How I love summers in Southern Ontario. Driving barefoot down dusty dirt roads through forests and farmers' fields, windows wide open, wind whipping through the car, seat belts drumming against the walls. It's moments like these which bring all the love in this country into my heart. It's moments like these that remind me why I live in this province, in this country. But these moments seem like pipe dreams at this time of year no? Maybe not. Driving down dirt roads, dusted with swirling snow, flakes flying at the windshield and feet dressed in giant boots under layers of socks holds that charm too, though different. Perhaps it's based on the joy in your heart and the love filling the van that makes it all so perfect.
Yes winter, you have your charm. I love your snow and crisp, clean air. The way my lungs fill with the cracked, frozen life you offer. But I love you best when out in the country, where the life you breathe still beats around us in a peaceful, fierce calm. You evoke in me memories of many years ago on dark country roads, singing my heart out feeling so much emotion I'm surprised I could hold it all inside me as well as I did.
This past weekend, I rented an old Dodge Caravan and drove myself, and five amazing loved ones out East to the countryside. Right from the start, winter kicked our butts by freezing the wipers on the van, but I guess my worry proved I'm not a true Canadian motorist. It was an easy fix, so we set off on our journey to Janetville; windows rolled tightly up and hair blowing only in the breeze of a blasting heater. The sprays of anti-freeze instantly turning into ice patterns, crawling across the glass like growing shards of crystal, obscuring our view, and reminding us how chilling it was out there.
We stopped in Peterborough for lunch at a great little local spot, Hot Belly Mama's, for hot, spicy soup and sandwiches, then walked the icy streets to explore local artisan and vintage shops (where the vintage items were actually affordable - unlike in this city I call home). Dinner we had at PJ's family home, a delicious big meal cooked up by her parents. We sat around the table for hours sharing stories and memories from long ago. Stories of haunted days gone by, stories from our travels around the world, while sipping hot sweet tea, playing music and singing old Irish folk tunes. PJ and her dad played together on their concertina and accordion respectively, and Sean burst into song, all reminding me how much love there really is around us all.
Later that evening, we braved the weather again and headed into town to find a local bar. I'm pretty sure we stuck out as city folk, and definitely glared at for our 'sprinkler' dance moves busting out on ripped carpet around our dart board. I was the designated driver, as someone has to be in the sticks, but it was ok by me. Bar hopping in a small town is entertaining enough, that I don't need to be hallucinating to see the old biker with "fuck off" tattooed across his forehead. He came sauntering by in black leather and a long grey beard. If you were close enough to read his ink, you were too close, clearly. We ended the night with a round of pool, and sir "fuck off" pulled up a chair and watched us play. I wanted a picture of him to capture the night, but I admit, I thought he just might point at his forehead before stabbing me. Perhaps I was too quickly judgemental.
The drive home from the bar brought me extreme nostalgia. Driving this old Dodge Caravan down dark, country, two-lane roads with a pile of drunken, singing friends in the back was right out of 1998 for me. Oh the college years, all that was missing was Fiona Apple on the stereo, playing from my discman with the cassette tape adapter. To you my friends, I thank you for being so wonderful and for reminding me where I've come from. Cheers and much love to you all.