Round Here!

I was sitting down the other night staring outside my living room window with a drink in my hand and the way it looked outdoors reminded me of what it was like at Christmas time in the small town where I grew up.  It was the second time that day that I started to think about home actually, I walked to the store earlier that evening and had the same reminiscent feeling come over me.  The snow had just fallen and the street lights had this orange tinge to it, the atmosphere was thought provoking and I began to flashback to another time.  As I trudged along I began to think how walking was a huge part of how I celebrated Christmas, one tradition that I really enjoyed was going door to door to have a few drinks and spend time with friends and neighbors.  It didn’t matter either what part of the town you lived in for everywhere was within walking distance and there was no need for a drop off or cabs like you have to accommodate for in the big city, nope it was two legs and a heartbeat that got you to where you needed to be.

I had a lot of good ol’ times at Christmas with my friends but one friend in particular was always by my side and that was Willie, he was my best friend and pretty much anything thing that I did, he was always a part of it.  Every night during the holidays the phone would ring and it would be Willie wondering if I was ready and if he should leave his house to come down to my grandparents where I lived.  I ‘d tell him to get his butt down here and within minutes of hanging up the phone he would come strolling  in all decked out in his Christmas best grinning ear to ear in the best of moods, although he knew I was there he always asked anyway – “Is Ash here?”.  My grandmother would call out to me and give him the ceremonial “sit down Willie my dear; you’re not a stranger now are ya?”  He would then slowly proceed to take a seat at the kitchen table acting like it was his first time he had ever visited; he was always his bashful self when it came to my grandmother.  Once I finished getting ready I too also took a seat at kitchen table, “my spot” as it were and all was in now in place.  My grandmother, god love her, would already have a pre-purchased six pack stored covertly under her bed for such an occasion, she seemed content when we spent time together and she especially enjoyed the fact that we were there, it was like company for her too.  Our nights always started at Nan and Pop’s place and once we felt like moving on my grandmother would make sure we had our hats and mitts (“yes nan we do”) and see us to the door where she would leave us with “stay out of trouble and be careful”.

It took us no time before we were sat at another kitchen table being poured a drink of our choice and being ushered to take off our coats and stay awhile.  All the homes were nestled together on the hillside so once we ventured on from one place there would be someone else bellowing from their patios for us to join them; this would go on all night.  Yarns were spun and good times were had by all, Christmas spirit was in abundance and no doubt our glasses stay filled the night through.  Small town life has a different feel to it; everybody knows who you are and what family you came from and after twenty minute of drilling you with questions regarding your upbringing you could pretty much clue up your family tree in one sitting.  There was no traffic in site, the houses had Christmas lights which illuminated the pathways just enough to show us the way.  We were always met with a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year by all whom passed by and we would often pick up a strangler or two nowhere near done with their night of festivities, the more the merrier we’d say.  There was a sense of belonging no matter where you went, everyone felt like family and would make sure to offer a spare room or the couch if things got a little too fuzzy.

Every year for many years Willie and I would do this and it was a tradition that we kept alive for much of our young adult lives.  When I think back today it makes me feel good that I had to the chance to spend some quality moments with someone who was very near and dear to my heart, someone like Willie.   Looking back in hind sight and especially now that he has passed on I’m very thankful that I had gotten the chance to be friends with such a wonderful guy who I miss every day.

Willie was also good friends with my uncles as well, so whenever we were together there was a good chance that one if not all my uncles were there too (I had five).  Never a dull moment with them around trust me, they would torment us and call us light weights when it came to drinking and every now and again we would get body slammed into a snow bank for no apparent reason at all.  There was no point in retaliation either because it only came back worst then the first time around but it was all in good fun and that was the genuine theme when we were all together was to “have fun”.  They ‘re all a good bunch of guys who have created beautiful families of their own and I miss hanging out with them like that, it seems like it was a lifetime ago but the memories are just as vivid as if it had happened only yesterday.  Stop and think about that someone that you miss spending time with and if they are still reachable and a part of your life then call them up and go spend time with them, it’s the perfect opportunity this time of  year to do it.

