I recently finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo. After five years of chaos, excitement, and empty pockets resulting from the never-ending onslaught of hefty tuition payments, it was time to conclude that chapter of my life and embrace the next one. Nevertheless, as the finality of it all begins to settle in, I find myself reminiscing quite often about the countless moments and memories from that era that have left a lasting impression.
As much as I value my education, and as proud as I am of my academic successes, I’ve come to realize the most fruitful moments of my university career - and the ones that shaped me into the person I am today - took place outside of the classroom. I was lucky to establish some really solid friendships early in my undergrad, and a bunch of these buddies stuck with me (questionable decision) from start to finish. It’s funny how the little things, the things that seem insignificant in the moment - making meals for each other, playing board games in the living room, staying up way too late to talk about life - can sometimes turn out to be the most special in retrospect. They remind you of what matters most in life, and even as time passes, some of these memories never fade.
As I reflect more on these years, Heartwood’s slogan, “Reconnect with simple wonders” becomes that much more resonant. An experience doesn’t have to be overly extravagant or lavish to win a special place in your heart. For me, this stage of my life was ultimately defined by an endless collection of stories, jokes, and conversations shared with the people I’m closest with. In some cases, these very moments were enjoyed with a glass of Heartwood cider in my hand, acting as a subtle reminder of this message. The many bottles I’ve sipped and savoured through the years are tied together through the meaningful encounters that each one accompanied.
I remember sharing a bottle of Currant Affair with three friends around the dinner table the night we moved into our apartment in 2016. They’d never tried it before, but they’ve been hooked ever since.
I remember taking a few bottles of Eve Goes Badass (an extra spicy batch in the beta testing phase) to a friend’s party in 2017; I got to watch people’s eyes widen, and flames burst out of their nostrils, as they were hit by an unexpected kick of hot pepper. Nobody realized that much spice could be packed into a single bottle of cider.
I remember watching Game 7 of the Leafs-Bruins first round series in 2018 with my buddies, with a bottle of Hoppity in hand. I had to be careful not to spill on my jersey. The game didn’t end well, to our chagrin, but at least I had some of Heartwood’s finest to drown away my sorrows.
I remember watching Good Will Hunting at my aunt and uncle’s ski chalet with a couple of buddies earlier this year, while drinking some Forest Garden. We all agree it’s one of the best movies we’ve seen.
My parents started up the cider operation soon after I moved out for school. I tell people they made this decision due to a midlife crisis triggered by my absence. Since then, I’ve watched the business change and develop over the years, much the same way as I have. Each bottle reminds me of my family, the farm, and where I’ve come from, and it also encourages me to appreciate these simple wonders that surround us every day. Hold onto the memories that shaped you, and look forward to those that lie ahead. You never know which moments will stick with you for years to come.