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  • When I was little, before Mom remarried, a boyfriend of hers would take us out on weekends and we'd drive the roads around Kemptville. I used to sit on a wooden box that was specially made for me. HIGHLY unsafe, but we didn't even wear seat-belts, in those days. I perched on my box on the back seat of Clate's 1960-something Chevy and could look out the window. Usually, we'd picnic at one or another of the sandpits on the back roads. I remember one where a tree root stuck out and I would pump it and sand would pour out, just like water. At another one, some coals from the barbeque fell out and I stood on one. We drove to a nearby farmhouse and asked for some ice. They wouldn't give it to us... We drove home with me crying all the way.

    Since I started driving, myself, in my 30s, I've driven these roads day and night. I keep looking, mostly fruitlessly, for some of the landmarks I recall from when I was 4 and 5.

    Every time we pass a sandpit, and there are a LOT in the area, I try to fit it into my memories. No luck.

    There are familiar places... Tummybutton Hill, the hill over the railway tracks south of town where, when you drive over it at any speed, your stomach flutters and it still makes my scream with laughter, 50 years later.

    And, there's the farm my mother bought so my father could start his artist colony he'd been "dreaming about". We moved down ahead to a rented home in town in Kemptville and Dad was to move down at Christmas and fix up the farm. Dad came down on Christmas Eve. We ate dinner. He tucked me into bed after I whispered my Christmas wishes up the stovepipe to Santa. Then he put on his hat and coat, turned to my mother, said "Well, I guess I won't be seeing you again." and walked out the door. He'd decided to go to Tahiti and walk in the footsteps of Gauguin. He got as far as Montreal where he met some woman.

    Mom hung onto the farm, hoping to move onto it after it was fixed up. She had a Dutch family living there rent free if they fixed it up. They did but after she remarried, she sold it. She'd bought it (100 acres and an old field stone farmhouse) for $1000, put another $1000 into it and then sold it for $2000. I always wished she'd hung onto it but my new Dad wasn't much for the country life. Oh well...
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