As Willie and I got older we migrated from just going door to door to visiting the local watering hole, the “Hook N’ Line”, which at the time was owned by my parents so most nights we’d wind up there.  A huge congregation of familiar faces filled the room as we escaped a cold winter’s night; it was like walking into Cheers on TV where everyone knew your name.  There was always an energized atmosphere about the place with people laughing, carrying on and a game of pool usually took center stage as people young and old alike would try for bragging rights in an impromptu on the spot Christmas tournament.  The pub was all decorated, music was festive, the place was packed to its capacity, a prime opportunity to see some of your old friends and catch up.  There were some good times that we had back then at that quaint little bar, for the most part it seemed like the whole community was there all coming together to celebrate the holidays by sharing stories and drinks until the wee hours in the morning only to do it all over again the very next evening.

So the other night as I looked outside it was no different than most nights but for some reason it struck me differently, I was gifted with memories of Christmases past, it was nice.  I remember those days fondly and in retrospect I’m grateful to have been asked to be a part of so many peoples’ lives in celebrating Christmas in small town Newfoundland.  I was welcomed into their homes to share in their joy which I sometimes miss but we all have to move on which may mean leaving home behind to find a life for ourselves somewhere’s else.  No matter where that journey takes us we can always look back, we may not be able to recreate the past but the past is a big part of who we are today and how we continue to celebrate the holidays.

It’s true, we all have loved ones that are no longer with us, for me they include some that I have mentioned in this post.  It makes me sad yeah, but it also makes me feel good that I have memories that they will always be a part of, that night while I walked to the store or while I looked from my window might have been a gesture from above that they too are missing me.  Just take inventory of what makes you happy and use that to celebrate who you still have in your lives, eat good food and share great stories while keeping their spirits alive and those traditions going.  If you feel lonely during the holidays maybe it’s an indication that you need to get back in touch with someone or somewhere, the solution may be just as simple as picking up the phone or knocking on that that door and I bet there’s a friendly face waiting on the other side maybe thinking the very same thing.  I leave you with a simple thought that whether it’s a kitchen party, a drink with a best friend or a pub full of friendly faces, the only thing that should be on anyone’s mind during Christmas is “who’s got the next round?”

Cheers

 

Because Your Gift, Your Gift is on My List

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and I would imagine that panic has started to set in for some, while for others, maybe not so much.  No matter where you look there are trees beautifully decorated, extravagant displays fill store windows and Santa’s waving his way through street parades.  All constant reminders that we need to start to think about crossing people off that list of ours because time is getting short.  Each day that goes by the bargains start to dwindle and merchandise will be soon become scarce, I urge you to get out there now and start shopping, no seriously go.

One tool in any disciplined shopper’s arsenal to beat the holiday anxiety would be to create a Christmas shopping list.  A Christmas list can reduce a lot of stress this time of year because once complete you can then start a strategic plan of attack, just getting it down on paper would definitely make you feel a little better at least.  These lists help us prioritize the given with the maybe, the easy to shop for with the not so easy to shop for.  Your list will grow and so will the anxiety, those names with blanks spaces by them will probably make you stress out but keep moving forward because each year your gift creativity might be challenged, but it’s Christmas so challenge accepted, right?

I’m sure you have made little notes of subtle hints and clues left by friends and family over the past few weeks and months.  These hints I hope have not fell on deaf ears with you around, the best gift-giver in the world as you rush to the list and scratch down as many ideas as you can hoping to find that perfect something and lock it in.  It’s no easy task playing Santa every holiday season, well, Santa’s helper that is, there’s a lot of thought that goes into creating a Christmas of ooo’s and ah’s.  Finding that perfect gift brings a huge sense of satisfaction, it’s a huge weight off your shoulders especially when it’s a rare find or that item that everybody seems to want this year, you even rush to wrap it right away.  Nothing like leaving the store beaming knowing that all your hard work had paid off, you did it, you found that perfect something and it only took you three hours standing in line and a few elbows to the face to do it.

