Friday, March 29, 2013

The most wonderful time of the year!

When I was young my family lived in New Brunswick for awhile. I've lived across Canada - coast to coast, New Brunswick has the honour of being the province with some wicked regional features - Sugarlicking, The Hopewell Rocks, The tides of the Bay of Fundy, The Farmers' Market, Fiddleheads.

A coastal province with winters like nowhere else we lived.  More snow than I have ever seen with long Springs that made the climate ideal for that great Canadian Spring tradition; The Sap Run

No one does maple syrup like New Brunswick...well the Ottawa Valley comes pretty close but since we aren't there; Southern Ontario did in a pinch. We went to the Bruce Mills Maple Syrup Festival on Wednesday to try and get our fix.
The girls got to drink sap fresh from a tree, watch it get boiled down old school and then with the evaporators. We all agreed it looked like more fun the old school way. Also, after watching Martin spill a full bucket of sap, we agreed that it's amazing that maple syrup was discovered at all. Ever.

Who's idea was it to start boiling sap down to syrup for hours? Genius.
After a solid couple of hours exploring the syrup production we took a wander to the actual Mill at Bruce Mills.  It got me really thinking about why I have such vivid memories of going to the Sugar Bushes in New Brunswick, a place and time I don't have much fondness for.

Negative experiences in school played in direct opposition to my memories of my nomadic family's increasingly tight knit social group. The Canadian mining industry attracts a lot of seemingly random people. Engineers from around the world, mostly men working in different areas of exploration, mining and smelting. They were for the most part all the same to my 12 year old mind, but their wives and girlfriends...these women who crossed our paths again and again...were life savers.

Women who kept their last names after marriage! Mothers, Dentists, Engineers, Artists, Foresters, future Ph.D's. Not surprisingly, the women my Mother fostered relationships with were a diverse group of opinionated, educated and uppity women.  There are some that might refer to these women as 'Difficult' but those are the unimaginative among us.

They had moved with their partners to the middle of nowhere (literally sometimes) for a job that was never going to last longer than 5-10 years. It makes for some pretty magical and seemingly coincidental relationships that get strengthened every time they find themselves in another small isolated Northern town together.

These were the women that watched my siblings and I when we didn't know they were watching.  Hired and fired us as babysitters, had cooking parties with our Mother, joined us for Tequila parties and most importantly were constant reminders that there were wider experiences available to us outside of the confines of high school and whatever town we were living in at the time.

It can be a hard thing to know you will be uprooting your family so often. Hard to learn how to plant roots. Harder to learn how to attach to people when you know you'll be leaving. New Brunswick was the place I learned to cut ties to people ruthlessly. It was a relief to leave my peer group. My family was extended by the friends we met while there though, and our paths crossed again and again.

As I build my own extended family, I'm thankful for the memories of having seen my Mother build hers.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

That Fenner is one cool and cute kid.