Summer’s End, Child’s Play


It’s September, but it hardly feels like it. We’re experiencing much, much warmer temperatures than usual—highs of 29, 30 degrees C the last few days, 24 today–and there’s still no sign of fall colours. I remember—here goes “back in the olden days”—when the start of school was also the start of sweaters and jackets. I try not to obsess about climate change.

The garden knows, though.

The beans are overgrown and ready to be pulled, IMG_3883 broccoli has reached the tiny-heads-yellow-flowers stage, the last cabbage is about to split if I don’t pick it soon, IMG_3882and the cucumbers and squash are dying back. Time for a major harvest. Soon there will be nothing left except kale, Brussels sprouts, chard—and tomatoes and peppers, which are still actively ripening. We will have the annual discussion about whether or not to protect them from the first frost, but the later that is, the less I’m inclined to argue with the elements. Enough, already.IMG_3888

Every year, as summer approaches, I determine that I will stop and savour the season, but somehow it gets away from me every time. The garden, the many small outdoor chores, endlessly mowing our embarrassingly large “lawn”, kids visiting, a few weeks at camp/cottage spread out over the two or three months of good weather, and bam! It’s fall again.

We began the summer thinking neither of our southern Ontario offspring would get up here this year, but that prospect obviously troubled them as much as it did us, and in the last couple of weeks we’ve had first Galen and his family, and now Erica and Darren (without their kids, who are now tied to summer jobs and university schedules). We spent last week at camp with Galen’s crew. Erica and Darren prefer to unwind on their own by the lake, so we’ll see less of them, but hopefully they’ll spend a day or two with us on their way home.

The week with Galen’s children, joined for several days by Robin’s youngest, was a glimpse into the world of childhood as it should be. We hear a lot about the demise of imaginative play, and I do worry about kids becoming obsessed by their various electronic options and losing the urge to play. These kids are young—4, 6, 8 (I’m not including the one-year-old here, though she was certainly a presence!), and the parental limits on screen-time will become harder and harder to enforce. But for now, their enthusiasm and their imaginations are a joy to behold!

A driftwood playground at the Sand River beach.

Quentin, 6

Quentin, 6


Stella, 3 1/2, with Katharina. I can do it too!

Stella, 3 1/2, with Katharina. “I can do it too!













Playing in the surf with Papa.


Building a shoreline ship with Mama and cousin Delaney, 8.


And some quiet time to ponder–another precious element of childhood that I fear kids are losing, whether at the beach or staring out the window at the non-digital world.


Back at camp, setting a bear trap.

No Bears Allowed!

No Bears Allowed!

“So, you figure you’ll catch a bear?”

“No, Grandma. It’s to keep the bears away.”

In which case, I must say, it worked wonderfully. The next day, they lowered the rope to turn it into a squirrel trap. That didn’t work quite so well.

And sometimes, of course, a bit of screen-time.



Back at our house, in an old shed that was originally built as an ice house and in our time has served as a chicken house, a horse barn, and now a repository of old lumber and derelict lawn furniture:

“Grandma! We’re building a whole world out there where you can do anything you want…As long as it’s safe, of course.”


And when it’s hard to keep up with the bigger kids, you can always hang out on the deck.



All the while, the littlest one, Nina, was working hard at learning to walk. In the week and a half they were here, she went from a first tentative step to a proud walk on the un-mown lawn. We were so lucky to be witness to that milestone that lasts just a short time!


They’re back home in Kitchener now, Quentin preparing to begin Grade 1, Stella entering full-day JK, where we can only hope their imaginations and sense of fun survive the onslaught of formal education.

I’ve no intention of spoiling this magical moment with reference to the other main event of the summer–but stay tuned for my thoughts on the current election campaign. The pictures won’t be so pretty…


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One Response to Summer’s End, Child’s Play

  1. Sue Corcoran says:

    Paula Enjoyed seeing the pictures of the grandkids. You’ve had busy summer. We did too. Three weeks in Scotland in June, all of July in California for John’s furniture school, one in August for knitting for me, and a puppy. A Scottie. Adorable and time-consuming. Photos later, Sue


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