Sunday, 27 May 2012

Whispers don't shatter the Sunshine

My week started out as well as to be expected after Convention last weekend. I was tired but chose to ignore the growing fatigue of my muscles and mind. I know that I always crash after Convention because it is so spiritually, emotionally, and physically draining, in a good way of course, but I figured that it wouldn’t happen to me and I could just carry on with life. On Wednesday I started to feel my throat become raw and my thoughts became clouded and my posture was dizzy. But I figured a hot totty before bed would cure that. When I woke up the next morning I was rudely faced with how wrong I was. I barely had enough energy to get out of bed and make my way down stairs. I fought to stay healthy and go to work but my body suggested I stay in bed. I opened my mouth to talk myself out of surrendering to illness but nothing came out. I had no voice! I felt like Ariel from the Little Mermaid, stripped of her most valuable possession and her soul! I gave in, crawled back up to bed and went to sleep.

The rest of the day was pretty foggy. I remember waking up for a few hours, enough time to have some breakfast and build a nest around my bed of books to read, movies to watch, and crocheting to catch up on. My wonderful roommate Sandra ran to the drugstore and grabbed me some Halls cough drops and a cocktail of vitamins like ginseng, vitamin C, and Echinacea. I spent the day watching movies and slipping in and out sleep and eating my body weight in Halls. By the evening I regained some of my energy, wasn’t dizzy when I stood, and had my appetite back for solid food. And the following day I was back to work, chipper and sing song as usual. I was excited to be back at work. I felt terrible leaving my coworkers to pick up my slack while I was home sick even though I know they would rather I stay home and get better than coming to work getting the rest of them sick.

The weekend opened up the doors to the start of the season. The 2012 Prince Edward Island tourist season has begun. The boats are back in the harbour, the quaint little shops are open and filled with Island nick nacks and goodies, buskers dot the Charlottetown street corners stringing music through the air like white Christmas lights. Restaurants have opened the patio seating and the sun beams down ever warmly on the red soil and lush greenery. The tulips and crocuses of spring have wilted away and the rich warm aroma of lilacs all purple and divine over power the fragrance of the ocean. A gentle breeze constantly weaves through the Island and whispers over the ocean ever so slightly to bathe it a constant diamond like sparkler. With the days so warm and the ocean growing more and more inviting and the smell of smoky burgers, French fries, and waffle corners hugging the street corners as well as your hips it seems appropriate to whisper the word, “Summer.” No doubt saying such a fragile word aloud would shatter the anticipation of the season and send us back into winter.

On Sunday I spent the afternoon with my dear friend Lindsay. We adorned ourselves in flip flops, capris, bright shirts and sun glasses and strolled the streets of Charlottetown, stopping for ice cream at Cows Ice Cream. It is my goal to try every flavour of Cows Ice Cream this summer. This week I started with Chocolatey Mint Chip. It was delicious, cool and refreshing yet the texture was filling and satisfying a combination of velvety ice cream and the bitter sweet crunch of chocolate chips. With ice creams in hand we meandered to the harbour. We rested upon the rocks and spent a solid hour pointing out jelly fish as they languidly and gracefully floated to the surface and then back down into the safety of the deep. We followed the jelly fish and nimbly and carefully maneuvered over the rocks in pursuit, trying to get closer and playfully and curiously poking them with a stick. We bent and curved along the edge of the harbour, chatting about this and that and the next thing as friends often do. After we parted ways near my apartment I sluggishly climbed the stairs and collapsed on the couch for a nap. I had forgotten how sleepy and satisfied the sun makes you.

Yes indeed, the welcome mat is out, the door is open, and there’s a beach chair with your name on it. Come for a visit and stay forever. The Island is waiting. 

A storm over the east side of the Island

Electric and jagged sunset, super cool

The sunshine beauty Lindsay!

Lindsay poking a jelly fish

Me poking a jelly fish

Jelly fished poked

Jelly fish!

Me starring off into the blue. 

Me acting silly

Cherry blossoms I think. 

Me smelling the cherry blossoms

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Christmas in a closet and 18 hours of sleep over 4 days.

