In Canada, we pride ourselves on our climatic toughness.
We like to trade stories of the worst winters and compare the endurance we have against those from other cities.
Did you know the corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg is the windiest street corner in the world? I do - because I am an extra-tough Prairie kid.
We Canadians tend to stretch the definition of summer a little, just to make ourselves feel warmer for a bit longer, I think.
The general prevalence of less clement weather (dare I say “winter”?) makes us fiercely proud of what summer we do manage to eke out of the calendar.
Canadian tradition says that summer starts when the May long weekend arrives. Some years Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate very well on the weather front, and this year might be one of those. With the last few years of having our fun curtailed, we are aching to get out there and make the most of the time no matter what.
With many of my ESL students, I have used the theme of memories for special days. With this long weekend here, I have been reminiscing with them about the launch of summer. It has been heartening to learn that no matter where you come from or go to, it’s the little things that you cherish.
As a kid, I used to dread the Victoria Day weekend, as that was when the garden work went into full force. We dug and planted and moved rocks and generally didn’t do anything that seemed like what one should be doing on the first lazy weekend of summer.
I was always secretly hoping to get an essay assignment at school on what I did that weekend, so I could regale the class with a tale of woe and hard labour. Funnily enough, as an adult I now look forward to the first sure weekend of garden work.
If you aren’t a garden buff like me, then I imagine the smell of burgers or ribs on the barbecue might be the memory of Victoria Days past. Or perhaps it is the sound of the boat on the water, or the splashing of kids at the beach. Maybe it is the feel of the wind in your hair as you ride with the top down in your convertible for the first time.
The other night, when I heard starlings warbling crazily in the trees, it reminded me of another classic harbinger of summer – the ice cream truck. I remembered that the first trip it made was usually this weekend.
The taste of ice cream eaten outside off a stick is certainly a taste of summer. That and drinking from the garden hose were things that went with skinned knees, grass stains and sunburn.
I wonder what kids today will have as memories when they grow older and want to look back.
This weekend, we will be visiting my stepdaughter and her family, watching our brand-new grandson live his first long weekend, while our granddaughter walks through her first Victoria Day. I am sure we will spend some time comparing stories of years gone by.
After all, isn’t that what being a family is all about?
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.