I’ll take my delights wherever I can get them, no matter how small or out of the ordinary. The hibiscus that survived the winter in the pot at the front door, and now is covered in buds about to bloom – a true unexpected delight.
I can always tell when I am reading a Canadian author. Beyond the place names and history, there is a certain way Canadian authors relate to the land in their writing that is a common thread between them. From W.O. Mitchell, to Farley Mowatt, Alice Munro and Margaret Laurence, Canadian authors have featured the Canadian landscape in their books. I think, given the vastness of the Canadian landscape, this may be inevitable for someone who grew up in Canada and chooses to set a novel in Canada.
Elizabeth Hay, with her book Alone in the Classroom, exemplifies that Canadian influence. I would know, by the gentle manner in which she address the landscape, that here is a Canadian author. The phrasing, the story-telling, the tone – all tell me that this is a book of Canada.
The story of course, is universal. Mystery; family history; character study; behavioural examination. Told in the first person, the story unfolds on a murder, but becomes much more about the lives and history of people around the murder. There are many layers, and Hay gently exposes them, without condemnation or critical examination. Rather she says this is who these people really were and what they did – see what you think of it all. It surprised me, where she took some of the characters. I didn’t always like the outcome, but I understood that this was supposed to feel real. And it did, it felt like I was reading an autobiography rather than a novel.
At times I felt like I was following too many threads, although they all related to the main character telling the story. We learn so much of the other characters and through the main character’s eyes. We then must come to our own conclusions about the person she is and becomes, based on her interpretation and interaction with these other characters.
I’m not sure I loved the story itself, but I enjoyed the journey of reading it.
It’s a bit of a toss up every year which fruit will be plentiful and which won’t. If the sun is shining, the temperatures are out and the bees are around then you’ll get good fruit set. If not, chances aren’t as good. The one week we didn’t have great weather this spring the apple bloomed and I saw no bees. But two weeks earlier when the cherry bloomed, there were the bees.
Raising a child feels a bit like that. You can put the right supports in place, like the good soil and shade if required. You can help direct and suggest movement, just like pruning branches and tying to supports. But in the end, you take your chances on the outside influences of the world.
Temperament and personality also come into play. Just like some fruit trees seem to thrive under half neglectful conditions while others require constant supervision, so children as they grow seem to prefer one type of care over the other. But figuring out which one nurtures and produces fruit – there is the challenge.
I’m learning to accept these outside influences. I’m learning that I am not the sole dictator of life direction and choices, just as I can’t control the fruit from year to year, but only nurture what comes.
Still irritating when you only have a few apples on the tree though.
Maybe it’s being so close and connected to the ocean that I tend to think about transitions and passages in life so often. The waterways here are busy with moving traffic – both natural and manmade – and the beachscapes are ever-changing with the tides.
With Bushboy now close to completing his first year of high school, I am aware that his school journey is getting closer to the final chapter. The world of school has played a huge role in all of our lives, as it should when it is such a big part of your child’s formative years. In particular, I have dedicated myself to parent groups, both at the school and district level. I have attended more meetings than I care to count in the past eight years and have tried to ensure a parent voice was heard. I find now that I am pulling back. The urgent need to be informed and to help inform others isn’t feeling so urgent. I find myself thinking as well that no one will really notice. It’s time for another round of parents to step up, to put the students’ and families’ needs forward. I’m not sure at this point what good it did, but I’ve done my time and tried to be a part of the bigger educational picture not just for Bushboy’s sake, but for all of his peers as well.
There are more transitions coming and new passages opening. Some of them are baffling to me, others exciting. Some are small and personal – who knew my garden just wouldn’t call me this summer? We have plans for the summer, and we are already at the beginning of a drought season, and I just can’t seem to get enthused about the garden as I have in the past. I think it will come back to me, but for now I’m accepting that it simply isn’t in me. My body is also telling me this, as I seem to have developed sciatica over the last year or so and can only work in the garden for an hour or so without taking a break.
Some things don’t change and are constant of course. My love for the two men in my life. The ability of water and nature to calm and ground me. My love of words. My desire to create.
