Monday, September 26, 2016

Now Socks and Slippers

It is chilly. No furnace going yet but very soon I fear. My last lake swim officially took place on September 21st , the last day of summer. It was divine and I know if I forced myself I might be able to go one more time but I am accepting the truth and the change in temperature is certainly making that easier. Caleb started picking the squash yesterday and the squash patch is looking stripped and depleted, the plants no longer green and full. The dark green treasures stick out among the withered leaves and exposed vines. The long row of sunflowers are changing quickly as well. From a distance they still look tall and lovely but on closer inspection the blossoms are loosing their vibrancy. Petals are falling, seeds are being plucked and tall stems are tumbling as I predicted. I picked a few for the back veranda and they looked beautiful at first. They now look sad and wilted. Their day is almost done. As with the swimming I will accept the reality of my squash patch and my sunflowers changing with the season. An extra blanket will soon be put on the bed, shoes and socks will be worn and October will soon arrive. The trees are quickly changing color. I will begin my woods road walks as moose season is over. I look forward to reintroducing myself to the beauty of that walk to the top of the hill. As I look down and over to where I can see the top of Chapin and Brianne's house I know how much closer it is to welcoming them to move in and live the next stage of their lives together within its walls. I wait for the day I will see smoke rise from their far off chimney. Smoke will soon rise from my own as well and despite my reluctance to give up summer I welcome the beauty and comfort of fall and winter. I was given this wonderful summer and am truly thankful for its blessings. I think of the challenges that stretch ahead and ask for the courage and strength to face them and the wisdom to support my friends and family as they struggle with the challenges they have been given. Amelia's wisdom of an hour alone at the lake and Do Your part will now become an hour alone in the woods and I will continue to try to do my part.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Time For Slippers

It is a rainy Sunday morning and I think this blog entry may take several turns. Firstly I dug out my slippers this morning. When I say dug, they were just on a shelf in my closet but I got them out. I can't remember the last time I wore them or when I stuck them in the closet. A couple of days ago I stepped out onto the veranda in my bare feet as I have been doing for the last three months and felt the cold boards under my feet. This morning before going downstairs to make the coffee I felt the need to wear slippers. You know what that means. It is possible I've been in the lake for the last time this season. I may muster the courage in the next few days to run in for the sake of claiming the last time, as I was not aware on Tuesday that my swim held that status. It should come as no surprise that slippers and giving up the lake are happening. I love our seasons and I accept the transition but I still resist the change. That brings me to the next turn. Last night we attended a 60thWedding Anniversary party. This party began with a 3:00 open house type of celebration ( for the old people perhaps) and morphed into a band playing, dancing under the stars, good old fashioned, all age house party. The hosts of this celebration Bung and Doreen are masters of those. They have a home so warm and welcoming you want them to adopt you. This amazing couple have been married for 60 years. They have suffered great loss and weathered many storms. They hold the range of joy and sorrow within the walls of their home and in their hearts. They have been through many seasons, still stocking up and preparing for the season ahead. They live in a beautiful wooded area far off the main road and look out at a gorgeous lake. After spending a few hours in their presence I came home last night so clearly grateful for my own home and my own journey. Perhaps someday Burton and I will welcome guests into our home to celebrate 60 years. I can only hope our home and our example speak as loudly of love, determination, courage, grace and hospitality as Bung and Doreen's do. So I slip on my slippers, gaze at the turning leaves from my office window and take the next season as the wonderful gift it is. My final turn takes me to thoughts of my own amazing parents who have walked their lives together for 68 years. The walk is getting difficult and I hold them in my thoughts and prayers. I can not take away their struggle and can only do my small part to support them.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sunflowers and Riel's Book

