Then and Now

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As many of you know, I occasionally include my newspaper column on this blog. It is the 14th anniversary of my column “On The Homefront….and Beyond”, so I thought I would share it with you. It appears on p. 5 of the Kingsville Reporter:

I have been writing this column for fourteen years now. It started out as a joint venture with another writer friend of mine, Liz Moore, but after about ten months she moved to London and this space became mine. A lot has changed in 14 years. I was a young (young being relative here) mother then, with a 7 year old and 12 year old. The topics I wrote about then were a bit different than the topics I write about now.

Then, I wrote about sending my kids back to the first day of class in September, and performing a ritual “happy dance” until my oldest asked me not to do it anymore because it made him feel like I wanted to get rid of him. I understood, and I stopped doing the happy dance. And I quit humming “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of Year” to boot. After a summer of wracking my brain to find things to do to keep my kids from being perpetually bored, I was probably ready to have them back at school, but I did not want them to know that. And if I were honest, they were pretty good at keeping themselves busy and happy.

Today, my kids are in their twenties. One is away at college and is a computer genius (which you have to realize that to me, anyone who knows the ins and outs of a computer is a computer genius— still, I think he is brilliant—but I am his mother after all.) I call my eldest son a Rock God, which he is not really comfortable with, but he is getting used to me referring to him as such. And he does play a mean lead guitar. His band is called Rodents & Rebels. Not a name a mother would choose, but hey, they like it.

Then, I would write about our adventures in the soccer field, at the baseball diamond, and on the basketball court. Today, my kids talk about being “buff”, which I think means there is a six-pack in their future, whether it be the liquid kind, or the “arrangement of six bulges in the human abdomen” kind (this definition thanks to all-knowing, all-seeing Wikipedia).

Vacations back then took the form of camping trips, which was and is not a favourite past-time of mine. But in retrospect, with the nostalgia factor kicking in, camping really was a great family time—even if you had to sleep on the ground and walk half a block to a washroom where the showers were always cold. I remember waking up in the morning to coffee and eggs and bacon being cooked over an open fire in order to get me to “stay just one more day mom” and of course I would acquiesce.

English: Camping by Barriere Lake, Barriere, ,...

English: Camping by Barriere Lake, Barriere, , Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, organized vacations take the guise of attending out-of-town weddings or celebrations together, and are not necessarily vacations, but as a mom, I will take any time together with my grown-up kids.

Fourteen years ago things were different. Fourteen years are admittedly a long time in a family’s life—we have all grown a little older—some us have to dye our hair now, some of us do not have as much hair as we did then, and some of us are not home all the time. Sometimes I would give my eye teeth to have that time back, but I also like things as they are now. We still have a long way to go on our journey, and I will continue to let you in on our lives as they change over time.

Hazy Days of Summer

Union Jack Tent from Decathlon by Quecha

Union Jack Tent from Decathlon by Quecha (Photo credit: dullhunk)

The words “a white tent pitched by a glassy lake, well under a shady tree”…. were haunting me recently, so I Googled them and found the rest of the words to the song. It brings me back to the days when I attended a one room school (when the dinosaurs were still roaming the earth, according to my youngest son), and part of our day included not only readin’, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic , but singing.

In the morning we sang God Save the Queen (in the years before O Canada replaced it) facing the Canadian version of the Union Jack (before 1965 when our maple leafed flag was born)  then recited the Lord’s prayer (when this was still allowed in public school).  At the end of the day we sang songs for fun before we were out the door and on our way home. I remember one of our favourites was Puff the Magic Dragon as well as the aforementioned  song that would not leave me in peace until I found all the words to it.

The enigmatic song that was playing an endless loop in my head is called  “A Canadian Camping Song”, and in my cursory search I found that it seemed to be part of the government of the day’s approved curriculum. While my research was only glancing, I could not come up with a song writer.

The words to the song evoke June days when exams were done and we were putting in time before the summer holidays. So for those of you curious about the words to the rest of the song, here they are:

A Canadian Camping Song

A white tent pitched by a glassy lake,

Well under a shady tree.

Or by rippling rills from the grand old hills

Is the summer home for me.

I fear no blaze of the noontide rays,

For the woodland glades are mine,

The fragrant air, and that perfume rare,

The odour of forest pine.

Chorus:

The wild woods, the wild woods

The wild woods give me;

The wild woods of Canada.

The boundless and free.

The song epitomizes summer for me—and in this, our first real week of official summer, it reminds me of the last days of June, sitting at my desk, just waiting for the summer holidays to begin. The days of summer stretched out seemingly forever—full of baseball in the back yard, chores around the house, riding my bike, reading in my favourite tree, and walking with my sister to the local corner store for a pop and chocolate bar.

If anyone knows who wrote this little ditty, let me know.