The connection for the lights must be reconnected each time. Usually about dusk, which is slightly later each evening I go from the living room to the small den and connect the lights so that any passerby in my neighbourhood can see the fairy lights festooning two large artificial, salvaged wedding trees The choice of lights vary from ordinary illumination to varying speeds of twinkle. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a pleasant speed of twinkle but often I am not. Tonight only one set of lights is on in the living room and it is so late now that my usual friendly neighbours are home with doors locked. The curtain is pulled to show the fairy light though, just in case there is a random person walking by with their dog or perhaps a soul or two might be out watching the changes in the moonlight sky. When the deer go through the yard at night maybe they look at my lights in the window and wonder how the stars got inside the house. My elderly cat likes the tiny lights on in the living room. She perches close by on the back of the couch and looks directly into the lights as they shine through the darkness and reflect against the window. She watches the deer go by and any other night creature that likes to venture around the village. It has finally rained enough to cool down the steam of the summer heat but there is a heavy warmth lingering in the night air. Many garden plants have scorched leaves and some have collapsed. Some plants have survived and carry on . At this point I am sad to see the end of the garden but indifferent almost to the fate. We tried our best both plants and I but there comes a time to be overwhelmed and give in. It has been a hot couple of months with the fans on full time in the house. The small air conditioner has made it’s noise so deafening that it has altered my routine. I avoid going into the den to read or watch television as the roar of the air conditioner , necessary to the comfort of my home is just too much for my sensitive nature to tolerate. Tonight it is turned off, the house is quiet except for the low sped hum of the fan directed at me in the darkened living room. It is too dark to read a book or write any letters that I still send off once a month. Those letters are another story. Tonight the fairy lights are on, the house lamps are off, not flickering, the curtain is open just enough to share the steady small stars and let them bounce back off the glass and no one knows if the deer is watching the elderly cat glaring back at him.
Category Archives: social issues
It is well into the deepest shadows of the evening and the Midnight Pen (inside joke) writes again.
When all is dark and it is best to be at home wrapped in a quilt by the fireplace, books and teapot by my side, the old cat nestled into the other comfortable chair in my woollen shawl, there is no sound from outside as the night is quiet and sleeping. Rain or sleet and maybe a forlorn twig tapping against the window pane would be preferable but one can’t have everything.
More than likely the members of a writers group I recently visited are all sound asleep.
From the discussion about personal writing habits and routines I seem to be the only one attending that night dependent on the night for the comfort to write.
Dynamics of the gathering convinced me that it is a wonderfully unique experience to walk into a meeting of assembled strangers and bravely say a quick hello before sharing your work in a round robin of readings. Once this was done and supportive nods and comments ensued, the task of writing on demand was a slight jolt to the system and yet accomplished. We wrote together, in our own worlds on our own notepads.
The few minutes left over were even convenient for my own jot notes of the experience as a whole in my designated Celtic design inspired journal ( a gift form my niece) for book talks and writers events. Personal characteristics, body language, off hand comments of the other attendees impressed me. No doubt I also gave off a variety of vibes in the other directions. At times I found myself to be too talkative, too much an attention seeker and too nerdy in my references to plays and theatre and books and travel.
In the course of two hours stories and poems about a wide range of experiences tumbled out in little heaps around the tables originally set up as a quilting room. There was laughter and there was quiet listening, head nodding and maybe a cringe or two. I myself cringed at least once.
The markings from measuring and cutting fabric on the tabletops distracted me a bit during the meeting. Was there some kind of message or connection between the slicing and cutting marks on the surface and the patches of stories and poems available that night? Was there a thread of connectivity between us to make something more out of the experience or was it to best left as pieces and frayed parts of something private and personal to be gathered up again and stored away.