Christmas lists are ever-changing with people getting added, some not making the cut this year and those who will never leave your list no matter what and is starting to become too difficult to shop for by the way.  BIG gifts, small gifts, joke gifts and the special gifts, they all started with some sort of list, a collective inventory of who gets what and why.  Whether it was a mental note you made or you went elf level and Microsoft Excel’d that sh*t, either way they likely started with a “list”.  When do you make your list?  When do you start to write down names alongside the ideas, some ideas with circles around them, some might have underlines and some may go as far as having a circle with an underline. We constantly jot down and scratch out little notes to ourselves as the holidays draw near,  all of us moving toward the same goal, surviving Christmas.  We scramble to get stuff done with our crumpled paper in hand and after losing two pens already we trudge along thumbing our lists.   So many list categories of which include fundraiser gifts, the boss gift, and of course the “Secret Santa” gift, all with their own micro budgets and all with their own degree of difficulty.  One thing to remember though, is no matter what, the lists are all scared, no peeking or you will ruin the surprise.  There’s a code of silence and an agreed upon mystique about what is asked for and what is given.

It would be sacrilege to make a post about lists and not include children.  Let’s face it, if it weren’t for the children and their handwritten pleas to Santa to reward a year of being good there would be no need for lists.  There is nothing better for the soul then reading a letter from a child caught up in the wonders of the holiday season.  The happiness of seeing your kids opening their gifts on Christmas morning is what captures the essence of gift giving and the smiles on their faces is what makes Christmas all worth it. 

There are a lot of emotions surrounding the holidays and some of those emotions might be of sadness, we may have lost loved ones or moved away to another part of the world.  Christmas can and will bring some of that, but why not use Christmas to help others in need, take a second and maybe add someone new to your list that are struggling or going through a real tough time.  Make them a part of your own holiday tradition, they might need a little joy to turn everything all around.  It’s easy to get all caught up in what we need or want but remember there are those who are less fortunate, those who struggle everyday let alone Christmas.  If you do have the ability to pay it forward then write that on the top of your things to do.

It’s December 7th, 2016 and it’s full on Christmas, people are freaking out and some are thinking about doing some baking this weekend because their done, all their lists are behind them (insert bitterness here).  If you are like me you might be somewhere in the middle, knocked out a few but there is still a way to go.  The count downs have begun but it’s still no need to go full on panic attack that you left everything to the last minute, there’s still time.  I have had the occasion where on one Christmas Eve I passed a man with no more that 20 minutes left to shop say to a friend of his in passing that he had nothing done, crazy…or in my opinion selfish.  Leaving your shopping to the last-minute will only bring on bad appliances, way too expensive jewelry and another bad sweater that dad seems to never wear, a gift should come from the heart and with a lot more thought.

Questions like “how’s your shopping going? or “Are you all done?” are usually the second or third thing that is mentioned when I talk to people these days and with that comes that internal dialog of what’s left on my lists.  No doubt that Christmas has a way of creeping up on us, we sometimes show shades of our inner Grinch and resent the holidays but if you think about it, it only comes once a year so we should embrace it.  Enjoy the time with your family, have that drink with your colleague because we only get one day a year to “Christmas and chill”.  There’s bound to be some obstacles and moments of stress but that’s where we need to help each other make it the best Christmas yet both giving and receiving.  So if you have a list or need to make one then go ahead because your gift, your gift is on my list, of the best things in life.

I know, bad Hall & Oates tie-in with the closing…

😉

 

 

Excuse Me, Sir?

I’m pretty much like a lot of people when it comes to getting older and  what I mean is, we all see ourselves as being slightly younger than we actually are.  I still see myself as a young guy in my twenties, my loved ones tell me I haven’t aged a bit and most people who know me and get to interact with me on a daily basis would consider me a 12 year old stuck in an adults body so my going theme is youngish right?  Well, the other day I was at Chapters having a look around  perusing a few books trying to score a good read.  I wandered around spending a little time in some of my go-to sections when I finally came across a book that I was satisfied with, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, currently reading it and I got say I like it alot.  Once my purchase was complete I started away from  the counter when I heard “Excuse me, Sir?”    I paid no mind and continued on when all of the sudden I heard it again but this time louder, ok so that made me turn around in curiosity.

