A tour of Wolfe Island


When people have adversity, they bond over it.  In my own life, the only time I've really, really been close with a larger group of people is when we had to overcome longterm stress together.  Whether it be poverty, or farming, or some other communal challenge, I've noticed most close knit families  have a common history of adversity.  I admire those people.  My family doesn't have that: my kids have it easy and sometimes it worries me.  So we try to build in moments of struggle and opportunities to work things out as a family.  Its not the same as the longterm challenges that people face, but I hope it builds a family narrative that is strong enough that it creates solid bonds.

With that in mind, we went for a surprize road trip on Sunday afternoon.  We drove an hour to Kingston and caught the free 20 minute ferry across to Wolfe Island.  We'd never been there before, but as far as I can tell, the only attractions are a beach, a corn maze and the small island quaintness.  What better way to build a little family resilience than a midsummer jaunt through a corn maze?

We definitely got our $10 worth in that maze.  At first we used 6-year-old logic: always choose the path that is pointed in the direction of where you want to go.  That was a really bad idea.  Then we tried Mommy's hunches: never choose a path with a lot of weeds growing in it.  Also poor reasoning.  We tried Daddy's idea, building from past experiences: choose paths pointing away from where you want to go.  But by then, I think we were closer to the center, so it was hit or miss.  Finally, we tried the everyone-take-a-turn-choosing-which-way-to-go method.  Progress was tedious, but it was the most fun.  If there were three paths, we were sure to choose the right one last.  And if there were four paths, we were likely to choose the fifth option - as in, the direction we came from - before we chose the right one.  No hyperbole here; we actually did that.  I was hot, but we had water, a stroller and two very big parental mules at our disposal.  In the end, we took the emergency exit about two thirds of the way through, which is how far Shawn and I had hoped to make it.  There is a fine line between pushing the kids a little and cultivating a hatred of corn mazes.  When given the choice, we chose to err on the side of the former.

You would think that being lost in a maze in the midday heat, with forty pounds on your back would be the peak of team building epic journeys, but it was not.  The real journey -- the real test of patience that was of reality TV proportions -- was getting back to Kingston on the ferry.  We showed up at 4:18pm, knowing we wouldn't make the 4:30pm boat (there is one boat per hour on the 30).  We were about the 98th in line for a boat that carries about thirty cars per passage.  We knew this because the 12 year olds sword fighting with pool noodles a couple cars up told us so.  We were in for a long, hot wait with three tired, hot kids.  But, I can tell you (perhaps as a consequence of our newly acquired fantastic corn maze communication skills) that we took it like an adventure.  The ferry line up is on the side of a country road, surrounded by hay fields.  The only food was ice cream and lemonade from and entrepreneurial local who set up a little roadside stand.  So, we had ice cream for dinner.  We dipped our toes in Lake Ontario.  We watched the ferry come and go, scheming about how to get the best seats on upper deck.  Shawn tried to teach me how to throw rocks.  It was an adventure, and we sailed through it.  Pun intended. 

Near the end of our wait, we watched a cigarette boat blast by and Shawn commented "Wouldn't it be great if we could use one of those?  We'd get there really fast."  Nevin looked up at him and said, "But this boat is better because it is slow."  That is what the day was all about.


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