goodbye, July...

I'm calling this pic "creative power," the determination to succeed and thrive -mindful of the risk of loss but persistent in the possibility of living (thank you, A. Crouch).

I caught this photo on one of our hikes in Algonquin last week. Yes, we camped again. Either we are gluttons for punishment, or we are persistent in glimpsing the glory and beauty of the great outdoors. I'd like to think we are beauty-seekers...

We arrived in a rainstorm and shortly after the rain - and after rearranging the large pine trees around our trailer, Janneke's blood sugar plummeted. Not sure what triggered the drop, but we anxiously waited for the orange juice (the only liquid sugar on hand) to do its job. Thankfully, her colour changed to normal, and she fell into a deep and restful sleep. This short but dramatic start made us question our intentions in leaving the city. Yet, how much do we let the "what ifs" take residence?

Those "what ifs" soon left like the rain, and we had a good week. One of many good memories included giving both Rachel and Janneke a chance to sit in the canoe. We had not done this before, but the shallow Madawaska River was a good place for their first voyage. How could I be so confident? I grew up paddling the same stream....see photo circa 1986.  Same spot, same SPot.

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This was the view from our campsite. It was a treat to watch the kids canoe around, reminiscing the days of when I would canoe with my brother and sisters. It was great to watch Em and Soph take it all in - but tough to know that Rachel and Janneke couldn't just pop down and give it a go. That's all part of dealing with living grief, acknowledging the gap between peers who can and my kids who can't.

But my kids - all four of them - could soak up the beauty of the lake. A special thanks is extended to Christina Teeuwsen for willingly coming along to keep us sorted and upright.

Janneke, sporting her new summer shades, loved loved loved the water.

With Christina's help, we could grab some Family of Four time to search for moose and bear- but see only beavers and herons and sunsets. And tolerate some preteen goofy singing... which might be the reason we didn't see a moose or bear.

We caught some spa treatment at a waterfall on the last day.

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And of course, no trip to Algonquin would be complete without the token pine-tree-island pic. We took turns swimming from the beach to the island - and hitching a ride home on the canoe. Same canoe in the 1986 pic.

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Our last few days? We celebrated at the wedding for Jared and EmilyRose Pot, and Emily had a chance to play the piano for their wedding ceremony. Most recently, we enjoyed a visit with Kerry Shaffer, daughter to our loved Miss Ruth Maher -first and only nurse back in the baby days of Rachel and Janneke. Ruth passed away a few years ago, but we remember her fondly.  We have stayed in touch with her daughters, Kerry and Megan. Kerry won two gold medals in rowing at the PanAm games this July, and she stopped in to show off the medals - and present PACHI (stuffie) to the girls. It was a good visit, and it was great for Soph and Em to hear of Kerry's determination to see God's plan in the ups and downs of her life.

The camping trips were our bookends for July; we started and finished the month in Algonquin. It was a full month with family visits, fun with friends, summer camp, and hospital appointments. Now begins August...

may there be peace in your summer story,