Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Salsa Garden


How ironic! 
The salsa garden ripened into perfect tomatoes and peppers AFTER I started school. So even though I didn't plan on doing preserves last weekend, we made another batch of salsa because I simply can't waste these beautiful tomatoes. I take no credit for how they turned out but they really are perfect tomatoes!

And the tomatoes kept ripening. So this weekend, today in fact, was supposed to be fruit relish; my recipe makes 6 jars and it's my favourite relish. But the school prep -- activities for the next three days leading up to the first day of fall -- took over my weekend. I managed to get everything done -- except for the fruit relish. I'm hoping the tomatoes last until next Saturday. 

How ironic!
I grow the best salsa garden I could hope for -- and I'm not around to make the most of it. I am, however, enjoying all the cherry tomatoes. They, too, came on strong just in time for school and my lunch every day. It's lovely to sit in a quiet classroom and eat cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices from my own garden. 

The "should" of teaching, especially for subs and new teachers, is to eat in the staff room, but I'm too old and too wise to listen to the "shoulds" any longer. I am so involved and put so much into my teaching, into my interactions with the students, that come lunch time, I don't want to talk to anyone. I need the quiet of an empty classroom to recharge and reset and renew. I'm lucky that the school I'm teaching at right now is so small, there isn't that pressure to sit in the staff room, nor is there any benefit -- we see each other in hall and in each other's classrooms all day. 

I'd rather have the quiet, and the chance to work -- some think you need a break but as a new teacher, I need to know what I'm doing next and feel like I have it under control. After a weekend of working at home on the activities for this week, I'm heading into Monday not feeling like I have everything under control -- but I get to work early, and I have a morning prep while my students are at music so we'll be fine. 

It's all good -- and we get to do art all week and I'm excited about that. I hope to post a photo of our creation next weekend. 

So in advance of this Wednesday: Happy First Day of Fall! 


Tuesday, September 07, 2021

The First Day of School!


You are never too old for a "first day of school" photo! 

And you can never have too many flowers in the classroom. 

I had two more bags to take with me plus a box of supplies. Fully stocked and ready to roll!

I think this proves, beyond a doubt, it's never too late to be what you might have been. I wanted to be a teacher, I let someone get in the way of that, but here I am three decades later, ready and willing and perfectly capable... 

to teach the kids their first lesson: You don't have to follow the rules.

Because here I am, wearing white after Labour Day! 



Monday, September 06, 2021

Sunflowers 2021

The view from the bus

 
I'm glad the sunflowers are still upright and blooming for the children to see as they drive by on the bus on the way to school tomorrow.

The first day of school! The first time this day has meant anything to me since the beginning of my final year of high school. (I suppose we had a "first day of school" in university but it wasn't really the same thing; we went "back to class" and were mostly hungover, rather than excited!)

When Dwayne went to pick up the sunflower seeds he'd ordered, he discovered they'd been sold So he had to re-order and this is what we ended up with: ordinary, regular, garden-variety sunflowers. Not the tall, multi-blossom ones we've been planting for the past few years. 

They kind of suit the summer we've had, though. Not as much sun, but everything blossomed because we had enough moisture and enough heat. Not as many blooms but every flower came out. Almost every one of the sunflowers is upright because we didn't get hit with any hurricanes or tropical storms. 

The weather for the first day of school is going to start out cloudy so we'll be a little burst of sunshine for the kids as they head up the road. 
 
Oh, and I'm taking a big bouquet of sunflowers for my classroom. My classroom! I've waited 28 years to say that... 


In memory of Dwayne's father who died in 2020



Sunday, August 22, 2021

Back To School



Hitting the books. 
Something I should have done fourteen years ago when I first arrived in Nova Scotia but it turns out, I'm a very slow learner.

At the start of this year, I closed the door for good on Field Notes, the book, and its publisher, which hadn't expressed interest in any of the manuscripts I'd sent to them. 
But finally closing that door seems to be the secret to opening new doors -- I sold a book of my writings about faith and spirituality (coming out in November as "Alphabet of Faith"), and I sold a children's book (to be published in 2022). 

Not only that, I was hired for a short-term teaching job. Term appointments are significantly different from substitute teaching, and it's been a wake-up call for me. 
I want to be a teacher. 
I want to take back what was stolen from me in 1993 by that supervising teacher who told me I shouldn't be a teacher. His statement (and honestly, what kind of teacher says that??) and my personality -- not brave, not assertive, and an internalizer (as in I never told anyone) -- combined to create a lifelong struggle to figure out who I am and what my life's purpose is. 
Now I know: 
I am a writer AND a teacher. 
I am a teacher AND a writer. 

Writing books about faith and spirituality, writing children's books, becoming an elementary school teacher -- who knew 2021 would clear the path for me?
No wonder I keep singing, "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone!"

On Monday, I participate in the new teacher orientation workshop then on Tuesday, I meet up with the teacher's whose maternity leave I'm wrapping up. So my teaching life gets started this week. This is huge, my friends. This is huge. 
To combat those habits of fearfulness and self-doubt (which lead to self-sabotage), I keep telling myself that people are always losing their way, losing their jobs, hitting rock bottom, starting over, reinventing themselves. I can do this. I CAN DO THIS. 

I have so much in common with the Primary (Kindergarten) students I'll be greeting in a couple of weeks on the first day of school: I'm equal parts excited and anxious about being in the classroom. But in my case, I'm in charge so there's a lot more at stake in my performance!
But this time around, I have an actual support system (and I now know to ask for help and clarification) and a renewed focus to be the teacher I've always wanted to be. 
That I think I'm meant to be. 

And I can't wait to get started. 


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Rest Easy, Big Guy

Andre Poulet, July 2020

 

Andre Poulet, our beloved rooster, died Monday morning. 

We noticed last week he wasn't crowing outside like he used to. AP always crowed profusely inside the coop as dawn broke, I usually heard him from our bedroom, but over the weekend, he'd crow once from his roost then not again. 

My husband noticed the rooster was thinner and I realized he was struggling to swallow. 

On Monday, Mother and I went to Halifax and when we were home again at the end of the day, sitting on the front deck catching up, Dwayne said Andre Poulet had spent the afternoon lying on the deck underneath the branch of the rose bush that stretches out and provides shade. 

I'm sorry I missed that. By the time we were home, he was underneath Mother's bird feeder, trying to eat and making a strange squeaking nose as he cleared his throat. As it turned out, Dwayne got to spend Andre's final day with him.  

Tuesday morning, I had to lift AP off his roost and carry him outside. I noticed he had that smell that chickens get when they are dying. I didn't realize he was hours away, rather than a day or two, though. When I got back from running errands, I'd planned to let him out to be in the yard for his final hours/days, but he was gone when I got back. 