    Yup!…it was directed at me, I had left my keys at the sales counter and this employee was trying to get my attention to return them to me.  So the “sirs” were all for me, lol, it was a funny moment, I thanked him for the gesture and made my way out the door to my car.  I turned the key and sat there for a second, I couldn’t help but to start to think about what had just happened, it was the first time that I had be called sir or at least the first time it kind of resonated the way that it did.  As I said I still think that I am in my twenties, so getting the sir was like a kick to the shin.  It did surprise me a bit hearing it but I’m glad that it happened because it got me thinking and since then I’ve been recalling some great memories.  I’m not sure what it was but it just created this moment of thought for me where I just started to really take in account that I’ve got some years punched, lol.

    My daughter was out the other night, she had asked me to help her with her university project.  (I’m writing whole post about it) The reason I mention my daughter is that its when I am with her that I feel my age, I look at her in disbelief that it has been eighteen years already that she’s been alive, poof just like that.  Seeing her go through her stages of life is surreal, experiencing all the same things as I did.  I take a step back sometimes and ask myself how was I capable of creating such a smart beautiful young lady like my daughter before me and why doesn’t she stop growing up.

    I’ll be forty next April (ouch) and trust me there are days that I do feel the milage on my body but I do my best to try to stay as in shape as I can which helps me maintain a healthy living.  Staying active is a very good way to stay young, physical activity can take years off your life and no matter what the age anyone can do it.  Want to feel good about yourself and get on Father Time’s good side well I suggest working out, that can mean anything at all that works up a sweat and gets the ol’ heart rate going.

    Age is certainly just a number and we mustn’t allow ourselves to get too consumed with the fact that we all must grow old.  Celebrities are the most notorious for trying to set the clock back or maybe just hit pause for the sake of their careers but it usually just ends up looking very apparent that they have gotten a little lift or a pull maybe a nip or a tuck.  In my opinion I take more notice to the work that they had done rather than what they were trying to correct.  To each their own and c’est la vie, people will continue to chase the fountain of youth but unfortunately we will all die trying.  Life is relatively short and the chapters  of our lives (not the literal Chapters I was buying my book) go by so quickly it takes moments like the one that happened to me to make you stop, slow down and realize where we are with our lives.  We may all be in different stage of our lives but look at how far you have come, what you have accomplished, experienced and how much you have grown as a person.  Think about the people that you love and the relationships you get to spend every day with, time is what gives us that, take your time.

    “When you get older the months will feel like weeks and the years will escape you so take stock of what makes you happy and surround yourself with it”.  – Theresa Douglas

    Being called sir for that moment is not something that I took to heart and I certainly won’t lose any sleep over it but it was a reminder that I am getting older.  I do need to take stock of what makes me happy and so should you, we all need to celebrate the years we have been alive and the years that are to come.  Don’t be someone who lets time slip away, make sure you use that time for its intended purpose and that’s doing the things and loving the people that make us happy.  We can sit there  and wonder where all the time as gone but believe it or not its been there all along we just need to take advantage of it.

     

     

     

    I Miss the Shot

    I went for walk a couple days ago and spent a little time in the basketball court, the air was brisk, the sun beaming down, just the perfect conditions for a pickup game.  Both the basketball court and tennis court  were free at the time, a sight like that in my youth would be like finding a dollar each time you looked down, pure win.  Growing up I lived on the court where I played basketball, tennis, a lot of volleyball and well hockey was just a staple and a given growing up in small town Newfoundland, Canada.  Sports like those were a constant in my life and a constant in the lives of my friends, we all had the same passion for high school sports with a camaraderie that still exists today.  Certainly, we have all moved on with ours lives but if we happen to run into each other today we immediately start reminiscing of missed shots, long car rides and that time we all got in trouble for someone stealing a Crash Test Dummies CD.  Sports did that for me, it provided some of the best years of my life and I think every young boy and girl should get a chance to play something and challenge themselves while they make friends doing it.

