The atmosphere couldn’t have been any different from the wilds of Africa. Instead of a tiny camper van for two parked along a solitary stretch of bush, I was in Canada, without Bruno, in a huge modern house filled to the brim with people.
“You should come visit me in Canada,” I would say to friends around the world. “You are always welcome in my family home”. The invitation was a standing one, but no one ever seemed to take it.
Until this summer.
From the moment I stepped off the plane near my little New Brunswick hometown until the moment I stepped back on the plane over five weeks later, my parents’ house was filled with out-of-town company. It was a summer like no other.
Our first guests were my childhood pen-pal and her hubby, Nanette and Karl (yep, the Karl who helped me re-vamp this website, thanks again!). As Florida residents, it’s not often they’re in our neck of the woods, but a cousin’s wedding brought them nearby enough for them to pop in for a few nights.
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate (does it ever in New Brunswick?), so, besides a first evening walk on the beach, a lot of our time was spent playing board games and visiting the local Saturday markets. We did manage a visit to see the tidal boar on the muddy Peticodiac River in Moncton, where we watched a surfer try to catch the mini wave (surfers have been coming here from California the past 2 summers to surf the twice-daily tide). We also drove up Magnetic Hill in reverse without having to hit the gas. That one left stumped Karl for a good long while.
Our second guests, my best skating buddy from Victoria and her hubby, Gwen and Aaron, arrived on Gwen’s 30th birthday. Nanette and Karl were still there, which was neat because Nanette and Gwen knew of one another but had never met. We threw a big birthday party, even celebrating Nanette and myself as well, since we’d both turned 30 earlier this year.
The lot of us visited Hopewell Rocks to witness the eroding effects of the largest tides in the world. The road trip was a great way for everyone to catch a bit of our lovely Maritime scenery.
With Nanette and Karl gone, we proceeded to induct Aaron into the Honorary Maritimers’ club. Gwen, who had spent a week with us out here when we were kids, was already an Honorary Maritimer, but was eager to prove her lot again. Both devoured lobster, swam the channel not far from our home, and slurped quahogs! The result was our first Honorary Maritimers Couple – congrats guys!
On Gwen and Aaron’s final evening, we lit two Chinese lanterns and set them into the skies to mark 18 years of friendship and the beginning of a new decade. Nanette was in our thoughts, and has likely set her own Chinese lantern out into the Gulf of Mexico by now.
It was sad to see our wonderful friends go, but we didn’t have much time to dwell on the empty house, because my school friends from Ottawa, Julia and Ashley, came for their first visit to the Maritimes. They were treated to an afternoon family reunion at Walton’s Beach, near the bridge to Prince Edward Island, a visit to the Shediac Market, a climb on the giant Shediac Lobster (which I hadn’t done since I was a kid!), and a bit of time on the beach.
The girls even bravely rented a car for a road trip to PEI, Lunenberg, Halifax, and the Hopewell Rocks, so I’m pretty confident they got a proper first impression of our little section of Eastern Canada!
I loved hosting all of these friends because, not only did it give me an opportunity to spend time with people I rarely get to see these days, but it allowed me to be a tourist in my own country. The Maritimes sure are pretty!
The day I drove Julia and Ashley to the airport, I picked up my Aunt Louise from New York for a visit. Since I wasn’t popping through New York this summer for the first time in ages, she decided to come up for a visit. It was especially a chance for her to meet her adorable new great niece, Zoëlle. It was a visit full of family reunions and big meals – a brunch at my cousin’s place, a lobster feast at ours, and a final dinner at my aunt and uncle’s. It was an awesome heavy dose of family!
Our final out-of-town guest was the one I’d most anticipated – my brother. Nathan has been living in Quito, Ecuador, with his girlfriend and adopted family, for three years now. I got to visit him there two years back, and mom and dad did last year, but it had been three full years since the four of us had been together. I was longing to reconnect with my brother and to have some much-needed quality family time.
Nathan’s trip home was everything I could have hoped for. We filled our time with visits with family, parties with family friends, games on the beach, and evening meals, conversations, and games. There were dinners out, kayak rides, late-night popcorn feasts and jam-sessions, Frisbee games and beach walks.
And when Nathan flew back to Quito, it was time for me to go, too. Because this summer, there had been no such thing as an empty home. And I wasn’t about to start that now.
Off to France, then, to reconnect with Bruno, and experience his family and neck of the woods!