I left the writers group that night feeling that the work of the contributors made me think of long forgotten things and that was the kind of creative relief I desperately needed. I remembered my own stories of books, theatre, travel and other nerdy things because the writing of others had inspired me, I was using my notebook, new fluid black pens, my special Celtic design journal and even had my note pad ready for jot note action. Simply writing, awkwardly sharing at times with strangers at a quilting table in a rural arts centre and finding pieces of myself again. It was all good.
The daylight hours today were spent in reading, cooking, housework, watching news programs and late night comedy shows. The really late hours of now, in the dark and in the night I wrote this blog. Wrapped in the quilt, beside the fireplace, the cat making little sleep noises in my woolen shawl on the other comfortable chair, the night completely quiet outside, I write, In the dark. In the night. (Thank you S.J.)
It’s that time of night that I prefer for my writing exercise. It is very late, dark and quiet. Nothing is going on outside that has anything to do with me . I’ve spent the day again. There is no time left for any duty or errand or guilt. This is the time of night, crack of the new day that I seem comfortable with my pouring of words onto some surface.
Late to computer skills I prefer the use of a three ring binder, fluid black pen and a notepad for fly by ideas. I prefer to keep this all in an printed orange Bahamas cloth bag, slung either on my shoulder or tossed in preparation in the backseat of the car. The only trouble is that it is now often left there, forgotten in the backseat.
The actual use of this blog and it’s technical aspects has started to fade from my experience as well. Desperate times require desperate action.
This past week I went to a book event and this week I plan to visit with some local writers. Just doing those two things seems to have injected some enthusiasm back into my writing attempts.
It seems to be the stress of having to type rather than physically write that annoys me at the moment.
Here in the darkened house I have only the one light on in the corner of the living room and it casts a gentle nursery glow. In front of me now is the clinical office glare of the computer screen. I find it intimidating and yet the features of computer writing are useful for editing and review or should that be review and editing.
All of it is an excuse for not doing the work. When I was about eighteen I wanted to study to be a journalist and also write novels. That didn’t happen. What happened instead was tragedy, graduation, bereavement, marriage, university studies, family issues, loss, more work, teaching, having a baby, weight issues, divorce, raising a child,more tragedy, more work , non stop teaching, more studies, bills, repairs, friends, loss, another bereavement ,health changes, responsibilities, exhaustion, fatigue, retirement and then sitting on the yard swing, reflecting back as far as possible.
The step of starting this blog about eight years ago was the crack of the night that I needed. It started some writing and endured for a good run. It ran itself out and then went away exhausted again but not to die.
The writing notebook, the note pad and the fluid pen are mostly still in the backseat but have recently shifted around. Sometimes the notepad is stuffed into a purse and used at a whim. The notebook is flipped through occasionally. New black fluid pens were recently purchased and one has leaked rather badly into the lining of my purse.
At the book talk this past week I made some notes while being scathingly critical of the speakers( internally in my head) and making abrupt (thankfully silent) judgement calls on their work which I knew nothing about. At the end of the book talk I left in a hurry to avoid making eye contact with these speakers who were actually writing and publishing their work. However, at the exit I turned and spoke to one writer and expressed thanks for her contribution to the evening. Wasn’t that big of me?
A few evenings ago, during the wee hours of the night I did a tiny piece as a homework assignment for my pending visit to the local writers group. I’ve received several welcoming emails from one of the members and read the upcoming agenda for our meeting. Tonight at the crack of midnight I have considered the universality of writing (another point for discussion at the upcoming meeting) and found myself stumped.
My only thought about this universality point was that I have reached some readers around the world with my blog posts and usually had the most positive reaction from my poetry. Yet, this isn’t a poem. It is nothing more than an essay (of sorts) on finding that collapsed writing than ran frightened into the woods somewhere and nurturing it again with enough jazz to give it the will to live. All of this. timed from the crack of midnight to 12:38 am. ,not including review and editing.
Guilty as I might have been back in the day of raising my own son as a single mother, of providing special summer activities for him to keep him from getting bored, I feel the need to reminisce on my own childhood summers.
