like the feeling of loving you is just part of me. Sometimes those feelings catch me by surprise. Oh, I’ve learned to recognize, it’s that kind of day.

But there’s a special thing about missing you because it means you matter, I matter, we matter. I miss you because I like being with you, because I like you, because I like who I am with you. I miss you because I feel at home with you, because we laugh together, because we have fun together. And I miss you because the time we spend together is lovely because we make it that way.

Missing you means travelling from home to home to be with you, and I am already looking forward to the next time. Truth be told, I’ve never stopped. I’ve just left home and I am on my way home, too.

Miss you, love you. See you soon.

Warrensburg, New York – July 2022

Travel Guide: Halifax

I’m a bad Canadian. I hold a Canadian passport, speak with enough of a Canadian accent that Americans have asked where I’m from, and spent many a childhood weekend in Canada visiting grandparents and other relatives. But I’m a bad Canadian. Until last week, I had only visited two provinces (visited = seeing family) and, with the exception of a ski trip as a child, had never gone to Canada on holiday. For this reason and more, it was a pleasure to finally take a trip to Halifax and neighbouring Dartmouth to visit my closest friend from Singapore, who grew up there and has since moved back.

We began the tour of Halifax and its environs with a trip to Peggy’s Cove, a fishing community with a famous lighthouse. It looked like everything that comes to mind upon hearing the word “Maritimes” and, as you can imagine, smelled of the sea.

The air tasted like salt and the wind picked up as we walked further along the boulders, heeding the warnings to stay off the black rocks.

The community of Dartmouth is located across the harbour from Halifax. One can cross the bridge by car or take the ferry, which is conveniently free on the weekends (and, on the weekend of my visit, decorated for Halifax Pride). The best part of Dartmouth is the view of Halifax, I was told, though I beg to differ. Dartmouth has a vibe and charm all on its own.

The next day we walked along the boardwalk and through downtown Halifax, admiring ships-turned-museums, murals, and funky buildings.

The license plate of Nova Scotia states, “Canada’s Ocean Playground,” so it was only fitting that the last full day of my visit include a tour of the nearby beaches. The water was cold and for the first time in my life, I saw people wearing sweatshirts at the beach. I dipped my toes into the North Atlantic and that was more than enough.

On the final morning of my visit, we went to Fisherman’s Cove to go for a walk and browse the gift shops.

Just like everywhere else we’d been, you could taste the sea on the air. My favourite part of Dartmouth/Halifax was the integration of the ocean with regular life. It was everywhere and the communities had been built in it, around it, and with due regard for how the sea behaves. There are lakes everywhere, too, and life by the water is simply a normal part of life. I felt lucky to finally be there, a visit that was in the planning stage even before the pandemic, and grateful for the locals who took me around. My visit concluded with, “And next time we’ll go to. . . .” I am already looking forward to it.