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A Photographic Ode to Summer in New Brunswick

For the first time since I moved away at the age of eight, I spent an entire summer in my Canadian hometown of New Brunswick.  As I sift now through 2,000 photos of my summer, I’m wondering how to jam-pack an entire summer’s worth of experiences, activities, and encounters into a single blog post.

The answer came from a post I wrote last summer as an ode to my summer in New Brunswick: a photo post!

As I see it, this summer happened in three phases: in the first phase, I was home with just my parents; in the second phase, Bruno joined us; and in the third phase, Nathan (and his dog, Shizuka) joined us all in one very cramped house on the beach!  This ode to summer, then, will be organized in three parts, with quick descriptions accompanying a whole lot of photos.

Phase One of Summer: Three’s Company

One of the things I love most about coming home to New Brunswick is getting to become a “daughter” to my two wonderfully loving parents.  What better way to slip into that well-worn role again than by celebrating my 32nd birthday with them?  My mom has always tried (successfully) to make birthdays very special, and this one was no exception.  She decorated the house and served me a special breakfast with a few gifts.  Then we went for our first kayak of the summer with our neighbours and spent a wonderful afternoon on the beach with family and friends.  For dinner, mom and dad brought me to a delightful little restaurant near the border of Nova Scotia for a simple, healthy meal in a restored century home.  We came home for vegan gluten-free dessert to top off a wonderful day.

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Birthday gifts on the beach!  Thanks, Christine and Matante!

Birthday gifts on the beach! Thanks, Christine and Matante!

Birthday dinner at "Le Chat Bleu".

Birthday dinner at “Le Chat Bleu”.

Birthday cake!

Birthday cake!

It wasn’t by chance that we were eating gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free dessert.  As one of my “daughter” goals this summer, I created a 30-day Life Revolution plan for my father that included dietary changes, exercise, and more.  Dad humoured me at first, but eventually felt the positive effects of this lifestyle change enough that he participated in earnest, and even asked for an extra 30 days!  He lost almost 20 pounds over the course of the summer and felt more energized and generally better.  I’m very proud of his hard work and will power and hope he’ll continue to maintain these habits into the fall and winter.  (Yes, dad, I know you’re reading this!)

According to my mom, this is where you could find me most often this summer.

According to my mom, this is where you could find me most often this summer.

Daddy in the kitchen.

Daddy in the kitchen.

A before and mid-way shot of Dad

A before and mid-way shot of Dad’s weight loss. Pretty impressive, I’d say!

Summers in New Brunswick wouldn’t be complete without social time with family and friends.  Every year, there are lots of big meals with various groups of people.  But this summer, because of dad’s diet, they were slightly more health-oriented.  We even had a big vegan potluck at my cousin Katie’s house with both our families!

Dinner with Aunty Linda and Uncle Nev.

Dinner with Aunty Linda and Uncle Nev.

Dinner with our neighbours, Betsy and John.

Dinner with our neighbours, Betsy and John.

Dinner for some of mom and dad

Dinner for some of mom and dad’s friends.

Prepping the vegan feast!

Prepping the vegan feast!

Indeed, talking about Katie brings me to one of my personal highlights of the summer – getting to meet the new babies around.  Katie has a (now) seven month old son, Theo.  And our family friends and neighbors, Nicole and Natalie, each have new babies, too.  I could hold a baby all day long, and admittedly, I spent a lot of time on a lot of occasions doing just that.

Holding my cousin Katie

Holding my cousin Katie’s new son, Theo!

Holding my childhood friend Nicole

Holding my childhood friend Nicole’s new baby girl, Arianne.

Holding my childhood friend Natalie

Holding my childhood friend Natalie’s baby boy, Jim. Ok, ok, I’m obsessed. A touch.

Another fun event that seems to have become somewhat of a tradition is a dinner/movie/sleepover with my mom, cousin Christine and Aunt Anne-Marie.  These nights are so much fun because they are full of women talk (something I don’t get most of the year), food, and wine.  I hope they continue being a summer tradition for years to come.

My mom and aunt at our girlie dinner.

Mom trying on my aunt’s glasses at our girlie dinner out.  She looks fabulous in them!

Girls

Girls’ sleepovers aren’t complete without wine and late-night junk food!!

Of all the things that summers in New Brunswick represent, it is the simple family rituals that mean the most.  Gardening, spending afternoons on the beach, sharing meals in the sun room, having lobster feeds, doing yoga, going to the local market, walking on the beach, watching the sunset, sitting out back with a book… these are the family activities I revel in the most, and are the activities I was most excited to share with Bruno.

One of my favourite summer pastimes... gardening!

One of my favourite summer pastimes… gardening!

Lobster feeds, complete with lobster bibs.  A total tradition.

Lobster feeds, complete with lobster bibs. A total tradition.

Beach days!

Beach days!

We get gorgeous sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean.

We get gorgeous sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean.

A morning at the Shediac market with my Uncle Tim and Aunt Chris.

A morning at the Shediac market with my Uncle Tim and Aunt Chris.

