Later this month, D’Arcy & I will celebrate 20 (!) years since our first date. We had been friends for more than a year before we started a relationship and, during that time, he had been building a 16 foot cedar-strip chestnut prospector canoe. A couple of years before, he had spent a summer in Northern Ontario in an Outward Bound program and loved canoeing every day. I’m sure when he started building the canoe he had visions of spending his summers on the various rivers we are fortunate to have in Nova Scotia, and in Canada.
(Un)fortunately for him, it didn’t work out that way. One of our early dates took place in Indian Harbour, Nova Scotia (near Peggy’s Cove) in a shed on a clear early-September evening, varnishing the canoe, which was launched on September 21, 1996. (I always joke that he snagged me with the fumes!) By the following summer, we were getting married, and I was pregnant with our oldest son, Evan, the summer after that, so the canoe didn’t get anywhere near the mileage D’Arcy had dreamed about in those early years.
We have property in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, which is bordered by the tidal French River. Once our kids became old enough to trust in the canoe, we have made a point to take the canoe to Tatamagouche at least once per summer for a family paddle. Because of the current ban on campfires across the province, we did not stay overnight this year. (No fires to heat water or use for light at night – phew?!)
My father had volunteered to come greet our guests so that we could stay as long as we wanted, and we had a beautiful afternoon together. Although the canoe sits lower and lower in the water each year, it is one of our favourite traditions. We paddled, we swam, we drank some local beer (and Kool-aid – it was a “vacation” day!); we laughed, we talked, and our soon-to-be-sixteen-year-old drove us up and down the lane.