For the sake of transparency, I wanted to provide things for my son that I didn’t have so he had soccer, baseball, swimming lessons, drama camp…and oh yeah..I rented a cottage for a week, and I took him up north to visit my cousin’s cottage and he had sleepovers with his cousins and play dates with friends…(oh dear, I did too much too didn’t I?…but I had my reasons….).
Today parents, the same generation of my mentioned son, are perhaps overdoing it a bit.
I’ve been observing carefully.
It isn’t just the parents at fault in this area. Some grandparents seem to be going above the call of duty as well. Also, for the sake of further transparency ,I am not a grandmother yet except for the distinction of being a grandma to a six year old bulldog (or is she seven years old?…I’m not keeping track very well aren’t I?)
Back to me.
I was a farm kid so my summers were mostly farm based. I was invited to my brother’s rented cottage when he had one, I stayed once with my aunt and cousin in Toronto for a couple of weeks and I often hung out in my early and formative years with my grandpa at his place when he retired from the farm.
Summer holidays were spent quietly working in the garden, playing with my dogs, puttering around, going to church regularly and spending long periods of time on my own, just doing ordinary farm things.
As a very little girl I recall the excitement of my cousin’s summer wedding being held at my brother and sister -in law’s farmhouse as it was a special and beautiful place for such a special country event. I even sang at the wedding and received a tiny fancy golden teacup that is presently displayed, after all these years, proudly on my fireplace mantel.
When I was about ten years old my grandpa passed away at our place in the summer and we had a large turnout of family at the farm for the garden funeral reception. This event both saddened and frustrated me as I was very angry about losing my very good old friend. I didn’t understand the pain.
At the moment I can’t think of anything else done for my sole entertainment during the summer months except for family trips that my dear sweet Dad and Mom took me on when they had the chance to do so.
These trips were to the States for visiting with my brother away at school and then working there, a trip out east once to see another aunt and uncle and a family trip to Montreal for Expo 1967 .
My sister’s wedding was a fun summer memory but mostly planned around the farm lifestyle. The birth of my little niece was a pretty exciting summer event too. Playing with and supervising my baby brother as well as my nephews and niece during summer breaks were wonderful times and treasured moments of my formative childhood.
Finally a summer family trip out west in 1969 that came to a crashing and tragic end upon our return when we were given the saddest news imaginable that my oldest brother and a friend had passed away in an accident . We didn’t know until we walked in the door. This was before cell phones and internet.
At this point, life changed completely for us but we carried on, somehow.
Much of this time is so painful I have blocked it out. Things I should remember like popular music or other events I have little recall of except in vague terms. I was included, after the tragedy in another trip to California to visit my brother and sister in law and other family. A few years later, when I was almost eighteen my parents let me go on a special school sponsored trip to Spain, again I suspect as a way to help me overcome some of my grieving.
My parents didn’t go on any trips though, not anymore.
So when I see today’s parents and grandparents overdoing things and trying to entertain the kids too much I just want to say that I understand why you think you need to do all these elaborate and expensive things but maybe reflect back on a simpler time.
Spend time talking to your children, tell them your own stories about your childhood, bring good books into the home, visit the library together, visit the older folks in the family and community, sit under a shady tree together, work in the garden, play with the pets together, make a picnic and go to a local park , teach them some important skills such as swimming, cooking,photography or managing responsibilities. Sing together, tell jokes, play games, walk in the woods, share your faith and beliefs, hug your children, love them joyfully and just be there for as long as you can be.
Oddly, whenever Wizzy ( an owl, if you haven’t been reading her old adventure stories) ventured out of her hideout in the boreal forest something always happened to startle her and she flew back to her favourite old branch.
She had hidden from the chaos for a couple years of several confusing seasons due to her vulnerable and sensitive nature. The final straw of weird and reckless nonsense surging through the little blue button in her nest riled her up however and brought her back to the border between the Land of Pinecones and Maple Vistas and The Land of the Right and the Left.
