27 Valentines

February 14, 2018 by  

I herein recount, in regrettably sparse detail, the morning of February 14, 2018.

I stood with my wife and youngest, and a number of similarly-aged university students, on a strip of thinly wooded land between two bodies of water. It was cold. The grass was the colour of straw, and there were no leaves on the maples. Team leaders – like camp counselors – were explaining that the plan was to paddle from our current destination to the university on the river.

By way of the one broad swath of shimmering black, we would arrive at one of the university’s colleges, we were told. Turning to the other option, I pointed and asked “What about that one?” With a sparkle in her eye, the counselor replied that it would take us to the other college. Clearly: her college. The plan was switched. We’d now be traveling to her college.

It would be a long and exhausting paddle. The vessel wasn’t a canoe. It was more like a raft made of logs, branches and twigs, held together with some binder twine. And the paddles – if I can call them that – were shaped like Bo Diddly’s cigar box…except that the handles were like rough, barkless branches – like those a witch might ride – and the rectangle appeared to be fashioned out of a good number of flattened, somehow joined, pop cans of various colours. This journey would take not a few minutes, but something in the range of hours. “A warning”, said she to us all, “if you haven’t paddled before this might not be for you”.

I’ve paddled. But considering her words, and seeing the creaky ‘boat’ we were all expected to climb onto, I suggested to my son that this might not turn out to be fun at all. But there was no stopping him. “Noooo, I really want to do this!”, said he.

My wife expressed support. “Well”, I said, “you do realize that whereas he lives in residence, we’ll be leaving the car here, and we’ll have to paddle all the way back, as well…without him. She wasn’t too happy about that consideration, but she still wanted to go.

She’s strong and determined, but it’s a hell of a long way. This wouldn’t end well for her, I thought. “Look”, I said, “Dad is waiting for us back at the car. If you’re going to go, I don’t want you paddling back. I’ll take the car and meet you there. Dad needs to do a few things in town anyway, so we won’t get there much before you.”

I headed back to the car, leaving wife and son to be on their rickety way.

So there I stand in the parking lot by the car with Dad, who is looking oddly like the older Burgess Meredith (you know, the Mickey Goldmill Merideth from the “Rocky” series). Maybe its the blue eyes…or the toque (it is cold, after all). Anyway, we’re in mid-conversation when he exclaims to me (now, imagine Goldmill saying this to Rocky): “Love her?! I’m crazy for the woman!”. Down on a curb by the parked car sits of number of purple and reddish fruits. Peculiar things, but beautiful, plump, juicy things, some like apples, others like plumbs, only with the deeper, shinier skin the colour of eggplant. He reaches down, picks up a generous handful of these delectables and, looking at me, says: “Do you know why I love these? Because they came from *her* garden, that’s why!”.

“Time to get up”, she says. She kisses me on the cheek.

“I was having such a good sleep”, I explain. “We were by this river and…what’s the name of the actor who played the Penguin on the Batman TV series?”.

Our 27th Valentine’s Day has begun.


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