everything’s strange and everything’s the same

My girls and I leave the city Saturday morning and head southwest to my hometown for an oft-lauded wine festival and visiting with old friends.  We listen to classic rocks songs on the radio which instigate one memory after another - a nice accompaniment to the flat, boring stretch of highway.  As we get close to Essex County, the sky gets more and more overcast and we curse the imminent rain for intruding on the much anticipated party. 

Navigating the once-daily haunts due south of HWY 401 is like I always say: everything’s strange and everything’s the same.  I drop the girls off at their dad’s and go to Debbie’s where we catch up over a Guinness.  I hope you have a friend like her

The rain is coming down hard and steady and we carry on cursing it over a drive to the grocery store to pick up what will become the beautiful spread of a breakfast the next morning. Once we’ve all gathered back at the house we pack up golf umbrellas and plastic sheeting to cover wet picnic table seats, and the rain lets up just then.  Even the weather gods shouldn’t mess with serious wine drinkers intent on a good time and happy homecoming.

The grounds are a bit mucky but certainly not “Woodstock” as some grim souls had predicted.  As soon as we walk into the place and before I can get some wine into my glass we start running into old friends.  I didn’t send out a “facebook blast” saying I was going down, thinking that with the short turnover in time I’d be content to bump into people as the fates would have us do. 

There are lots of long hugs.  I don’t know if I can describe my gratification in the love I got from my old friends – to still "belong" to them.  I make my home in Toronto now, but despite a number of moves around different neighbourhoods I still don’t feel as if I “belong” anywhere.  Maybe that’s related to my single, empty-nester state.  But whatever it is, these wonderful old pals can’t possibly know how easily they filled what has been a rather empty vessel for quite some time.

Next morning at Debbie and Len’s we all sleep late, maybe a little groggy from all those bottles of that excellent D’Angelo Foch.  After the big breakfast, Deb and I sit out in the backyard with spiked orange juice and admire the day – particularly the clouds.

Not willing to waste the weather gods’ change of heart, we go back to the festival site and see some more people, and try some foods.  It's such a beautiful spot beside the river, and it is great to look around the town and all its changes. 

The Detroit River – such a feature of that town, fundamental to the peoples' sensibility.  My father sailed tugs on those waters for many years.

As I told a couple of my colleagues about the weekend Monday morning, one said she thought I looked particularly happy.  She’s right.  This sort of weekend is one of those reminders about what exactly it is that sustains us.  I don’t care what they say.  You can go home again, and they will all love you as much as they did the day you left.


  1. Reply
    willow September 14, 2010

    Old friends are such a rare treasure. Lovely post.

  2. Reply

    That sounds like such a wonderful homecoming. Not even the rain could touch it.

  3. Reply
    deb @ talk at the table September 14, 2010

    this was really wonderful.
    And I read the link to your post about Debbie. How blessed indeed.
    I still can’t quite get past the whole Essex County thing. It invokes emotions when I read your words that I might otherwise not feel, so it’s strange. Good and bad.
    But you know, I’m grateful. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone from there. Doesn’t anyone leave?
    Anyway, the photo of the river is peaceful , and I like that .
    so thank you.
    and I’m glad you had more memories to cherish.

  4. Reply
    Susannah September 14, 2010

    I love reading your stories and sharing these vivid portraits of moments in your life. I am glad you had a good time. 🙂

  5. Reply
    Marilyn September 14, 2010

    Your post has something very spiritual about it; how wonderful to have a friend that ‘fits’ you completely. Going back sounds refreshing and soothing as well as great fun. Loved seeing you photos.

  6. Reply
    Fire Byrd September 14, 2010

    I understand your comment at mine now. Yep sounds as if we both kbnow how to relate to your friends with hearts and minds. Glad you had such a wonderful weekend

  7. Reply
    Jennifer September 14, 2010

    Indeed they are – thanks Willow.

  8. Reply
    Jennifer September 14, 2010

    You’re right Lisa! At one point in the day I had decided the rain wouldn’t ruin it – and it worked!

  9. Reply
    Jennifer September 14, 2010

    Aw thanks Deb. It is so strange we met in this bloggy world isn’t it? One never seems to appreciate what they have when they have it – but every time I go back I realise what a gem it is – so many parts of that county are special.

  10. Reply
    Jennifer September 14, 2010

    Susannah I so appreciate that you do come by and read them – the moral support is wonderful!

  11. Reply
    Jennifer September 14, 2010

    Yes, I believe there is something spiritual about it all. Refreshing is a great word for it.

  12. Reply
    Jennifer September 14, 2010

    You bet Mandy. Me, I credit the friends.

  13. Reply
    Selma September 16, 2010

    Those clouds are just so gorgeous. I am really glad you have such good friends. It does make a difference, doesn’t it? Sounds like a brilliant time!

  14. Reply
    Jennifer September 16, 2010

    Yes, just imagine a life without them… It *was* brilliant. 🙂

  15. Reply
    Little hat September 17, 2010

    Jennifer, lovely story. we were supping wine in different henispheres at the same time. and spending good quality time with good people. You can’t beat it. Number 1,2 and 3 on my list of must haves in my life.
    I did a bit of googling – first Essex County. I found the County website and had the pleasure of watching the first 35 seconds of the 18 minute “Inside Essex County” video feed where a man fron “Mosquito Control” (dressed in his fawn work gear) was being interviewed by one of the officials of the County (in his very neat suit and tie). Now I know where essex county is and that they have an issue with mosquitos. We nuked ours years ago. I miss the lovely little buzzing blighters – so I leave out trays of water for them to breed in and keep me company.I also note that Essex votes democratic – 70%, that’s impressive)
    Next was D’Angelo Foch. I discovered that ‘foch’ is a grape variety and then I became confused because the Essex Wine Review talked about D’Angelo being in Ontario but I thought Essex was in the US of A. I’m lost. However the wine soundes like a beauty – and that’s about the extent of my wine knowledge. sadly Adria (Tobin Wines0 soon realised this and our weekend conversations turned to other things. I would dearly love to be able to have a confident conversation in a winery about the finer points of what I’m greedily tasting. Perjhaps i should do a course – or just keep drinking what i enjoy. I will have free time come October first when I start working 3 day weeks. I’m part apprehensive part can’t wait. Maybe I’ll blog about it?
    Glad your weekend was great.
    PS I found Debbie by the way. what a lovely friendship.
    PPS Went to a great jazz concert by a young Cuban pianist last night. She has arrived in Brisbane to live with her musician boyfriend via Europe and was performing in a German tent. I went with with my version of Debbie (different story and gender) who I’ve known for 30 years. Perhaps I should do a post about it?

  16. Reply
    Jennifer September 17, 2010

    Hiya Steve,
    Now I’m wondering if you googled “my” Essex County – as it’s right across the river from the USA, it’s definitely in Canada, the southernmost county in Ontario. It’s notoriously flat, and has more tornados than anywhere in the country. Many call it the “banana belt” of Canada. Wasn’t surprised you stumbled on a thing about mosquitos, as it’s rather humid in summers, though it is here where I live now too.
    Anyway, I’m sure there is an Essex in the US – both our countries have many places that were named after those in the UK – guess our forefathers didn’t have much imagination?
    I’m not much knowledgeable in the wine biz either, but I know what I like. And when friends know the winemaker, they point me to the right stuff!
    Three day weeks – lucky you! Would love to anticipate what to do with that time. I hope you do blog about your time with “your version of Deb” – sounds like my kind of fun!

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