Stepping off the plane, the sun was rising over a tidy line of green bushes, it even smells differently. Mike says Alberta is the Texas of Canada, but I like how they both smell. Waiting for my embarrassingly over packed luggage, I think of my carry-on, with a ziploc container of cheesecake. I wonder if I'll eat it. I know it's good, but it's awful fun to watch it squish.
Donna takes us to Jasmine's new house, and I'm astounded by it. Stained glass over the living room window, tiny wood carvings across the peaked roof. The living room, front room; bright colors, red and orange, green circular plush chair at my knees, a chandelier that, even dusty, makes me stare. The kitchen looks like a colonial transplanted back to America's 50's scene. Donna shows us the hard wood floor, tragically covered in carpet. Ugly carpet. Tells us how she's going to rip it up, sand off the glue, varnish the wood, build a staircase to the dust filled attic that takes my breath away, light filtering in. I wonder, idly, if she means she'll hire someone to come in. I stop wondering when she shows us the immaculate wall she made to replace a shoddy one.
We pile back into the white Toyota, driving home past the Kellogg factory, smelling of baking corn flakes. Arriving home, we disperse to sleep, my bed sounding like a herd of a angry badgers farting. I text some key loved ones to announce my safety, then liberally sprinkle my pillow with drool.
"Come fix the deck with me!"
Off Jas's room is a balcony shading the porch. The wood is all rotted and it takes us less then half an hour to pull it all up, garnering 6 cents and a rusty bottle cap. We'll burn the wood later in the fireplace, and set down new planks on the deck.
After gleefully discovering the old record player also accommodates CDs and tapes, I dance on the black and white tiled floor, imagining ice cream later.
Even the street lights here have more character; fat little hanging fruits, ripe on metal poles.
The Ice cream list at a place called "Merla Mae's" floors me. A staggering array of fabulous sundae (yes, sundae) options, as if they'd robbed a bakery, fruit stand, and candy store, depositing the swag on vanilla soft serve. I sacrifice one with roasted macadamias and hot fudge for a "beam me up, Scotty": Irish cream, coffee, and bananas.
It is really fabulous and I even try a bit of Mike's apple crumble, despite the hated caramel.
We drive with a French exchange student named Guillaume, who is staying at Donna's, finishing his master's, to Stratford on Avon, where we marvel at the old buildings,see the theater where "Pirates of Penzance" was filmed, and discover I am terrified of hissing ducks, swans, and brake pedals. Wandering along the river, I'm surprised that the swans and ducks don't move, no matter how close you get. They stare at you, arrogant and superior like High Level's Ravens. I test their nerves and mine by edging closer and closer until one rears up and honks, sending me scurrying. I hide behind Mike to snap some photos, then mock them from the safety of the car.
The beach at Lake Huron underwhelms me. Fairly cold and windy, full of loud people and garbage, it's the first thing I've seen that doesn't knock me on my ass. We take a walk, decide there are too many clouds to watch a pretty sunset, dare each other to admonish the couple we're pretty sure is having sex under the blanket undulating on the beach, then depart.
On the way home Donna points out the Roman Line, (where the black Donnelly's were killed, a fascination of mine for many years) and an old house she grew up in, that she and her family had built, with a pool in the back.
I face-plant into bed, this one mercifully silent of animals' digestion tracts.