The hens were alone with the body long enough to know their rooster was dead. 

I buried him in the field but near the outside pen; I thought he should be close by. After I dug the grave, I cut giant sunflower leaves to place in the bottom since I never put my chickens directly on the ground. Then I cut wildflowers, mostly goldenrod at this time of year, to cover him, and made a bouquet of brown-eyed Susans and clover and Queen Anne's Lace. 



As I was placing the flowers on his body in the grave, since I also never let the dirt fall directly on the creatures I bury, I heard a rustle inside the fence. One hen had shown up for the funeral, and it was Phyllis, who'd hatched out our one chick last summer. Watching Andre and Phyllis and Cheeps wander around the yard together was one of the pleasures of July 2020. 


I admit I cried as I said a few words for Andre Poulet. He was a good rooster, not mean, never attacking. He had a personality, as most chickens do, and I think he knew his name. I could get him to crow at me if I called out for him. He was always flying out of the pen to come check out the decks and under the bird feeders, and I'll miss walking across the yard with him. He was a bit of a dog that way. 

He was a very good rooster. Not sure how we will replace him. Some spurs are hard to fill...

This morning, after I'd let the hens out and filled their water dish out back, I walked around to the front of the coop to get their morning treat -- the grain scratch I toss on the ground -- and Dwayne was on the back deck. 

"Wild geese," he said, pointing to the sky behind me. 

I turned and looked up to see a small flock of six geese. Just as they flew over the pen and the spot where I buried Andre Poulet, five of the geese cut away to their left, flying over the coop itself, and one single goose kept flying ahead.

The missing man formation. The aerial salute done by jets during a fly-by to honour a fallen soldier. 

I kid you not. The gap between the five geese and the lone goose was very, very large. 

I might have been crying when I went inside to say good morning to Phyllis. 



Tuesday, August 10, 2021

The Sunflower of Unexpectation


This is absolutely the right metaphor for 2021: the surprise sunflower growing in the weed pile. 

Whatever I yank out of the gardens and whatever I clean out of the chicken coop gets dumped into a small section of the field close to the house but out of sight. The later into summer we get, the less I can see it because the field grows up around it. 

Unfortunately -- and I anticipated this -- the noxious weeds from the vegetable gardens don't ever die so they thrive in the weed pile. I'm not sure how I feel about these awful, useless weeds (seriously, they are not lovely and helpful like dandelions or clover) taking over the field but the only alternative is burning, which is equally as noxious. 

It doesn't help that the chicken poop helps everything grow. Including something I do want. 

Back in July, I noticed a familiar looking plant emerging -- there's no mistaking those large leaves. 

Somehow, either through my cleaning up the gardens or perhaps a bird carrying the seed, this sunflower germinated and took root and grew -- blossomed -- in the most unlikely place, in a place no one attends to, in a place where the stuff we don't want to deal with ends up. 

A random, unexpected sunflower grows in the weed pile out back.

Beauty grows where you least expect it. 

Something good appears in the midst of the bad stuff. 

Beauty and goodness are always around us, but we must keep our eyes open to notice it in the places where we aren't expecting them -- yet really, those are the places where beauty and goodness are most likely to flourish because we need to see them. 

We need that moment of joy. A moment to pause in the pushing of wheelbarrow to smile, breathe in deeply, and realize it's not all bad all the time. Joy persists. The bees keep buzzing. And there will be seeds planted here for next year. 


Tuesday, August 03, 2021

GOING FOR A RIDE ON THE GREAT TRAIL


This is the face of someone who is taking a day off to go for a ride. 

It's been ten years since Dwayne and I did a ride together, and I can't for the life of me figure why we stopped doing them. With a new-to-him off-road vehicle, of course I needed to get my ride in. 

I'd forgotten how relaxing a ride through the woods is. I'd forgotten that I knew how to relax! I'm always so busy thinking of the next Facebook post or online church group poem I need to write, or of the edits for the book that are coming to me next week, or of school starting in a month that I figured my mind would be churning up thoughts like a side-by-side churns up dust. I packed a notebook but never opened it. Never even thought about it. 

This is why: I love trees. I find trees fascinating. I love looking at tree and at the ground underneath them. There is so much to see in the woods, in the wildflowers growing alongside the trail, and in the ponds -- pond lilies and lily pads -- that I just rode along looking and not thinking. It was very relaxing.

It was like a meditation. The purists would be appalled because the side-by-side is noisy and moves along but the fact I was able to shut off my brain and calm down and sit still simply by focusing on the nature around me says it all: it was a meditation. 

Turns out, that's exactly what I needed. A chance to rest my brain. A chance to turn off the faucet on the thoughts. The notebook stayed closed, the pen was not used. I didn't do any thinking. All I did was sit back and enjoy the ride.

And it was the perfect day for that. 

Oh, the places you can go! 



Monday, July 26, 2021

Salsa Garden


Let's set up some raised beds, she said.

I can use one as my salsa garden, she said.

It will be great to grow my own ingredients, she said. 

It will work best to have all the plants in one spot, she said. 

Egads, my friends, those are four tomato plants, one of which - I think - is just a cherry tomato. Because in June, it looked like I had plenty of room for four tomato plants. In June, those plants were small and manageable, full of the promise of producing fruit. 

Actual fruit.

Not limbs and leaves. Which, at the moment, is all I have. Oh, and blossoms. There are blossoms. 

I found one large green tomato lying in the grass last week. It escaped. It flung itself out of the jungle and now it's sitting in solitary confinement on my window sill. Desperately seeking ripeness.

The good news is my peppers - both green and jalapeno (the plants on the left in the picture) are growing just fine. At the moment. But those creepy arms of the tomato plants are reaching...reaching...reaching... 

Plus my cilantro was ready to use about a week after I planted it. 

Fourteen years, people. Fourteen years I have lived on this property and have planted gardens and grown plants. You'd think I'd have some idea by now how to do this successfully. 

But no. 

Every year, I add another notch to my "experimental gardener" belt and simply wait to be surprised at what grows, what thrives and what appears. 

Kale and romaine lettuce. That's what thrives. The leafy stuff.

I get salad when all I want is salsa. 

 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Jam Time

Leonard
 

I made four batches of strawberry jam this year because I now use so much of it for thank you gifts and in care packages. My friends love to receive a jar of homemade jam, and nothing says, "Love you! Thinking of you!" better than a jar of Nova Scotia strawberry jam. 


I'll send two large bottles down to Georgia for my sister's family at Christmas, and my best friend, Sarah, gets a large jar every year on her birthday. When I showed her this picture, she said, "I love your jam so much, I don't care if there's cat hair in it!" 

Now that's a good friend. 

Remi

Now, honestly, there is no fear of cat hair in the jam. I don't pick the cats up when I'm cooking/baking/jamming, and I wipe all the berries off with a wet cloth before smushing them. 