This past week was a big exciting lead up to this past May 24 weekend, but before I get into the intensity of the details let me share with you a little known fact about Anne of Green Gables Chocolates.

On our list of regular chocolates to make there are butter creams, sea salt caramels, toffee, oysters (which are just another name for turtles, but you didn’t hear that from me), truffles, chocolate covered potato chips, fudge, almond toffee crunch, etc. But this past week I had the pleasure of making mint truffles. Mint truffles are taken very seriously at Anne’s Chocolates. Because their intoxicating nostalgic aroma is so potent we keep all of the ingredients and equipment in special wooden cabinet that is locked and tucked away at the back of the kitchen. I followed Larry to the back of the kitchen and when he opened the cabinet a wave of Christmas cheer and warmth burst from the open doors and enveloped me in a big hug. I felt dizzy and my eye lids fluttered as my nose and mouth inhaled deep gulps of the cherished scent of mint and the old wood of the cabinet. I became lost in the smell and Larry’s voice became distant as he talked me through the process of mint truffles. Instead of his peppery giddy voice I heard the faint calling of jingle bells, the shushing of sleigh of snow, and I could almost feel the prickles of the Christmas tree. But with a sudden click of the doors shutting and locking Christmas was sucked back into hiding and what little festive fragrance that remained it hung in the air like garland on a door frame. As it turns out making mint truffles isn’t that much different than regular truffles, the only difference is the mint flavouring, obviously. However before you let them set over night you have to cover them so the smell doesn’t bleed into the other chocolates.

When we came to work the next day the chocolate shop smelled like Christmas Eve, all tingly and ebony with snow and candles. Turns out you can cover the truffles all you want but that pungent smell will still escape. Thankfully the aromatic air was just strong enough to inspire Christmas carols but weak enough to leave the other chocolates in their own smells and tastes. As I was skinning the truffles (also known as taking them off the table and putting them on trolleys to be enrobed in chocolate) I “accidently” dropped one on the floor. I quickly brushed the dirt off and popped it into my mouth. I know what the shepherds must have felt like when the angel announced Jesus birth because my tongue was rejoicing over the succulent stimulating taste of that mint truffle! It bathed my mouth in cool refreshing mint yet melted into a pool of warm hopeful bliss and descended into my belly like a sleigh ride through the woods. I was tempted to drop another on the floor but I didn’t want to rob any one else of this magical delight.

Now on to my weekend. This portion of the post comes with a warning: The following reading may cause you laughter, deep spiritual pondering, and maybe even some tears. Read with caution and pace yourself.

Every year for the past 9 years on the May 24 weekend I have attended All Ontario Youth Convention. It is a gathering of all the Christian Reformed Church youth groups within the southern half of Ontario, everywhere from Ottawa to Sarnia, Toronto to Goderich, and everything in between. However, to say that it is restricted just to the CRC isn’t as true as it once was, more and more community churches are welcomed into the weekend and the CRC domination name has become a shadow rather than a spot light on the weekend. The true love of communal worshiping of Jesus and acceptance of all denominations, levels of spirituality and Christians glows warmly and invitingly. But as the CRC is a congregation of crazy Dutchman there is still a hefty ribbon of comical pride surrounding the weekend. It takes a brave soul to speak against the Dutch in fun when 90% of the attendants are Dutch or from Dutch background. Thankfully it is a Christian conference so forgiveness and redemption is achieved quickly. That leaves only 10% non-Dutch attendants and there was exactly 1000 people attending Convention, including youth, leaders, speakers, and worship band.

This past weekend I celebrated my 10th AOYC in a row! I was super pumped for the weekend and ready for long days, barley any sleep, epic amounts of singing, soaking up the divine blessing of being with friends who have walked with me through my faith journey and I was even looking forward to having a good spiritual cry. My anticipation for this weekend was elated. I knew God had something special up His sleeve and I had visions all week of angels coming to rest on the buildings of Wilfred Laurier University Campus where the convention would be held. As I sat in the plane on the way to Ontario I couldn’t help but feel that I should be coming to Convention with more weight and trouble on my heart. Convention always holds new healing and inspiration and I felt that I was coming in too happy, perhaps I should dig up some sorrow to set my heart in a little funk so I could appreciate the healing more. But at 30,000 ft God whispered, “I’m glad you are happy to see me. You don’t have to feel sad to enjoy the blessings of Convention. I will double your happiness.” But God lied, He didn’t double my happiness, he quadrupled my joy.

