As I’d finally become a citizen just days before Canada Day, there were lots of well-wishes and congratulations coming my way from our neighbours… there were small Canadian flags stuck in my garden and on my door, with red pinwheels whirling in the wind on our front lawn. I received cards and a bottle of champagne, even!
My sister was to come for a visit this weekend, but at the very last minute, her ride fell through (poo!) so besides being disappointed about not getting to see her this time, we also had all kinds of fresh food and wine and things – the kind you buy the day before a holiday when everything will be closed. What to do?!
Well! We happen to live on one of the finest streets in the city, replete with a small park at the end of our cul-de-sac, and over a dozen kids in the ‘hood, with ages ranging from new-babe to twelve-ish, and beyond. There are always extra kids hanging around, from neighbouring streets, or from the other side of town, it seems!
These days, it’s water play with hoses and squirt guns. Someone’s mother is handing out popsicles. Or braking out the bubble wands. Sidewalk chalk and skipping ropes. They play soccer in the street all day long. It is proving impossible to get these kids to keep their shoes on…
We had an impromptu street party, is what we did! There was iced tea and lemonade for thirsty kids, and frosty Coronas and chilled wine for the tall people. I had a kilo of shrimp marinating in lime juice, olive oil and chilli flakes, so we grilled them, and brought them out on a platter while some parents were keeping an eye on our Littles in the park. I made spaghetti with clams and served it in mini Chinese take-out containers for handy eating outside, and we noshed and shared with our kids, while they slid on slides, and chased each other, and made merry while the sunlight faded, slowly, but surely.
Parents took turns ushering younger kids inside to bed, long past the normal time… such is the way of summer though. We sorted out whose kids were sleeping where for the night, and set them up to watch movies before sleep would inevitably find them all.
The grown-ups made their way into our house for some grilled sausages and potatoes, more wine, more crudites, more sumptuous duck pate and fois gras, more olives… more of everything. We licked our fingers and made lively conversation on our little balcony while the candlelight flickered and we swapped at rogue mosquitoes. We hugged each other with the spirit of our shared good fortune – not only do we live in one of the most awesome countries in the world, but we’ve also found each other. We are a lucky bunch of neighbours indeed. This little gem of a neighbourhood is what makes moving house seem an unfathomable idea to us. We have each others’ backs. We are a family of friends.
What a wonderful country we have here… Happy Birthday, Canada! Thanks so much for having me!!