After the jam was all made and this box was empty, I put it down on the floor and the cats lie in it every so often. Cats and boxes, I tell you - it's definitely a thing in our house. 

But better than the cute photos is the fact that every time I make strawberry jam, I know that my mother taught me to do this. I still use the equipment she used and I like that continuity. I'm not really a resister of change, because I've experienced too much to try and hold it back, but it's nice when some things don't change, like recipes and old pots and cats sitting in boxes. 


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Finally, It's Summer!


In the park by the harbour in Pugwash.

You know you're busy when you don't write for three weeks -- and it's past the middle of July before you have your first ice cream cone of the season! 

Crazy times. I worked most of June, then had an online writing program for ten days in July, then was asked if it was possible for The Alphabet of Faith (my next book) to be ready for the fall. Thanks to Nova Scotia's lockdown in May, I had all the pieces to a second draft so I said yes, and spent three very intense days editing and tweaking and putting the book together to submit. 

And get this: the designer for the publisher contacted me to say he read my book, Field Notes, shortly after it was published! Talk about a small world. He lives in British Columbia but has property in Bear River (down by Digby) so he obviously was in the province when Field Notes released. I can't believe I have that kind of connection with the person who will design my next book -- a book that has a rather creative format (not traditional essays in paragraph form), and he is quite happy to work with that format. 

So the ice cream was a reward for getting the book submitted but the flavour -- which I've never had before because look at those weird ice cream colours! -- was research for a poem I'm working on featuring Moon Mist flavour, a flavour that is unique to the East Coast. 

And the ice cream tasted amazing! The colours taste wonderful and it's my new favourite flavour.

I love when job when the research involves puppies and ice cream! 


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Hatching and Heartbreak

 

We had so much fun raising a chick with surrogate hen Phyllis that when she went broody in May again, I stuck three eggs underneath her. It takes 21 days to hatch a chick out of a viable egg; one egg broke early on but chicks hatched out of the two remaining eggs -- one on a Friday and one on the Saturday but neither thrived. The chick died almost immediately. The second one made it into the nursery but couldn't walk properly; it kept falling over. 
I think Phyllis killed. It had blood on it when I went to check on the pair of them, and Phyllis wanted back in the coop where she went right back to the nest box she'd been sitting in for three weeks. 

So I put four eggs underneath her this time; by the end of the three weeks, we were down to one. I don't know if the eggs break by accident, or because they weren't fertilized so no one is growing in them. 
I happened to be standing in the doorway of the coop when suddenly, Phyllis flew off out of the nest box and took off outside to have a dirt bath.
I checked and the egg had pipped -- there was a hole that the chick had broken open. 
I fetched Phyllis back inside and as I put her back into the nest box, she stepped on the egg/chick so there it was. 

Phyllis was such a good mom last year, I trust her instincts; I assume she knows what she's doing. It's nature and natural, after all. No one needs my help. 

Last summer, our one chick that hatched was good right from the start, and within an hour was starting to fluff up and cheep and sit underneath Mom. These three chicks never seemed to have their legs working. When I checked on Phyllis and the chick, after supper, she didn't have it under her -- it was sitting to one side, wet and cool.
So I scooped it up and figured I'd hold it until it died. 

Eventually, Dwayne came to see why I was sitting on the step of the coops.
"Just put it back under Phyllis," he said. 
"But she will ignore it. She might kill it." 
So I took it into the house, waiting for it to die. 

It didn't die. The warmth of my hand kept it going. So I thought, well, you never know, maybe it's just runty and needs more TLC than Phyllis is prepared to give. I looked up how to feed it and discovered that a chick doesn't need food for 24 hours, at the outside 48, since it eats the egg inside before it hatches out.
Something like that. 
So I held it in my hand all night, keeping it warm. I lined a berry box with tissue and feathers, and whenever I placed it inside -- in order to go to the basement to clean the kitty litter or have my bath -- it cheeped strongly. But I couldn't get it to stand up, and it's eyes were closed. 
We slept upstairs in the spare room so I could close the door and keep the cats out; eight hours with a chick lying in my hands. My poor shoulders! I barely slept but the chick survived the night. 
There was no miracle improvement, though; her baby feathers fluffed up but her legs wouldn't hold her up.

All day Saturday, I kept a glass bowl with a lid half-filled with hot water -- all the chick needed was warmth; when she was cold, she cheeped. This is what chicks do: they cheep for their mother, they cheep when they're cold and when they're hungry. When I worked upstairs in my office, my little chick sat on my hand, eyes closed, resting her head on my thumb since she could only hold it up a few seconds. 



Mostly, she lay around in the box on the warm bowl, or in my hand. She liked to sit up, on her bum. I think she wanted to be well, she wanted to be moving around but her legs wouldn't let her. She couldn't hold her head up. This was similar to the second chick from the first hatch, but it was able to stumble around a bit before it fell over. It didn't appear likely this one would ever walk; she just flopped over as soon as I stopped propping her up.
I tried to feed her a couple of times throughout Saturday but she didn't respond to the stimulus of dipping her beak in mushy food/water. 

She just wanted to be held. Comfort. Could she feel the pulse in my thumb? Could she feel my breathing as she lay against my stomach? Was it simply my living energy she sensed? 

When I wanted to have a bath, Dwayne held her and they watched TV together. She didn't cheep; she was content to be held in his hand. 

But I couldn't do another night like Friday night, and I couldn't wake up every half an hour to heat the water; I needed my sleep, and I had a church service to do on Sunday morning. She'd have to sleep in her box in our bathroom (protected from the cats). So at bedtime, I cozied up her box even more and put the box on a towel in the bathroom sink; if she crawled out, she'd be safe. She cheeped loudly for a long while, breaking my heart, but she survived the night again. 
And she did indeed crawl out, looking for heat. Looking for me, for the breathing, for the energy? She was wedged between the side of the sink and towel. I thought she was dead; her body was cool but she was alive. She would have been much cozier in the box. 
I couldn't believe she was still alive. Such a strong little chick. 

Her legs still wouldn't hold her, though, and the left one was starting to cross over the right; did Phyllis break its hip in the nest box when she stepped on the egg? Whatever happened, this chick was not going to walk and she wasn't eating. Her eyes weren't open either. She simply wasn't thriving and she wouldn't improve.
So I made the decision to begin comfort care. I would keep her warm but not hold her any longer; I'd let her pass away. She cheeped every so often, but by mid-afternoon, she'd stopped cheeping, then she stopped moving when I pulled back the cloth to check on her. 
She died at suppertime, 48 hours after she was born. 
After supper, I buried her in the new garden along the back deck; next year, she'll come up as lily of the valleys. 

