Unexpected Joy in a Little Blue Envelope

The last month or so I’ve been feeling exhausted.  Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, all the personal adverbs … exhausted.  And I know I’m not alone.

Although I do my best to go through my days singing Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” to my cats and dog (“I get knocked down, but I get up again…”), the getting up is getting slower and more difficult each day.  And today was grey and dismal, and just one of those days when the cats were sniffing me for signs of life, and the dog gave up on trying to get me to the car.

And then I checked the mail, and the sight of a little blue envelope with my name on it lit up my face like Broadway.

One of the best things to come out of this past year is that I have found a wonderful community of teacher-writers through Jen Laffin’s Teach Write.

These friends — and they are friends — are spread out around the globe, but we get together via Zoom to write and brainstorm together at sessions like Time to Write and Wake Up and Write.  Outside of those sessions, it’s not unusual for us to reach out to each other via text, Facebook Messenger, email, and — yes — snailmail, like tangible blue envelopes that arrive as complete surprises on the days we seem to need them the most.

Besides reading the fun message about my ever-changing names on Zoom (there are two Karens, so I mix up my moniker regularly) and the other kind words contained within, I really enjoyed the variety of stamps!

The intense gaze of the big cat is definitely my favourite, but the grouping  itself truly makes me smile.  In a way, it reminds me of Time to Write, where we are all different but similar, beautiful souls, who come together to get us where we need to go.

We get knocked down, but we get up again … and We get by with a little help from our friends.

Thank you, my dear teacher-writer friend in Texas.  Your little blue envelope today was exactly the outstretched hand I needed, and you are a blessing.

Love, Karen


This post was created as part of Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Challenge

You can view other writers’ contributions via the comments here.

A Grove of Crows

I come by my love of black-feathered birds naturally.  Long before I knew that my Danish maiden name literally translates to “crow grove”, as a child I would spend hours watching and listening to the raucous birds in the trees around me.

My goodness, they are smart birds.  My fascination with them has only grown into admiration as time has gone on.  At my favourite beach, I have a friend I call Charles; he used to come to sit on a sign post when he saw my car each day.  Unfortunately COVID-19 has disrupted this ritual, along with so much else.  I was sad when I didn’t see him there yesterday.

Today as I sat writing at my desk, I had a feeling I was being watched.  A glance out the window showed me why: a crow was sitting in the branches of the nearby tree, looking in at me — or, more accurately, at my lunch.

His (her?  their?  I didn’t want to presume) head cocked back and forth.  I smiled and shrugged helplessly, gesturing to the window between us.  With a disgusted caw, the bird gave one last head tilt and took off for less-daft human company.

The chances of it being my friend Charles are very slim.  (I live nearly 8 km / 5 miles from the beach, as the crow flies.)

But let’s pretend anyway.


This post was created as part of Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Challenge

You can view other writers’ contributions via the comments here.

Poetry Prompt: Change / Don’t Change

This week, my Tuesday prompts group used today’s 2021 April PAD Challenge prompt from Writer’s Digest.

This poem has been rattling ’round in my heart and head for a very long time, literally twelve years in the making.  Today it finally tumbled out.

Thank you for reading it.

Change / Don't Change

I look at Google Maps
To revisit childhood past;
Plunk Streetview Man down
In front of 8510,
And set the time slider
Back 12 years, to 2009,
And the preceding four decades,
Before it was all erased.

Elizabeth Wilson's house,
Back among the pines and cedars.
Sixty years between us
Makes for an unlikely friendship.
I braid her antique doll's hair,
While she braids mine.

There stands the school,
And the playground,
The old Orange Hall,
And Doris's yellow house
Where she sits on her veranda
And watches and waits to scold.

If I angle it right,
I can see the other landmarks -- 
Houses of people whose names I've always known:
Charlton; Briggs; Livingston; Burton --
And the ancient mountain smiles benevolently
Upon those sheltered in its valley.

But if I angle it wrong,
I can see the machines,
And the unbearable piles of corpses
Of hundreds of trees who
Watched me collecting flowers,
Cheered me chasing squirrels, and
Listened to me singing silly made-up songs,
Sighing back to me in companionable whispers.

Looking at 2021,
It's all gone now, of course.
Obliterated by progress:
"Must get to Fredericton faster."
A highway overpass
My childhood's grave marker.