Sharing your Best Summer Holiday Memories

“It was the summer after my freshman year at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan. I packed my bags and shuffled off to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. For the next two months, I worked in the kitchen and the gift shop at Lake Yellowstone Hotel. On days off, I would fill a giant backpack with enough food, water, and clothes to last two days. New friends and I would backpack deep into Yellowstone’s grizzly bear inhabited forest and set up camp for the night (tents and camping supplies were carried on our backs too). These hikes were heart-poundingly difficult, and sometimes mosquito infested. But the beauty I beheld! I saw families of elk grazing or sometimes dashing off to a new location, giant moose resting under a shady bush, and a meteor shower unlike any I have ever witnessed. Every day that summer, I experienced a new wonder of nature. This convinced me that I wanted to have a connection with the force that created the beauty that I experienced. That was many years ago, and I still am compelled to have communion with the Creator of such wonder and magnificence.”   Barb

“The summer of 1996 was proving to be one of life altering experiences. Sitting on the beach listening to the waves was a welcome reprieve from recent days’ events. As the warmth of the sun’s rays subtly coaxed my tense body to relax, I listened as my 40-year old husband shared his recent cancer diagnosis with his long-time friend Trudy. Trudy, herself having just received a terminal cancer diagnosis, was unusually subdued as she listened intently.  As these two cherished people in my life shared their life defining experience since diagnosis, I found myself drifting to a difficult conversation with Danny earlier in the day. Believing “until death do us part” translated to 40 years from now; we never imagined that one of us might “part” in mid-life. I dug my heels into the wet, cool sand and savoured the sensation as the waves parted the sand for the sole of my feet to be embraced. This was not in our life plan. We were soul mates. How could one of us exist meaningfully without the other? I could feel my emotions of betrayal……anger……fear welling in my chest, as the reality of our circumstance sunk in. It is difficult to describe what followed. At this moment, Mother Nature with all Her grace and wisdom, using the waves and sand as Her medium, invited the overwhelm of these emotions to melt away into the wet sand through my feet. As awareness of this seemingly magical moment crept in, and a feeling of peace and harmony ensued, so did the realization I was not alone in this journey. I did not know where this new challenge would lead us, but I had the sense that no matter what happened, it would unfold as it should. Life happens, and when it becomes too much, you will find Danny and I sitting at the end of our dock. We invite Mother Nature to soothe our souls as we look out over the water enjoying the beauty of the moment. It is in the awareness of this moment, we know all is well. Life is good.”   Nancy

“When I was a kid, my family used to go camping together. We often went to a campground near Owen Sound and other places up north. For 2 weeks we would swim, play golf and baseball, barbecue, sleep in a tent trailer, do fire camps at night and see neat things in Nature. We often went with other families and so we would run around the camp with our friends. I loved it and still today when these old friends get together on rare occasions, we still laugh and recall the fun and games we played as children. As we moved into our teens, we still wanted these times of camping and the only difference was that the nights just got later around the campfire and the stories more ridiculous! To this day, I love the opportunity to let all the responsibilities of the rest of my life be put aside for a while, to sit down around the campfire and tell great stories that make us all laugh. Laughter is one of my soul medicines and camping reminds me to replenish it for my life!”   Shirley Lynn

“Memories are priceless, especially the fond ones. I would have to go back to the summer of 1996 which was the first year I met my husband. He introduced me to the beauty of Georgian Bay. We were boating and jet skiing over the weekend enjoying the beautiful weather. I hadn’t had that much fun in years. The waters did get a bit rough at times, pretty bouncy. At night we all gathered around the fire and told stories. What a night. So calm and peaceful. Sometimes now when I get stressed or need to find my place, I think of the views of Georgian Bay that weekend. Oh, and how tall and strong the trees are. No matter how rough the waters are, the water is still underneath. I will picture myself underneath the water and know to keep calm and strong, as the rough water passes. -Relax, Faith, Resilience, Gratitude, Appreciation, and Strength.  Life is good.”   Sandra

“Happy Summer Solstice! When Allie was a toddler she used to chase the seagulls hoping to catch one so she could fly with it. So hold on to the thought that we can all fly with the birds when we let our thoughts soar and our dreams be lifted skyward!”  JJ

“When I used to live in Glencoe, a small farming community south west of London, the summer nights were the best! Our main rule was to be home when the street lights turned on. We always followed that rule. We made it home, but we did not necessarily make it in the house. Our backyard was attached and open to three other backyards in a subdivision on the very outskirts of town.  Our neighbour allowed the kids in the neighbourhood to play on her huge metal monkey bars. My brother and I would be allowed to play on them until our parents finally called us in. Many kids often joined us in our nightly sessions. Some of the best stories were told and we had many laughs. In looking back, these nights provided a carefree and simplistic time and I will always treasure those memories. Going forward, I continue to take time to get away from it all and socialize, especially with family and friends as much as possible.”  Cindy