During registration when all of the excited and terrified teens arrived I helped my dear friend Fraser with the t-shirt table, handing out t-shirts to those who had ordered one and assuring those who didn’t it wasn’t too late to grab a sweet Convention T. Being on the Island for 9 months and away from the thick Dutch culture I had in Ontario I found it hard to pronounce all the funny Dutch last names like Van Roostelaar, Groetje, and Hoeksma had me tongue tied. When I stumbled upon a McLennan I rejoiced over the familiar Island family name. I asked the lad that was picking up his t-shirt if he had family on the Island and he said all but his immediate family lived there.  How refreshing it was to share an Island moment with this happy stranger. I was even happier when a young Italian youth graced the T-shirt table and his family name Cantipallo rolled off my tongue like rosemary season sun dried tomatoes and fresh green peppers.

For the past 5 years I have juggled the responsibility of being a Small Group Leader, on the Prayer Team, and Hospitality Team. This year I was solely designated to the Events team and was given the task of Art Den Coordinator. First of all being on the Events Team automatically puts you in the cool leadership boat. I get to where a pink t-shirt all weekend with the AOYC logo on the front and “EVENTS” written on the back. I get a key to the Art Den and I had a Walkie Talkie clipped to my hip for the first day. The feeling of authority and empowerment was not wasted on me, I strutted around campus radioing the other teams asking for help in setting up the Art Den, the use of a car to run to Wal-Mart for a few errands ( by the way walking around Wal-Mart with a walkie on my hip and the chatter of the other team members passing over the speaker for all of Wal-Mart to hear really puffed up my chest), and I even used it to slide in the occasional funny comment. I may have abused that responsibility just a little too much and used it to cut in line during meals. For that I feel bad and I was setting a bad example for the youth conveying the message that being on the leadership team meant the rules don’t apply to you. But the best thing about being on the leadership team is that you don’t have to sleep in the other gender orientated dorms. All of the members on the leadership team, the speakers and praise band all sleep in one dorm, a co-ed powerhouse of love, energy, and commitment.  

I was excited to run the Art Den this year and in a nut shell it is a creative space where you can come and talk to God and have God talk to you through drawing, painting, writing, sculpting, or just doodling. It is a safe space to allow yourself to be open to the Holy Spirit through art and creative meditation. Anyone can come to the Art Den during free time and let their creativity over flow into something beautiful. This is the second year the Art Den has been apart of Convention and this year we decided to have the Art Den opened during Small Group time as well. Small Groups are groups of 4-6 teens and usually 1 or 2 leaders. They usually gather in the leader’s room or other designated quiet place where they will talk about the worship service, what the speakers talked about, what they liked and what they didn’t like, and the weekend as a whole. It is a safe space for teens to talk about God, their struggles with their faith, their lack of faith, and anything else. I wanted to have the Art Den opened during small groups because sometimes it is hard for someone to open up verbally. Having the freedom of drawing their thoughts or being in a space that is creative and comfortable to them allows them to feel less vulnerable and more open to sharing. The Art Den was booked solid during small group time all weekend, and I even found it hard to turn groups away. At one point I had seven groups signed up where the Art Den could only host 4 comfortably, it didn’t bother the groups any and they sprawled out on the floor in the hallway or found seats in the classroom next door.

