Happy Thanksgiving to My Canadian Family and Friends

The US calls today Columbus Day, but Canadians more properly refer to it as Thanksgiving. No, it is not a Thursday, and tomorrow is not the official start of the holiday shopping season. And instead of watching the Lions and the Cowboys play football, Canadians are treated to the Blue Bombers versus the Alouettes and the Roughriders versus  the Argos. Perhaps I enjoy American Thanksgiving more for the festivities. But I know I enjoy Canadian Thanksgiving more for the memories.

Thanksgivings during my childhood on a farm in Southwestern Ontario always seemed to happen on days where the harvest was in full swing. The soybeans were coming off, and the corn rustled in yellowing rows, waiting its turn. The crisp, cool weather warned that summer was over. Fall had a certain smell to it as the dust of the summer faded, and the world readied for winter. It was, and still is, my favorite season.

If there is anything that I truly miss about my childhood, it is harvest time. I would go back there in an instant, if I could, just to hook up the wagons one more time, to watch the combines dump their golden load into the hoppers, or to smell the earth as the plow turned the ground to prepare for the coming frost. That was a very happy time, and my memories are fond.

But on this particular Thanksgiving, I also mourn for the loss of a dear family friend, Jim Boere. I received news of his passing this morning, and it truly saddens me. Jim was a true gentle-man, and I am so much the better for having known him. When I was sixteen, he let me borrow his red, square-stern canoe for the summer. I loaded that canoe into the back of my dad’s old Dodge pickup truck and took it out a few times. It was heavy, and it was large—probably too large for me to handle properly by myself. I put more than my share of scratches on that old canoe, and some of my trips were probably ill-advised, especially solo. But I have good memories of those trips. Often, when I was writing Nowhere Wild, I thought about that canoe, and the way it handled, and imagined what it would be like to try to haul it over long distances by myself. You could say that those trips inspired a great deal of my first novel.

So on this Canadian Thanksgiving, I give thanks that I knew Jim, and that he was so generous. I only hope that someday I can return the same generosity to someone else looking for adventure. I offer my condolences to his wife, Nancy, their children, and entire family. He will be missed.

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