The leaves. Oh, god. The leaves.

Monday afternoon. We are at the little park in the shadow of Province House.

The leaves. Oh, god. The leaves.

They are falling all around us. It is a magical game. We run around with our eyes in the sky, trying to catch the leaves before they land on the ground.

The leaves. Oh, god. The leaves.

There are so many of them. They are perfect and crunchy and brown and yellow and not at all damp or yucky. We love them. We drag them into piles and jump in them. We bury each other in them.

The leaves. Oh, god. The leaves.

We throw them at each other. Great armfuls of leaves. On your head. On my head.

We are laughing. We are euphoric. It is a perfect afternoon.


Tuesday afternoon. Back at the park. The ground is bare but for a few leaves. Workers have come to clean them up. It is decidedly Less Fun.

I imagine the premier looking out the windows of Province House the day before, watching my family frolic and play in the leaves: our display of pure joy in the people's front yard.

His eyes narrow.

An aide enters the room. He places a tray of tea on a small table beside the premier.

Aide: Something vexes thee, my lord?

Premier: The leaves. Take them away!

He waves his arm and knocks the tea to the floor.

Aide: Yes, my liege. Right away.

*note: this is exactly how I imagine premiers spend their time.

Worst Scrabble plinth ever?

Or maybe I should learn to spell in binary?

For the record, Erin beat me 323 to 246.

Y. Because I love her.

We were married eleven years ago tonight in an old train station in southern Ontario. It snowed, if you can believe it possible of an October night near Leamington.

When I think of our first few years together, I think of Scrabble. The countless games we played over cups of coffee on our front porch, on sunny mornings that seemed as if they would never turn into afternoons.

One day, as I picked up a tile to spell a word, it slipped through my fingers. It fell to the ground, sliding between two planks on the porch.

Gone forever. It was a Y.

"In forty years, when we're playing Scrabble," said Erin, not missing a beat, "we'll curse that Y. We'll say, 'Remember the time we lost the Y?'"

Happy anniversary, Erin.

Gulls: chickens of the sea

Tuesday afternoon at Charlottetown's Victoria Park. Jane spies a flock of seagulls resting in an empty field. An urge, drawn from her memories of our days on the farm, stirs from deep inside her.

Seagulls are nearly the same size as chickens....

Jane loved chasing and picking up the chickens at the farm.....

Her eyes narrow with focused intent.

Jane: I'm going to pick up a seagull.

Alice gasps. She clutches her hands to her heart.

Alice: Oh! A seagull would be so soft!

In praise of Jane

There are people who are hard working. There are people who are creative. Precious few are both.

Jane is both.

Naming cruise ships and the accidental double entendre

We made a brief trip yesterday into Charlottetown and were greeted as we drove over the Hillsborough Bridge by three huge cruise ships at dock.

As we drove around downtown for our various stops, we were able to see the names. I forget them exactly, but they were things like Norwegian Dawn, or Ocean Princess, or Emerald Sunset.

We agreed they were pretty lame.

To kill a bit of time on the drive home, we started coming up with new cruise ship names. The rules were pretty simple. Pick one word that is vaguely related to water. Pick another that suggests something mystical or mythical. Put them together.

Here are a few:

Atlantis Sunrise (Henry)

Aqua Princess (Jane)

Fairy of the Sea (Alice)

Henry, especially, loved this game. I glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw his eyes sparkle as he assembled words in his head. I could tell he had just come up with a name he particularly loved.

"Wet Dream," he announced.

He sat back in his seat, very proud of himself. Totally oblivious. Neither of his parents cracked a smile.

"Nice one, Cornbread," I said. "Nice one."

The absolutely fool-proof method to make your little sisters scream

It's easy.

Step one: Loudly yell "Last one there is a rotten egg!"

Step two: Run.

Step three: Don't look back. No matter what.

The results are, predictably, as follows:

"Henry, I'm not racing."

"Henry, I said I'm not racing."

"I'm not racing, Henry."






Reasons not to be a baby penguin

If the sun is up, we cannot see it. Henry, Jane, and I have on our raincoats as we trudge through the rain to the barn for the early morning chores.

The kids have embraced the jobs on the farm. They're enjoying the rhythms of this place so much more this year.

The rain makes a terrific noise on the corrugated metal roof of the chicken barn. It is a comforting sound that seems to have stirred something deep from within Jane.

Jane: Dad, I would hate to be a baby penguin.

Me: Okaaaay. What made you think of that?

Jane: It's just, I would hate to have to eat penguin vomit.

All in the family

Alice has brought the Lego pig to the breakfast table. She is chatting with the small toy pig Jane has on the corner of her own plate.

"'My mummy is dead,'" she explains sadly.

Alice rips a pice of bacon from her plate and passes it to Jane's pig. She brightens up considerably.

"'Want to eat some of her tasty meat?'"

The gospel according to Alice

"Good news!" yells Alice.

She is tearing from one end of this old farmhouse to the other as she seeks her sister.

"Jane! Good news!"

We arrived last night to our friends' farm in Little Sands, PEI. While they take a well-earned vacation, we're caring for their four horses, two sheep, two dozen chickens, two dogs, donkey, and llama for the next ten days.

It is before 9 o'clock, but we've already chased chickens, pet horses, and pretended the hay wagon is a pirate jail. Life is, in a word, perfect.

"Jane!" Alice yells. "Good news!"

She finds her sister turning somersaults in the living room.

"What?" asks Jane.

Alice's feet can't stop stamping. Her news is exploding inside of her.

"Play-dough!" she screams. "Mum brought our play-dough!"