Canadian Magazine Industry News
20 August 2010,     ALBERTA
AMPA Summer Story Contest announces winners
The winners of the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association Summer Story Conest have been announced. Entries were judged on how they best fit the bill of telling “your best summer memory in Alberta — the more rah, rah Alberta-rific, the better.”

The winner and honourble mentions are:

The Winner — Fran Kimmel

“We loved those summer getaways so much that my husband and I recently moved to Lacombe from Calgary to be closer to Gull Lake. We hope to continue the tradition with our grandkids one day.”

My best summer memories are of packing up my daughters for a visit to grandma’s Gull Lake cottage. The vast 26-mile lake, sitting smack in the middle of the Alberta prairies, is paradise to every mother not fond of hovering. Here, sunburn, aging, or starvation on the wade to the depths all pose greater threats than drowning. A city block out, wet ankles only. A football field-distance, hip dipping if you’re not too tall. It’s only when a head becomes a tiny speck on the horizon do you know it’s in for the real thing. After a chlorine-free splash, even my city kids know what to do with the rippling white sands. Forts, castles, moats and tunnels. And perhaps even more the miracle, the construction site dismantles itself, not like bedrooms and backyards, with the magic of the night winds and waves.

As the city layers chip away, my daughters and I start to wear the cottage ways with ease. Grandma teaches us to stoke a fire, to wait like statues on the hill for the woodpecker’s knock, to string rosehips for jewelry, to wrap the delicate heads of wild oats with tinfoil, creating a shiny silver-tipped spray. We sneak across the railway tracks and through the thick hedges to the cottagers’ secret Saskatoon patch, where row upon row of sweet purple berries await. We experience the nights of novels – writers’ nights – great black, starry spaces, coyotes songs, the man in the moon. We learn to breathe all over again.

Honourable Mention — Maureen Pocock
“I have just recently joined a writer's group in Lacombe and this motivates me to keep writing.”

Mom loved picking raspberries. I remember her in her huge berry patch — a wide straw hat on her head and one of Dad’s long sleeved shirts to protect her from the sun and the prickly raspberry bushes. A length of baler twine for a belt held a tin bucket for her to pick into. Mom would lose herself in the patch. It never mattered how hot the day was or how many mosquitoes buzzed around her, wasting nature’s bounty was not an option. Every other day for the month of August she would pick the bushes clean, bringing in pail after pail. Mom shared her patch with neighbours and friends, worrying that berries would go to waste if no one could come to pick, and when they did she would spend time helping to fill all their containers to take home.

Next came canning and jam. Strangely the berries never came out exactly right for the recipe. So one of us kids would be sent out to find one or two or three cups more. With jars in shiny rows in the canning cupboard, Mom was ready to share. Friends and even strangers who dropped by were always sent off with a jar or two. And we learned that jam was Mom’s way of expressing her love for people.

I never enjoyed raspberry jam until I grew up and left home. Now I do what Mom did. I fill every jar I can find. And like Mom, I love to share with friends, family and even strangers.

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