Kelly and I at Hopewell Rocks, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick
For those of you who have ever driven through the endless treescape of Quebec and New Brunswick to get to the East Coast of Canada, you'll wonder why I decided to do the trip twice this summer. Both trips were taken within a month of each other.
Google Maps says it is 1,948km from my house to Summerside, Prince Edward Island. One way. That means I drove roughly 8,000km, including the side-trip to Hopewell Rocks, in roughly five weeks.
Why? Family. The first trip was taken with my family, to see my grandmother and family. The second trip was taken with my sister Kelly (above), to see our grandmother and family.
Our family is at the end of an era. My mother comes from a farm family of seven kids, and she is the youngest. My grandfather passed away at 102 a few years ago, and my grandmother is now 102. Everything and everyone is pretty much just the way we left them almost 40 years ago when we moved to Ontario. The hierarchy and politics and way of life are frozen in time. Cows still dot the landscape, and tractors still drive down the main roads. Aunt Marlene still does canning and pickling.
Tourism P.E.I. says, "There's something special about an island. Naturally separated and self-contained, it's disconnected from the rest of the world -- but only in the most alluring ways. Rhythm, for one thing. Prince Edward Island will draw you into its comfortable, relaxed pace. Freed from the stresses of your regular routine, you'll soon find yourself living on Island Time, with too many unforgettable things to do, yet no pressure to do them." http://www.tourismpei.com/about-pei
And it is true. Kelly and I had a great time. We visited people we don't usually visit. I realized that we have never taken a trip together as adults, just the two of us. It was quite peaceful. I also realized that the next time I visit my family in P.E.I., it will be for my grandmother's funeral. That won't be so peaceful. With the matriarch gone, the era will have come to an end.
To our family, we are still kids. Just as our cousins seem to be the same as we left them, in many ways Kelly and I are still the kids that left. We don't know our cousins very well, and they don't know us very well. Being from Away has had its advantages and disadvantages.
But we are still family. We give big hugs to say hello, pick up where we left off, laugh a bit, get caught up, and give big hugs to say good-bye.
I was lucky this summer. I got to visit my grandmother twice. The warmth and love I felt during both trips will recharge my creative battery this fall.