Category Archives: This and That

The First of July.

Today is the 154th anniversary of Canada becoming a country, rather than a collection of British colonies. Happy Canada Day to those who are celebrating.

I may set this post to “no comments.”   I don’t want to launch into political debate here. I just wish to mark the day while I sort out my own complicated and conflicted feelings.

The Canada I believed in — the one I thought I was part of — does not exist. But I’m slowly realizing that it can.

With a lot of hard work, compassion, education, humility, and — most of all — listening, this can become the country I thought it was.

December Morning

I am blessed to live where I do — in a small city along a bay off the Atlantic Ocean.  From my driveway, I can be at any one of five beaches within ten minutes’ driving.  I can be at the edge of the mighty Saint John River within five minutes.  And within fifteen minutes, I can be in the middle of a forest where I will see very few — if any — people.

This morning, my husband, our dog, and I went for a drive.  The plan was to take some photographs and to simply see what there was to see today.  Our wanderings found us at the edge of a lake, where a thin skim of ice skirted the edges.

Have you ever heard or seen a lake “breathe”?  It is quite something.  As the water moves, it pushes against the air trapped under the ice, causing a shifting pattern of light and dark, and making a creaking noise.

In short, it is mesmerizing.  Amazing what we can witness when we take the time to sit and be present.

Back in the Writing Space

I have been intending to come back here for so long.

This small room in our house was labelled SEWING ROOM on the blueprints we found in the attic.  When I lived alone in the house for the two months before we were married, it was my bedroom, and for twenty-four years, I have planned to use it as my writing room.

I have a wonderful desk here — made from an old pump organ that sung its songs to the heavens in an unknown little country church at the turn of the 20th century.  But for the majority of the last seven years, the desk became a place where I just tossed things that were in my way, and it waited — lonely — for me to come write.  And I never did.

Tonight that changed.  In the space of 45 minutes, I cleared off the desk, put away books, set up the Keurig, and prepared my writing space.  This is my first blog post written here, but it will not be my last.  Listening to the rain hitting the windows, I am so happy to be sitting here writing.

I have been intending to come back here for so long.  Perhaps I didn’t think I deserved it.

The First Snow

Sometimes I think I am the worst possible example of a Canadian when it comes to all things winter.  I can’t skate, I don’t like to ski, I face-plant when snowshoeing, and I have an annual “Countdown to Spring” on Facebook that is either revered or reviled, depending on the commenter.  (113 days and about 16 hours as of this posting, in case you’re wondering.)

So when I heard the F-word (“flurries”) in the weather forecast, my mood took a nose-dive, and I decided to order my lunch as a treat.  And, of course, the tiny bits of sky dandruff began dancing outside my window at the exact moment I hit “Place Order” on my phone.  (Snow is sneaky like that.)

Snow isn’t that bad, I guess, but its companions Cold and Dark are what do me in.  This time of year, it starts getting dark here shortly after 4 PM.  My distant friend teased me that my “day is like, what? 23 minutes long?”  And that’s exactly how it feels.  So while my winter issues are mostly to do with temperature and lack of light, Snow is guilty by association.

You can imagine my reaction, then, when I went down to the front porch to wait for the pizza courier and saw that the “flurries” were actually sticking to the ground!  My gaze was met by a thin coating of white in the grass and along the curbs, and the sky showed no signs of letting up.

“I didn’t authorize this!” I shouted to the blissfully ignorant sky.  Then I flumped down on the bench in the front porch and watched for my pizza.

As if on cue, the small red car came around the slight curve up the street, approaching my house a bit fast for the conditions.  I watched as the driver hit the brakes just before my driveway and slid, going past my house and stopping in front of the house next door.  Then the reverse lights came on, the car moved quickly, and then slid past my driveway in the opposite direction.

If I weren’t already smiling at this point, the giant grin on the courier’s face as he gave up and got out of the car would have been contagious.

For most of my life in this small city, its citizens were primarily descendants of families with European origins –ones that had been here for decades, if not centuries — but thankfully we have become more diversified, more culturally rich in the last fifteen years.  The last three years, in particular, have seen many newcomers from the Middle East make my hometown theirs as well.    And I could tell, just by the look on his face, that this utterly delighted fellow had never seen snow before.

There was just enough snow down to make things slick under his brand-new boots, as he carried my little pizza box like a precious child, doing his very best to keep it level.  My driveway is very steep, and even after nearly 25 years of living here, I lose my footing once or twice each winter and surrender to gravity.  He was also finding it challenging.

But reenacting “Bambi on Ice” just made the pizza courier laugh, as if this new rule to the game just meant he’d leveled up.  Going two steps forward, and sliding one step back, and roaring with laughter by the time he got to my steps, he seemed quite shocked to look up and see me in the porch.  (The instructions had said “Please leave on top step by front door,” after all.  That didn’t imply a hungry human watching.)

But by now I was grinning just as widely as he was.  “You get used to it,” I called to him.

“I hope not,” the courier replied, climbing my stairs.  “It is so beautiful!”

I thanked him for my pizza, offered a bit of advice (“Walk sideways down the driveway”), and thanked him.  Not just for my pizza, but for allowing me to see the snow through his eyes, even for just a few minutes.

It’s going to be a long winter.  The days will pass one by one.  But I will do my best to remember that grin, and know that, as the flakes drift down, someone out there is not yet used to the beauty of snow.

And maybe I should look harder.