Sometimes I think we marvel at the moon and stars because the very stuff of our bodies is inter-planetary…I mean, the minerals that feed us on a cellular level may have once been dust on a moon surface in a galaxy far, far away. How can we not love the heavenlies? When we gaze up at the night sky, some tiny parts of ourselves feel like they can see home.
I have many favorite memories from my childhood but some of my favorites of all are the times my family went snowmachine-ing into Riding Mountain National Park from where we were stationed at Sugarloaf Station. My dad drove his park issued, double-skied Bombardier in classic plainsman style — standing with one knee up on the seat, the other foot down on the running board to steady his body while his beaver fur hat flapped about in the -30C weather. My sisters, mum and I rode in a sled behind with the dog on our legs to keep us warm. The sled was tarped so we were out of the wind but it didn’t matter, it was still cold. I remember looking out the back of the sled at the blur of the ice season in the spruce and the pale skin of the aspen hanging on to ratty bird nests, everything dull and dark and grey as the frigid sky. I remember the terrible moments when the wind gusted and blowing snow poured into the back of the sled as we rode. I remember the feel of the snow crystals on my face — brusque and prickly. We would get to where we were going and my dad would shut off the snow machine; the sudden quiet of the woods was like a roar in my ears. We’d all crawl out of the sled and we’d poke about in the woods and eventually build a little fire under a lumbering spruce (which you’re never supposed to do) and we’d stay a while.
My mum would unpack a picnic that included a thermos of hot chocolate, cookies, hotdogs for roasting, whole wheat buns for our roasted dogs and ketchup and mustard for the trimmings…sometimes a jar of sauerkraut, too, which I didn’t like until I grew up and my tastebuds settled down a bit.
Ever since those times, I’ve always known there’s nothing so wonderful as stopping in a winterscape to have a hot fire, a snack and a thermos of tea. I’m telling you, it’s the very best and in a world of humans who speak often in wild hyperbole I want you to understand that I mean that statement with all my heart.
A picnic fire in the frigid heart of winter is the very best.
I’m thinking so much lately about my younger years, those developmental times that built a sort of foundation for who I am now as a human, a lady, an outdoorswoman, a full time creative and small business owner. I can tell you I’ve worked hard to be who I am, to develop what is good in me and weed out what is bad in me but my parents also worked hard to bring magic to my childhood whenever they could. My mum strived to fill our lives with culture and a passion for the arts and she worked especially hard to make my sisters and I into cultured little ladies with rich imaginations though we spent so much of our young years in the backwoods of Canada.
I should have grown up to be a feral beastie because my childhood was largely barefoot, weird and wild. But instead, I can tell you the names of classical pieces of music (so many of them I studied for piano), I can speak broken Quebecois style French (though it goes more and more to rust with the passing of years), I can tell you what I believe if you take the time to ask me and listen to me, I can set a beautiful table and throw an elegant dinner party, I can articulate my emotions and my physical pain, I can look out at the natural world and translate the lessons I learn from the land and the critters there so that they mean something to me as a human.
I’m not sure any of that is of value in the real world, but I value it in and of itself but also because my mum valued it. It’s my delight to unfold myself for people who don’t know me well and to reveal, piece by piece, the residual magic of my upbringing — to present those ideas, those pieces of culture and grace and grit paired with my current skill set and simply surprise others.
It is also my delight to see the people I love unfold in a similar manner. Just when I think I know everything about a friend or loved one, just when I think I have a tactile sense of their dimensions, they surprise me with an opinion, with a keen proclamation of faith, with a talent or skill, with a blinding humility or such a deep capacity for grace that I have to entirely rewrite my definition of them in my mind. It’s thrilling. Growing with people, changing alongside them, discovering them and re-discovering them is completely thrilling and the very true root of my notion of relationship.
I can’t remember what I set out to say when I began writing this blog post but I think it’s close to being finished now and sometimes (more often than not) finished is better than good and the fact is, I just need to get back on the blogging wagon…so with that said, may you get to know, even more, the people you love and the people you don’t love, and may you discover that you love the people you know you love even more than you thought you did and may you find yourself loving the people you thought you didn’t love with all your heart…and may you be curious about who they are, who they were, and who they will be…and may your winter fires be warming.
Bound for my Etsy shop tomorrow are six pairs of earrings, some are the same, some are the same but different.
Built with: sterling silver, 23K gold, green amethyst, prehnite, turquoise and chrysoprase.
It’s January 4th and I’m just finding the space to think about this new year, celebrate it in my small ways, step out on the land and marvel at the passage of time, the contrast between the ticking time of my physical heart and the sweep of geological ages. Isn’t it funny to be so young and fleeting compared to a wedge of towering basalt upon which ancient lichens grow? Life is full of juxtapositions. I can’t help but marvel at it all.
I have noticed the growing trend of choosing a word for the new year, a word that encapsulates what you’d like to become, what you’d like to work on, what you would like to let go of…and while I don’t have a specific word to apply to 2017 I have been ruminating on something I would like to practice in my life with even more fervor. This year, I intend to work even harder at remaining calm. When everything falls to pieces or when someone treats me terribly or when I don’t get my way in life or when I suffer total failure…I want to remain calm. Beyond practicing calmness, I want to find myself in the habit of immediately moving into a problem solving state of mind — I want to find myself recognizing the disaster and instead of reacting emotionally, I want to fluidly engage my ability to critically think and logically process my way through a dilemma.
I look at the world around me and I worry that North Americans have become prone to hysteria and hysteria feeds hysteria and even morphs into histrionics at times. I don’t like it. In point of fact, I find it self-indulgent, juvenile and even embarrassing to witness, especially in adults. Babies are allowed to totally lose it, not 25 year old men and women. Furthermore, I worry about the effect we have on children, adolescents and even our peers when we lose all self-control, drop everything and pitch a fit.
While Rob’s dad was staying with us and helping with renovations up at the house in November he said something during a conversation that stuck with me. We were discussing healthy eating and exercise and he said he likes to stay active and fit and be as healthy as possible because he feels he is an example to people around him. He’s retired but continues to work as a reading specialist with children in a backwoods town in the 49er country of California. His five kids are all grown up and a few of them have given him grandkids. Because he’s been an educator in every capacity in public schools his whole life, I believe he is hyper-aware of how adults mold children and youth, how our smallest actions and reactions are noticed and absorbed by the people around us — without even trying, perhaps by osmosis, we can have an effect on everyone we come in contact with.
I’ve been thinking about the responsibility we all have to not simply live for ourselves in an age when where is so much emphasis on self-_______________ . When an individual is suffering a crisis of the soul, I hear their friends say, “You just keep on doing you. Don’t worry about that person.” But…what if we did worry about others more — or at least the less obvious repercussions of our own actions? What if we looked at our lives in an honest way, what if we took a deep, scouring look at all our behaviors and were brave enough to realize what needs adjusting? What if we were courageous enough to actually MAKE those adjustments, how would it affect our relationships, our families, our neighborhoods, our communities…heck, our whole country?
I believe our kids would grow up braver, stronger, and smarter. Future generations would be creative, logical, deep feeling groups of people who practice calmness in crisis. I don’t simply want to improve myself for my own sake, but for the sake of the people I surround myself with. I want to be a good example, to the best of my abilities (despite the fact that I’m a terribly flawed human being) to the people in the world I live in. It’s hard, honest work. I’m up for the challenge.
Happy New Year to you all, go forth and conquer.