I thought a lot about this: Did my interference cause this? If I had just left the coop, let Phyllis have her dirt bath, let the chick hatch out on her own time, would this chick be fine today? Did I mess up the natural hatching process? Does the mother always leave the chick to hatch by itself, or did Phyllis know she had a quick moment to get outside and poop and drink some water and roll in the dirt before heading back into the chick? 

Did my interference cause Phyllis to injure the chick? And how did Phyllis know it wasn't viable so soon? If I had left it in the nest box with Phyllis, would it have died quicker, would she have put it out of its misery sooner -- when it was too young to know anything more? 

I will never know if I screwed up or if this was just the way it was going to happen. I do know next time, I'll let nature -- and Phyllis - do it their way, without my useless human help. 
 
I felt bereft all day Monday. I missed my little friend. She was fuzzy and warm, and she cheeped. It was fun to have her around, and I'd been looking forward to the chick experience again. I was quite willing to have a blind chicken as a pet, but not one that couldn't walk or had to be forced to eat (if that was even possible). 

I buried her with the tissues and the feathers, and some sweet-smelling clover and daisies. I lay her down on leaves from my bleeding heart plant. 
I never let anything I bury - hen or bird or chipmunk - lay on the cold dirt or be covered directly by dirt. Everyone gets a respectful burial from me. A life, however short, is honoured. 
I usually bury my birds and animals in the field but I wanted this little chick near the house where she spent her first and last days on earth. 

"Thank you, little chick," I said. "It was nice spending the weekend with you." 

She looked the same in death as she did in life, curled up, legs tucked in, a little fluff ball, sleeping. 



Friday, June 25, 2021

News


Hello, there, friends!

I have two bits of news to share with you. 

The first six months of 2021 turned out to be pretty exciting, and seem to prove that "things happen in three's". It's nice because the last eighteen months -- well before the pandemic -- I was wondering what I was doing with my life and planning to give up writing and the church work in order to have a "real" job that would give me some financial stability. 

If the book news in April -- about The Alphabet of Faith -- confirmed that I'm not to give up writing or church work, this bit of news will seem like overkill: I've sold another book! 
At the end of May, I found out I'll be publishing another book -- in a whole other genre than anything I've written before: A children's picture book! 

It's called "I Built A Cabin" and the photo is of a Grade 3 student's drawing of the story when I first workshopped the manuscript with a friend's class. Yep, it's inspired by my life in the country -- woods and a river, osprey and owls, a bear and a raccoon, just to name a few of the Nova Scotia animals that play a role in this fun little book. 
Wow! I'm going to have a children's picture book published. Even though I wrote it and pitched it, I'm still in shock -- but I'm absolutely thrilled. It publishes in 2023. 

It just goes to show: You just never know. 
It's not about giving up writing, it's about trying something new. 

Which leads me to my second piece of news: I have a teaching job. It's short-term but it's the perfect step for me to take in getting some classroom experience at the elementary level. Substitute teaching really isn't the same as having your own class, and even two months makes a difference. 
I'm working September and October to finish of the regular teacher's mat leave so I have some reading on child development to do over the summer. Just to get into the mindset of five and six year olds before school starts again. 

Maybe I'll get a swing set and kiddie pool for the backyard -- that should help me adopt a child-like attitude!


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Eighty and Greaty!


Today is my mother's 80th birthday. 

I've been so busy working, I haven't really written a proper tribute to share publicly, but don't panic! When we were in lockdown last month here in Nova Scotia, I had the time to put together a large book of photos and her writing. It turned out beautifully and the best of her writing is together in one book; there's a copy for her grandchildren, as well. 

So that's where my effort went, into her gift. Believe me, while typing up her stories, I kept starting to shout down the hallway about something I was reading but remembered I couldn't let on I was doing something special for her birthday! 

It's clear I get my writing talent from my mother. And she was good. First a poet then a writer of letters to her family once she'd moved out of Toronto. The famous "Epistles". She was funny and clever and creative. I'm sorry she didn't pursue more of her writing, or more of her music because she's equally talented in both. It makes me grateful I get to share my writing career with her. 

1956

Here's one of her early poems: 

BESIDE THE SHORE

The waves lap softly at the shore
As they have done since days of yore.
The bees that buzz so loudly near
Come close to me without a fear.

The water lilies that float so calmly
Look to the sun that shines so warmly
And then I feel a fragrant breeze
That gently stirs the grass and trees.

It’s oh, so peaceful and quiet here
Without the crowds of the city near.
A fish jumps, a bullfrog roars,
Here beside these sparkling shores.

Composed at Little Mud Turtle Lake, Coboconk, Ontario, Summer 1957, where her family had their  cottage.

Interesting that I got Mother's writing talent, and my sister got her musical talent. An even split between her two daughters. That's just the way she is.  And we all love to cook, and go on road trips, which is what we're doing today to celebrate this big birthday - heading out to Peggy's Cove for lunch (after visiting a bookstore, of course). 


It's been ten years since we built the addition on our house here in Nova Scotia so Mum could move in with us; I suppose we'll still be in this house when Mother celebrates her 90th birthday! 
If there is one word to describe my mother, her life and our life together, that word is

laughter. 

We have good times. 
I have a good mother. 
I have a mother in great health - eighty and greaty! 
We are celebrating her today. 


Her graduation photo from teachers' college



Saturday, June 19, 2021

Happiness is the Sound of Buzzing Bees


There were at least half a dozen "potato pollinators" in these lupins when I took this picture last night. So that's good news because we love bumblebees. 

The gardens are planted which means we're into evening watering now, and the black flies are vicious this year. I'm afraid to see how big the mosquitoes are! But we're really windy this year so I'm not sure how my raised beds are going to fare; they get lots of sun but it turns out, I forgot to account for the wind tunnel that is our backyard. Fourteen years and I still don't have the hang of this gardening thing. Oh, well, as long as the salsa garden produces the ingredients to make salsa, I can live without the lettuce. 

It's been awhile since I've posted here because since June 2, I've been working full-time providing literacy support to students in Grades Primary through Three. What a great job, although when one of your three part-time job suddenly goes to part-time hours, there's a lot of juggling that happens. My brain has to operate in three different ways. 

Added onto that is editing essays for the book coming out next April, keeping up with my Thanatology course, and planting gardens -- it's been a really busy spring. 

What bothered me most about the past three weeks was that my creative juices dried up. I've been writing poetry this year and I wrote only one poem in all that time, and it was a way of dealing with a friend's family tragedy -- I couldn't have not written that poem if I'd tried. 

So that teaching job has wrapped up and my church work is down to two Sundays -- and now I'm anticipating my summer off. I know the two months of summer will fly by and I won't feel like I'm getting anything done but the plan is for writing, weeding, and reading. I don't want to touch any of my non-fiction books; I just want to enjoy fiction, fiction, fiction for two months. 

