House swap illustration

Before we moved to Lancaster County, my husband and I lived on Sanibel Island in Florida.

One day in April, while waiting for him to run errands with me, I read the local newspaper and then went on to look at the want ads, something I seldom (or never) did.

Someone from Canada was looking to swap a house and car on Bowen Island, British Columbia, for the same on Sanibel, and they wanted a pool and beach access. We had both, and this sounded interesting, so I responded to the ad and we agreed to trade for two weeks in the summer.

But as the date got closer, I felt sure I had made a terrible mistake. I knew nothing about the people who would be staying in our house, driving our car and using my beloved possessions. However, I’d made a deal and didn’t feel that we could back out.

A week before we were due to fly to Vancouver, I had a doctor’s appointment in Fort Myers, across the river from Sanibel.

When the doctor came into the examining room, he was looking at my file, and he said, “Oh! You’re from Sanibel. My sister-in-law is doing a house swap there.”

He assured me that his relatives would treat our things with care and that we would fall in love with Bowen. He even gave me a list of “must-do” things for the island and Vancouver.

And fall in love we did. Bowen Island turned out to be an enchanting place, reached by a lovely 20-minute ferry ride from Vancouver. We were given two cars — one to use when we went to the mainland and one for the island, whose stunning views from the ends of mountain roads required a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

We explored all of the things on the doctor’s list, saw two plays at the Shakespeare festival on the mainland, ate copious amounts of homemade ice cream dispensed through a window by the Bowen Island pier, hiked and loved every minute spent in Canada. On our last night we attended a concert at the island library given by a world-famous fiddle player, and that was pure magic.

When we returned home, our house was cleaner than we had left it and the car’s gas tank had been topped off. I was happy to learn that the Canadians had an excellent time, too.

This was one of the best vacations we ever had. But it never would have happened if my husband had been ready sooner on that morning when I read the paper.

I often think of that when I’m stuck in traffic: You never know when lemons will turn into lemonade!

The author lives in Willow Street.

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