Those Were the Days. They Still Are

The emptying-out of Yukon’s schools signals the official start of that much-anticipated annual ritual: the Summer Holiday.

We all know the narrative arc of that story. For the first little while, the kids are bursting to be outside every moment of the day, burning off the pent-up energy held hostage inside the classroom for months.

Adventures will be had; risks will be taken; knees, elbows and hearts will be bruised; new friendships will be made, then broken by disputes over who’s the bravest and who’s a cowardy-custard; lifelong memories and never-to-be-divulged secrets will be shared.

Inevitably, a few weeks in, the compulsion to rush outside immediately after breakfast will give way to a more leisurely exit, and increasing phone calls saying, “I dunno. What do you want to do?”

As July grinds on, especially on gloomier days, more time will be spent indoors, engrossed in comic books and video games, or just lolling around, grousing about not having a single thing to do.

Like clockwork, around the second week of August, the focus will begin to shift toward the coming school year, what the new teacher will be like, and I hope I don’t have to sit beside that drip, Derek, again this year.

Rare is the family that manages to handle the summer holidays with ease, orchestrating the time with a magic blend of summer camp, day camps, and occasional outings to the beach, a festival, or just a shady picnic spot.

For them, summer might include time at a cottage, with enough down time at home to make “special” outings seem special, or even an extended road trip to interesting new locales.

That last one was one of my family’s specialties. With five kids and two adults crammed into a too-small car in a time long before air conditioning, we roamed through most of Canada and countless U.S. states.

Those trips honed my love of travel and discovery as surely as Scout camp prepared me to be the wilderness warrior I like to consider myself.

Sure, I remember long days of boredom and claustrophobia, bitter arguments over personal space, late-night arrivals at one-star motels, and a sense that the car contained barely enough oxygen for four, let alone seven.

But I remember those clever Burma Shave signs, that first frosty taste of A&W root beer, and the miracle of soft ice cream. And I remember the majesty of Niagara Falls as vividly as the boiled-dry radiator on the white-knuckle switchbacks of the Kicking Horse Pass.

Most of all, I remember the togetherness, the silly songs and riddles, the games of “spot the Edsel” and (later) “punch-buggy.”

Whatever your summer holds in store, may you live it large.

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