It was the perfect way to end the summer: a trip to Twin Islands.
It’s a beautiful, small, old, forested landmass with no power, trails, free campsites, sweeping views of Indian Arm, a lighthouse, and it’s only 75 metres off the shores of Belcarra.
My husband and I took our nephew and his four teenage friends for a night of camping, but while they tented, our plan was to chaperone them from the comfort of our boat, have a cocktail or more, listen to some music and read.
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Twin Islands, however, is a truly coveted piece of real estate – even on a Thursday at noon. Because for the next several hours, rather than relaxing, my husband spent the day assisting new boaters tie up to the dock, cliff jumpers onto our boat when they couldn’t get back to land, and a man trying to negotiate paying “our” teenagers $20 to set up his tent and watch his spot until he returned the next day.
“I’ll be in the cabin,” I told my husband.
But just as I re-cracked my book, another boat roared up to ours and asked if they could tie up to us so they could picnic on the island.
“Of course,” my hubby said.
It was a family of nine and as I sat at our boat’s table, I watched as my now overheating husband lent them all a hand. I decided to put my dreams of an introverted afternoon away, pour a double tequila and breathe in the glorious salt and pine scented atmosphere.
A couple of hours later the same family of nine sauntered back down the ramp. “Did you guys have fun?” I asked.
“We had the best time,” exclaimed one of the men, and he handed us a bucket of three big crab.
“These are for you, thank you for everything today!”
His name was V and as he told us his name, he held out his two fingers like a peace sign for the letter V. He then went on to tell us how beautiful Canada is, “with all the mountains, the ocean, and the seafood!”
His joy was infectious and he oozed gratitude. As a newcomer from Asia, V was excited to tell us that he is now from Minnesota.
As we talked on our boat’s stern for a few more minutes, V said, “Canadians are the friendliest people!”
“I actually think you are even friendlier than Canadians, V,” I told him.
He stopped and looked genuinely touched by that comment.
“The world is really crazy right now,” he continued, “we have to be kind to each other.”
And he’s right, because with the collective sadness we’ve felt this summer for Kelowna, the Northwest Territories, Maui . . . the world . . . V’s words and his joie de vivre were what I could only describe as balm for the heart and soul.
As their boat took off, V turned around and gave my husband and I a big wave. I got a few tears in my eyes.
“Damn,” I said to my husband, “that man just made my day.”
Kindness, it turns out, really is a superpower. And just like those campsites on Twin Island, it’s free and something we’d all like to have.
The Perfect End of Summer Ratatouille
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
This classic South of France rustic recipe is perfect for using up the last of your summer veg.
Succulent and perfect as a side dish or in a sandwich, this ratatouille recipe will make you feel like all is well and good in the world.
You will need a medium-sized a round casserole dish for this recipe. You are also going to make a tomato sauce to be put on the bottom of the casserole dish before you assemble your ratatouille.
Finally, you’ll make a little seasoned olive oil to pour over top of this dish before baking.
Slice vegetables into ¼ inch thick slices:
- 1 Sliced eggplant
- 4 sliced tomatoes
- 1/2 peeled and sliced butternut squash
- 2 sliced zucchini
- fresh basil leaves
- sprigs of thyme
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 chopped red onion
- 1 chopped red pepper
- 1 large can diced tomatoes (796ml)
- 1 small can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- salt, and pepper
Sauté the red onion and red pepper in olive oil over a medium heat on the stove until soft. Add diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, seasonings and stir. Simmer for 30 minutes over a low heat.
Season some olive oil to pour over ratatouille before baking.
Mix up, ¼ cup olive oil (pesto flavored is nice) and 1 tsp. each of dried oregano, rosemary, and thyme, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper.
You will pour olive oil mixture over casserole and let sit for 10 minutes. This allows it to pour through, seasoning the vegetables. Feel free to make up extra seasoned olive oil to pour over.
Pour all the simmered tomato sauce over the bottom of the round casserole dish.
Alternate and add the sliced veggies so that they are standing up and going around the casserole.
I added the larger veg first like the squash and eggplant, then squeezed the smaller rounds like the zucchini and tomato between the larger slices. I also put the thyme and the basil between the vegetables saving a couple of thyme sprigs for the top of ratatouille.
Once done assembling, pour olive oil mixture evenly over ratatouille and let sit for 10 minutes.
Then put foil over top of casserole dish and pop into the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes, remove the foil, turn the oven to 375 and continue baking for an additional 40 minutes or less. Keep checking as every oven is different. Happiness is.