We went to the International Peace Garden today, my granddaughters, Holly and Claire and I. It is a three-hour drive from Winnipeg, a pleasant journey at this time of year as the road winds between field of sunny canola and blue flax and stately sunflowers. The crops are ripening, changing from green to gold and creamy yellow. We talked, the three of us, about everything and nothing, just sailing along on the smooth and almost empty highway, enjoying a sense of adventure.
We stopped in Boissevain for a giant lunch of poutine, a luxury I allow myself when on Manitoba rural jaunts, and it didn’t take any arm twisting to get the two girls to collude with me in this sinful behaviour. We rolled ourselves out of Veva’s, a friendly and very nice restaurant, 45 minutes later and hit the road for the last 30 klicks or so to the border, happy until . . . it suddenly occurred to me to ask 13-year-old Claire if she had her passport with her.
No. Holly did have her license, though.
My fault, entirely. I forgot to tell either of them that they would need ID and preferably a passport to get back across the border – you can go in without any checks, but getting out is different. We all felt a little sick, although we vowed to explore the park on the Canadian side if we couldn’t enter the garden. The only thing to do was to pull up to the Canadian Immigration office and explain our predicament.
It was a great relief when a very understanding officer said we would no doubt be able to get back in after we had been appropriately grilled to ensure that Claire really was a Canadian. We decided, amidst much thanks, to take our chances.
It was a wonderful day. We explored the garden, lingering to look closely at the flowers, while Holly asked the names of her favourites. Claire was politely interested. It was a long walk from the parking lot of the Interpretive Centre up towards the gate, then back down the other side, through the fence and up towards the still-standing Peace Tower. The plantings are lovely just now and the vistas are incredible. I kept stopping to take photos – the girls were very patient.
I happen to know that the entire walk, up one side and down the other is about 10,000 steps, and we did most of it, crossing, though, and turning back at the 9/11 memorial girders from the Twin Towers. IN the centre of this walk, a man-made water course flows down the boundary line, tumbling from time to time over little ills and waterfalls. The carillon was marking the time with ringing bell tones, the sun was shining, and happy people were strolling, gazing, and running, sitting, and one even dipping her tired feet in the stream.
When we got back to ground zero – the misnamed “Interpretive Centre”, which is really now the conservatory — we stopped for ice cream in the café, then proceeded to take in the greenhouses and the cactuses (yes, cactuses is correct – we are dealing here with Greek, not Latin) and succulents. Now Claire came alive. Out popped the cell phone camera, which clicked away with joyous abandon as we meandered through the marvellous collection.
She announced that she would like to have all of them. They are really glorious with their varied and amazing forms and flowers.
We stopped by the gift shop and bought a keepsake – earrings for the girls, made locally – right in the garden actually by the wife of the succulents collection curator. Exhausted but happy, we finally made our way back to customs, relieved to find the same helpful officer ready to “grill” us as we entered back into Canada.
How can you be anything but supremely happy when days like this pop up in your life? Flowers and grandchildren. How could anything be better?