How do you handle transitions in your life? Do you feel guilty when moving away from something that was once important? I am trying to not feel guilt, nor regret. Someone said to me the other day, “Regret is selfish. It only matters to you in the end, it doesn’t change anything.” I liked that, and so I strive to move forward, with no regrets.
Photos from a walk last night, along the seawalk. Just because.
On our trip to Cathedral Grove it really wasn’t so surprising that Chika found the water. Or that people stopped to watch him, laughing at the obvious joy he felt. He’s such a water dog! (Photos taken by Bushboy, who kept appropriating my camera.)
It is easy to get caught up in the majesty and immensity of west coast forests. They are really really big, after all. But sometimes it is good to remember that a forest is made up of individual trees, and those trees are just as amazing as the forest they create.
A good place to do this is in Cathedral Grove, here on Vancouver Island. On the road to Port Alberni and the west coast, Cathedral Grove is a small, unassuming piece of forest on the highway. But step off the highway and onto the paths of the forest, and the trees start to tell their story. The park has been around for a long time, and there are sign boards throughout giving a museum-quality introduction to the trees and aspects of their lives in the forest.
Cathedral Grove has a giant Douglas Fir (the tree that makes up a large part of our island forests) that is well over 800 years old. It is humbling and more than awe-inspiring to stand in front of it and feel very little and insignificant.
The Grove is very popular with tourists, but the four adult islanders who went to the park that day all admitted the last time they were likely there was as teen-agers. We can’t do that, I don’t think, we can’t forget our local history nor take for granted our great wealth. Those trees are a legacy to this island, and they deserve to be recognized as more than a forest.
The long week-end that we got married, we slept in a tent in my Mum’s front yard. Space was at a premium and we wanted to test out our new tent that we had bought to backpack around Europe. 20 years later, we still camp every May long week-end.
Most of those long week-ends have been spent with close friends of ours from down island, which makes the tradition even more special. There is an ease when camping with people you are so familiar with, and with whom you have set up many campsites.
We also try to change up the campgrounds, finding new to us places every few years. This year we went to Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. A beautiful park where we enjoyed the walking trails, the campground amenities (flush toilets oh my!), and the beautiful falls.
A week-end of talking, walking, geocaching, ice cream and shopping, campfires, storybook reading, laughter and relaxation. Good times.
My garden is overwhelming this year. It really needed serious work and new soil last year, but that didn’t happen, so now it is in dire straits. At first I was a bit dejected, but then I remembered my word. Focus. I’ve broken it up into manageable bites that I can focus on one at a time. It may not all get fixed or done up totally this year, but at least the areas I do will get done right.
This week-end that focus was on the front entry way and garden. My japanese maple is finally cascading the way it should, but it also had overgrown the path up to the front door. So this week-end I dug out the pavers, cut back and pulled out plants on the other side, and re-made the path. Then on Sunday when the guys asked what I wanted to do for Mothers Day I asked them for a few hours outside. We cleaned the entrance area top to bottom, even washing the siding.
If I look beyond I can see that there is still a lot of work to be done. But I will choose to look instead at what was accomplished, evidence that using focus works.
With the light later in the evenings and the sunny week-ends we’ve been having, Mr. Kate and I have been going for very nice walks in and around our neighbourhood. We are fortunate to have a number of trails as well as great streets to walk along near our home, so we mix it up as not to get bored. April was a beautiful month, and I took my camera with me a number of times to practise.
I am determined to understand my camera in manual settings, so a number of these pictures had to be edited for lighting once I loaded them onto the computer. I find in manual my pictures are coming out very dark, so I will have to read up on my settings some more and see what I need to adjust. I’m having fun though!
A stolen week-end away for Mr. Kate and me, over in Tofino on the west coast of the island. A resort on the water’s edge, a lovely little suite all to ourselves, a place to sit and look out over the ocean. A day of exploring and walking, of talking and laughing, of eating good food. Feeling 17 or 20 or 25 all over again, until catching a reflection of 42 in a window – and being thankful to be here at this time in my life over 20 years later with this person beside me on the journey as well.
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