Third time starting this post. A most efficient way of prioritizing what I want to write about before the blog glitches up on me again and vanishes into thin air.My recent Young Writer’s Craft evening for our local library went well. Six children attended with ages ranging between five years of age to eleven years of age. Three sets of siblings consisting of four girls and two boys. Two parents, one interested and supportive relative(mine), the librarian and myself spent the evening with these kids. We played some sensory games, memory games,discussed some shared interests, evaluated favourite kinds of books, made some word banks, wrote some summer graffiti on a poster… intentionally,…. created some graphic illustrations and labelled them, created a group story, dramatized some lines from the story using different genre styles, shared a great book and some storytelling and examined some memories in a basket. There were cupcakes also. Some takeaways like little journals, stickers and pencils were the final touch. Every child, every parent and the librarian thanked me for my efforts. My relative invited me over for coffee and snacks. The Word Garden, although very tiny seems to have some strong sporadic growth and is rooted nicely and may produce a harvest yet.
Category Archives: books
At about 9am yesterday morning I bought some wild black raspberries at our tiny farmer’s market. Gladly I paid three dollars for the large container. I know the young person selling the berries and I know she found them growing wild in this immediate area. As soon as I saw the berries I immediately thought of my mom and her berry picking excursions that usually included me very much against my will. At this point I started telling the group of neighbours gathered at the teeny market about some of the very close to the surface memories of my mom. They suggested I write about these preserved thoughts and as I have had a patch of dried up and fruitless writing lately I turned on the computer .I picked my usual late hours to produce this mixture of plucked recollections, revised a few words here and there and went by my old recipe of writing from the heart.
Throughout her youth, maturity and old age my mom was in tune with the seasons and made the very most of every available harvest. Berry picking was one of the most tedious things I could think of doing as I was not as motivated as she was by the hard work, strain, heat, exhaustion and endless boxes of berries from our own patch or from other commercial sources. I would rather read, act out stories, play with our puppies and daydream.
Despite this attitude I continued as the many years went by to suggest to mom that if she would like to go berry picking I would go along or drive her to a local “upick” place as I knew it would be fun for her. Once we were driven by a farmer to the very back of a huge field and dropped off for the day so she could pick to her heart’s content. She was well over ninety years old, decked out in shorts and long sleeved shirt with a berry pail attached to her waist with a belt and jauntily wearing a sun hat and her favourite white nurse’s shoes and ankle socks. She was pretty impressive and caught the attention of several younger pickers working their way down the enormous patch. When she saw student pickers taking a break and resting she gave them a piece of her mind and told them they better get busy picking berries if they wanted to make any money. My job was to run the boxes of berries she picked to the end of the rows so they could be gathered up at the end of the day’s pickathon.That day my legs ached and I sweltered in the heat in total sympathy with the student pickers but she seemed content and very proud indeed of her huge harvest. We drove around later to show the relatives what she had picked like it was some kind of athletic achievement to have the entire car full of stacked flats of berries !
Another time at another upick farm and she was in awe of the size of the operation. It was almost impossible to get her to leave the place. She seemed to feel it was her responsibility to pick over the already picked rows to glean the berries missed by others. I pointed out that other rows were untouched and just hanging with ripe fruit but she was determined to give these so called picked rows another going over just for the challenge of finding berries other people, unskilled in extreme berrypicking missed entirely. She stood by our car finally with all the berries we picked and was a bit miffed at having to pay the required full price by the owner.She had a point. These berries were the ones left by others, under the leaves and close to the ground. They had been picked and salvaged, saved from waste by her expertise. These berries had been given the treatment her own berry patch was used to, a thorough going over, a picked patch, a job well done.
Again I was glad to finally get her out of there and home for supper. After eating a warmed up dinner of leftovers and several cups of strong tea and a soup bowl of fresh berries with sugar and milk we would face the cleaning and snuffing of the berries. I would sometimes help for a short time and then beg off to go home with excuses of lesson planning or childcare responsibilities. Mom would spend hours cleaning, snuffing, preserving and freezing the fruit, well into the night and totally pleased with her product. These berries made their way into pies and jam for the family and anyone else who would drop in for a visit.
The work she loved on the farm was like this every single day. Involved, committed, determined it was like an industrial project yet fuelled by her love of nature, gardening, farming and family. There were many such excursions and many similar experiences with home-grown fruit and vegetables . All of them are ripe memories just bursting forth at the moment, poised and ready to be simply touched, held and admired for what they are worth. They are inspired by the one box of wild black raspberries gleaned in the bushes and brambles by my young neighbour, undaunted by mosquitoes and the heat. I think I got a deal.
When I see a recently retired friend, neighbour or complete stranger I rarely bring up the fact that they are retired. I don’t think I’ve really ever made much of the fact that they are retired as it really isn’t my business and there are so many more things to talk about. However ,when I am out and about and run into these folks I am almost without fail asked about how I occupy my time these days in retirement.
Answers vary. Sometimes I say I do artsy things but that really confuses people. Sometimes I list things like…I go to the theatre, visit friends, read, write, putter around, cook, take care of things, pay bills and play with my sister’s grandchildren.