Fiction and flowers. 

Bee balm and bumblebees.

My chair in the gazebo. 

Strawberry jam and salsa. 

The perfect plan for summer in Nova Scotia. 



Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Words Are Not Enough


I couldn't sleep last night. I tossed and turned. I don't feel guilty for being the descendent of white immigrants (my family arrived after the settlers took over the land) but I'm tired of being shocked and horrified and frustrated by what we put the Indigenous peoples through, and continue to put them through. Hundreds of years and through generations of abuse and suffering, denigration and dehumanization. I don't get it - how anyone could treat other human beings, let alone children, the way we've treated the Indigenous people. And to call them savages? Their spirituality is beautiful and enviable. Those of us who feel spirit in nature can absolutely relate to Native spirituality.

It's hard to be a member of a church, to be a Christian, and know these atrocities were committed by members of the Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches. Here's what radio personality Charles Adler of Vancouver said, "The church's mission was to 'take the Indian' out of the children. It seems they took the Christ out of Christian." 

Do you know the federal government is involved in litigation against the survivors of the residential schools? Likely to deny them all the compensation they deserve. Generations of government-and-church sanctioned trauma and you want to nickel-and-dime them? 

I don't write about this -- I tend to listen and learn, and I don't want to say the wrong thing, I keep my privileged white mouth shut; I also don't know what to DO that will make a difference. I mean, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women issue -- that's horrific too. But governments and government agencies ignore the truth, ignore the details, and refuse to change. That's the problem. The System simply won't budge. 
And it kept me awake last night. Where is the fairness? Where is the kindness and mercy and justice? 

I don't write about this but on Saturday, the following poem shouted to be written so I did what I do now: I opened a blank document, placed my fingers on the keyboard, and let it flow out of me. When I posted it to my Facebook page, fresh and rough, I encouraged those with more understanding of the issue to correct or suggest changes, but no one did. It was shared 27 times. 

UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN

(after the discovery of the remains of children
buried in a forgotten grave
at the former residential school in Kamloops, BC)

An Indigenous woman challenged,   

“Imagine finding the bodies of 215 children
buried in the yard at your local elementary school”

and the collective white mind replied, 
“But that wouldn’t happen.”

Exactly. 

We cannot imagine 
We don’t know what it’s like
We are afraid of the truth 

So we deny
we ignore
we mute 
we refuse to let the grief and rage
of those who tell their stories
of abuse and terror and suffering
that are beyond our imaginations
infiltrate our minds
and bleed into our hearts
just as their life bled from them 

In a burial register
the name, age, gender, cause of death, 
dates of death and burial
and the location of burial
are written

on a single line

Those Indigenous children
forcibly – legally – 
removed
from their families
from their homes
from their land and their culture

turned over to the collective white mind
whose job it was to transform them
by any means

into … what, exactly? 

Exactly. 

Even though their spirits resisted
they died or they survived
and they reconciled themselves
to living 
inside the collective white mind

where they were not
worth the ink 
for writing a line in a book
as a record of their existence

where they are not
worth the effort 
of signing on lines  
in recognition of their persistence 

the truth
is not written in ink
but in blood

and dirt


~ by Sara Jewell
 May 29, 2021


 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A Rhubarb Garden - Finally!

 


You may look at this photo of four rhubarb plants growing alongside a garage,
and you may think,
BOOOORRRRIIIING. 
Also: the grass needs trimming. 
And why the flimsy chicken wire fence? To keep the chickens out, of course. 

But I assure you -- this is a very exciting photo!
For two reasons:

1) I have finally -- FINALLY - established a rhubarb patch. After 14 freakin' years in Nova Scotia. I know it's not up to the local standards, I mean, seriously 4 plants? For a proper rural rhubarb patch, there should be at least twenty plants and it should take up a huge amount of space. 
Whatever. Considering I've been trying to establish any kind of rhurbarb patch for six years, I'm calling this a win. 

2) There is HERITAGE rhubarb in that patch. That's what's making my patch a patch, in fact. My two plants, put here last year, were joined a few weeks ago by two plants from my mother-in-law's patch at the home place (what Dwayne calls his family's home on the farm). I'd been meaning to get some rhubarb plants from down at the farm, in order to have some "family rhubarb" growing -- proper thing. But my sister-in-law's big patch was already too mature -- long-established, it grows quickly in the spring -- but Joan remembered that our mother-in-law had a few plants along a shed. She said the plants never took
but I tell you,
they took off when they landed in my garden. 
Normally, a plant has to get rooted and acclimated to a new spot; it may not grow well after transplant. 
Not the "Mary Mattinson Heritage Rhubarb"! They are the plants on the far right and the far left and they are growing faster than the two plants I've been carting around the property since 2015. My original plants grow well, no worries; I get lots of fruit from them. But Mary's rhubarb? Now that's true sturdy country rhubarb there, folks. 

So my small patch -- which may expand as the summer progresses, if I get the urge to dig more garden -- is growing well and making me very happy. 
First we brought "Dad's couch" up from the home place, and now we have "Mom's rhubarb". I love legacies. I love keeping the memories alive, the stories flowing, and the love fertilizing my life with Dwayne. 

I'll stop now. That metaphor might get out of control! 


Monday, May 24, 2021

In Praise of the Potato Pollinator


 

I've been writing a lot of poetry this year. Apparently, once I stopped writing articles and columns, a vein of creative writing opened up. Interesting... and enjoyable. 

It means that every ponder, every phrase, every word has the potential to form a poem. Like the following, formed just as the dog and I were a couple of hundred metres from home at the end of our walk this morning. 

It started with a title -- In Praise of Bumblebees -- followed by the first line -- Dear Bumble --

By the time I fed the pets and sat down with my first cup of coffee, the poem's opening lines had wandered off but I just started writing. Normally, my poetry is spiritual, and serious, so it was nice to write something fun. 

I don't have a photo of a bumblebee at a dandelion but this photo of mine, of the fireweed in late August, shows the bumblebee in flight which is very cool. 


IN PRAISE OF THE POTATO POLLINATOR
 
Dear bumblebee
dear large body
dear small wings
dear mystery
 
how you fly
how you lift
what looks bulky and cumbersome
with those papyrean wings
paper and weight
 
as if there is a lightness
inside you
a sense of divine purpose
that levitates you and propels you
forward
into the flowering world
even though that flight
seems impossible
 
It is a miracle
every day
commonplace
ordinary
yet so
extra ordinary
 
for you
king of the dandelions
fuzzy lion of all the flying insects
you
are the great agricultural pollinator
the one who gives us
tomatoes and peppers
blueberries and strawberries
 
the only one who pollinates potatoes
 
without you
dear bumblebee
dear flying mystery masterpiece
dear miracle
 
we would not have
French-fried potatoes
 
So we thank you
dear bumblebee
for the miracle of
turning potatoes
into
fries

~ Sara Jewell  


Saturday, May 22, 2021

Rainy Day in Rural Nova Scotia


 

Absolutely nothing makes me happier than a rainy day. Yesterday's sunshine had me twitching to plant gardens, but I know better -- our clay ground is still too cold -- yet the whole time I was inside working, I felt guilty that I wasn't outside planting. 

