We started the year as we often do: by scraping the snow from the pond at our friends’ place near Buckhorn so we could skate and play “snow bocce” or “Javex curling,” which involves sliding old Javex bottles full of frozen water across the pond at a target. Soon to be an Olympic sport! We also did a fair bit of snowshoeing, played some pool, and ate a ton of great food — including my favourite, caviar pie (which is really just egg salad with caviar on top, with a fancy design). And then it was off on our annual trip to Ottawa for some skating on the canal and Beaver Tails and poutine and a nice soak in the hot tub.
Before too long it was time to head south — to Becky’s parents’ place near Venice, Florida where we swam in the pools and played on the beach and played some shuffleboard and enjoyed the sunsets on the beautiful white beach on Siesta Key, which is reportedly one of the best beaches in North America. We also took the kids to Busch Gardens up in Sarasota so they could see some animals and go on some rollercoasters and the carousel and see the birds in the bird sanctuary. Zoe also had a dual birthday with part of it in Florida at her grandparents’ place and part in our basement in Scarborough.
We also went to the Skydome to watch a Blue Jay’s game with Becky’s brother Dave and his family, and we went to Canada’s Wonderland to ride on some more rollercoasters and carousels. Zoe was in a dance performance with a bunch of other kids at the Scarborough Civic Centre and we did some bike-riding through the Rouge ravine system. And Meaghan did some dragon-boat racing through school (and got up at 6 am for practice!), so we went to watch a competition in Pickering at Frenchman’s Bay. We also had a kids’ Farm weekend up in Buckhorn, which was great.
We also went to Niagara Falls with Becky’s brother and his family and saw the water going over in a bunch of different places, and went for a ride on the Maid of the Mist, and took some romantic pictures, and went to Marineland to see the Orcas and dolphins and the deer. We stayed in a couple of trailers at a Yogi Bear campground on the way to Niagara, where they had these cool trikes you could ride around the park, and we visited Becky’s cousins. We also got to hold some butterflies at the butterfly garden.
Summer brought lots more summer camp adventures for some of the kids, and some great sunsets and time in the hammock, and some tubing behind a friend’s boat. Becky had a birthday (as she does almost every year) and then it was off to Prince Edward Island, where our friends Rob and Vicki had invited us for a visit, for the second year in a row — us and our three kids, Becky’s brother and his four kids, and Becky’s sister and her three kids! Rob and Vicki again did a great job of pretending that this was fine, and we had some great dinners and got to visit one of our favourite places: Basin Head beach, where you can jump off a bridge into the outflow that connects to the ocean.
For Thanksgiving we had some great weather with mirror-flat lakes for paddling, and we climbed up to the lookout at my uncle’s place, and pretty soon it was Christmas time and we spent it with Becky’s brother and sister and their families in Buckhorn, where we were housesitting while our friends Marc and Kris were in Sweden visiting Kris’s mother’s family. We played some pool and ate a lot of great food and made snow angels, and we also had a visit from Father Ron Davidson, an old family friend of Becky’s who baptized most of the kids in our families and also married Becky and I and her brother and sister and their partners.
Unfortunately, just as the year was coming to a close, God must have thought that things were going a little too well, so he reached out and smashed one of the giant pines at our cottage into the corner of the kitchen, demolishing most of the roof and a big part of the kitchen — including the place where my mother would have been sitting if she had been there (she was in Mexico, luckily). My brother Miles and I went up and helped cut up a lot of the branches and other brush and smaller trees that the giant pine had smashed into bits. It was quite the scene! Luckily we are covered for those kinds of events, so we will get a new roof out of it, but it could take a while to put it all back together.