It seems I am somewhat obsessed with my sunflowers. As the mornings cool and Fall approaches they speak to me loudly of the summer that was. They are impressive on so many levels. Their size, the long row each individual plant contributes to, their massive green leaves, the volume of blossoms big and small each unique and beautiful individually and stunning collectively. The optimism and hope I placed in each seed as I dropped them has more than proved itself. The plants grew tall and strong after the season of growing. I cut a few and brought them in to the house giving them a place of honour in my big green vase. I will keep that arrangement fresh as long as the sunflowers stay. The blossoms will droop. The bluebirds will come and begin their feast of the seeds from each blossom. The large stems will fall and some will uproot as they tumble. Eventually the plants will completely rot and next springs ploughing will turn the rot into the earth. Some sunflowers will pop out in random spots refusing to completely disappear. Last night Louisa and I went to the KV Library for the launch of Riel Nason's new book 'All The Things We Leave Behind'. It was well attended by Riel's family , friends and neighbors. Her kids provided excitement and entertainment as they proudly roamed the periphery.Readers and writers permeated the crowd. It was great to see some fellow authors show up to support Riel. This morning when I considered the photographs to include with my blog entry the cluster of sunflowers growing tall outside put me in mind of the crowd last night. A group coming together each unique and special in their own way. See what I mean by being obsessed with my sunflowers. All the best with the launch of your new book Riel. A wonderful way to finish the summer of 2016.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Friends and Spiders

I don't hate spiders. I don't particularly like it when they fall on me or when I run into their sticky webs but I am not afraid of them. I am quite amazed by their webs even though usually the first thing I do every morning when I step out on my back veranda is to take the broom handle and run it along the top knocking down their night of hard work and mastery. I do feel a bit guilty doing that but I hate walking into spider webs. To be fair I leave the ones that are not in my path. I do marvel at their intricate beauty. We have big bellied spiders. Big doesn't even begin to describe them . They are huge . Sometimes they build a web and hang out in my clothes line window and I don't see them until I stick my head out to hang the laundry. I do not like that. But for the most part I leave them alone and don't think much about them until someone else draws my attention to them. Paige and Emma get a bit worked up when they see them. Burton and I try to plead the spiders case and tell the girls all the good things about spiders. Saturday night when we had our corn boil and friends sat on the back veranda in the beautiful night air, the light showcased the massive network of spider webs. Some of my friends chose not to sit outside for that reason. I am perfectly all right with the spiders. I live on a farm where very little is perfect other than the view and the feeling I get from living here. I have free range poultry that poop everywhere. I have gardens in need of a full time gardener. I have buildings that need some maintenance. I live with imperfection on every level but also know just how perfect my life is and just how much I have to be thankful for. So when I look up I choose to see the beauty and hope my friends can see it too.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Taking a Rainy Day Break

Calling it rain is a bit optimistic I guess but today so far is misty, foggy and cooler than its been. I am considering that weather as my reason to take a break and let the day be a breather. It has been a busy summer. We have had beautiful stretches of hot and sunny days filled with lots of activity. I had a dream filled night that had me wake up feeling completely drained. In the first few minutes I longed to give up , to stop holding on,to retreat to some faraway place where my mind could be turned off. Sounds scary and problematic but in reality I believe we all struggle with that . Where can we run to get away from whatever weight we carry? This is the challenge of living . I often repeat my mantra of "OK everyone, OK everybody" This inventory of the people I love is basically an inventory of my ability to handle the truth of the fact I have absolutely no control over much of anything. On this 15th anniversary of 911 when we in western society got that cruel wake up call, I choose to admit to that helplessness. But as I accept this truth I will also fight my way back to the place that sees me keeping on. How easy it can be to get bogged down with what's wrong in our lives. There are days when the imperfections and flaws , the disappointments and fear looms large. Gratitude is my first defense but I sometimes have to force my way out of the darkness of feeling sorry for myself and into the light of my blessings. But sometimes I'm just tired. I don't want to juggle it all and I just want to take a break. Today will be one of those days . I will however in the midst of whatever this day turns out to be, gaze for a minute on the long wall of sunny blossoms and know I dropped those seeds. Today, that is enough.

