We all jump headfirst into Summer with its multitude of much anticipated activiities... grabbing at every opportunity to be outside... cottaging, camping, boating, fishing, swimming, picnicking, barbecuing, travelling. On many of these occasions we often share these traditional summertime events with our family and friends.
Strangely... in this what we consider a sophisticated and advanced culture, that this summertime ritual of "gathering"has been with humankind for much longer than we'd guess. In nearly every part of the world and in most every culture, the peoples of a culture meet when food is plentiful and being harvested and the weather is moderate enough to enjoy gathering as.... a community/tribe/clan/family.
August was traditionally the month for the "gathering" of the Sherman clan. Our nuclear family members would meet on the lawn of our beloved "Shangri-la"... a simple cottage on the shores of the St Lawrence River and nestled in the famous Thousand Islands. It was always looked forward to and was the focus of a celebration of family birthdays. My Dad's birthday was on August 16th... my sister Christine's was on the 19th and my Mom's birthday closed out this birthday celebration gala on August 21st.
It was a great time for young and old alike. Lots of laughing... good summer food... burgers, corn, salads, watermelon... cool ones, lemonade and pop -something for every one's taste. We swam, croqueted, lawn darted and sang the time away... together and in full harmony. These were memorable... halcyon days, but as Time seems always to dictate... they came to an abrupt ending... and have since ceased.
The fifty-plus years of cottage occupancy by Shermans and this annual gathering was brought to an abrupt end when the cottage was sold. My aging parents were in declining health and my Dad required more medical attention than could be given in their home. So My elder brother Larry and "I" helped them to relocate in a seniors' living facility... aka nursing home... where they lived out the final part of their seventy-five year married life together.
My other two siblings live in Alberta and Vancouver Island... so that getting together becomes problematic given business and family responsibilities across this distance. The deaths of one's parents is in fact, by itself, a modifier of family interaction- at least that is the case in our family. Parents are the glue, or mucilage which binds a family together. Their passing leaves a very huge void that often cannot be filled or worse in some cases... permits family ties to become unravelled and petty grievances to replace love and respect.
On this weekend," "I" choose to look back remembering and cherishing those halcyon days... and more importantly to count my own blessings... one by one. A shiver of sadness rushed over "Me" while I searched for birthday cards for sister Chris.... and for my Lovely Lady Bug wife Deb. Her birthday became my way to bring that happy ritual forward to the Now. "We" celebrated on August 10th in a wonderfully uplifting and fulfilling way for us both. I truly believe that life can present a continuing opportunity for celebration for the Living... of our small daily blessings.
"We"... abandoned duties at the Paint Box Gallery and headed off to spend a few days travelling the roads in Southwestern Ontario, particularly around St Jacobs, Ontario. This area is the farmland homeland of a very large Amish and Mennonite Community. The St Jacob's Farmer's Market is renowned for its rural earthiness and plethora of products ranging from produce, meats, furniture, leather goods, corn brooms, world-famous heirloom quilts... to handmade whirligigs. mailboxes and children's wooden toys.
We gorged ourselves on visits to many good galleries and craft shops.... fine food and more than a couple soft ice cream treats. "We".... took a Time Out. We are both back on board... full of new energy and exciting "ideas"..... ready to "rock n' roll " !!!!
My "Happy Birthday" from "Me" ... to those "I" love and cherish forever... comes from a small book that I found and purchased in St Jacobs at the Stone Crock Restaurant Gift Shoppe. It is very small... but is powerful in its simplicity and Truth. "I" hope that "You" might enjoy An Amish Portrait-Song of a People by Merle Good... as much as "I".
We watch the past and create the now -
And wish to plant before we plow-
We hear "goodbye" in each hello -
And wish to stay when we must go -
We seek for peace in time of war -
And watch the rich receive the poor -
As day makes night a fugitive -
The living dream,
The dreaming live.
An Amish Portrait-Song of a People
Published by Good Books Intercourse, PA 17534
Hello to those "I" simply know... or those "I" love -
Whether here on Earth...
Or those who rest Eternally... Above.
Good Summertime Dreamin'.... Take a Time Out... with Family!