Rain is much easier. Only one option with rain. Stay inside and write and read! 

I must say, however, about gardening that moving the greenhouse, pictured to the right of the chicken coop, remains the best thing we ever did -- at least in the last ten years. Digging the pond, which you get just get a hint of at the top of the picture, is a close second, especially when the Canada geese hatch out their goslings. 

I'm in and out of the greenhouse now at least twice a day. I'm hardening off the annuals I bought, and talking to the perennials I'm waiting to plant - Lily of the Valley! First time ever. Why do I bother to say, "No more gardens!" There always seems to be a spot that needs plants and flowers, and I'm happy to oblige. 

The greenhouse is a very relaxing space, even as crowded as it is with shelving and bags of soil and planters waiting to be fill. And reams of chicken wire used to keep the chickens out of the gardens! They can scratch a garden bed to death, let me tell you. The greenhouse is warm and quiet and, I don't know why, but soothing. It's just a space, but at the edge of the field, and filled with plants and gardeny things, it feels like a little house of hope of possibilities. 

Let's hope the two sunflower seedlings I dug up from the garden under Mother's balcony feel the same way, and keep growing. 




Monday, May 03, 2021

Ospreys Return

 

Not sure how I feel about two ospreys claiming the nest this year. 

Those of you who are loyal followers of this blog know the last few years have not been kind to the ospreys. Those of you who follow this blog and read my book will know these ospreys have been constant throughout my life in rural Nova Scotia; they claimed the nest the summer after Dwayne and I married. 

The last time babies fledged from this nest was the summer of 2017. In each of the following two years, one of the parents disappeared and the babies perished, as eggs then the following as young birds dying in the nest in the heat of July. The grief from that was excruciating; these birds are like family to us and to see them suffering, and being unable to help, was horrible.  

Also, eagles have moved in across the river so the ospreys may fish elsewhere and someone near us has a fish pond. Did he shoot one or both of our ospreys? (This is illegal; ospreys are protected migratory birds.) 
The eagles also prey on the fledglings; in August of 2015, all three not-yet-flying fledglings were picked off by an eagle. 

Oh my heart.
I never thought I cry at the sight of the ospreys returning to the nest. It was always a moment of relief and joy. They're back! It was good for our hearts; now we are filled with dread. 

Last year, ospreys checked out the nest but did not stay. We thought we were "safe" this year, figured with no babies, there was no one to come back, but this morning, one osprey is sitting on the nest and the other is bringing in sticks. 

We need a summer of the ospreys like the one I wrote about in my book; we need to hear them calling to each other and watch them bringing in fish and celebrate the babies flying. We desperately need to experience the joy of those first ten years with these beloved neighbours. But we are fearful, for them and for ourselves. We need their success this year; we can't handle more tragedy.
Neither can their species.



These aren't great photos. I was using my cell phone because it was handy and I couldn't get close because I didn't want to disturb them. They're not used to us. 


Saturday, May 01, 2021

A Poem: COVIDeer

Photo courtesy of  Shaun Whalen - thanks, Shaun! 


COVIDeer

She grazes close to the house
on her own
feeding on the new spring grass

She eats
ears flicking
then picks up her head, looks around
listens
her ears unmoving

She bends again
eats another mouthful
then again
her head comes up and she looks around
a sound spooks her
and she runs across the low end of the field
behind the chicken coop and the shed
but she’s not running fast
just enough
just in case

She pauses along the far side of the yard
where the grass is growing long and green already
bends down to eat
walks forward
stands and looks around 
for the longest time

walks
and eats
and listens
and looks

Her journey is moments
relaxed grazing
to nourish her body
total alertness
to keep herself safe
graceful and watchful
in equal measure

Ears and eyes tuned to the world 
what was that?
do I need to pay attention?
do I need to run?
or stand quietly?
am I safe here?

And I think
she is
us

our pandemic journey is moments
tweets and posts and videos
watching numbers rise and fall
walking alone
staying close to home
but ever vigilant
for danger
listening
observing
do I comment?
or stay quiet?
gracious and malicious
in equal measure

A virus stalks us
hunting us down
in the air
without a sound

Our eyes and ears are tuned to the world
are we safe here?

We are
the deer


~ SJ, April 26, 2021



Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Dad's Couch


 Once my husband's parents had moved out of their house -- forced by ailment and age to leave and never return -- Dwayne's conversations with them often included a mention of belongings. 

Dwayne always wanted the dining room table but his father insisted the sideboard, lovely but large, had to go with it, and we don't have room or need of that sideboard. So Dwayne let that go. Even though his father died last summer, Dwayne still honoured his wish. 

I was looking for a curio cabinet and his mother's would have suited but it's still full of seventy years of ... curios... so we bought one ourselves (and it has the rounded glass sides I prefer). 

After his brother passed away suddenly, in January, the future of the old farmhouse changed quickly. Funny how plans bandied about as ideas and dreams, as "some day", drop into high gear forward when someone dies. All of a sudden, the plans for a grandson to renovate the farmhouse and move in with his family are taking place now, rather than in a few years. This is happening because Dwayne's sister-in-law is all alone on the property. 

So there was a visit to the old house, Dwayne and I, to pick out things we wanted. Dwayne looked at a lot of things and I'd say, "Do you want this?" but ultimately he'd put it down and say, "No, I don't want it."

This befuddled me; I'm all about trinkets and tokens and memorabilia -- for the memories, for the connection. Still, I put his dad's wallet and some notepads with his dad's name on them in my pocket. I have my father's wallet; I felt Dwayne (now the only living son) should keep his own father's wallet, too. 

Last fall, we got rid of the couch after we installed a fireplace insert; we couldn't have the couch blocking the fireplace and I didn't want the big picture window blocked either. So I spent the winter trying to figure out what to do and I settled on the idea of a daybed, something we could sleep on but wouldn't block the window. At the time, I suggested bringing over the daybed from his parents' kitchen, but Dwayne quickly nixed that idea. 

Until it worked away at him. Until one day he said, "Let's use the daybed from the house." 

It's old; it's VINTAGE. And it's shorter and narrower than a modern daybed so thankfully, the original mattress is still in good shape -- they built things to last back then, didn't they? -- so we have the whole ensemble in our house now. My intention all along has been to cover it in blankets and pillows, and I keep adding them. 

