Things I have missed about summer in Ontario

I’m currently in Ontario, taking the opportunity to visit with my family. It’s always a strange feeling to come back here: it’s where I was born and grew up, but I’ve been gone for over 15 years. A lot has changed. You really can’t go home again.

That’s not to say that I entirely like or dislike the way things currently are. I’m a bit indifferent, I guess. This is now some place for me to go to, to visit, but not where I feel particularly rooted. That’s what change does to you, I suppose.

That said, there are some things that I do miss.

One of the first things I missed was my family. A bit of a well, duuuuh! for some of you, I’m sure. These are people who know me well, who I can’t deceive in the slightest. There are no walls, no barriers. Openness and honesty is the only option, and painful it may periodically be, it’s always necessary and cathartic. There’s no blame or regret. I’m thankful for it each time, and especially this time.

Next are my friends, whom I miss their company, and frequently miss getting to see when I’m out: too much going on, and not enough time. I worry that this visit will be no different, but with luck things will work in my favour.

Then comes a weird one: bugs. Specifically cicadas and crickets. Alberta has mosquitoes, about the only bug other than bees, wasps, and houseflies that make any sound. Southern Ontario gets cicadas, and this seems to be a high year of their cycle: loud buzzing everywhere.

This drives some people nuts. For me, though, it’s the sound of summer. The sound of being in my parent’s backyard, swinging on the swingset, playing in my sandpile, or swimming in the pool (yes, I had a pool growing up).

In the evenings, after the sun went down, there were the crickets. I think I may miss the crickets more. Their chirps were my summertime lullaby, my reassurance that all was well with the world. I’ve never heard a single chirp in Alberta, I don’t even know if they exist out that way.

The crickets came out on the warm nights, which were always my favourite ones to drive around at 2am from a friend’s place, taking the long way to enjoy the soft draft that came through the open windows as you cruised down some empty road.

And, at least when I lived here, three warm nights (coming from hot, muggy days) usually netted a whip-cracking thunderstorm that would rattle windows, and light up the darkest curtains for hours on end. I so dearly mIss watching the bolts from the kitchen window with my mom. The mornings after were always damp and crisp.

If I had to into Toronto during the day, I took a GO Train. Thirty-five years on, you’ll still hear the conductor asking you to “stand clear of the doors, please”. There’s something wonderfully sane that it’s still done by a real person, and not a recording.

And since this is me that we’re discussing, let’s also mention the things I don’t miss:

First up is that hot mugginess I mentioned earlier. Being near the Great Lakes led to a lot of humidity. Combine that with 35C temperatures, and it gets pretty uncomfortable pretty quick. I’ve been damp with sweat since I stepped off the plane a few days ago. The only time I’ve been less comfortable was Hong Kong.

And I would be remiss not to mention the traffic. Dear God, the traffic! (I took the GO Train not just because it was a train.) I genuinely do not understand people who drive when they have a choice to not.

Especially on Hwy 400 northbound on a long weekend. Which I currently am (but I’m not actually driving).

So those of you in Calgary who complaint about the Deerfoot? Try Yonge and the 401 sometime, and then try to convince me that the Anderson road interchange is the worst thing ever.