This annual sisters’ get-together is a summertime staple
My sisters Linda, Helen and I share a wonderful tradition—an annual trip to the seashore. Living in different parts of our beautiful province, we do not get to see each other often, so our yearly beachside adventures are special. They take us back to our childhood along the shores of Bras d’or Lake and simpler times. We used to swim in the lake, cook mussels in a rusty tin can over a bonfire and share ghost stories and singalongs under starry skies.
We still try to include as many bonfires as possible on our trips, where stories of long ago are shared as we reminisce by the fire. Although nowadays we may struggle to gather driftwood, we seniors are not deterred!
When we were younger and busy raising our children, we made special efforts to visit each other. Summer vacations and March break usually involved one or more of us travelling, children in tow. We wanted the cousins to get to know one another and become friends.
Eventually, children leave home to work and create lives of their own. Now, we smile when we realize that they continue to nurture their family bond—via Facebook.
Since I am the eldest, my sisters often defer to me, letting me think I’m “the boss.” They readily agreed to my suggestion that we should have a yearly get-together with just us, the sisters. It started with a weekend spent at a borrowed cottage, and we were instantly hooked on this type of adventure. At first, we rented cottages in different parts of the province, and eventually our weekends blossomed into an entire week each summer.
Our yearly adventures began in 1998, but it was in 2002 while staying in River John, N.S., that we discovered Rushtons Beach Provincial Park. Whenever we were together, we sought that perfect beach, where we could stroll, swim, enjoy spectacular sunsets and have beach fires. Rushtons provides that perfect spot. We have stayed at the same local cottages for the past 14 years. Summer 2018 will mark our 21st year of sisterly summer adventures.
We plan and look forward to our trip all year. Respecting tradition is a big part of our time together. We now have computerized lists of supplies, groceries, restaurants and even meals that are
repeated yearly. Each of us brings a specific skill set. For example, one organizes while another one cooks.
On our very first sisters’ weekend, my daughter prepared gift bags for each of us as a surprise. The bags contained items that she felt were specific to each of us. She included things such as favourite candies and T-shirts with appropriate logos. They were such fun to open that we agreed to continue the tradition. For the first few years, we drew names and prepared goodie bags for each other. However, my sisters soon informed me that they were less than enthusiastic about shopping for the gifts, whereas shopping is a sheer pleasure for me. So, I decided to prepare goodie bags for them every year. It’s such fun to search for just the right gifts, then write hints that describe the function of each item, which they must decipher before unwrapping each one. Some gifts are chosen because I know they will link us to our shared pasts, bring to mind the memory of a loved one, or just plain tickle their fancy.
As the 20th year of our sister sojourns approached, I knew I wanted to create a unique remembrance of these treasured times. The idea of a photo quilt blossomed, and with the help of a dear friend who is a talented quilter, it came to fruition. The fabrics chosen include one that represents footprints in the sand, sand dollars, beach glass and includes a poem I wrote for them. We use them to make quilt-tents with our grandbabies, but the memories are ours alone.
Every year we also enjoy spending time exploring locally, as well as revisiting favourite haunts, shops, restaurants and, of course, beaches. While we are all avid sea glunkers (sea glass hunters), searching for that treasured piece of beach glass, spending time together is our prime source of joy. n
Clockwise from far left: Bonfire on the beach; seaside sisters (from left: Linda, Helen, Marilyn) in 1956; Marilyn, Linda and Helen in 2004; the poem Marilyn wrote for her sisters; photo quilts.