Monday, September 5, 2016

First Sunflower

The first blossoms have opened and the rest will come fast and furious. September is here and harvest is in full swing. I must take stock and decide what pickles and preserves I will get done. I have been freezing vegetables and just about every meal is made up of freshly picked garden treasures. Burton has been busy getting the winter's wood piled in the field, ready to bring in to the basement. The air is cooler , the leaves have started turning and the lake presents just a bit more of a challenge to jump in to. Last night I prepared a meal for seventeen people to celebrate Chapin's 31st birthday. Earlier in the day I had driven across the river to see my parents and help them celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary. My 88 year old mother was participating in a service that had forty pianos brought in and each one was being played simultaneously throughout the service. I watched my beautiful mother who is struggling with speech completely engaged in playing all of the seventeen songs. I was very proud of her. My brother, his wife , my aunt and I joined Mom and Dad for a lovely lunch and I tried to drink in the day and the gift of still having my parents. The day holds emotion for me as well when I think that 31 years ago I had my third child;my 9 lb Chapin Daniel, who brought so much with him when he joined our family. I now look at a grown handsome man, a loving husband who for the last year has been completely engrossed in building a beautiful home for he and his wife. I am so hugely proud of him. In the midst of the chaos of the crowd getting their supper dished up all I could think of was rushing out the door and escaping to the cool and refreshing and rejuvenating water of my beloved lake. I took a quick dip got my thoughts in order and returned. Part of me wanted to linger, to keep swimming, to stay where I feel so completely at rest and at peace. I am a woman caught between generations, trying to give as much of myself to both sides that need me, while trying to keep myself well and strong and able. When I consider my parents were celebrating their 37th anniversary the day I gave birth to Chapin and Burton and I have already had our 39th anniversary, it speaks loudly to me of just how quickly life happens. I do what I have to do and seldom let myself give in to the deep emotion of it all but sometimes I just have to jump in the lake. Sometimes I just have to step back and let it sink in . I am grateful for mornings like this when I can let the tears flow , I can just be me not having to be a daughter , a mother a grandmother. I can just be the little girl that can run and jump in the lake with no responsibilities to anyone but myself. I am glad I escaped to the lake but I am glad I came back too. That is the balance I strive for.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Back to Work

It is the Sunday before my back to work day. I remember the excitement and anxiety of this day when I was still teaching. That week back before the students came was always made up of the thrill and hard work of getting my classroom ready, the enjoyment of seeing fellow staff members and meeting new ones, the challenge of meetings and overstimulation of new policies , programs and might I say some bullshit. There was the burden of balancing home and school ,the sadness of giving up summer and the optimism of new strategies and new convictions(like I'll make my kids great lunches every day) Those were rewarding times and I always enjoyed them as difficult as they were. I am glad they are behind me but I do know exactly what my daughter in law and friends that are still teaching feel today. But I feel wonderful. I am excited to get back to my office. I can not wait to start writing again. I have the freedom of course to fit my fall chores like pickling and harvesting the garden in to my schedule. I can interrupt my writing with a walk or a swim. I can adjust my hours . I am completely doing what I love and am more than grateful for the opportunity to do it. For the eighth fall I get to do what I waited so many years to do. I am a writer. This morning I received two messages that reminded me of that. I got a lovely message from a reader who is a former student and also a former colleague. She was my student teacher at one time and I used her name in Waiting For Still Water.(Rachel's grade three teacher) She wrote about how much she enjoyed the book and how honored she was to have been mentioned. I also got a photograph from a friend who bought the book from me at the market yesterday, showing the book , a coffee cup and a beautiful scene in the background showing still water. What a nice gift on this day as I putter away at end of summer chores and preparation of Sunday supper with the anticipation of going back to work tomorrow. Amid the worries and heartaches and challenges of life I get the gift of making stories up in the quiet sanctuary of my imagination and my office.