It’s incredibly hard to relax and forget about the stresses of work and daily life unless you get very, very far away from it – which is why the last two weeks were very satisfying for me.
I ventured back to Ontario for some R & R, but the main reason was to attend my brother’s wedding in Guelph – an occasion for which I was apparently almost overlooked when it came to the guest list. I returned the favour by getting Dr. & Dr. Love (yes, you read that right) a sympathy card in lieu of the traditional one. Most people might find that a little rude, but us Loves like to show approval or extend congratulations through sarcasm.
I haven’t gone camping in a while. So when I camped out one night with a couple friends, I discovered it’s changed quite a bit from what I knew it as. Tents are no longer the tiny barely-fits-two-people contraptions I grew up with. They’re now 1,000-square-foot structures that are big enough to house Kate Plus Eight and are fitted with more storage compartments than the average closet. The preferred forms of entertainment while “roughing it” have also changed. Instead of card games and campfire stories it’s computer games and movies. At one point each camper sat in dead silence, preoccupied with an iPhone, iPad or MacBook Pro. (Kinda sad that one of the rare moments I had Internet access during my vacation was while camping). WiFi has definitely changed the world in some pretty bizarre ways.
The biggest challenge of returning to the homeland is always trying to squeeze in as many visits and excursions as possible. This time around I managed to slip in a hike in the woods, an afternoon at the beach and a few cups of coffee with old friends. I was also very flattered to spend some quality time with a handsome young man, who topped off our date by handing me a flower (he is only two years old and it was a dandelion, but it still made my heart melt). While a year can fly by, nothing reminds you of just how much can change in that amount of time quite like watching a friend’s child go from crying and crawling to talking and running in a flash.
On Sunday, I had the opportunity to take in the Grand River Rodeo in Grand Valley, Ont. Despite growing up in cattle country, it was the first rodeo in Ontario I’ve ever been to. Former Maple Creek cowboy Shawn Orr was the announcer, with the rodeo put on by Wildhorse Productions, the rodeo stock company he runs with his wife Amanda. She currently sits third in ladies breakaway roping in the Canadian Cowboy Association standings. (Interestingly enough, the Orrs’ farm is only five kilometres from the farm at Hopeville, Ont. where I grew up. A small world indeed.) The muddy rodeo had a different atmosphere than those in southwestern Saskatchewan. For one thing, there were a lot less cowboy hats and a lot more flip flops. Although it was only in its second year, the Grand River Rodeo drew out a large crowd and was an excellent way to spend the afternoon.