The beautiful Pleasant Bay House in Hillier close to several wineries in Prince Edward County - a mini-Sonoma or Niagara Peninsula converted from a farming and lake recreation area to a more sophisticated network of wineries, restaurants and inns. Two and a half hours from metro Toronto makes it an easy trip.
The Cast of Characters
Three generations - a widowed grandmother and her two sons and their families and two dogs - but with a backstory that means it is a truly modern three generation family.
The grandmother has been a widow for 12+ years - after remarrying the same husband for the second time. The oldest son is also divorced and happily remarried as is his wife. Their children are her son, 21, and their daughter, 13. The second son's wife died more than six years ago and he is joined by his two sons 13 and 10 and his partner of several years. The oldest son's dog is 10 years old and slowing down. The youngest son's puppy is seven+ months and speeding up.
The Theme - Family Togetherness.
Leaving taking was delayed by a lost wallet and after a fruitless hunt we headed for the crowded superhighway with the hope that a later phone call would reveal that it was left in the pub the night before. It was. The boring highway was livened by NPR reruns though the cold winter landscape was beautiful. GPS didn't like the location name and insisted it was elsewhere but Google maps showed us the way. We overshot the house and a sharp turn to come back meant a slide into a snow covered ditch - just as the wide snow plow was approaching. Everything ground to a halt but freeing it was not on. Luckily a pickup truck arrived, went back and brought the tractor to haul it out. The snow plow man didn't mind at all since he was paid by the hour, as he reminded us several times. We sat down a little late to homemade lasagna and explored the new home environment.
The house was magic - with its glass door wood stove, copious living room windows that let in the bright sunlight of the 19 below zero cold day. some braver scond generation souls departed to stock the already over-flowing larder while the senior and younger set settled in for an introduction to The Settlers of Catan - the perfect game for the place. Later we sat down for tacos, newly purchased wine, a word game and another round of Catan. The two dogs fought for attention and all the benches had to be pushed in to keep the puppy off the dining room table. The beds soon beckoned with their duvet covers that even allowed us to depart from the slow burning fire.
After breakfast bagels, the next morning started slowly. More eyes were focused on familiar screens than on the beautiful views - thought the grandmother and the two boys didn't participate - the first because it was a deliberate choice and the second because they were deprived of them. New participants were introduced to Catan. A tourtiere for lunch and another winery visit happened. Supper consisted of an eclectic assortment of leftovers with more word games and one last round of Catan - with lots of reading of real books by the non participants. After many ins and outs and opening of doors that let in the chill, even the dogs snoozed.
Morning breakfast was Spanish - Huevos - with Mimosas for the adults just to finish off the leftovers. Then it was time to clean up and pack. One car departed for Toronto with the other stopping to visit with friends - but not before the family tried to capture the puppy who resisted being put on a leash.. Maybe it is still running there. An uneventful ride merged into snow squalls as we hit the city.
The outcome - Excellent. I can remember family gatherings full of arguments and too much discussion and drinking, fights among siblings, too much of everything. All the drama this time was provided by the dogs!