As previously mentioned, Founders’ Day took place on Saturday August 29th. The little Nation of Juniorvania hosted 15 visitors for a truly Wendelous complement of 17 festivicators, celebrants and partakers. The afternoon had been designed and conceived as an ongoing free-form exhibition of various Feats of Skill and Athleticism: badminton racquets and shuttlecocks procured, volley- and soccer balls obtained, a curious sort of whiffle jai-alai set acquired, and – as the crowning glory – the Open Championship of Par 3 Golf on the line. Atmospheric and meteorological conditions were perfect, with one possible exception: over the past two or three weeks, a substantial surplus of winged invaders of the family Culicidae have firmly established their undoubted aerial supremacy within our borders. The boffins in the Juniorvanian Ministry of Defence, already gravely embarrassed earlier this season by incidents involving invaders both ornithological and mammalian, had essentially thrown up their hands and fled.
As a result, the first Feat of the day turned out not to be one of physical strength or agility, but rather one of mental acuity. Spouse had gamely attempted to fill the breach vacated by the stumblebums in Defence by purchasing one of those screen tents from Canadian Tire. At one point, I counted five individuals with a collective nine post-secondary degrees (including one engineer and an architect) poring over what appeared to resemble a collection of litter much more than an unassembled shelter. After some inventive cursing and more than a little grunting and groaning, however, the pioneer spirit prevailed and our nylon sanctuary was at last erected on the front lawn. One little problem: there were large, arching gaps between the base of each side of the tent and the ground surface, each gap offering more than ample opportunity for our airborne tormentors to infiltrate the secured perimeter.
This threat to life, liberty and blood supply was finally addressed through the application of a plastic painter’s drop sheet cut into strips to the perimeter of the tent. The ad hoc barrier was then weighted down with bricks and stones to prevent it from being blown away (though there was, truth to be told, nary a breeze to be felt all day) and to keep the bug flaps flush up against the walls of the tent. the practical result of the necessity for these modifications was that – within twenty minutes of arriving on site – my mother and new sister-in-law Tace were hard at work schlepping a wheelbarrow full of heavy stones back and forth across the lawn to the construction site. Note to Tace: welcome to the family; when attending a family function, do not forget to bring along your steel-toed boots. We know how to throw a shindig up in here!
Once our bug shelter was up, assorted recreational athletic activities commenced, courtesy of the colourful collection of toys previously mentioned. Our nephew Thomas was suitably cautioned that no swimming events were scheduled for this year’s festivities, and instead presented with a colourful “Cars” themed inflatable ball, which he proceeded to pursue, tackle, lie on, hug, wrestle with, bounce off, kick, punch, hip bump and generally devote his entire attention to for the balance of the afternoon. Frisbees were thrown, cocks were shuttled briskly to and fro, and the air fairly crackled with the plastic whiffle of the jai alai ball as it was snapped back and forth across the playing grounds. All of this athletic exuberance was thirsty work, and it soon dawned on us that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had very much let us down by failing to procure any of the aforementioned items; this deficiency was felt most profoundly in the cold BEvERage department, and my father was dispatched at once on a humanitarian mission of mercy to re-supply the poor unfortunates exerting themselves on our front lawn, all of whom were in grave danger of coughing up dust and a few pounds of inhaled mosquitoes. There was an abortive attempt to engage the youth of Juniorvania in the sport of bocce, but the lawn proved as tricky a surface (and as much a challenge) for our young athletes as it previously has for certain lawn tractor pilots.
if you’re keeping track, between those involved in the tent construction and boulder procurement and my father on the supply mission, there were six guests performing some sort of task that probably ought to have been attended to prior to the commencement of festivities. Really, you need to party with us. In the meantime, my mother-in-law Gillian and my sister-in-law Assunta were busily assembling comestibles for the athletes to consume come lunch time. All in all, there were eight of our ten adult guests doing party-related work, with the remaining two scrambling to provide some semblance of proper adult supervision over the five guests that local labour laws prohibited us from putting to work.
Within a short period of time, though, the troops were fed and watered and there was a cooler full of ice with an ample supply of Alexander Keith’s chilling down in front of the screen house. Seeing a momentary lull in the assignment of tasks, my parents and Spouse’s saw an opportunity and made a break for the golf course to commence the Open Championship of Par 3 Golf. Athletic activities continued on the North Campus. My brother Mike and brother-in-law Jono put on a mostly skillful display of badminton, while the Frisbee flying rotating disc exhibition put on by Doug and Tace had its own aesthetic merits as well, as this activity was conducted entirely with beverage in hand.
I had the satellite radio on the porch, and Peter Frampton was loudly inquiring, by way of song, as to the similarity between our subjective perceptions and his own; I found myself instantly transported back in time some thirty-plus years, both sonically and atmospherically, to the family camping trips of my youth. In the mid-70s, my folks made a point of piling us three young boys and the dog into the ’71 Chev Impala (olive green), firing up the eight track tape deck (Gordon Lightfoot’s Don Quixote and Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits were frequently found therein) and heading north to Carson’s Camp in Sauble Beach, where we camped in close proximity to family (usually right across the way from my Aunt Ellen and Uncle Frank’s trailer). Days were filled with the clank of horseshoes striking posts driven into the sandy ground of various campsites throughout the grounds, though our family preferred to concentrate on quoits, so our locally produced sounds were much more subdued rubbery thwaps. We spent many a day tossing the little rubber rings back and forth in competition with one another, or throwing either baseball or football around, and then gathering all together at the end of day. I remember all of those days and nights fondly; they were filled with good natured ribbing, plenty of laughs, and plenty of storytelling around one of my cousin Marcia’s signature “campsmokes”. One such summer in particular has always stood out in my memory; it was the year “Frampton Comes Alive” came out, and it seemed as though Peter and his talking guitar were blaring from eight-tracks throughout the park. On Saturday, it seemed to me as though the vibe was very much the same. I couldn’t be happier about that.
Once the golf had been completed, it was time to prepare the traditional (I guess) Founders’ Day feast. Several hundred (approximately) ears of corn had been obtained from the neighbours’ place and a couple of herds’ worth of filets wrapped in bacon. Good thing, too, because I dropped more meat during the preparation of the meal than putts during my entire afternoon of golf.
Our resident songbirds, Bella, Sarah and Grace provided a fitting close to the day’s festivities with a stirring performance atop the living room stairs, of an anthem of sorts that appeared to have been composed expressly for the occasion; more precisely, it appeared to be composed during the occasion. Somewhat avant garde in nature, the vocal performance was accompanied by a rather unconventionally-executed guitar part. Structurally and tonally, the work was one that challenged its audience, there can be no doubt, but a reference in the final stanza of this tune to the many virtues of “Founders’ Day” brought the crowd assembled below the stage to their feet and a thunderous round of joyous applause.
Happy Founders’ Day, everybody!