10 October 2013

The Book of Me (3)

More catchup. Really, I am taking this seriously. Hats off to those who are diligently keeping up! Julie's prompts are making me realize where photographs of yore are regrettably missing.

Prompt Four: Seasons. 
SUMMER. No contest. No ambivalence, no waffling, hands down the winner.  
If you lived in Thunder Bay at the head of Lake Superior, you annually waited ten months for the magic of summertime (about six weeks long, although some like to say it lasts only two). People decamp from the city for their summer camps, meaning "cottages" or "cabins" in other cultures. Liberation! Kids go wild, barefoot, sunburnt (olden days, obviously), blissfully running their own agendas. There's just the lake, our boats, our bikes, the baseball teams, and sleeping in tents if we feel like it. Parents are also chilling out with few responsibilities other than hauling their refrigeration needs from the ice house at the tiny nearby store and ensuring the honeyman comes by the outhouse regularly.

Then you move to a new camp that has indoor plumbing! You get to be a teenager, play spin-the-bottle at wiener roasts, have romances with young pups who are learning to drive cars, what more could anyone possibly want. Then you get your own kids and one hundred years of tradition at Amethyst Harbour go on ...

SUMMER also included, from time to time, Banff, Alberta. The Banff School of Fine Arts, as it was known then, was a vibrant summer community of young musicians, singers, dancers, actors, and theatre students. Lots of socializing, despite curfews; introduction to the pastry called butterhorn, riding the Hoodoo Trail, sunrise on a mountain (was it Sulfur Mountain?). But we worked our butts off: in a six week period, each part of the program mounted a full production.

On to Prompt Five, Your Childhood Home.
My first home was at the top of a hill on North Court Street in Port Arthur, an awesome hill for the winter toboggan. Mysterious photo from unknown source. It's exactly the shape and design of our house which was red brick; possibly the house next door? My Dad built a playhouse in the backyard and my Mom painted murals on it. Sadly, no picture of my house itself. Some time later the homes along the ridge were torn down to allow an extension of River Street and the building of a medical clinic. 

An old family photo of my best buddy and little brother proves the red brick. Did someone add siding after we left?

My second home was our farm on Oliver Road, a one-plus year sojourn while our new city house was being built. Again, no photo! Whatever happened to the one of me on Mickey the pony ... I recall he was faintly terrifying. A Yorkshireman called Arthur was the livestock handler (mainly egg-laying hens and some dimly recollected horses and pigs). Horrendous amounts of snow in winter. Commuting by car five miles to Pine Street School in town. Mom hitting a moose in her Chev and for months thereafter driving white-knuckled after dark like five miles an hour, an impatient procession of cars behind us.

Third home on High Street, Port Arthur, was sort of po-mo and very roomy but had a few inexplicable things. The pink retaining wall clashed with the brick colour. The always-frigid upstairs bathroom. The unfinished bomb shelter in the basement (hey, this was the Cold War 50s). My Dad built the entire basement "rec room" basement area himself. 

Fourth home (when does childhood end ... ?) was Balmoral Hall, my home away from home, secondary education years. In effect, the school then partly functioned as a residence for Royal Winnipeg Ballet students. I loved my time there, but after four years I was ready to move on.

The "homes" all pale in comparison with SUMMER on the greatest lake in the world and the greatest place to be on that lake.

© 2013 Brenda Dougall Merriman

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