The overhanging trees darken the patio where I sit, despite the still-not-black sky above. It's 10:30 on the evening of Canada Day but it's still too light in the sky for the promised fireworks. Here against the back of my house, however, all is dark except for the citronella votive candle burning beside me (and doing little to keep mosquitoes away), the glow of my laptop screen and the embers of a fading fire Tom lit for me before going to bed.
I've been sitting here for the last four or five hours, enjoying the quiet absence of family and neighbours, the shade of the trees above me and the perfect weather for sitting outdoors. Most people in the city will have been to one or more of the various festive events throughout the city. Tom was at Assiniboine Park to watch the taiko drumming, Erik was in Osborne Village where this major thoroughfare is closed for the occassion and Mikael spent the day with friends at Grand Beach. I suspect that the Forks is where the biggest crowd will have been--it's a popular place to be if you don't mind cycling or walking there from some distant parking place. Indeed, each venue has the same problem--so popular that parking is impossible.
When I was younger, I would rally the family, dress the boys and myself in red and white and arrive at the City Park long before everyone else. This ensured easy parking and, with a picnic tucked away for later, it meant a long but fun day for all of us. These days, I'd rather avoid the crowds. I never used to understand that about others, especially those who were older. What could be better than to celebrate the day in a crowd of people? Here I am, "older," and prefering the comfortable solitude of my back yard--though not the mosquitoes who brazenly make it past my defensives against them.
I feel blessed. Tom has worked hard to weed my gardens for me and plant the flowers I bought--I haven't had the energy--and has made this a pleasant place to sit. Whole summers have gone past in previous years when the only time I was in the back yard was to move from house to car and back again. Summers are too short in Winnipeg to spend inside and so I intend to be out here more often this year. (Ah! The sound of the fireworks is booming into my neighbourhood.) I avoid the sun but the back of our house faces east so I have shade once the hottest part of the day begins.
I've enjoyed the squirrels' incessant chattering, the robin who graced me with his appearance and the sparrows that came to visit--especially the one that fought with a large caterpillar before flying away with its catch. The pile of books I thought I might spend the evening reviewing have gone untouched. The phones haven't rung. My family have come by at various times to observe the oddity of Mom sitting outside, though none have joined me for more than a few minutes.
And now as the sky darkens and the unseen fireworks punctuate the silence also broken by nearby traffic and squabbling squirrels, I feel at rest. Welcome, Summer! Happy Canada Day!