My girl has a bowl full of mush, or porridge, most mornings. It’s a good, stick to your ribs kind of breakfast. She gets only milk and some raisins to dress it up. There will be a day when I add a bit of brown sugar in an attempt to keep her eating it, but eventually her gag reflex will be triggered and she will hate the stuff just as I did. Every summer as a small child this was breakfast while camping with my mother’s cousin and her free spirited, adventurous children. And as with all mothers in my family, if I didn’t like what was being served, I could wait until the next meal. I will be the same, it’s a fun tradition!
She will come back to porridge though, just as I did. I think about those trips each morning that I make it for myself. As the warm lump of oatmeal surrounded by a pool of milk with melting brown sugar steams in the early morning sun, I can almost hear the sound of the seagulls screeching over the Northumberland Strait. I still feel like something incredibly fun is going to happen whenever I hear a tent zippered. These weekend trips organized by these two women meant the world to me now and then. We ate outside and slept squished together trying not to touch the sides of the canvas tent. Exasperated sighs escaping my mother’s lips as morning dew dripped on her head because my sister and I were squabbling about one thing or another. The days were spent on the beach.
Once the kids were old enough to strike out on their own, the cousins were left to soak in the rays in peaceful silence. We explored the sand bars, small pools fed by the ocean, and the rocky cliffs. We swam with the jelly fish, and perhaps gutted one or two that had washed up on the sand. Holes in between the boulders were perfect washrooms. Sea foam was mermaid guts, the fate of the mystical creatures unknown, but their poor sad remains left to evaporate as the tide slipped out. My cousins and sister always had imaginations bigger than themselves. They could be anyone, about to go anywhere. It was as if their imaginations had been set free from the hills of Albert and Westmorland counties and they were permitted to roam where the wild things are.
I, on the other hand, spent much of this time keeping to myself, fearing that my shadow would tell on me. That somehow my mother would know I had been places that were out of bounds, because let’s face it, mothers know these sorts of things. When mothers are in labour they also secretly grow another set of eyes in the backs of their heads. I was not as brave as my companions, and felt that my imagination was too small for their creativity. I chose to sit on the rocks and stare at the horizon. I hoped that the wild things would come find me, instead of me seeking them out.
I looked at the horizon, most days blocked by those large sloping hills, waiting for it to show me what was beyond its borders; pleading that it was something grand. I still get excited when I begin to make out the coast line from the highway. It’s as though all worries, concerns, and inhibitions melt away and the salty breeze breaths new air into your lungs.
I could daydream for hours about what I was going to find when I could finally reach out into the horizon’s unknown. In many ways I think I am still waiting. Maybe someday I will find the courage to seek out the wild things. I do however, know what was over the hills, it’s beautiful, but those giant green monsters and salt waters never truly release you. I sit in the evenings now rocking my girl to the sound of waves and daydream about the time that I am permitted to return to the warm hug of those hills and the exhilarating relief of staring down the Northumberland Strait. Those sensations sticking to my ribs, keeping my soul nourished for a few more months.