and we bask in thirty degrees of sunshine, it’s hard to believe that it’s already back-to-school time for the children. The first day back in September always seems unimaginable at the beginning of the summer holidays; that arrival home at the end of June with schoolbags, lost property, portfolios and end-of-term goodies holds such promise within it. The golden days of summer stretch ahead, each one shimmering with the prospect of new adventures, lazy mornings and outdoor living. Even as July ticked by and August stealthily moved in, the imminence of September was steadfastly ignored. The evenings are drawing in now, and the leaves are turning and dropping, and last week the prospect of returning to school started to glow with its own excitement. Once the hell of shopping for school supplies is done, and all the bags are packed and ready to go, the anticipation of a new school year carries an intrinsic appeal. There’s just something about all those fresh copies and new pencils, the pristine binders and new crayons, the snowy-white erasers and labelled calculators; all the thrills of a new teacher, a new classroom, a new year of making friends and learning new things. Christopher and Isabel moved into Grade 5, with Benjamin in Grade 4 and Nicholas in Grade 2. They weren’t the new kids anymore; the rooms, teachers, school rules, morning rituals are all old hat now, and I’m so grateful not to have to go through that period of transition again. With any luck, there will be fewer phone calls home from teachers and less of the heart-sinking “what have they done now?” moments.
As we head into Fall, it’s disconcerting to realise that we’ve done all this before; the registration for community classes and sports, the Halloween gear arriving into the shops, the balmy autumn evenings and navy skies. It’s really brought home to us that we’ve come full cycle now – a year here and all four seasons been and gone again. We’ve had our winter, and know that it might be long, cold and white, but we will get through it and maybe this year get to do some of the things we didn’t get around to last year – cross-country skiiing, downhill skiiing, ice-fishing and speed-skating. I’m buying either snow-pants or longjohns for myself this time round.
The Beautiful You makeover is in full swing now. I spent Thursday trying on trendy outfits and fabulous shoes for the photo-shoot next week. I haven’t a grey hair left in my head since Wednesday’s visit with the fabulous Joy, and I’m booked in for my very first manicure ever on Monday. Rebecca came with me to the hairdressing salon, and spent most of the time eating chocolates and mandarins, while providing a running commentary on the state of my hair. “It’s blue now”, she announced at the beginning, to be followed by “now it’s yellow and black” while the colour was being washed out. I had a vision of looking like a wasp in my mind; dirty blonde is the final result. Every time I catch sight of myself in a mirror, I’m momentarily taken aback.
The last hurrah of summer was the PotashCorp Fireworks Festival downtown last weekend. One side of the river was devoted to kids’ activities and sports, while the other side focused on dancing and music. The kids were decked out in Canadian Football t-shirts, and Warren the Balloon Man weaved his magic; Isabel and Nicholas sported incredible dragon hats, and Rebecca indulged her violent side with a sword and sheath. Christopher and Benjamin spent most of the time doing the football circuit – throw the ball, complete the obstacle course, run for the line (while looking over your shoulder) and catch the ball again, with the occasional full-length thump onto the ground to add some drama. The guys organising it were eyeing them up as potential recruits, and I was all ready with my refusal when the kids arrived over to ask if they could add it to the list of sports they want to play this year. So far, they want to swim, play hockey, play soccer, play football, play basketball and do track and field. I’ve explained that there are only two parents, and seven days in the week, so we’ve settled on ice-hockey. Nicholas has enrolled in Science Saturdays at the University of Saskatoon, and will be joining the Beavers division of the Boy Scouts next week. Isabel will be back at Girl Guides, and Rebecca at ballet, so the usual whirlwind of activities is ahead of us.
The evening ended with fire-dancing and the fireworks display. Amy, Rebecca’s playschool teacher, was one of the fire-spinners; there were four of them, spinning and dancing in front of a mesmerised crowd. It was brilliant. The fireworks lit up the sky while the music pounded beside us. We crossed the bridge home at about 11pm, lighting up all around us with our flashing lights and flashing balloons. There’s something magical at being out at that hour of the night with a crowd of people – the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, with people sitting around on their deckchairs at the side of the river, waiting for the show to begin. Niamh and her son Luke joined us, and Rebecca and Luke spent most of the time holding hands and having earnest conversations about Pitch from The Rise of the Guardians. Pitch, or the Bogey Man, is Rebecca’s favourite excuse at the moment for sneaking into our bed in the middle of the night, pleading nightmares.
We foolishly waited until the last week of summer to go to the outdoor swimming pools. There are loonie and toonie swims every evening at the pools (one dollar and two dollar), and we went to the Riversdale Pool with our picnic rug and towels. It was bliss to get into cold water. Donna and Daria and their children were there, so the kids gleefully hit the water and the slide. June and Kelly and James arrived then, and there was some competitive handstanding underwater going on. Kelly won. By a mile. June kept her dignity, and I was somewhat lacking in grace. We might try synchronized swimming next. When we arrived first, I disrobed and started walking to the pool in my togs, which felt weird. “What’s wrong with my togs?” I hissed at Michael. “What do you mean?” he hissed back, eyeing me up and down. “They don’t feel right! Are you sure there isn’t a rip in the back of them?” I had a vision of me sauntering along with my ass hanging out. He looked again. “No, they’re grand!” he said. “Well, they just feel funny,” I grumbled. He leaned towards me. “They’re too big for you now”, he pointed out. Woo-hoo 🙂
June’s mother arrived this week, bearing gifts of Tayto and chocolate. The photo on Facebook instilled a desperate yearning in me for an Irish visitor, but I’m not sure whether that’s a yen to see someone, or a desire to have a temporary crash-and-burn off this diet. I can’t believe I haven’t had a bar of Dairy Milk for almost five weeks. Roll on Christmas….