This really concerns some people.
They wonder if this is enough for me considering that in the years previous to retiring from teaching elementary school, I worked non stop, raised my son as a single parent, dealt with a very difficult divorce, helped my elderly mother, lead drama workshops, gardened, walked my dog, supervised a couple of cats, had a tearoom, baked pies and tea biscuits for the tearoom, did community theatre things such as organize, write, direct and perform as well as volunteer for front of house, usher, set dressing, costumes, dresser for actors and promotion of productions, taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir, exercised with friends, fixed ( as in paid for) a never ending pile of old stuff in and around my very old house including several vehicles, rented a couple of cottages, drove up north on adventures to entertain my young son on his summer holidays, cut grass, did yard work, took dance classes, drama and professional qualifications courses, hung out with several very good friends, tried dating again with very limited success because I am a” jerk magnet”, lost a pile of weight, gained the weight back again, worked on never ending decluttering projects, scrounged and saved to put my son through university and support him in his theatrical pursuits and generally coped with stuff.
Now I continue to do theatre things with my adult son, enjoy my extended family, visit libraries “for fun”, read obsessively, blog, write a bit here and there, go to book talks, poetry nights, theatre outings with the girls, stay up late, watch foodie programs, cook a little, go to small farmer’s markets, visit a bit with my closest friends, supervise the golden years of a very old cat, provide dog babysitting for my son’s bulldog at the drop of a hat, do errands, fix things as usual, grow a few things, sit on my recliner, my porch and my yard swing watching the world go by, cope with my arthritis issues, try to be as healthy as possible and sometimes I even make it to church.
However, I don’t make a big deal out of finding out what others do in their retirement because I am a tad sensitive to the judgement of such an inquiry.
I never ask. I just write.
Hate the shed door.
a nice feature
garden tools in the little den
Poor cat, bipolar perhaps, but a hit and miss bird watcher like me.
some books since 2012 and still
Watching neighbour feed the birds, a ritual everyday and the birds love it almost as much as the squirrels do, dependable creatures in a way.
The summer it will be too hot but that is when the door to the shed will get fixed
it takes a few more journals over the years
much I hate
the broken door and how
the garden tools are still
in the little den
salvaged pots of fall plants primly sit with artificial lit ones and only a few dry leaves on the pointsettia beside the jug of bittersweet and the amaryrillis despite being too deeply planted inches up
Little child and I together
for the afternoon
with an age difference of about sixty years and we got along just fine
with the bag of folktales
artfully rendered books about nature, poetry, faith, mystery and fun
With the wind howling and tearing
the fence and vines outside and the sky
dark with power
we sat together
a two year old and another much older and met
in the place of books
A friendly and quiet place
with gentle words and warm comfort
It’s that time of year again when everyone is either away or busy and they need me to take care of their pets. Actually, it is fun doing that. The old cat has taken over my bedroom while the visiting dog has once more taken over my recliner and I’ve moved myself into the guest room. I’m pretending I’m on holiday in there as well .
Neighbours are always dropping in just for a visit and I’m not even worrying too much about whether the dishes are done or not. The crickets are chirping, squirrels are racing around, bunnies are on the lawn and the Canadian Geese are honking overhead.
There are small piles accumulating here and there which represent projects and events that I’ve either put off during the summer or completed lately but haven’t dealt with tidying away. Books are piled on the table ready to go back to the library in a day or two. There’s no rush. Running to the local libraries is my pastime and actually, its fun doing that too.
Assorted kitchen bowls and antique platters are filled to the brim with assorted vegetables and fruits from the farmer’s market. Some garden goodies are also available from my sister’s farm so it is a time of eating what can be yanked out of the garden, washed off and sprinkled with a little salt.
My garden is feeling a little tired now because I gave up watering it but producing lots of kitchen herbs, peppers, onions and a few tomatoes. Marigolds are making a good show in the back garden along with assorted geraniums, purple petunias, blue morning glories, white and pink Rose of Sharon bushes, pink Himalayan orchids and a jaw dropping white mop headed hydrangea bush.
The side porch has a very laid back vibe with cushioned chairs, asparagus ferns, ivy and fuchsia impatiens. Here and there throughout the yard are small white concrete statues of a hen, frog, swan, horse, cat. A grey concrete squirrel sits by the side door. (Honourable mention also of a broken concrete mother duck without a head which has such sentimental value it remains, discretely placed.) A ceramic Christmas pig wearing a red toque and holding a striped candy cane jauntily looks out from under the bushes from whence he was originally placed by a family member who consistently denies doing such a thing.
Tomorrow is a day to visit with a retired colleague and another neighbour, drink tea and eat oatmeal scones. The dog will be here for another two weeks while his master is in chaotic show mode at the theatre. The old cat will just have to cope as best as she can. I’m planning on doing the dishes sometime tomorrow. The books go back maybe Tuesday. Little piles and projects will sort themselves out as they always do. The garden will fade slowly. Trips to the farmer’s market will increase.
Concrete statues remain the same, unchanged by the seasons.
Broken concrete mother duck, headless, still part of the garden, just hidden