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    I remember the first time that I made a high school team, it was volleyball.  I had signed up using the clipboard signup sheet that was always hanging from the coaches door, dangling from an old piece of wool that someone must have brought from art class.  For the three days that followed I kept dragging myself to tryouts, each day at 3:15, all intimidated, nervous and unsure that I had what it took.  To make matters worst my best friend had actually backed out the day of, so I was really swimming in the deep end now with most of the team consisting of the whole ninth grade, a grade up on me and I was only familiar with a couple of the guys.  By the time the last tryout was finished I did get to know everybody but as a consequence to that I then learned that there were only a few open spots so I didn’t really get my hopes up.  The two days between the last tryout and knowing if I had made the team were brutal, the suspense nearly killed me.

    The day had finally came, the team had been picked and we were to be notified by the coach personally if we had indeed made it, if he dropped by the classroom that would be a good thing.  It was pushing 3:00 on a Thursday afternoon when there was a knock on the door, it was coach, I immediately started to try to read his lips.  I couldn’t make out what he was saying  to the homeroom teacher but after what felt like an eternity he finally addressed the class and spoke three names, just three and those name were “Paul, Paul and Ashley”.  Never had my name ever sounded so soothing to my ears, I was instantly relieved, all that hard work had paid off and I was now part of an actual team. (true story see below)

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    High school for me just kind of happened and I believe sports had a lot to do with that, I kept good grades, actually my grandmother deserves the most credit for that but playing sports was more like a luxury for me and being a good student allowed me that luxury.  I see kids playing sports all the time, they’re fun to watch, there’s too much negativity in the world so we need more of the small things and we can find that in our kids.  We watch them as they walk in our own foot steps and we vicariously start living through their success because you can relate to how genuinely happy they are playing a sport they love.  A few years ago my daughter actually took up sports for awhile, she called one day to tell me she had made the volleyball team, I was so proud, and she was doing on her own merit.  I remember barely containing myself hanging on her every word, I was a proud dad, it was indeed  a moment (sniff).  Although she moved on from sports as some kids do, she did get the chance to experience sports on a team level, she had some fun and created bonds for life.

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    Speaking of bonds, playing outside as a kid was how I met most of my friends, we played hockey on the street all the time.  There was my friend Colin, one time he must have taken a full 30 minutes to get suited up in our makeshift goalie gear only to then take a rock to the lip on the first shot, he was done.  Oh yeah, a guy by the name of Corey who had a the heart of a Stanley Cup champion, he loved road hockey.  There were moments of my life where shooting a few hoops was a way to talk it out with a buddy, or maybe we’d make plans for the next day with a few jump shots before we called it a night.  I remember walking home as a teenager from a school dance with a close friend of mine Willie, who has since passed on, sometimes we would shoot hoops until the sun came up, just chatting it up while taking layups on a dimly lite basketball net.  I’ll never forget that, and I will never forget him, he was a good friend.

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    When I was a kid I would visit my dad for a couple months of the summer, his sport was tennis which then became our sport.  He would bring me to the local tennis club and kick my ass up and down that court each match we played but I kept wanting more, some day I’d beat him, it was happening.  Every morning and again that same evening I’d battle my father back and forth trying to anticipate his next move, closing the gap and finally getting close enough where I might pull it off.  We played all summer one year barely missing a day.  I enjoyed that time with my father, for the first time in my life I felt we had connected through sport and for those tiny moments nothing else mattered.  We bonded a lot that summer and I learned more and more about him as we continued to play.  It was like we were getting to know each other on a different level and I am just now looking back realizing how happy I was.   He did a great job pushing me to my limits and taught me the lesson of being humble, I learned how to lose and I learned how to win.  I have him to thank for that, he showed me that you can be good but there will always be someone who could be better, so try your best every time and make sure to have fun.

    That’s the thing about sports, they bring people together, they teach us a lot about ourselves.   Not only does sports help us physically and keep us healthy but it can be very helpful mentally as well.  Physical activity can help with stress, you’d be surprised how good you would feel by just getting outside and tossing the ball around.  I always look for opportunities to get outside with the nephews and nieces when they visit and they love it, there’s nothing like chasing the kids around the  yard and teaching them the concept of a game.

