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Eric Riehl/Metroland Media Group

Eric Riehl/Metroland Media Group

Brenda Jefferies

To everything, a season

At last, it’s summer.

How can you not love a season that encourages a relaxed wardrobe, increased exposure to the great outdoors and just a more laid-back attitude all around? And, to top it off, it starts with pretty much the coolest holiday ever. (Although any holiday that includes fireworks certainly ranks right near the top.)

Don’t get me wrong: I love Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. Birthday parties? I’m in. But there is something to be said for a enjoying a full day of celebrations that don’t include shopping, wrapping, cooking and stress. For Canada Day, the most difficult decision I make is which red tee-shirt I’m going to wear.

This year, the timing for our national holiday was perfect:  stretched out over a three-day weekend that threatened rain but never delivered, there was plenty to do from one end of the city to another.

Chez Jefferies, the festivities included a jaunt down to the waterfront to check out the tall ships. While we didn’t embark on the harbour tour, we thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history and culture of the majestic vessels and were treated, along with many other families, to a spectacular Saturday evening sunset on the water as live music provided an ambient soundtrack to the whole affair.

A trek over to the O Canada Day Ribfest in Waterdown is always a good time, and this year again was a huge hit. Great bands,  a small midway for the kids, vendors and, natch, some of the best ribbers on the circuit provided a full weekend of activities (although, once a half-rack is consumed, you may want to change into low gear for a while).

But to me, nothing signifies the start of summer more than a trip to Lynden, a small dot on Hamilton’s western-most border that seems to be a half-hour drive from just about anywhere else. Every Canada Day, a citizens’ committee organizes a full programme of events, starting off with a parade and winding up with a fantastic pyrotechnic display that lights up the neighbouring cornfields.

As we made our way along the parade route, I reflected on just what the attraction is for me. After all, we don’t actually live there. And hundreds of communities across southern Ontario do the exact same thing on July 1. What, then is different in this place?

Without coming to any great conclusion, I did realize that the folks in Lynden – and on the waterfront and at Ribfest, for that matter – were handed the beautiful gift of a day. And while they could have spent it catching up on yard work, getting a jump on work emails, cleaning the house or any one of a hundred chores, they decided to spend it together. The fact that they put considerable effort into planning that time together makes it even more special. There were lineups for food concessions, crying babies and traffic tie-ups in and out of the park – and no one cared. There were no raised voices or middle finger salutes from speeding vehicles, no irritated glances at misbehaving children, no butting in line for the washrooms.

Everyone, for a day at least, seemed to content to operate at a slower speed, and to show a little more patience and respect for each other. And what’s not to love about that?

To all our readers, enjoy a safe and happy summer.

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