Oh Canada

 

 

We camped.

That’s what we did every summer when I was growing up.

My birthday is at the end of July and I don’t remember many birthdays at home. Our temporary home was a used tent trailer.

 

I didn’t know it at the time, but my parents were giving my brothers and me a priceless treasure. We traveled from coast to coast. And as I look back on it now, I understand where my love of this great country – Canada – comes from. It comes from those summers of traveling with my family.

 

Every year, Dad would plot our trips. He usually started a month in advance. I remember him at the kitchen table with maps in front of him, and that camping reference book – I think it was from CAA. It listed campgrounds, how many sites they had, how much they charged, whether or not they had flush toilets and showers, etc.

 

Back in those days we couldn’t go online to check it out or to register. We didn’t call ahead. We just showed up, expecting a good spot. And we usually got it. I remember only one time when we arrived to a completely full campground, and we set up in a gravel pit instead. I also remember many times that Dad would leave our cash payment (anywhere from $6 – $12 over the years) in an unlocked wooden box when we left. I doubt if you could do that nowadays. (Mom tells me that our first year of camping we bought a National Park sticker for $7 and the total camping fee we had all summer was $20.)

 

Mom didn’t relish getting ready for camping. When we got older, my brothers and I had to pack our own clothing, and entertainment for car travel, but she had her same lists from year to year … everybody’s clothing, toiletries, kitchen gadgets, linens, bedding, pots and pans, games, first aid, food. And she spent about a week shopping, gathering, and packing. But she did enjoy the camping once all of that was taken care of.

 

I am so grateful they took the time for this because as I look back now, I understand. I understand it was a great undertaking, but also a great privilege to experience my country. I understand now that not everybody has this chance. When you’re a kid you just assume everybody does what you do. But I’ve learned that not everyone grew up with the amazing opportunity I had to absorb my own vast country. Thanks, Mom & Dad.

 

What wonderful memories we made:

Barkerville, BC

 

Panning for gold in Barkerville, BC

Drumheller, AB

Riding a dinosaur in Drumheller, AB

Visiting the RCMP training grounds in Regina, SK

Touring the International Peace Gardens in Boissevain, MB

Feeling the spray of Niagara Falls, ON

Roaming the halls of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, ON

Exploring Old Quebec City and the Plains of Abraham, QC

 

International Peace Gardens

Watching the Reversing Falls Rapids in Saint John, NB

Climbing Citadel Hill in Halifax, NS

Marching at the Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, NS

Pretending at Green Gables, PEI

 

These were fun tourist attractions full of history and fascination. But more than that, I learned to appreciate the geography of this wonder-inspiring country.

Columbia Ice Fields, AB/BC

I’ve clambered over the smooth stoned Pacific coast and listened to waves lapping the shore. I’ve wandered the red sand beaches of Prince Edward Island and breathed in healing salty air. I’ve played in cool lakes that were so clear I could see the bottom through four feet of water. I’ve run screaming through long grassy fields, scaring up grasshoppers, squinted across sun-skimmed ice fields, and splashed in hot springs surrounded by mountains whose crowns disappeared into clouds.

All before I grew up and left home.

What a gift!

Rushing River Provincial Park, ON

 

And what a treasure, this country.

Oh Canada! I am so blessed to call it my home and native land.

 

********************************

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

Reflections

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I was inserting a pacifier into my newborn grandson’s mouth, I caught my mother’s hand doing the same in the reflection of the mirror opposite him.

Myriads of thoughts happened in that instant.

But the first one, as I glanced down at my hands, was, Are these my mother’s hands?

Then, Yes they are, in more ways than one.

Hands that were once smooth and unfurrowed, now show creases and blue-veined rumples. Delicate fragility hides the strength they represent, and the hard things they have encountered. From the feather-light stroke on a newborn’s cheek, to the unyielding grip on a defiant teenage girl’s wrist, to the lively bustle of caring for the grown girl’s children.

