Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Places of the Heart

I've been meaning to write this post for a while. In August, my daughter and I took a trip back to Deep River, the town where our kids grew up. We lived there for 18 years and it was a wonderful childhood for them. Although it's in the middle of no-where, it is situated on the Ottawa River and close to Algonquin Park and it's absolutely beautiful. It's a strange little place and even though we've been gone for years, we keep running into people we knew from our time there.

Our kids were exposed to all kinds of sports and outdoor activities and they really learned to appreciate nature and the out of doors. Summers were filled with canoeing, boating, parties at Pine Point or weekend camping at Frazer's landing (across the river and out of parents prying eyes). The down side is that almost 100 percent of the kids leave Deep River after High School, to go to university and then to the cities to work.

Every two years, Deep River hosts a weekend "Summerfest" and it has become a reunion time for the town. The high school campus is turned into all kinds of activities and a massive beer tent is opened and it's a three day long party. Kids come home especially for Summerfest and bring friends and families that have moved away often come back for that particular weekend. For those 3 days, the tiny town of 4000 swells to over double it's size. Every house has a driveway full of cars and tents pop up in backyards, all over town. Hubby and I have been back for several Summerfest weekends, but our daughter had not returned since our move in 1994. This year, she discovered Facebook and has re-connected with many of her high school friends and decided to return for Summerfest and I jumped at the chance to go with her. Sarah took her dad's tent and a quick call to old neighbours had offers of backyards to pitch it in and a bed for me :)

There is nothing like having friends that are more like family! I walked through our old next door neighbour's front door and was greeted with a huge "hello" and a dish towel and "would you like to wash or dry" - 14 years were wiped away in a blink of an eye. It was a wonderful feeling. Their son was home and had brought six friends with him for the weekend and there were 21 people coming for a barbecue! It was amazing to see old friends and make new ones. Since they obviously had a full house, I stayed with another neighbour, and it was lovely to see their children, who were two and four when we left, all grown up and almost read for college - where has the time gone! The following day, a trip down town to see the campus and all the activities was fabulous as I re-connected with literally hundreds of people. Talk about a trip down memory lane!

Monday morning came all too soon, and on our way out of town we stopped for gas. I had to get my camera bag from the car as the day before I had put my bank card and cash in it, on my way down town. The counter was crowded, so I put my camera on the floor at my feet and promptly left without it, not realizing it until we were back home, 4 hours away. I didn't know the name of the gas station, so I quickly phoned our old neighbours to find the phone number for me. He volunteered to get it for me and UPS it back, which was wonderful, but I had to confirm they had it and someone hadn't walked out with it. When I phoned the gas station, the lady quickly confirmed that it had been turned in and when I told her my name, she hesitated. She said she had "Sarah Power's" name on it already. I was confused and she told me her son was working that day, and had recognized her from school - 14 YEARS AGO! I couldn't believe it. He had commented to his mum that Sarah looked exactly the same, which thrilled her to no end, especially since she didn't recognize her son LOL! Anyway, our neighbour picked it up for me and sent it back and wouldn't let me reimburse them for the cost. It's safe and sound, back with me. Only in Deep River LOL! I count our family extremely fortunate to have nurtured friends like these - what a gift!