This weekend we will celebrate Canada Day, marking 145 years of this country's existence as an independent nation.
It's a good time to put your feet up, sip something cool, enjoy some sunshine (we hope) and relax for a bit, basking in the lives we can lead in one of the richest and most peaceful nations in the world.
It's also a good time to remember that Canada is a moving target.
We're not the same nation at 145 that we were at 144, or in the centennial year of 1967, or during the wars or in the throes of the Great Depression. This country is an ongoing experiment in politics, sociology, and economics.
If Canadians have any advantages as we look into the future, it's that we can't help but be aware of the fact that we are an artificial creation. We're not some monolithic ethnic group or insular clan. We are the result of countless decisions and compromises made by explorers and First Nations people, map makers and war makers, francophones and anglophones and allophones.
They carved a nation out between early colonialism, staved off the Manifest Destiny of our friends to the south, and then pried themselves loose from the somewhat stifling embrace of Great Britain.
Since then, Canadians have proved adept at making war and keeping peace, at science and business, at both taming a vast landscape and appreciating its undisturbed grandeur.
We know that there is no perfect, finished Canada. The experiment will never be over. We have screwed up more than a few times over the past 144 years. We're making mistakes now that our grandchildren will have to correct, and they'll make mistakes of their own.
If they're lucky, they'll be able to have a day to appreciate the good choices we made.