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Preening swan, Avon River, Stratford, Canada (Vivian Macdonald photo)

Swans are a symbol of Stratford, Canada’s top theatre centre. (Vivian Macdonald photo)

Courting swans are highlight of romantic Stratford. (Vivian Macdonald photo)

I celebrate friendships often in this daily journal of gratitude.  So I wanted to share these photos — this love letter — from a close friend in Canada. Vivian Macdonald is a photojournalist who travels the world and chose Stratford as her home.  She selected it for the Shakespearean theatre, for the arts, for its history and architecture, for the natural beauty of the Ontario countryside, and, of course, the Avon River with its famous swans.

And for great love.

I celebrate the love she and her partner share, and their shared love for a place where they fit perfectly, after crossing three continents to find each other. I am thankful for the family they created together, and their strong bonds to family in Australia and Canada. 

I’m thankful for our family too, spread across many countries, also on three continents. Unconditional love is a bond not easily broken, across time or distance.

With Mother’s Day approaching, and Father’s Day arriving next month, Hadi and I have asked writers and photographers we know to think about HOME, wherever that is, and whatever it means.

We’ve launched a new international series, starting with Vivian Macdonald’s sweet prose and photos on Stratford at our travel blog: tripsfor2.

Since I’m traveling to my other home, I’m thinking a lot about the joy of home — how it’s defined by immigrants who live far from their birthplace, how it’s missed by some and almost forgotten by others, how our definitions of home shift when we travel and move about in the world.

Mostly, I’m thinking of the homes we create, in love, and those we honor. As my friend Frances reminded me when I wrote recently about immigrants far from home: “Home is where the heart is.”

 She sends these photos as a love letter from her