With the Art Den being open twice as much as usual I soon found myself running between responsibilities and getting easily distracted by them. It’s hard to maintain a level of Convention responsibility and duties while trying to remain spiritual available to God and others. By Saturday night I was already dead tired and desperate to escape the Art Den. I locked up early and b-lined it for the Prayer Sanctuary for God and I to have some face time. The Prayer Sanctuary is a peaceful space with about 12 different stations where you are prompted to focus on different aspects of Gods love for you, the anguish of your spiritual journey and a place to just sit at His feet and breathe. There are stations that focus on the desert and thirst in your life and the spiritual dryness and doubt we all face, the simple desire of God to have you throw your anger and restlessness on Him, the joy of sitting in His presence and smiling with Him, and the opportunity to hold your loved ones up in prayer to Him. They added a couple new stations this year and my favourite was the clay station. I was invited to sit at a table with pieces of broken and dried clay. I was encouraged to name my fears, unrest, burdens, stress, and road blocks to Jesus and place them on the clay pieces. Then when I was ready I dropped them into a bowl of water and sat and watched and waited. At first nothing happened and then I saw tiny lines of air bubbles escape the clay, they whistled up to the surface robbing the clay of the oxygen and then the edges began to erode. The foundation of the clay was rendered useless by the water and I saw the metaphor of my fear dissolve. It no longer held foundation in my heart. Throughout the rest of the Convention I was energetic and at peace, I enjoyed going to the Art Den early and used that time to have some God time while cleaning and organizing it for the next group. I cranked up the music and sang and danced with volume and vigor.

The speakers for the weekend were Tony Campolo and Shane Claibourne. Both unveiled the tragic mess we have made of our world. Some people think that coming to Convention is a place where youth go to forget their problems, sing songs, hold hands, make friends, and sing kumbaya all day long. But Convention has always been a place where we confront our hurts, we acknowledge the injustices done to the world and to ourselves, we are reminded of the pain that we have caused and that has been done to us, we are challenged to forgive and ask forgiveness, to scream, cry, get angry with God and be honest with ourselves, to break out of he cycle of abuse and to live a simply radical life for Jesus. Convention pushes us out of our harmful comfort zones to the safety of Jesus and the forgiveness we need to ask for and give. Convention reminds us that we are human, but God loves us still.

As Shane Claibourne talked about his mission work all over the world he told us how at times he felt angry with God and shouted, “God! Why don’t you do something about all the pain and suffering of this world? Why aren’t you doing anything to fix it?” God told Shane, “I did do something, I made you.” Shane made it clear that God doesn’t want to end the suffering of this world without us. He wants us to be a part of the miracle. I know that it can be daunting looking at the world we live in and hearing our break again and again for the things we can’t control. I have wished I could scoop up an entire orphanage in Africa and fold them under my Mama Jo wings to eliminate their tears. I have looked at the homeless people in my own neighbourhood and thought, “Who caused you so much pain that you ended up living here?” I want to make a difference and support all of the organizations, charities, and missions at the same time but then I start to feel my body begin to crumple under compassion and I know it’s too much for me to handle. I feel useless.

We were giving a reverse offering at Convention. The Prayer Team laid five dollar bills at the front of the stage with the word “Love” stamped on them. We were encouraged to make poverty personal and take five dollars and use it to bless someone in need. We were encouraged not to drop it in a collection for a big mission work organization, even though that is helpful and if that is where God is calling you do go then be blessed, but Shane pushed us to be brave. To spend that five dollars on someone tangible, someone you can see with your own eyes rather than someone who is on the other side of the world. It is easier to love someone in Africa than to love people you see everyday. We were encouraged to buy a lunch for someone who is hungry, maybe give a single mom some laundry money, or spend it on some flowers and give them to someone who needs a smile. As Mother Theresa said, “It is fashionable to talk about the poor, but unfashionable to talk to the poor.” Let’s be unfashionable.  