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    Standing there at that moment and looking in at the empty court I couldn’t quite stop but think of the days where courts like the one before me would have been a forwarding address for me at one point in my life.  Take advantage of those moments as often as you can, time flies by so fast so have fun as much as possible.  Get out there and kick the ball around, walk to the park and shoot some hoops.  Go ahead and put your household title on the line and challenge the kids to a game of horse with the loser getting the dreaded dish duty.

     

     

    Home is still home…

    I’m just now getting around to posting about our holiday back in Harbour Breton this summer and it was everything that we had anticipated, it was a great trip all around.  We took each day as it came and as on the fly as it was we actually got a chance to do everything that we had set out in our minds to do.  Our goal was to make sure to see everybody and do a few things that we used to do when we lived there ourselves, simple as that.  It’s been about three years since we travelled home so we wanted to make sure to make to the most out of it.

    One of the first things that I did was take a quick drive by the home that I grew up in.  It feels weird now returning home without my old house to visit, the house although virtually the same had this unknown feeling about it, like my chapter and the chapter of my family there had been finished.

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    I took a long look across the harbour, so many memories came rushing back, for a moment it felt like I never left, everywhere I looked evoked emotion.  The rolling hills with the calm shoreline created the perfect backdrop to my moment of reflection, it was nice and a great way to kick off the visit.

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    The trip home was a drive and then some so for the first night we mostly just talked, got caught up and enjoyed each others company.  Family gatherings are a cliche without trying to be, you all pile into a common room of the house, energy all around you, everybody talking over each other, we were home.  Kids tugging at your shirt tales, dogs barking at every thud, food coming from every angle, there was a controlled chaos.  We talked until the early morning hours but it was getting late and there was a whole new day before us.  We all began to turn in when it came time to delegate rooms, we snagged the room with the superhero sheets, my inner nerd rejoiced.

    A highlight of the trip for me was the fact that I did manage to get to borrow a bike and get two bike rides in, I was so happy that worked out, something else that was on my trip home bucket list.  The first one was an impromptu ride with my nephews, they loved every second of it and I was glad to have the opportunity.  A flood of memories came back as I cruised the streets like I did as a kid, it was surreal, I could almost feel myself back there.

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    We were’t sure how long we had for this spur of the moment adventure but you know what? I was too busy reliving my childhood to care, with the kids leading the way we were now heading to the beach.  I must of went down that dirt road a million times as a kid, it was a great ride down memory lane, the trail was not letting me down, what a ride.

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    About a quarter of a ways we ran into my uncle in law who is a very talented photographer, we did the stop and talk and he asked for a photo op so we got our picture taken, it’s the one you see below, by the way here’s a link to some of his other work.  With a short walk across the beach we were on our way again, there was just one last leg of the ride to go.

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    Bike ride, check, now we were about to take a boat ride for a boil up.  We were feeling quite spoiled as guests and it was only getting better, we all climbed into my brother in laws’s boat and he proceeded to pull away from the dock.

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    As we sped down the harbour, with smiles all around, I couldn’t help think of the time I would do the same with my grandfather as we ventured out fishing or beach combing the shoreline.  The two dogs, Max and Major were loving it, you could tell they really enjoyed getting out in the boat and we were glad to be tagging along.

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    It was decided due to the wind that day that we would opt for an alternative spot to pull ashore, this gem of a location was second to none, we landed on the north side of Jersey Harbour and right next to the M.V. Home.

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    I took a walk with my littlest nephew Brandon and we went berry picking, the berries were everywhere.  It was like our own personal berry drive thru, blueberries to the right and raspberries to the left.  Because of the views all around us, I couldn’t help but to take a moment and reflect upon the fact that people had once lived here some time ago, I was once told that horses once roamed wild and galloped free on the banks of the shoreline, it was indeed a different time, a time I’m sure somebody misses everyday.

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    We had scallops by the shore, roasted wieners by the fire and marshmallows because come on, you got to have marshmallows.  We spent the time combing the beach, exploring the wreckage, and skipping rocks as far as we could.