It was time to dive in and try to straighten things out once and for all. The survival of bird values was at stake. More than her feathers were ruffled. Wizzy felt inspiration for protest welling up in her craw and it was time to sing out, loud and clear once more!
Where to begin?
The situation was dire!
Everyone was in a flap!
Baby birds in cages, separated from their parental flocks and ….no reason, no plan or solution in sight for restoring things to the natural order of give and take, live and let live or don’t be a bird brained fool if you can help it. What a mess!
Apparently advised by a few cuckoo birds who were of questionable pedigree and enforced by pterodactyl wannabe’s the attack seemed focused entirely on the exotic southern song birds seeking refuge by migrating from terror and destruction from deranged and violent gangs of vultures straight out of a Hitchcock movie.
After a long and difficult journey, expecting only a chance for rest and possibly acceptance,as other tattered and torn birds in the past had hoped for and flocked to these shores and lands, the songbirds had a terrible experience of detention, rejection and separation from their young. Identification slip ups galore ensued and you know what hit the fan, big time!
Wizzy flew directly to The Roost on The Hill searching for Old Samuel the Eagle but he unfortunately was gone and wouldn’t be barack (unsure of spelling here) and was somehow replaced by a huge stiff looking Leghorn with small claws scratching around in the dust and raising a twittering ruckus to beat the band.
Surrounding this old bird was a tired gaggle of geese, hissing and spitting in frustration and threatening to quit and take off at any moment. Looming overhead was a very sneaky falcon, surveying the damage with elaborate swoops and smirking into his well preened wings.
Oddly enough there seemed to be dens of foxes everywhere on the grounds as well, mostly muttering to themselves and whispering updates into the Leghorn’s ear frequently, just adding to the general uproar and confusion.
Fortunately for all, the Fearless Birds of Intelligence were quietly on the case and almost ready to send out their pecking order of charges to expose the whole darn thing and set the record straight on the scrambled mess of rotten and cracked shell games afoot.
Wizzy returned home, back to the Land of Pinecones and Maple Vistas, protest singing loudly and flapping wings of strong support in hopes of encouraging the terrified fledglings and heart broken and confused flocks of adult jailed birds.
What else could she do?
Well, she would turn on that blue button to keep abreast of the daily squawks and keep her beady eyes on the situation for starters.
Wizzy, the owl was a Canadian bird after all. She would politely and respectfully protest the situation for the sake of the downtrodden and of course not let anyone push her around.
Poplar Hill Picnic week is here. Picnic is always the second Saturday in June .It is the week of tidying up both yards and homes, arranging some decorations and getting some treats on hand for visitors that may drop in.The picnic occasion is really old and this year it celebrates it’s 130th anniversary. Originally a day of celebration for school children from all the small one room schools in the township it now continues it’s good natured heritage in a community celebration. Our Lions and other volunteers make it a very special day for everyone. Personally, I think I’ve probably attended every picnic during my lifetime. I grew up knowing that you just always went to the picnic.
It is a thing.
Picnic day is many different things to different people. It represents to me a time honoured family, school and community tradition. It is predictable in many ways and yet has evolved slowly and kept up with the times.
Some memories surface and makes one nostalgic for those long gone people and experiences and yet the picnic restores the resilient spirit within oneself just by being there, each time.
As little kids we prepared for the picnic by practicing marching drills at school for weeks ahead of time. Each one room school would dress up a little bit special and march like our lives depended on it!
Left….. right, left right Left. Left….. right,left, right Left. Left….right, left right Left!
Two of the tallest big kids carried our banner (S.S. #7 Bear Creek ) and our teacher made paper majorette hats with tassels for us to wear . My school, in my era wore white shirts and skorts ( short pleated skirts with shorts) for the girls and the boys cleaned up their act as well.
We were led in the park by the thumping beat of the drums and whirl of bagpipes and circled the flagpole, proudly waiting to be judged on our parade.
Everyone took in the moment as it meant something. We did it every picnic day. It was a thing.