But the biggest blessing of all came at the Sunday night worship service. The worship band lead us into a Holy moment and encouraged us to speak to God and tell Him what was on hearts. I will admit that I entered in with my own ideas of what Jesus wanted to hear about my heart, I tried to use regular understandable words but He prompted me again and again to speak to Him. I exhaled and suddenly my lips and tongue were moving on their own accord and I was speaking in tongues! I couldn’t believe it, me, little old Mama Jo, was gibbering back and forth with God in a heavenly language that only Him and I could understand. To anyone else it must have sounded like I was having a verbal seizure dribbling out syllables and incoherent vowels. But to me it sounded like whispers of love and laughter and Jesus eternal promise in my life. I could hear Him listening and honouring my spiritual thirsts and laughing with me as I stood there in disbelief that this was happening to me. Amongst the gibberish I understood one phrase: You are Special! When it was over I couldn’t stop smiling and I burst into a flood of happy tears. What a special experience on my 10th Convention!

When Monday morning came I was of course sad to be leaving Convention but eager to go home to the Island. Eager to share my story to carry the love and all the new things I learned. As I stepped off the plane I was greeted with the warm fragrance of the ocean, oh how I have missed it. The blessings don’t stop at Convention though. After I plunked my bags in my room, I sprawled on the couch and ordered a pizza. The delivery man came jovial and genuine calling me darling or dear every other word. What I thought was going to be a $30 pizza turned out to be $17! What a blessing!! I curled up with a sappy movie, ate pizza, and cried. It is safe to say Convention left me emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted, it feels amazing! 

The Art Den

One of the worship sessions

My sister-in-law Danielle and I. She was at Convention as a counselor. It was so much fun to share the weekend with her and hang out wither her. 

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Promise is on the Move

This past week has been quiet. I have folded into a good routine with work and have adjusted well to waking up at 5:30 every morning. Chocolate production is in full swing and the shop is slowly becoming fuller with assorted butter creams, caramels, chocolate covered potato chips and toffees. Larry and I are busy trying to keep up with the girls as they package the chocolates as soon as we make them. On a good day we will go through 40 pounds of butter, 14 kilograms of sugar, and 10 litres of cream. On Friday we easily doubled that and made 8 batches of almond toffee crunch. I may have mentioned before that we have to make exactly 1 ton of crunch to send to Cows Creamery where they will use it to make their famous Wowie Cowie ice cream. So the next time you indulge in a scoop of Cows Ice cream and your mouth is filled with buttery toffee crunch just remember that Mama Jo made it especially for you.

The highlight of my week was Saturday. I slept in until 8:00 am and had a leisurely morning slowly sipping my coffee and catching up on some good reading. After lunch I jumped on my bike and like an animal released from its cage I cycled down the quaint streets of Charlottetown. With every corner I turned my whole body inhaled the sweet promise of spring. The maroon haze that crowned the blossoming trees and shrubs had burst into a fresh green. New, clean vegetation erupted from the ground reaching its spindly weak tendrils to the sunlight and air above. Tulips popped out of the ground as if to surprise you. Magnolias veiled parks and cemeteries in a thin layer of pink and cream. Trees stretched out their arms and grasped all the sunlight they could, slowly sewing a canopy of green. Shadows of trees that were once skeletal and empty began to thicken and cast vast blankets of shade around them. The smell of the ocean is warming and it tingles with life. Sail boats have broken the water and charted their summer course of adventure. Everything looks, feels, and smells promising.

I meandered through Charlottetown stopping every so often to capture a whisper of spring. Eventually I found myself on an abandoned and secluded patch of grass in Victoria Park. I stretched out on a blanket with my sketch book and allowed the world around me to melt into the one I have inside. The two came together in a dance between pencil and paper as I doodled my thoughts, brainstormed heros and heroines to invent and mapped out the uncharted lands of my imagination. Eventually a chill fell over the afternoon and rain lingered in the air eager to soak the ground and encourage further growth. I hurried home, but did not escape quickly enough and was damp with life giving drizzle.

It has been a very good week and the promise of a good summer smiles strongly upon the Island. I can only hope that I will have more sunny days to soak in and send along to you.

Red house with a white veil. 

Tulips and blue pansies, they look happy to see you. 

Bashful beauty. 

A walk through Narnia, just beyond the lamp post. 

Aslan's How

Beauty waking up

Grow little ones, grow. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

When life gives you lemons, make cement

As I am sure you have all noticed I am rather late in posting this weeks blog. I have had a whirl wind of a weekend that I will further explain. Please forgive me. I should mention that next weeks post will be late as well. But this weeks should be on time.

