If it were my New Year's resolution to blog at least once a week, I'd already be behind. But it seems like a good one, worth pursuing, even while in a deficit position.
So, Happy Baptism of the Lord, the end of the Christmas Season.
We went to Barry's Bay as planned. It was wonderful. It was brief but very nice. Solace in good friends. Who among us has a place like this, home? And, home it is, strangely enough, since I have no family there. Barry's Bay is a funny place to love. It is virtually in the middle of no where - so I thought when, unbiased by any previous experience of the place, I first drove to it via Ottawa in 1997. And, in the middle of winter, standing outside the gas station, glancing over at a bunch of snowmobilers - none of them familiar to me, since most were not from the Bay, but simply availing themselves of the trails - I could as yet say, I wish I lived here. It is still home because I own a house there. It is still home because my heart is still there, and the hearts of my family. Barry's Bay is a precious place in the summer; it is cruel in the winter. That is why to live there it is not enough to have amusements, like snowmobiles and fishing boats. One must have friends with whom to whittle away the long winter evenings. It is not possible to have too many friends, but, so it is, I have too many. One of the families we always make sure to visit is leaving in the summer. It will make return visits less hectic for us, but we will be the poorer for it.
My father was fortunate enough to work in the same place my entire childhood. I was one-and-a-half when I moved to Dartmouth, N.S., and twenty-four when I moved away for the last time. My mother still lives in the house where I was nursed, got chicken pox, braces, acne, a beard, and my heart broken (more than once). For as much as I love Nova Scotia, that house, memories of my youth, and my mother, my desire is for Catholicville, i.e., Barry's Bay.
Why? It's not because it's not faultless. Not because serious Catholics are not by nature prone to some very serious character flaws - they are, believe me. Not because it's always easy to live there because of its climate and remoteness. Not because it's always nice to run into certain people every time you go to the grocery store. Not because it's always convenient to have everything shut down at 6 pm. Not because it's impossible to find a stinking cheeseburger for a dollar-something when that is exactly what's required.
On the other hand, when we lived in Dartmouth we basically had one Catholic family we hung out with. One. Once a week our bloated family would get together with their bloated family and have fun over a few six-packs of Tim Horton's muffins. And it's that that says it all: an occasion where bloated families can be accepted for their bloatedness. The friends we visited in BB a week or so ago had, 8, 5, 0 and 3 children, respectively. They are all lovely and all very fine Catholics. No jokes about my wife and I reproducing like rabbits. It's not that I don't enjoy the repartee of, say, my 'secularized' cousin who likes to make fun of me for this. It's simply that that is not sharing in the goodness that the life I have chosen brings. It's defending it, laughing about it, but not sharing it, not really living it. There are people who like to show off how many kids they have. I am not one of those. In fact, making the children was one of things that I have done that required the least amount of exertion and skill. It's harder for me to tie my own shoes when I eat too many of those cheeseburgers, than it was to make those five kids. Why take pride in that? It's like being proud of being tall. Good for you. No, I am proud of who my children are, not that they are. It's not their number that bloats me, but their goodness. So, long story short, in BB there are many wonderful Catholic families and this is a huge blessing. That's why I miss it.
And, I like to fish. And, nothing beats reading books under the shade of trees while your children swim in the lake for hours with barely another soul around. Especially when the lake it one kilometer from your house.