Alas the days are growing longer, the sun shines with an angelic brilliance and the earth is rich in vegetation. The Red Ritsema turns her face to the morning sun armed for the long trek ahead of her. Her trusty steed that is her bike has been released from the repair shop and though it carry’s dents and scratches of valour from its battle, it remains a steady and sure ride. The Red Ritsema mounts her bike two weeks after her near death experience and pedals into the streets of Charlottetown early Tuesday morning. Traffic is slow and yet gradually building in density as she rides through the streets dressed in a traffic cone orange shirt. With every hill she faces she pushes on, breathing rhythmically and focusing on one pedal stride at a time. Red faced, out of breath, but exhilarated she arrives at her destination, the palace sized Anne of Green Gables Chocolates. Bursting through the doors like a soldier coming home from the front she cries out her victory and is met with a resounding “Hurray!” from her co-workers. She made it all the way to work and met no vehicular foe.
I am back on my bike, fully healed unafraid and ready to roll. But biking to work and surviving both physically and emotionally was not the only victory for the day. As I took my place at the cream table we began hand rolling a batch of raspberry butter creams. They were immaculate and as soft as a babies bottom. I felt like I was spinning silk and we had almost no issues with rolling them to the acceptable weight. As they traveled through the dark chocolate enrober it was to my delight that a small handful came out the other end less than perfect and unworthy of display. But I encouraged the little cast offs and gathered them into the loving embrace of my belly, mmmmmm, raspberry cream!
It was a full and fabulous day of work and I had an excellent day all around. Work has been great this past week, busier than a fleet of ants rebuilding their home after someone kicked it, but great. We are a little behind on our production, it seems that every time we fill an order and it goes out the door we are left with nothing and back to square one. But like the tortoise we push on, slow and steady and solid.
The bike ride home from work was the real victory though. The Island is in another week of rain, rain, rain and just for good measure rain, oh and don’t forget those strong east winds. It didn’t look like it was raining when started for home but the funny thing with rain is that it come at the most inopportune moment. I was pedaling up a particularly steep hill, against the wind, along side a thick flow of 5:00pm traffic. Just as I crested the hill and made my descent down a safe street it began to rain. Speeding down the hill the rain fell in fat drops feeling more like a shower of grenades than rain. But I pushed on, taking this assault as a gift. I knew the hard part was yet to come. I decided to bike along the harbour because the streets were wider and the side walk would be void of pedestrians making it safe. But the wind gushed at me from the side, trying to push me beyond the safety of the sidewalk and into traffic. I fought hard, holding my ground and ignoring the windy assault. I knew it was just the wind being mischievious because when I turned up my street it pushed me from behind and guided me home. I arrived save, soaked and smiling.
The victories continued to escalate from there. On Saturday I took the plunge and got my ears pierced for the very first time. Let me inform you that I am 23 years old, and I am just getting my ears pierced now. I didn’t go anywhere special, just Claire’s at the mall, however I did have friends offering to do it the old fashioned way with an apple and a needle. Getting your ears pierced at Claire’s is a pretty decent deal, you pay for the studs and cleaning solution but the pain is free. What a bargain. When I inquired about getting ear piercings the woman looked around and asked if I had a younger girl with me. I told her it was just me, and she naturally assumed I was getting my ears pierced for the second time. I told her it was my first time. She looked genuinely surprised, “Are you serious? How old are you? This is your first time?” She instinctively tucked a wisp of hair behind my ear to get a better look. It turned out to be true, I had bare holeless ears.
Allow me to answer the lingering question before I go into the gory details of the rest of the experience. Why did I wait this long to get my ears pierced? The simple answer is that I finally felt ready. Growing up I was never the most elegant of little girls. My head was often a magic land of fair maidens searching for their inner princess, or World War II underground resistance. When I ran around the back yard slaying invisible foes I did it with far less grace than what was portrayed in the movies. And while I believed I was never lacking in spunk and fight the elegance that great women of war carried with them onto the battle field I hadn’t found yet. They had some inner courage that pushed them on and held their heads high. They had a beautiful and deadly grace about them. And now I feel like I have gained that secret courage, I am a lady, not only do I feel beautiful but I believe that I truly am. And over that past few months my admiration for jewelry has increased and so has my collection. So I thought why not this weekend?
It was important for me to get my ears pierced this weekend because of a few things. For one it’s Cananda Day, so I might as well add another celebration into the mix and it is also the gateway to my birthday in 22 days so I thought it would be an early birthday gift to myself. All of those reasons pointed to the colour red, and red is a very important colour in my life. This weekend seemed a glorious red to me: red for Cananda Day, ruby red for July, rusty red for the Island and I have red hair to boot. So it was divinely decided that this would be the weekend.
I climbed into the chair and got down to business. I filled out the ear piercing form and was walked through the procedure. She asked if I wanted both of them done at the same time and I said sure, not realizing that that means they will do both ears at the same time Suddenly there was an assistant fiddling with my other ear and there were two ear guns loaded, locked and ready. They stood on either side of me, counted to three, and bang! It was done. It felt like getting stung by a bee and I felt the necessity to say, “Ow” even though it didn’t really hurt. The one girl was in and out like a bandit but the other as stuck. The gun wouldn’t release so I sat there as she tinkered trying hard not to rip out my ear. Eventually I was released and had a chance to see what they looked like. I looked at my ears in the mirror and said, “Oh it feels weirder than what I thought it would! But I really like it!” And I truly do. I have my ears pierced!
I had the profound privilege of spending Canada Day in the very placed where Confederation was signed. Today was a very special day for me and to tell you the truth I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. I went to the beach with Bernice as we seem to do every Sunday, we found more beach glass and I strolled aimlessly along the low tide shoreline as I always do. I arrived home late and exhausted but mustered up enough energy to wander down to the water to watch the fireworks. Friends of mine invited me to partake in their Canada Day plans and we sat on the opposite shore of Charlottetown and watched the show. Several dozen boats were anchored in the bay and a huge cruise ship was docked at the harbour. Across the water on the Victoria park shore we could hear live music and shouts of celebration of other proud Canadians. The fireworks were a magnificent symphony of explosions of bright colours and sounds. After the final firework exploded and fizzled into the night sky the crowds erupted in cheers, boat horns honked, and the cruise ship sounded their fog horn trembling the air in a low timber resonance. Traffic crawled homeward and all was put to bed for another year. I love this country, I love the people, the land, the fresh and salty water, and the freedom we have here. We aren’t a perfect country by any means but we have a lot to be proud of: beavers, maple syrup, vast landscapes, Mr. Dress Up, hockey, Winnie the Pooh, the Group of Seven, winter, and the list goes on. Living in the city where Canada was signed, sealed, and delivered 145 years ago is a fabulous indescribable feeling. I feel that by standing on the same ground where Confederation was signed that the history of my country has been written deeper on my heart and I need to uphold, care, and fight for her. Happy Birthday Canada! I am proud to call you home.