At a signal, the parade march was over and everyone was free to run off to play, run organized races for prizes,watch the baseball games, sit in the grandstand for the baby show, eat popsicles, hot dogs and pie, drink pop and later on enjoy the savage pillow fights and corny talent show.
A rather unique flirting custom was to walk by the covered grandstand in the afternoon with friends and see if any of the good looking boys hiding in the upper level would whip pinecones at you. If you felt the sting of a pinecone you knew love was in the air. Most likely this manner of courtship has been replaced with something less obvious. I wouldn’t know, it’s been awhile but this year I will make an effort to observe carefully and see if this right of passage has survived.
On every picnic day, my mom gave me a plastic change purse with a transparent side panel with some nickles and dimes to spend. Dimes won at the footraces were extra spending money but only given to the top winners so you had to make your cash last for the day. If you bought a double Popsicle with a dime you were wise to break it in half right away and share it with a friend because it would melt anyway and fall wasted to the ground. A good friend shared in return. Things worked out well that way.
Most folks had to return home for farm chores in the late afternoon and had their supper before returning to the park for the final ball game and garden party of entertainment. Usually I was allowed to stay all picnic day with my grandpa, a retired farmer and we shared a community meal with his cronies from the village under the grandstand .
Picnic tables were set end to end and homemade food was shared. I felt very grown up sharing the potato salad, devilled eggs, bolonga sandwiches, pickles and pie with these folks well into their eighties and high nineties. The wooden tables covered with farm house tablecloths, the earth floor underfoot, the white enamelled coffee and tea pots, my Grandpa Walter A., Great Uncle Clayton and Great Aunt Flora, Great Aunt Mae, Old George Barclay and all the rest of the older crowd sharing this good time with a little kid.
Such vivid memories of those people, that time, it’s sweetness. It is a thing.
The idea of a labyrinth was discussed a few weeks ago at my church during an informal service in the Sunday School room. We had coffee, activities, games and a discussion, Afterwards, we had lunch. There was a Biblical reference to being guided to understanding in the worship part of the gathering.
One of my soulful neighbours often walks a labyrinth on her outings to the university and another ambitious one is hoping to create one in her garden. I have instead experienced a form of labryinth on my country drives, searching for inspiration and motivation for my writing.
I noticed the sameness of my path and that the circuit chosen was repetitive. Often it seemed I ended up where I began.
As a writer I am a gardener, going here and there, digging at things, ignoring some monumental tasks, pulling a few weeds along the way and scattering some seeds of ideas and hoping for the best. With the seasons, my writing changes and I don’t quite know what will root and grow and what will dry up and wither away. Usually, I end up wondering ,what on earth do I want to say?
Slightly changing the path and broadening the scope of my travels still well within local communities I have encountered new people and struck up conversations about a range of things. Connections with past experiences and familiar names and places came up. Sometimes new notions and sensations stirred the day and shook things enough that I felt I could write freely about my observations.
Landscapes of small rural villages have opened up into more complex backstreets and hideaway spots. Large swooping connections of country roads revealed some flat farmland giving way to rolling hills and valleys. Houses of all descriptions and rural business endeavours have suggested the thousands of stories of hopes and dreams available to a perceptive writer. However, bulldozers and construction crews were sometimes found inconveniently ripping up sidewalks and main streets discouraging my path in going any further off the beaten path. Dark storm clouds overhead reinforced the merit of turning around and navigating along familiar roads. The labyrinth had enlarged itself but directed me home once more, back to safety.
Signage along the way home sought to encourage the wayward traveller to take advantage of what was offered. Two handmade signs, along the same village roadway were of special note. One sign outside a rural antique store said” We Have It All” and just around the bend another sign read “Jesus Lives! Roosters and Bunnies”. Both signs made me smile. I didn’t stop at either place although I did slow down and consider their messages. They are probably of no use to me whatsoever, but I will plant these ideas somewhere, wait and see.