Every so often, Dwayne lies down on "Dad's couch" and has a nap. Just like his father did in the kitchen of the house Dwayne grew up in. A lifetime ago. 

I have his father's wallet. He has his father's daybed. Memories and connections reminding us of who we are and who we came from. 


Sunday, April 18, 2021

A Poem: Words To Speak

Memorial - Photo by Robert Short, from cbc.ca website

WORDS TO SPEAK
by Sara Jewell

I keep coming back to a set of words spoken 
by a woman in Ottawa in October 2014
as Corporal Nathan Cirillo 
lay bleeding to death beneath our national war memorial
after being shot by a lone gunman on a rampage

Barbara Winters was walking to work
when she heard the shots
when she ran towards the danger
when she lay down alongside Corporal Cirillo 
and whispered to him, over and over,  
“You are loved. You are brave. You are good.”

Today we remember and honour and mourn 
the first anniversary of the mass killings in rural Nova Scotia
that took 22 people –
parents, spouses, children, siblings, neighbours, friends, colleagues – 
loved ones
cherished ones – 
from their families and communities 

We remember those who rushed out of the safety of their homes 
and lost their lives trying to help, to save:
“You are loved. You are brave. You are good.” 

We remember those whose little peace of heaven 
fuelled roaring flames that reached towards the stars:
“You are loved. You are brave. You are good.”

We remember those who started their day 
with a walk or a drive to work but did not return home:
“You are loved. You are brave. You are good.”

We remember Constable Heidi Stevenson 
who lost her life confronting evil masquerading as good:
“You are loved. You are brave. You are good.”

If those are words we speak to the dying, 
what words do we speak to the survivors, 
those who lived and worked through that terror? 
those who live with the loss of people they loved?

We honour the police officers and firefighters and paramedics 
who ran toward the danger because it is their work: 
“You are loved. You are brave. You are good.” 

We honour the leaders – municipal and spiritual –
who offered comfort and support with their own broken hearts:
“You are loved. You are brave. You are good.”
 
We honour the families and neighbours and friends
who seek answers that will never change what happened:
“You are loved. You are brave. You are good.”

We mourn with them as we remember: 
You are loved. You are brave. You are good. 
You are not alone. 

Those are the only words there are
then
now 

There are no other words 
for their grief
for their disbelief
for their despair, their rage, their if-onlys
There are no other words
for their loss
for their isolation
for their memories, their wishes, their what-ifs

We can only lay down alongside them today 
as they bleed from reopened wounds
and whisper over and over, 
“You are loved. You are brave. You are good. 
We are here. We are strong.
You are not alone.”


In memory of:
Tom Bagley – Kristen Beaton – Jamie Blair – Greg Blair – Joy Bond – Peter Bond – Corrie Ellison – Gina Goulet – Dawn Madsen Gulenchyn – Frank Gulenchyn – Lillian Hyslop – Alanna Jenkins – Lisa McCully – Sean McLeod – Heather O’Brien – Jolene Oliver – Heidi Stevenson – Emily Tuck – Aaron Tuck – E. Joanne Thomas – Joey Webber – John Zahl 

April 18 & 19, 2020


Thursday, April 08, 2021

Hallelujah! I sold a book!


 I've been a lay worship leader since 2013, and since 2015, I've been working almost every Sunday at the United Church in Oxford, Nova Scotia. 

It's work I enjoy doing, and seem to have an aptitude for, as it uses my training in teaching, broadcasting and journalism, and my skills in researching, planning, writing and presenting. I have never aspired to be more than a lay worship leader, never wanted to become a minister. What I enjoy doing is creating worship services -- planning the words and music for worship -- and that's what I'm satisfied doing. 

So it's interesting that this church I serve has a huge stained glass window at the front of the church, over the choir loft, that features a traditional (and rather fancy) Jesus Christ in the centre, while all the people around him are modern to the time of the window's creation, likely the 1940s. (If you look at most stained glass windows in the churches, they usually depict Jesus during his lifetime.) It's rather remarkable to have this modern stained glass depiction of men and women and children as labourers and managers and parents, etc. (There's no diversity, of course; everyone, including Jesus, is white and falling into traditional gender roles).

My point is: There is a writer in the stained glass window. A journalist. Someone struggling to write a novel. Someone rewriting their memoir for the fifth time. I've always felt this was "a sign" I was in the right place doing the right work. 

And once you hear my news, you may agree. 

Because I have sold my second book. After four years of pitching a memoir, a collection of essays and a novel, after four years writing and editing and submitting, after four years of not hearing back or getting rejected, I sold a book in a month. In one year, I did the work, pitched the idea and sold the book. 

Last year, from January to June, I did a sermon series called "The Alphabet of Faith". 26 Sundays, 26 letters. 

And next year, those 26 sermons will be published as 26 essays in a book called "The Alphabet of Faith". It will be published by Wood Lake Books, a Canadian publisher based in British Columbia who has been publishing books about faith for over 70 years. They are a progressive Christian publisher which is why my second book and I are a great fit. I'm really looking forward to this new publishing experience. 

I'm delighted. I'm relieved. I'm excited. I'm apprehensive. This is really going to put my spiritual writing out there in the world in a way I've never been brave and daring enough to do. But there's no point in holding back or being scared -- I've made enough mistakes in the past ten years that I've learned important lessons (double-checking EVERYTHING being one of them!) so I'm going to head out onto this new path with trust and joy and total confidence I can do this. And more. 

Amen to that! 





Friday, March 26, 2021

Getting Mugged

 

Now that it's spring, I needed a new mug. 
When Mother came home today with one for her and one for me, I held mine up to my husband and said, "My spring mug!" 
"Your what?"
The look on his face reminded me of something I wrote after our renovation ten years ago... 


Gentlemen, if you’re going to ask the woman in your life the question, “Do you really think you need...?” don’t be surprised at the response. There’s only one reasonable answer to give you, and that’s The Look. 

Familiar, centuries-old, perhaps even genetically implanted, this facial expression is a mixture of disbelief and disdain. It is usually followed by the word, “Yes.”

Shoes. Scarves. Hats. Magazines. Nail polish. Cookbooks. Cats. It doesn’t matter what the collection is, if it’s in a woman’s house, it’s important. If it means something to her, it’s unquestionable.  

My husband and I were slowly putting the house back together after the renovations are completed. Since cooking was a priority once we’d moved back in, all the boxes containing pots and utensils and graters and measuring spoons were unpacked first; the only boxes left to unpack were two boxes of mugs. My mugs.

“Do you really think you need so many mugs?” my husband asked after I announced that my least-favourite mugs would have to go on the top shelf because I couldn’t reach it without a stepping stool.

I froze, mug in hand, and stared at him. This from the man who uses the same two mugs every day for every beverage. This time, however, instead of giving him The Look and The Word, I tried a new tactic: The Explanation.

