Editor’s Note

Summer memories are made of this … and this … and this

By Jeanne Amos

Summer has long been recognized as the season for making memories. In fact, when many of us look back, we see that one summer that really changed us.

Perhaps it was when you met that girl or boy you now spend your life with; or that summer between high school and university when you and your friends backpacked to some far-off country without a care in the world. Or maybe you had that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be among the 400,000 music lovers who attended the iconic Woodstock Music festival in August 1969.

The big summer of my younger years was less dramatic but equally memorable. It was the year I was eight or nine and experienced my first bit of earned independence – finally allowed (without adult supervision) to spend most of my waking hours outdoors with my friends. There were no organized activities. We played in the fields, collected frogs in the ponds, befriended snakes (a species I now go out of my way to avoid) and built forts in the bush. We collected pop bottles in roadside ditches to buy penny candy. We did chores at home with no allowance. Life was simple and easy.

It was an era when streetlights monitored our curfews. We called it a day when the lights came on and knew that ignoring those streetlights came with consequences. There was an unspoken creed of right and wrong, and we respected the rules.

Recalling these fond memories when our world was a much safer place gives us a well-needed distraction from the constant chaos and instability of today’s world. We worry (justifiably) about the generations to come. It saddens me to think that they will never experience the freedoms that many of us had in our youth.

In this Arts & Entertainment issue of Grand, our writers offer a great mix of local stories.

Grand columnist Jane Pinzhoffer writes our cover story on page 40 about the Grand River Flamenco Fest events, which will be held in Waterloo Region over three non-consecutive weekends this summer. Pinzhoffer describes flamenco as a multifaceted art form that blends singing, guitar playing and dancing, characterized by hand-clapping, finger-snapping and highly expressive body movements.

On page 60, nature columnist Dan Schneider offers parents an extensive list of activities to get their kids outdoors and engage with nature. Schneider says there’s a natural connection between children and nature and that he sees it every day in his work as an outdoor educator and as a parent. As Schneider notes: “Even an ‘I’m too cool for this’ group of teenagers reverts to little kid excitement when discovering tadpoles, giant water bugs and dragonfly nymphs in a pond.”

Grand columnist Lynn Haddrall writes an interesting story on page 46 about business owner Georgia McNab, a Cambridge milliner, who makes and sells custom and ready-to-wear hats. Haddrall says McNab’s custom hat creations “aim to capture the essence of the person wearing it.” Haddrall also offers five great tips for buying hats.

Looking for delicious food and great entertainment this summer? Then don’t miss Jane Pinzhoffer’s Grand Eats story on page 54. She talks about the history of the Huether Hotel and it’s long-standing and successful partnership with the Jazz Room in Uptown Waterloo.

Cheers to summer adventures and making memories! 

The month of May acts as a bridge between spring and summer. The lingering remnants of winter, which we experienced in early spring, are behind us, and the sweltering days of summer have yet to arrive.

It’s the perfect time – and temperature – to take a pause from your busy life and get outdoors and “smell the hyacinths,” speaking both metaphorically and literally. Time is free and one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves and to others.

For me, the scent of spring flowers evokes powerful and precious memories of days-gone-by. My all-time favourite is the strong fragrance produced by the lily of the valley. It sends me back to my grandmother’s gardens where I was permitted to pick flowers once a year on a certain Sunday in May. After painstakingly collecting them and making sure all the stems were equal in length, I would arrange them in a colourful vase with Grandma’s help. We used the same one year after year. I could hardly wait to step into the room, holding my vase tightly, where my mother sat patiently with her eyes closed while I screeched Happy Mother’s Day. She always acted surprised and often kept those flowers well past their expiry date.

It’s odd how I can remember the precise details and rituals of my childhood, but I continue to look for my car keys several times a day.

Which reminds me, you may want to book your Mother’s Day brunch immediately, as it’s one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. At least you don’t have to book your phone calls in advance – according to Verizon Communications, phone chats spike by as much as 37 per cent on Mother’s Day, and text messages by 25 per cent. Taking the time to show up in person (if possible) should also be added to the list of our greatest gifts to ourselves and to others.

In this Outdoors issue of Grand, the common thread among our writers’ stories is to encourage you to get outside and enjoy this beautiful season.

On page 24, Paul Gains takes you on a captivating exploration of the Hespeler Mill Pond and the Nith and Grand rivers, to introduce you to the many bird species that call Waterloo Region home.

Grand nature writer, Dan Schneider, offers an interesting and informative story about turtles on page 60. Did you know that on some roads where turtle-car encounters are far too common, tunnels are being installed? They are designed to let turtles (and other wildlife) peacefully pass under the road.

Have you ever marvelled at the stunning costumes and props while attending a play at the Stratford Festival? Are you curious as to what happens to these items after each production closes? On page 40, our style columnist, Lynn Haddrall, takes you behind the curtains in a fascinating in-depth story about the history of some of the thousands of magnificent items housed in the Stratford Festival warehouse. Public tours of the warehouse and archives run from June 14 to Oct. 16, and tickets can be booked online at stratfordfestival.ca>What’s On>Tours and Exhibits> Festival Treasures Tour.

Looking to enhance your outdoor living space this season? Check out page 50. Jane Pinzhoffer speaks with Kim Jackson, owner of Distinctly Patio, about how her successful Kitchener store grew from space in a small garage to a 30,000-square-foot warehouse and showroom of fabulous patio furniture and accessories.

A toast to the great outdoors!