“It was the summer of 1970. I was 16 years old and had started on first part-time job. My new friends that I had met at work were heading to Sauble Beach for the weekend. I knew there was no way my dad would let me go. He didn’t allow me to do anything. So I lied to him. I ended up getting a ride up with friends and I hitchhiked home at the end of the weekend. This was a major step for me. It represented two things. The first was that I was totally dishonest with my parents and I was never dishonest – miss goody two-shoes. And surprisingly it didn’t bother me. The second part is that I hitchhiked with a guy all the way home. And surprisingly that didn’t bother me either. Instead I felt totally free. Totally liberated. Totally in control of my life. The only other time in my life that I felt that way was when I divorced. This is significant for me because I never did anything like it ever in my life again. I have never felt that sense of freedom, that sense of control again. Yet I know how it felt and I know that I have longed for that feeling. But it has become a small treasure that I hold in my heart for just me. To bring out at a moment when I feel the need. When I went home after this weekend I went back to my “miss goody two-shoes” life.  If you were to tell anyone in my family that I did this, they would never believe it. If I were asked to do it again right here, right now, I wouldn’t even hesitate! Freedom is a wonderful thing. This has been a good exercise for me. It was a time in my life that I treasure but surprisingly had forgotten about for this past while.  It has definitely got me thinking!!”   Karen

“It was only a few years ago. The first time I stayed at Wasaga Beach. Wolfgang and I had just enjoyed a wonderful dinner on the deck of the house we were renting. We saw a twinkle in a tree across the creek; it twinkled so brightly it caught our eye. As the sun was setting and evening was growing darker and darker, we saw a few more twinkling lights. The darker it grew, the more lights there were. Soon there were thousands of tiny twinkling lights. They looked like fairies gently flying and swaying across the creek and right up to where we were standing. We did not know what it was we were experiencing until the following day. We do know we had an amazing sense of peace and excitement at the same time. It was truly beautiful and we did not want to leave the deck and go into the house. Later that same evening, we heard the sound of something crossing the creek, sloshing in the water and stamping up to the backyard of the house. We got the camera, and caught photos of a doe deer and her two young fawns. They were just grazing on the grass. Quite content. We know the deer now, and feed them corn every evening, as we go back to the same house each July. The first time we saw and heard them was exciting and filled me with a sense of awe. They are majestic, yet playful. Wary and somewhat skittish, but curious about us, and still strong and graceful, able to bound across the large lot and creek into the woods in a flash. They teach you that you can be strong and gentle together. We later found out that the twinkling fairy lights were fireflies and they were in abundance that year. It was such a beautiful, exhilarating experience. It drew us closer and it gave us a profound appreciation and awe of nature. Our best holidays are always those spent embracing what nature has to show us.”   Judy

“I immediately thought of my best friend, Tess, and being at her cottage as a youngster. There were many kids on Smirle Street, but Tess and I were really close. Her parents would take me to their cottage every summer until I left Ottawa at age 9. The memory is of swimming in the beautiful lake, with water so clean. We also would canoe around and check out different cottages or little islands. Tess’ grandfather built one cottage and then a few years later bought a new cottage beside the old one. The old cottage had secret pathways through it – one upstairs and one that went from upstairs to downstairs. I loved that place! Across the gravel road there was a pond that would be FULL of tadpoles, and we would go with a glass jar and scoop some up and check the different ones out: some tiny with tails, and some big starting to develop legs. So cool. Good memories.”   Sam

“The summer of 1981 was a memorable one for me. I just finished high school and was looking for adventure. I found it in the form of biking across Canada with 21 others from various parts of Canada and the US. We started in the Pacific Ocean and ended 2 months later in the Atlantic. I learned a lot that summer and I won’t bore you with the long version about all our trials and tribulations, joys and triumphs – can you say character-building? What stands out for me even today is the value of community in supporting each other through the highs and lows of our life journey – each of us could probably still recall a time on that trip when we didn’t think we could go on but someone said or did something that gave us the necessary support to keep moving forward. A simple squirt of water did the trip sometimes. Other times an imaginary tow line pulled someone up yet another mountain. I like to believe that I have carried this lesson forward in my life. I want to remember and act on the knowledge that reaching out and offering help and support to someone (whether in big or small ways) can have a positive impact on that person, and maybe me too. As Red Green used to say, “…we’re all in this together”. Some of you who know me may think – “I didn’t know she liked to bike”. And you’re right. I don’t. Never really did. I’ve rarely been on a bike since. But it still was the ride of a lifetime. Kind of a coming-of-age adventure that will stay with me forever.”   Lucy

Thanks to everyone who shared their best summer holiday memories along with the impact they had on who you are today. Congratulations to Cindy who is the winner of our random draw for a one-of-a kind Beat the Heat of Summer Gift Basket.