By the time I leave my daughter’s home in this quaint Manitoba lake-town, I will have been here five weeks. Five weeks of cradling, changing, pacifying, and getting to know newborn twins. Five weeks of cuddling and entertaining their beyond-energetic three-year-old brother. Five weeks of filling in the gaps – those things newborn moms & dads need help with or don’t have time for. Doubly so when the baby is twins. Things like emptying the dishwasher, filling the dishwasher, folding laundry, sterilizing bottles, wiping counters, dressing the preschooler, or running back to the living room to quickly tidy up as we’re all walking out the door for an outing.

Besides the busy-hands type of help, there’s the being alert kind of help. Like understanding the half spoken sentences that trail off into nothingness from a foggy, sleep deprived mom or reminding her that her coffee cup is still on top of the vehicle.

All these things my mother did for me when I was the sleep deprived mom of newborns.

Life has come full circle.

These are the thoughts that flitted across my mind as I caught my mother’s hand reflected in the mirror opposite my grandson.

 

I am my mother’s reflection

Reflecting back at me

My hand reflecting hers

In the reflection that I see,

Causing me to reflect

On reflections.

SaveSave

All is Calm, All is Bright

 

It is early morning on the day of Christmas Eve and all is quiet in the house … for the moment.

 

Very soon the air will be alive with voices and activity:

Gwamps,Gwamps! Let’s play, Gwamps!              Gwumma, what we gonna do next?

A contented baby’s chatter will sprinkle through the rooms. The kind of chatter only other babies understand, but we grown ups joyfully listen and respond to because this is the beginning of good communication. And really, it’s just plain fun chatting with a tiny one who thinks they know what they are saying.

The piano will resound throughout the house as Gwumma and Little Man play and sing their unique rendition of Jingle Bells, which consists of Gwumma singing and playing the notes while Little Man tinkles the higher keys, singing the same phrase over and over at the top of his lungs.

Gingerbread houses may or may not get decorated today.

Christmas goodies may or may not get baked today.

Some outdoor activity will surely be included because it’s snowing, and the marshmallow world is begging for new footprints and happy voices.

 

There will be some kind of sports blasting from the tv for those who don’t understand that Christmas means lovely Christmas music, and Christmas movies, and fragrant candles burning. This is the result of adding sons to the family, much to the Cowboy’s delight.

There will be good conversation snatched here and there among the busyness of little people.

There will be naps to smuggle, goodies to munch, and a new boyfriend to meet.

There will be a seafood feast for dinner, followed by a Christmas Eve service. Then time spent around the tree, the traditional gift of new pjs opened just before bed.

 

But most of all there will be togetherness. There will be living, laughing, and loving. It will not be forced. It will be achieved through the knowledge that, being scattered across three provinces, we rarely get to be all together in one place at the same time. So these moments will be cherished. Treasured up in our hearts, as Mary treasured up all that occurred around her on that very first Christmas Eve. And we are grateful. So very grateful.

 

**********

If you would like to read a Christmas poem I wrote this year, you can find it here.

 

 

 

A Good Name, Sweet Thing

IMG_4708

Proverbs 22:1 – A good name is to be more desired than great riches.

 

A good name … hmmm.

Our newest addition to the family has a good name. She arrived 8 weeks ago and was distinctly named for her story – her backstory as well as her future story. (Yes, a newborn CAN have a backstory.)

Although her parents knew in advance that she would be a girl, and what her name was, everyone else was kept in the dark until her arrival, long awaited.

 

It’s such an odd sensation, driving to the hospital to meet a new family member for the first time.

Who are you, sweet thing, and who will you be?

 

Version 2

Her own DNA.

Her own name.

Her own voice.

Her own little bud of a personality.

 

Her own struggles.

 

Oh, it’s so hard to think of someone this little having to go through struggles; she’s such a sweet little thing.

But she will.

That’s the thing about living … it’s not struggle-free.

 

Yet, it is our reactions to our struggles that determine whether or not we will have a good name. The good name spoken of in Proverbs.

A good name is a good character. A good reputation.

Anybody responds well in the pleasant times.

But that kind of good name is built on one’s responses in the hard times.

 

 

So, while we would never wish strife and hard times on this new life, instead we pray that her responses to her struggles will form her character and build her good name.

 

 

 

**********

Incidentally, her name is Hanna Joy.

But to me she will always be Sweet Thing.

 

Version 2