The reason for my absence over the weekend has been lack of internet connection. Yes, there do exist places without wifi access, and one of those happens to be my parents’ house, where my dear mother and father continue to insist on living in the 19th century. As much as I hate it, I also sort of like having a reason to leave my computer at home, turn off my phone, and recall what it’s like to sit on the couch, slightly bored, making conversation with whoever’s around because there’s nothing else to do. And, weirdest of all, it’s as if I have to relearn how to type when I get home. My keyboard actually felt foreign and awkward last night after three days away.
We had a glorious weekend in Muskoka. It was brilliantly sunny and frigidly cold; the temperature read -27 degrees Celsius yesterday morning when we woke up. It’s the kind of cold that freezes the inside of my nose within seconds of stepping outside. Even a quick dash out to the car requires a warm coat, and by the time I’m back, my lungs are protesting from the painfully cold air I’m intaking. Even my hair turned frosty silver within minutes of being outside. Despite that, we bundled up ourselves and the kids warmly and spent lots of time outdoors.
Saturday was the Dorset Snowball carnival, an annual event that’s one of the most exciting days of the year in this small town’s life. The Snowball has been running for over twenty years, and it’s interesting how it never seems to change much. Many of the exhibits are the same from when I was little — snowshoe races, minnow races, horse-and-wagon rides, hot deep-fried moose tongues (aka beaver tails) with decadent toppings, chainsaw wood carvings, the drum circle, sledding on the hill. Some new additions this year were the BodyZorb, a bizarrely rotating gyroscope supporting a person inside who goes flipping all over the place, some huge clear plastic inflated balls that a person could climb inside and go rolling all over the place (A. loved this), and a Birds of Prey exhibit. My father runs “The Shantyman’s Tools” exhibit, which is in keeping with his love of the 19th century lifestyle! (Both my parents say they were born in the wrong century and you’d believe it if you saw their house.)
Back at the house, the weekend flew by in the blaze of chaotic happiness that is to be expected when visiting my family. We hiked through the forest, wandered on the frozen lake that had nearly two feet of ice, did a little bit of snowmobiling on an ancient, decrepit machine that died as soon as we got it out on the lake, needing to be hauled back to the house by ATV. Best of all, we did lots of sledding on the driveway, using the speedy Flexible Flyers that can beat the GT racers every time. My little brother hauled out his latest invention, much to my mother’s horror, who discovered he’d pulled apart his new Haro mountain bike to create a …. snow bike!
Then there were the delicious warm hours spent in the front of the fireplace, eating fresh brioche sticky buns, homemade calzones, my Aunt Elspeth’s famous carrot cake, and too many cups of strong coffee. Baby L. wandered around the house, needing to be guided around the hot cast iron cook stove in the centre of the kitchen, but he got the hang of it.
Though I’m happy to be home, it was a tragic drive for A., who wailed repeatedly in the back seat that he just wanted to go back: “Please, please let Graham and David babysit me! Leave me there alone!” Alas, he was forced to return to his regular life with boring Mommy and Daddy. We don’t build crazy snow bikes and pretend-hunt for weasels in the basement like my brothers do. It’s so hard being small. Life will just have to be dull for a few more weeks before we go back..