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    It was so peaceful there, the ocean  was swaying in and out teasing it’s tides and drawing concern the odd moment from the skipper.  Time seemed to have stood still, the air was warm and the smell of smoke was therapeutic in a way, it was like the rest of the world was put on pause.  Sometimes it’s the small things that give you the most satisfaction in life and it’s unfortunate we don’t take the time to do those things more often.

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    It was time to pack up and head home, with Brandon assuring that the gas was topped up we began to load up the boat and begin our venture back.  The return boat ride was just as beautiful as it was when we left, getting to see the harbour again from that perspective as we steamed along was a moment we surely will not forget, day two proved to be quite rewarding.

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    What’s one thing that you got to do when  you get home?  Give up? You got to visit the local “best fries south of everywhere” restaurant.  You know, that place with the secret recipe for gravy, no trip home is complete without that.  My fiance and I took a seat at a table that was in a place that look exactly like it did when we were teenagers, it was pretty nostalgic. We had the place to ourselves and just talked about our trip up to that point, it was like we were in a time capsule.  After taking a look around and while waiting for our food we started to share old stories of the place, so many memories triggered by the smell of chicken fingers dancing around your nose and it smells exactly the same.  The food didn’t disappoint and it was just as good as we remembered and now we had the visit to the restaurant checked off our list, so far, so good.

    Like I mentioned, I managed to get in two bike rides and the second was by myself, the town was my map and I had no idea where to start.  So off I went, I zoomed by the post office, zipped past the bridge that connected both sides of the harbour and decided to head down toward the area where I grew up.  I got off the bike for a second and took a picture of my street where I grew up.  It looked so small, how could twenty or so kids jam a hockey game in place as tiny as that?  The amount of hockey games that took place in the spot pictured below I couldn’t count, but I can certainly recall the Stanley Cup moments we used to relive, good times.

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    I biked virtually the whole community and if it wasn’t for dark I would have kept going, I knew I wouldn’t get the chance anytime soon so I was getting my fill.  It was a beautiful ride and it also proved to be quite the workout as well, there was so much to see and I still didn’t get a chance to see it all.

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    The bike ride was fun and I got to retrace some of my childhood steps, it was nice to incorporate my current lifestyle into a visit to the small town where I grew up.  It has been maybe twenty plus years or more since I was biking the old neighbourhood, I’m happy that I made a point to do it.

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    On the last night of our trip we went to my brother in law’s cabin, it was about an hour away from the Harbour Breton and for us, it was a hour that we shaved off our trip back to Mount Pearl the following day.  The cabin road was modestly marked by two poles that signalled the beginning of the dirt road leading the way to the cabin which was nestled deep in woods overlooking a huge pond, it was a beautiful piece of land.  As soon as we pulled up you could notice the abundance of berries that were ready to pick, I took a bunch with my first swipe, how convenient.

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    As the evening drew near and the sun began to set we started to make a fire, the evening breeze was calm, the flies were staying away and there were s’mores in our future.  As mentioned the cabin overlooks a pond that stretches for miles, a loon call in the near distance reminds you that you’re on mother nature’s door step. That night we sang songs and played music with everyone lending their voice to tunes we knew half the words to. The best times are the times that just happen, much like that night, an impromptu song and dance was all we needed to cap off a wonderful retreat.

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    There was a certain calm about being off the grid, no notifications prompting your attention, no status updates, no city traffic, nothing at all to create stress, just a quiet that was very welcomed…thanks Travis and Juanette.

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    The morning of the last day of our visit the birds were chirping and the smell of the trees filled my lungs, this was god’s country for sure.  I started to imagined throwing it all down and staying in the country forever and living off the land and turning to a life of the bush people, but quickly realised this was me I was referring to.  Though, I can’t stress enough the need for experiences like these, we need them, it does wonders for the soul.

    We left that cabin that morning feeling happy, a little hungover, but happy.  We spent a great night in the woods with our family which had put an great big explanation point our trip home, so with all the goodbyes said, we took to the road and headed back to the city.

    When we decided to go home for our vacation this year we had no idea what it would be like, but the one thing is for sure we are so glad we did.  The time was spent with family around us, chats of a time gone by and conversations of what’s to come.  I used to say  that home is relative to where you are, now I stand corrected.  Going home to where you were born and raised, you know, there’s a whole familiar feeling that starts to fall over you.  Of course you can make happiness anywhere you live in the world but spending a subtle moment to return to where it all began has proven for us that no matter what, home is still home.

