Ring-ing in the new year

Well, it happened. Nine and a half years after our first date at Festival du Loup, JF asked me to marry him. We’re excited and happy. And slightly terrified at the prospect of planning a big, boozy, Lafontaine-style party.

This is us, right after he asked me.

This is us, right after he asked me.

A lot of people are surprised at this news. I was too! For years I hoped – but didn’t expect – to officially commit to the world’s handsomest Franco-Ontarian engineer.

Before you ask, yes I thought of proposing to him. But I wanted him to want to get married, and uncertainty meant waiting. Which, when you’re with the world’s handsomest Franco-Ontarian engineer, isn’t so bad, really.

Just look at how handsome he is. xo

Just look at how handsome he is. xo

In any case, he timed his proposal beautifully. We were in the lush gardens of a Portuguese castle, by a waterfall. The sun was setting. We’d spent a lovely week in Lisbon together. We were relaxed and full of delicious custard tarts.

The proposal, however, was a bit more authentic. He was wearing his ugliest toque. We were walking up a big hill, so I was sweating and wheezing. I had to pee. As we swung by the waterfall, JF grabbed my hand and said: “so pickle, wanna get married?” I was confused, so he added (for clarity): “wanna get married soon?”

Ring. Check!

Ring. Check!

I laughed, then hugged him and cried. Then – in true JF fashion – he gave me a spreadsheet of ring options. We settled on a simple and pretty pearl, or, as I’ve come to think about it, shiny clam poop.

When I told my avo we were getting married, she said: “that’s nice – and it’s good for the one up there” (she pointed to heaven) and then continued to discuss her arthritis.

That about sums it up. It won’t change much, but it is nice. And it’ll be lovely to have people —friends, family, government, and sure, God—recognize that we’re pleasantly stuck together for life.

Another one of us in Portugal, just for kicks.

Another one of us in Portugal, just for kicks.

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Francophonie

I am privileged to be able to call myself Franco-Ontarian. Yup, that’s a thing. We have a flag and even an unofficial anthem.

My father’s family has been living in Tiny Township, en français, for well over a hundred years. The school at County Road 6 and Concession 12 once had so many Lefaives attending it that they named the intersection after us.

The school at Lefaive's corner. That's right, we have a whole corner.

The school at Lefaive’s corner. That’s right, we have a whole corner.

The Lefaives eat tourtière (well, except me the rando vegetarian), play the fiddle, and wear métis sashes on certain special occasions. My mémère and pépère used interesting expressions like « va don plugger l’canar pour moé, ma belle » which losely translates to « would you plug in the kettle for me, dear? »

Mémère et Pépère, sur les plages de la Baie Georgienne.

Mémère et Pépère, sur les plages de la Baie Georgienne.

I’m proud of my heritage, weird idioms and all. I also applaud and support any effort to keep our language and culture strong. It’s hard work, but it’s important. Sometimes it feels like we are on a rickety french raft — or maybe a birch bark canoe? — in a sea of english, but we keep paddling. Now that I’m local, I’m looking forward to lending my slighlty wobbly paddling arm more often.

At the centre of that canoeing (?) effort is one of my favourite events of the year, le Festival du Loup. Organized by local people, it takes place at the park in Lafontaine: the core of the french community.

The festival was this past weekend, and I was delighted to be able to share it with my « France French » friend Sylvie. We volunteered Saturday morning, donning beautiful yellow smocks and fastening neon orange paper bracelets to people’s wrists at the entrance.

Sylvie, showing off the Festival du Loup volunteer smock.

Sylvie, showing off the Festival du Loup volunteer smock.

Minus a brief stint at the beach, we spent the afternoon and evening listening to live, french music. My cousins Kelly, Jill and Nicole performed as Ariko, my childhood crush and longtime friend Joël Forget played some of his original songs (one of them about me), and JF’s brother Damien Robitaille was the headliner.

Mes cousines, Jill et Nicole Lefaive, en pleine performance.

Mes cousines, Jill et Nicole Lefaive, en pleine performance.

Why do I love this festival so much? Because, in the words of Larry Lalonde, it feels like a great, big family reunion. Folks I grew up with come in from out of town and hundreds of people of all ages living in and around Lafontaine make a point of being there. It’s a great opportunity to catch up on gossip, re-connect with friends, and just enjoy dancing at the heart of a community I know and love.