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Posts Tagged ‘Cortes Island’

I grew up on a little island with a couple of small stores and one country school. The nearest mall was two ferry rides away.

I left Cortes Island twelve years ago, but it stays with me. Its landscapes and familiar places are often in my dreams. I don’t think I’ll ever move back there, but I’ll always be an island girl at heart.

My grandfather came to Cortes sixty years ago to do some work and he stayed. He married a local schoolteacher—my grandmother.

They built a home together. My mother was born in that house down a road lined with blackberry bushes. The “Old Folks Home” is gone now. It was a shed where the elderly ducks and chickens lived in leisure once they were past laying. The sheep ran from us kids when we got too close. We ran from the geese when they strutted towards us and hissed menacingly. So many memories.

We went back recently to attend my grandfather’s funeral. There were tears and laughter as we reconnected with family and reminisced together.

I got to rub my beautiful sister’s pregnant belly. My brother and I laughed while we remembered our friendship and feuding over the years. Family. A huge part of who I’ve become.

At the funeral, I visited with one of my favourite school teachers, friends of my mom’s from before I was born, extended family that I was meeting for the first time, people I hadn’t seen for a decade or two, and the woman who taught me horseback riding when I was eleven. I shook hands with a great-uncle that looked so much like my grandpa that I had to fight tears. There is something very powerful about grieving together. It joined us.

“Mom,” said Myra on the evening of the funeral, “we’re just now meeting family that we didn’t even know existed, and we’ll probably never see them again.”

It’s true. Some of the people that we hugged and shared meals with and cried with—we’ll never see again. But I’m thankful for the time we had together. I’m glad we went home.

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On the ferry

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I am naughtily chuckling to myself, imagining my mother opening this post in a hurry. At least I piqued one person’s curiosity by my title! 😉 (I really should be better behaved now that I’m in my 30’s.)

My last post on snow days got me thinking about a snow day that I had while growing up. Snow was a fairly rare event on Cortes Island. We got snow a few times over the winter, but it was almost always gone by noon. Once though, when I was about 10, we got a huge dump of snow and the school buses were unable to run. Yay! A day off school. Everyone was notified that there would be no school that day… everyone on the bus list that is. I lived only minutes from the school and walked to school. I never got the call.

I trudged through the deep drifts and found the school grounds strangely empty and quiet. Sure enough, the doors were locked. A friend that also walked to school arrived at the same time as me. It was wonderfully exhilarating to find the school locked and everything looking so different. We imagined that everyone had mysteriously disappeared and that we were the only people left on earth.

We decided to get busy and make a snow house to protect us from the elements. We made snow balls and rolled them until they were massive, suitable for the best snow house ever! We worked away busily and were surprised when the recess bell rang. We had never had a morning fly by so quickly. We got out our lunch bags and enjoyed a snack before getting busy again. And when the lunch bell rang, we sat back and ravenously ate. Rolling giant snow balls is hard work.

It wasn’t much later that Mom somehow found out that there was no school that day. I can only imagine that she was quite worried. There were questions… like, “Why on earth didn’t you come home and tell me there was no school?” To which I could only shrug an answer… I never thought of going home… I thought we were the only people left on earth.

For the record, my Mother is one of those extremely patient people that if you didn’t know her, you really wouldn’t be able to tell if she was angry, but I knew… she was ticked. 🙂

So now that I’m a mom, I look back and see all those childhood antics through my mother’s eyes. I feel downright sorry about all the things I put her through! And sometimes I just have to laugh and shake my head at some of the crazy things that my children think up… yes, I remember!

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