Monday was the beginning of lobster season and because of road work on my regular route to work we took a lazy detour loop around by the cove. I was treated to the view of blue open ocean dotted with little white lobster boats racing to stake their claim to their lobster grounds for the season. I look forward to having a my first lobster of the season.

After a long day where there is more than enough frustrations to set you back don’t you wish you could just hop on a plane and fly anywhere just to get away and breathe for awhile. I was fortunate to have that experience on Friday. I got to work ready for a good day of chocolate making and looking forward to flying home that evening to Ontario. We started the day with lemon cream and while it was cooking I gleefully and ambidextrously started to chop another 15 pounds of peanuts for three batches of peanu brittle the following week. When the lemon cream was pouring into the creamer we could see it didn’t look quite right. After looking back over the recipe we noticed that we put in 4.750 kg of sugar instead of 7.560 kg. Hoping for the best we let it cool down but when we tried to turn the creamer on it wouldn’t budge. The motor groaned painfully, the belt spun labouriously and began to burn, and the cream sat in the thick unmoving yellow pool. We had made lemon cement. We ran hot water underneath the creamer to loosen the ugly mess but I had to push its paddles to help it along.  Finally the cream melted and the paddles began to move on their own. We then scrapped the bottom of the creamer and the paddles, cleaned it with hot soupy water and started the lemon cream all over again, this time we put the right amount of sugar in.

The second batch of lemon cream turned out so well that when we poured it into the creamer to become light and fluffy instead of taking 15 minutes to become perfect it took 30! Arg! This was just the tip of the ice burg to a melting pot of other mishaps in the kitchen that day and I was more than happy to clock out and hop on a plane to Ontario at the end of the day.

The flight home was wonderful. I love take off! I pressed my fingers against the window smiling widely at the beautiful red soil falling beneath me. The PEI landscape is just as magical from the air as it is from the ground. The red fields look like a quilt of large, rectangle, discontinued pennies. The coast line shimmered in the golden sun, and all the fishing and lobster boats puttered their way back to shore with their days catch. I stayed awake just long enough to receive my complimentary coffee and Bits and Bites and then I cozied up to the window and fell asleep until the captain spoke over the intercom announcing our arrival in Toronto. Once off the plane and with luggage in hand I anxiously waited outside for my best friend, Rachel, to pick me up. I looked into the passing cars searching for her lovely face and then, down the street, between the soft glow of the passing car head lights I saw a radiant flow of golden hair, blowing in the breeze as her swift feet sent her flying down the sidewalk. There she was! My beloved bosom friend all the way from Vancouver. I ran to meet her, threw my arms around her neck and hugged her viciously. We had only a moments embrace as her brother Fraser pulled the car up in true 007 style, we jumped in, closed the doors and sped off, well as speedy as you can be in a sea of Toronto airport traffic, homeward bound for swingin’ Wingham. The car ride home was a none stop giggle and gaggle of conversation and munching on especially delicious chocolates made by yours truly. I arrived home late and was overjoyed to flop into my old bed, all fluffy with new sheets, and five pillows to cuddle up to. The spring peepers gently chirped in the lower pond only a stones throw away from my window and I fell into sweet dreams.

Saturday was a happy day of union as I had the honour of attending my friend Tess’s wedding. Her wedding is the whole reason why I came home in the first place. She scolded me for spending a plane ticket home on her wedding but I wouldn’t miss it for all the lobster in PEI! The day couldn’t be more perfect. The weather was sunny and warm. The trees were hazed in sap green, crab apple trees blushed in soft pink hues and flowers dotted the gardens. The wedding was held on the farm where she grew up and as she walked down the gravel driveway her radiance out shone the sun. It was a very small intimate wedding with close family and friends, and as I looked at the 54 other people in attendance I almost felt that I shouldn’t be there, how did I get on the guest list? What does Tess see in me that she invited me to one of the happiest days of her life? It was a true honour to celebrate her special day with her and I am overjoyed that she has found a solid Christian man to call husband for the rest of her life.

