Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hello September

I woke up on the first morning in September and glanced over my right shoulder to see hues of deep orange and purple as the sun poked its face over the distant hills.  I grabbed my camera - which has been largely supplanted by the versatile iPhone as the photography device of choice - as I knew it was most capable of catching the beauty of the moment with the lack of available light.

Ben and I enjoyed an equally striking scene the night before as the bright moon lit up the street.  We are blessed with regular Mother Nature masterpieces, and I do my best to capture as many of them as I can.

The summer seems a blur, a whirring melange of images, moments and memories.  It felt remarkably full to be perfectly honest, like we crammed as much into two months as is humanely possible.  It was also hot, too hot for this northern Canadian soul who appreciates cool and crisp evenings along with mornings that demand a good sweater and a steaming cup of coffee.  Did I mention how hot it was this summer?

Many evenings - perhaps most evenings - we were going to bed with temperatures in the house ranging from 28 to 31-degrees Celsius.  We had fallen victim to the boiled frog syndrome.  I knew we had arrived in those tepid waters when we had a guest in the house complaining about how incredibly hot it was in the living room.  Heather and I looked at each other somewhat puzzled.  We felt remarkably comfortable.  I walked over to the thermostat to see what the actual temperature was in the room.

"It's twenty-six," I said, with shock in my voice.  We were ready to curl up under a blanket because our bodies had been reprogrammed by the stiflingly hot weather.

Moments before leaving work to begin our summer holidays I was asked if I would be willing to accept a secondment (or a temporary assignment) to work on a project to get an arts council up and running in our region.  A nonprofit entity had been created and an interim board appointed, but it needed some full-time attention to become organized and operational.

"Absolutely," I said without hesitation.

"We'll get that started right away in August," he said, or as soon as I returned to the office after our two week holiday.

I was a little dazed as I packed up my stuff and headed home to start packing for our trip, as surprised as I was delighted that I would soon be spending the bulk of my time focusing on the arts, though there wasn't a lot of detail or direction.  That would come later.

Our summer journey took us from Cold Lake, Alberta to Watrous, Saskatchewan to spend a couple of days with my brother Doug and his family.  From the central part of the province we darted east to spend a short stretch at home in Kamsack before heading down to Winnipeg, Manitoba where we spent some wonderful hours with Heather's grandparents and her Uncle Gary and Aunt Syl's family before returning to Kamsack.  Eventually we ended up at Lac des Isles near Meadow Lake to hang out with Heather's mom, dad and brother and his family.

I could devote hundreds of words to describing every detail of these incredible days, but apparently pictures say a thousand words, so let's do it that way.

Both Dylan and Ben gave some fishing a try on the dock at Cold Lake.  We didn't catch anything, but we sure enjoyed spending time on the water.

Watrous provided lots of great opportunities for family walks and great visits.

Doug was the master fisherman early one morning.

The iPad proved to be popular with the little ones.

Dylan enjoyed some head-to-head time with his Memere.

The iconic Thomas family bus.

It was great to chat with Grandpa Gordon during several visits to their wonderful home  in The Wellington.

Grandma Mary looks absolutely wonderful, belying her 90 years.

Syl and Gary were marvelous hosts as they provided a base of operations for our Winnipeg adventures.

It felt great to work on a project together and a achieve a positive result - a new garbage container at the back of Mom and Dad's yard.  The old one was becoming a hazard after 40 years.

Warren, Sherry and Tori treated us to an outstanding afternoon and evening at Madge Lake, not to mention thrilling rides on the "big comfy couch".

Julia is growing into a wonderful young lady.

The cherry spitting contest was one of the highlights of our Lac des Isles stop on our holiday.

Do you think Dylan is having any fun?

A walk in the forest provided a lovely memory of Heather and her niece Julia.

One of many wonderful sunsets we were treated to this summer. This was on our final evening at Lac des Isles.

Upon our return to Fort McMurray I began moving offices at work while Heather, Dylan and Ben prepared for part two of their summer adventures.  Just a few days later, they departed south, dropping Dylan off at the Take Action Academy near Calgary.  Heather and Ben went on to spend some time in Crowsnest Pass and in the mountains.

The Ben Desk project

I enjoyed a working holiday at home, stripping out the upstairs bathroom, giving it a new coat of paint and installing tile baseboards.  I also built Ben a desk for his room.

A young boy jumps from the lifeguard town at YMCA Geneva Park

My final weekend of the summer was spent at Mindcamp at YMCA Geneva Park near Orillia, Ontario.  It was an amazing couple of days with creative thought leaders from 14 different countries.  It's good to be back in the swing of things - the boys have returned to school (on Wednesday) and Heather is poised to begin a busy fall of yoga teacher training sessions and myriad other activities.

I hope you had a terrific summer, that the sunshine was plentiful, mosquitoes scarce and the good times in abundance.

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