Phase Two of Summer: Bruno Meets the New Brunswickers

It’s taken Bruno four years to get to New Brunswick, at least partially because he wanted to arrive in style – with Totoyaya.  And he did, as our camper van arrived only a week after him on a ferry from Belgium.

Welcome Bruno!

Welcome Bruno!

I plan to speak more about Bruno’s time in New Brunswick in another post, mainly because there are several interest cultural and touristic experiences that are of interest to a reader of travel blogs.  What is more important to note in this post is how seamlessly Bruno integrated himself into our family rituals.  He came to the beach with us.

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He gardened.

2016-08-08 August 13,2016 002  He joined us for yoga classes.

Look at that tree pose!

Look at that tree pose!

He cooked (and ate) with us.

We will never make this recipe again, but that

We will never make this recipe again, but that’s another story…

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He chilled out back with a book.

2016-08-06 August 13,2016 004He went for bike rides.

DSC05013He kayaked.

KMHH8507He watched the hummingbirds that visit our bird feeder every summer.

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KMHH8364These are all things I’ve been dying to have him do for four years.  I’ve wanted him to see my home, to spend more time with my parents, to meet my brother (more on that in phase three) and to meet all the important people that live out here who’ve been curious about this nomadic Tarzan who won my heart so many years ago.

It was amazing having Bruno in New Brunswick this August.  He partook in family reunions, open houses, social afternoons on the beach, game nights, and big family dinners.  He was around for the memorial party for a dear family friend we lost a few months ago and the funeral of a distant relative.  He was here for the movie nights and philosophical dinner conversations, for the long walks and the cooking, for the bonfires and the unseasonably cool weather.  It was a very (very!) social time for him, and sometimes his head was spinning and he couldn’t think in English for another moment, but everyone I love here finally got to meet him, and I’ll be forever grateful.

Some photos are simply priceless.

Some photos are simply priceless.

Getting to know the men of the family.

Getting to know the men of the family.

With other guests at Nancy

With other guests at Nancy’s memorial party.

B+B

B+B

Phase Three of Summer: A Full House

My brother, Nathan, has been living in Ecuador for the past five years, so the two weeks I get to see him most years are always very special.  Even more special this year was having him meet Bruno for the first time!

Nathan

Nathan’s here!

Awwww, aren

Awwww, aren’t they cute? My brother and my hubby meeting!!!

My wonderful, precious brother.

My wonderful, precious brother.

Nathan joined the family of four with his dog, Shizuka, and fit effortlessly into the rituals we had going on – the walks, the cooking, the yoga, the beach bumming, the bonfires.

Family walk, despite the cold.

Family walk, despite the cold.

Getting rid in there in the kitchen.  Thanks!

Getting rid in there in the kitchen. Thanks!

Yoga in a yurt!

Yoga in a yurt!

Chillin

Chillin’ with a view.

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While Nathan was here we got to have a few very special family visits – we had several afternoons on the beach with mom’s side of the family (where he also got to meet his second cousin, Zoëlle), a lovely lunch out with our grandfather and his lady friend and a family reunion with dad’s side of the family (more on that in my next post).  We had a cousins-only night for sushi and philosophical discussion.  One particularly fun – and tasty – evening was celebrating the birthday of my cousin’s hubby, Mitch, with a private gourmet home chef who served us over a dozen hors d’oeuvres paired with wine.

On the beach with the extended family.

On the beach with the extended family.

Going for lunch with Grampa and Leonie.

Going for lunch with Grampa and Leonie.

Mitch

Mitch’s birthday party. Wish I had space for all the food photos…

Hanging out with Aunt Linda and Uncle Nev.

Hanging out with Aunt Linda and Uncle Nev.

The dogs of the family meet.

The dogs of the family meet.

Summer is over.  My brother has left for his new adventure as a PhD student in Toronto, and Bruno and I are getting ready to head out on our own adventure, too.  I’m scrambling to get this post live before I no longer have access to reliable wifi, so perhaps my words don’t seem as meaningful as my experience of my summer truly was.

So let me end by saying this: Thank you to everyone who took part in making memories with us this year.  Thank you to my parents for putting up with me for so long and for welcoming Bruno so openly into your home and hearts.  Even though Bruno and I are excited to see what life will hold for us in the coming months, it is with a heavy heart that I publish this blog entry, finish packing the car, and officially end my wonderful summer at home in New Brunswick.

  • Elizabeth S. - Dad and I had such a great summer first with you, then with Bruno, and finally with Nathan! It’s so special to read about many memorable moments and to see the photos, nearly all for the first time. Thank you for capturing our summer of 2016 in such a wonderful way.ReplyCancel

    • Brittany - If I hadn’t been so busy packing to hit the road, I think these photos and memories may have brought tears to my eyes. It really truly was a blessed summer, as any time spent with you is. Love you sooooooo much!ReplyCancel

  • Line - Beautiful summer with your family 😉😉. I’m happy to see you smiling 😃. 😘😘😘😘ReplyCancel

    • Brittany - Great English, Line! I’m so impressed! Merci beaucoup pour tout les smileys! :)ReplyCancel

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