After vows were spoken, lunch consumed, speeches made, explosions of laughter, trickles of tears and wedding cake eagerly moving into its new place of residence on my hips I excused myself from the celebrations and raced down the highway to see my beloved nephew Landon, and new niece Kenzie. I haven’t met Kenzie yet, I feel like I am he only one hat hasn’t held her yet, and my arms ached to hold her and bless her. Landon had been anticipating my visit and was eagerly waiting for my arrival. As I pulled up he spotted me from across the driveway and ran towards me, shouting my name and giggling. I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough. I ran towards him and swooped him up into my arms, we twirled around giggling and laughing. He wriggled loose from me, took me by hand and said, “Aunt Joelle, let’s play trains!” From that point on we transformed the living room into a multi-track railway express.

When Kenzie work from her nap I held her in my arms and looked at her face. She smiled at me and her eyes gave a little sparkle as if to say, “I recognize you.” I told how special she was and how much fun we would have together. I told her I was the cool aunt and that when she was 18 years old her and I and Landon would all get tattoos together, and I would take her to her first rock concert, and teach her how to make Italian Butter cream. For the moment she just smiled lazily as if to say she was game for any adventure I had planned, and then she snuggled into my neck for a few more winks of sleep.

After a delicious dinner put on by my wonderful sister and brother-in-law we packed up the kids in strollers and all walked down to Frosty Queen for ice cream. It was a delicious spring evening, warm and pleasant, neighbours were out watering their plants, and vegetation of all varieties was poking up from the ground. The foliage on the trees grew slowly from spindly barren branches to full leafage. The odd tree was already robed in a full mature canopy of lush green leaves while other trees enjoyed their bright green sprouts and lingered in the spring growth.

The sweet taste of vanilla soft serve ice cream dipped in chocolate always opened the gate to summer for me. As I sat there licking the delicious velvety texture I couldn’t help but feel like I was cheating. Here I was eating the first ice cream of the summer and I wasn’t even spending it in Ontario. I would be on a plane back to PEI the following day and all of my adventures would take place between the red shores and rolling hills of the Island. It didn’t seem right to me to be opening my summer in Ontario when PEI held more of my summer time. But then I looked at my nephew, ice cream dribbling down his chin and hands as he gobbled it down excitedly, in between licks he jabbered on about trains, cars, and all other important things that a 3 year old has on his mind. I looked at my family as they sat around a picnic table, letting their conversation drift as lazily as the breeze. Of course I have to start my summer with my family, they give me the foundation, support, and care that I will need to live out a summer in PEI filled with lobster, beaches, and potatoes.

The next day I spent all of 30 minutes in my home church, hugging my church family, spilling out details about my summer, graduation and lack of future plans. After we sang a handful of worship songs, my parents and I excused ourselves, jumped in the car, and made our way to Toronto. The drive was delightful and easy, we meandered along Airport Road and I memorized all the splashes of beauty I saw along the way: lilac bushes in bloom, old stone houses covered in ivy, and rickety old barns warped from rain and sun. Home is beautiful but I was eager to see the friendly face of PEI. We hit unexpected traffic and I became anxious that I wouldn’t make my flight. But the Lord provided us with a way out through the busy Sunday drivers and I made it to airport ten minutes before they started boarding the plane. Phew! The Lord blessed me again with a front row window seat with plenty of leg room and no one was sitting beside me so I could sprawl out. The plane ride back to the Island was similar to that of the one to Toronto. I stayed awake just long enough for those complimentary goodies and then I feel fast asleep and woke up with a start when the captain announced we were landing in Charlottetown. When I got home to my apartment I dumped all my baggage in my room, promising to properly unpack tomorrow. I ordered a pizza, put up my feet and watched a movie before crawling up to bed and falling asleep.

So there you have it. A very wild weekend filled with family, friends, lilacs, and ice cream. 

Tess and I on her wedding day

Kenzie and I

Landon and I trying to fly

My favourite niece and nephew. I love these munchkins!