    A change in the air.

    It’s the end of the summer of 2016 and already there is a change in the air, there ‘s a certain nip to the breeze, a indication that fall is around the corner.  I took to the bike yesterday and there was a different feel to the evening, it was a good different though for me, I like the fall and a fall in Newfoundland is like no other.  The leaves will soon change, the air smells extra clean, fresh and I seem to get the most inspired.  I can honestly say that the fall is my best time of the year, I just like the look and feel of everything.

    The talk of vacations and travel plans start to dwindle and the Christmas chatter begins to make its way into conversations already with the first person to speak of them to be quickly shunned of course.  “It’s too early to talk of those things, didn’t you just get back from summer vacation?”.  That may be the case, but you know yourself that time flies and before you know it.  Just the other day I received my first Christmas party request for a work function, imagine the first of September and I now thinking about gifts.  (Switch topics)

    I  took a walk just last night and the air was crisp and clean, it made me think of home and growing up, I thought of school nights spent playing with my friends trying to make the best out of the last days of summer that we had left.  September was upon us and we’d soon be packing book bags and lining up to get the best seat on the bus, dibs back row.  I asked my little nephew Dalton a couple weeks ago about school and before I had the words out of my mouth he goes “don’t even talk about uncle Ash”.  I had to laugh because I’ve been there and there no worst feeling than knowing the sands of the summer hour glass were quickly trickling away, I felt for him.

    Speaking of school, my daughter is in town for her first year at university, yup, my little girl is about to start a new chapter in her life and she seems to be taking it all in stride.  She says she’s excited and I know she will be ok but I can only imagine what must be going through her mind.  Ashton, like me, will be coming from a small rural community and I remember it was intimidating to be finally on my own too but I never really felt like I was home sick or never capable of staying the course.  I guess with my friends being around and being that some of them were my room mates I felt a sense of security like there were pieces of home with me.  She will be rooming with a young lady that is also from her graduating class, so at least she will have a little sense of home with her as well. There’s a lot for her to experience and a time for her to start making her way through life, it will be full of obstacles but she is fully capable of taking care of herself.  I can only sit back and watch her become a woman, she will have to learn like we all do, she has a great mind on her shoulders so I confident she’s going to be just fine.  This is just another example of this time of year and the changes it brings with it, the fall is synonymous with beginnings from an academic perspective and this is just her’s, stay tuned.

    Now if you not worried about school then maybe talks of the breakdown of patio sets or storing of pleasure boats fill the todo lists conversations. I was talking with a coworker the other day who was taking advantage of this last long weekend of the summer to winterise and lock down her cabin, probably the case for a lot this last hurrah of summer.  I’m sure there are many families tonight sharing the last of the campfire stories and roasting the final spider wiener with the warm season winding down to an end.  I’m glad my family and I had a chance the summer to eat by a fire and take in the beautiful summer night skies, we are lucky to be able to live here.

    Nowadays a walk may require a coat, you could very well be rained on more often but this time of year for me is the best, I still like it the most.  Summer is cool but this time of year I tend to write more, I usually pick up reading again or at least have more time for it. Summer is busy, it seems like you always have to be doing something when the weather is good.  Cue September and something as simple a bbq has lost its luster because for the last three months it seems that’s all we’ve been eating, so I’m glad for the change.  Fall is rich in tone, it was my grandfathers favourite season too, he loved it, I remember vividly of the smell of freshly cut trees as he would saw the wood that was needed to fuel the stove for the colds nights to come.  The air would cut through me and the saw dust would get in my boots but there was something about that fragrance of autumn that made you feel good that you were alive, I miss my pop, but that moment makes me smile.

    So, wrap your plants, school’s in, and I saw Halloween decorations just two days ago, summer may be over but it’s time to embrace the fall.  What do you like about the fall of the year, any memories come swarming back?, Any projects on your horizon?, leave a remark in the comments below and share.