“Well, each of these mugs serves a specific purpose,” I began. “Some are for morning coffee, others are for afternoon tea. Within those categories, they are further subdivided into mugs for perked coffee or instant coffee, mugs for black tea, mugs for green tea. Of course, if it’s chai tea in the morning, it’s a certain mug, the one that matches my yoga mat since that’s what I’m doing when I drink that tea, BUT if it’s chai tea in the afternoon, I use that tall brown mug there...”

By now, my husband’s eyes had glazed over and he had this strange half-smile on his face.

“You’re doing a great job, honey,” he murmured before stumbling off, shaking his head as though there was some strange buzzing sound inside it. 

I looked down at the mug in my hand. It was dark blue, picked up at a pottery shop on the Island many summers ago during a day trip with my parents. What a shame my husband walked away so soon. Every one of my two dozen mugs had a story and I would have gladly shared each one with him, over a pot of blueberry tea...which goes in the dark blue mug.


~ by Sara Jewell - cross-posted on Facebook 


Monday, March 15, 2021

My Favourite Sight


I will never, ever tire of seeing this view out my bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen windows. In any season, looking out and seeing the chicken coop makes me happy, makes me feel content -- even when I'm fretting about things. It appears my current bout of fretting and anxiety and even despair has passed; I'm fortunate that these things do pass for me, since they are career-related. The past year and a half certainly makes me more empathetic to those who struggle daily with depression and anxiety. 

Speaking of making people happy, the book sale - which ran again on Sunday because of low turnout on Saturday - raised over $600 for a local, rural library. Very pleased about that. And it was nice to have conversations with people - live and in person! - about books.

We woke up to a couple of inches of snowing that arrived silently during the night. Apparently, it is only snowing down river this morning; Dwayne drove into town and says "half a mile up the road, there's nothing". Oh, the micro-climates in Nova Scotia, and we seem to live in a micro micro-climate! It may seem unfair to teachers and students to have a snow day on the first day of March  Break, but I thought it a good day to stay in my pajamas and read; that lasted until 11 a.m. Shouldn't have turned my phone on.

As much as I love this view, I don't write much about country living anymore; it does develop a rhythm and a sameness. I value that, even if I chafe at the isolation (not related to the pandemic but because resources and opportunities are so far away from where I live). It seems my writing is moving into a new area: my spiritual writing may be taking me in a new direction. That will require exploring new ways to get my thoughts and ideas out into the world -- a new blog? a video channel? what else is out there?! -- but none of that needs to happen soon. I realized that I was trying too hard and putting pressure on myself to create my "next big thing" without actually knowing what that entails or what I need. So I put the brakes on. Actually, I braked, pulled the car off the road, and parked it. 

Figuratively, I got out of that car and walked away. Right now, I consider myself "laying fallow" like a field, taking a rest, resting my heart and my mind in order to rejuvenate them, taking a break from all the striving and pushing and not getting anywhere; it's time to lay back and watch the clouds float by. I've done enough work that I can rest and be still, let the soil of my spirit regain nutrients -- be inspired again -- and see what road opens up because of that work. 

And you know, living where life is quiet and simple, relatively unchanging, and predictable still seems the perfect place for a writer like me to live. The chicken coop remains my symbol of belonging and contentment, as well as a reminder that sometimes you have to break the eggs in order to make something new... 


Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Every Sunrise, Every Sunset

 

As I go through my books to see what I'm willing to part with in our book sale -- and that's hard because so often, I'll let a book go then need it for an article or sermon -- I'm realizing how many pages are dog-eared to mark important ideas or ideas that I liked.

I found this one in Sharon Butala's memoir of moving from the city to the country, in Saskatchewan: 

"In my reading and occasionally in conversation with urban visitors, I hear or read people either saying directly or implying indirectly that true rural people don't notice or appreciate the beauty in which they live. Although I don't say so, the arrogance and ignorance of such remarks always makes me angry, implying as it does that rural people lack humanity, are somehow an inferior branch of the human species, that beauty is beyond their ken. It is one thing to come from  the city and be overwhelmed by the beauty of Nature and to speak of it, and another thing entirely to have lived in it so long that it has seeped into your bones and your blood and is inseparable from your own being, so that it is part of you and requires no mention or hymns of praise."

~ The Perfection of the Morning: An Apprenticeship in Nature, (2004), page 89

Having moved from the city to rural Nova Scotia nearly twenty years ago, having lived here in rural Nova Scotia for almost 14 years, I know what Butala is writing about. I am still in awe of the huge sky and the sprawling fields and all the trees [that are left], by the deer and rabbit and coyote tracks, by the creaking of the ice on the river, by the eagles flying overhead.

There will never be a day when I don't notice, when I don't appreciate. Because I'm still delighted to realize I live here, under that big sky, alongside that winding river, beneath the wings of the eagle. 

But my husband, A TRUE RURAL PERSON, he understands this space, this place, these woods and fields and rivers in a way I never will. He doesn't notice or appreciate in the way I do - consciously, intentionally, vocally. His noticing, his appreciating is done in breath, in heart beat, in eye blink, in the subtle twitch of an ear. Woven into his genetic fabric, through several generations, he doesn't even know he's noticing, isn't even aware he's appreciating. 

With his chronic pain, and his frustration at not being able to do the things outside that he used to do and wants to do, I think Dwayne is even more in tune; grief has a way of honing the senses, of focusing on what is lost. Yet I can't help but hope the sky and fields and woods and river are healing, even if there is no cure for what ails him. 

The Butala book is staying on my bookshelf, I think. 



Saturday, March 06, 2021

BOOK SALE!



Mother and I usually donate books to the Cumberland Public Library's annual book sale but, thanks to the pandemic, that didn't happen last year and, thanks to the pandemic, it's not happening this year. That means there are A DOZEN boxes of books clogging the upstairs hallway.

My husband fears the whole upstairs is going to collapse on him (I've said this before - because he keeps saying this - yeesh). 

So we need to get rid of some books. 

At the same time, the Oxford branch of the CPL  is moving into its new location -- and it needs money to buy stuff! So we're holding this BOOK SALE as a FUNDRAISER for our local library.

Saturday, March 13

9 am to noon

My house on Route 301 - there will be a sign at our driveway.

(If you're up for a drive & need more specific directions, email me at jewellofawriter "at" gmail dot com)

There will also be HOUSEHOLD STUFF for sale, with those proceeds going to the "new" Oxford library as well. 

It would be really nice to have the hallway to my office free and clear again! I feel like it's been a long time since it was a proper hallway.


Notes: I know that font in the graphic is hard to read but it's very cool. Also, that is not my country road but it, too, was a cool photo. There is very little in me that is practical. I know the rules but I choose to follow my heart!