One thing I can say with certainty about this trip: there was not a wasted moment.
There were Christmas celebrations. We decorated the tree and wrapped presents, and the family sang carols while I played from the old Anglican hymnbook on Granddad’s out-of-tune piano. Mom and I made stained-glass windows, which tasted fine but looked kind of funny (Pamela renamed them ‘geodes’), and shortbread, which turned out perfectly. We went to the candlelight carol service at the church in lower Kars – the church that has a mouse-infested organ and no electricity. We went to the church pageant, held in a local barn and attended by several dozen people, a couple of horses, and an assortment of chickens.
There were family visits. I went snowshoeing with my first cousin twice-removed. We had our annual family Boxing Day brunch, which involved Granddad, cousins, and eggs Benedict. We also had a celebration of my PhD completion, which involved Granddad, cousins, and lasagne, and a celebration of the January birthdays, which involved Granddad and cake. Granddad was a highlight of each occasion.
There was snow. I shovelled a bit, and then shovelled some more, and enjoyed every second of it even though I couldn’t feel my toes. The bay froze like it meant it. I went out in snowshoes and giggled because I could walk on water. I did a lot of snowshoeing, actually. We went for drives to all the pretty spots – the blueberry fields, Bull Moose Hill Road, Evandale, and Adair’s Wilderness Lodge, among others.
We feasted, of course! There was homemade lasagne, spare ribs, johnny cake, birthday cake, bacon, maple sausages, and blueberry waffles with real syrup from the sugar shack up the road (kept, as syrup should be, in a large wine bottle). Mom made all the Christmas treats that I love plus buttertarts, then agreed to ice cream and cookies from Sussex’s finest cookie shop when we eventually ran out. We paid our respects to Harvey’s, Swiss Chalet, Up to Par, Applebee’s, and Tim Horton’s (the latter several times over).
Trip’s over now. I got home yesterday morning and today, it’s back to the real world. No more leisurely breakfasts eaten while watching the chickadees and redpolls; no more snowshoeing expeditions or afternoon drives to see the blueberry fields. Now is the time of manuscript revisions, sunshine, flip-flops, and applications, applications, applications.
Until we meet again, fair Belleisle.