Last night I was at a historical night about my rural community. Today I sought out one of the still existing landmarks from the past that I learned about at that meeting.
In Carlisle, just about hidden from the main road outside Ailsa Craig, Ontario I found the small red brick Victoria Inn. How I wish I could own such a place! It is quaint, historic , on a lovely grassy lot and beside a babbling brook.
I can imagine carefully restoring it and pretending to be one of the Bronte sisters or something along that line. Such a cute little village off the beaten track! I struck up a conversation about the interesting landmark with a local fellow getting his mail and we chatted about a variety of things. It turns out I taught his young son back in the day! This man had moved his family out of the city and found this special charming place on a whim. Lucky him!
Just down the road, in Ailsa Craig I was touring around and was impressed with the beautiful grand homes as well as the lovely cottage like places along the side streets. A simply lovely old chapel caught my eye. A heritage Inn, now a home (I assume), with signage declaring it to be The Falstaff Inn, also captured my attention. So lovely to find these unique places ! Driving around a bit more I finally found the enchanting looking pottery studio I’d heard about but will return to as it wasn’t open today.
Just a skip or two away from there I noticed a sign pointing the way to The Ailsa Craig Arts Centre. Well, naturally I stopped the car and went in to see what I could find in there.This is what I do.
I was greeted by a volunteer, Belle, and spent about an hour enjoying myself immensely learning about the activities going on in the modern and fresh space. Quilting, painting, photography, writing and other artistic endeavours were discussed. I was shown a wonderful sample of these projects, crafts and art forms.
One on the go project, Fidgety Aprons, I found to be so creative and wanted to hear the story of their construction. These aprons are designed for people in memory care at nursing homes. Sensory items are attached to a variety of colourful materials and provide comfort to anxiety ridden hands. This item is done by volunteers and donated with genuine respect and kindness.
As I was on the point of leaving I was shown another gorgeous quilt stored in a quiet reading area and was told some tidbits about it’s construction. It is a story worth it’s own post, so I will save writing it for later. All I will say about it now is that it is about bears and the legacy of someone with mischievous tendencies.
Saying my goodbye at the door I was pleased to meet another friendly member of the art centre arriving. She introduced me to the rather impressive gentleman accompanying her as a viking! This viking in fact looked the part and yet had impeccable manners and smiling Irish eyes. He will be involved with the Quilts of Iceland Festival soon to be held this May in Ailsa Craig and take part in some Viking reenactments.This little village has international quilt art contacts and takes it all in stride!
As it turns out I was also informed that the potter I’ve been trying to track down was also just upstairs at the Arts Centre. She was involved in a presentation about Haiti and had made a Haitian soup for the participants. What an impressive and creative hub of activity I had found myself in by just going off the usual beaten path.
I left with some information about their writing group, a local author and with a smile on my face.I had lucked into such a welcoming and interesting group of arts loving country folks. It felt like finding more of one’s tribe.
On main street in Ailsa Craig I ventured into The Crown and Turtle Pub (turtles are an old Ailsa Craig symbol and another story to tell another time) for lunch. I enjoyed a tasty and hot soup and sandwich special as I made some notes on my day.
The pub is a cosy Irish Pub with a deep burnished glow decor. There is a corner snug named for some renowned patron. A wooden bar with all the glow of a mirror, glassware and authentic pub hardware sets the scene and an appetizing menu for meals is available. My server was welcoming and my meal was ready quickly. An outdoor area is also part of the pub I was told by my friendly server and most likely fills up on nice summer days and evenings.
I thought it would be a good place to visit again with my son if I can convince him to come along on one of my off the beaten path adventures. It must be fun to be a regular there and enjoy the pub scene with the locals. I noticed the Irish Viking fellow there as well so that tells you something.
As you drive along the old King’s Highway (Hwy 2) from Delaware to Melbourne, Ontario it seems to be a quiet, sweeping path back in time. Some modern homes and signage are along the way of course. There is something though, gently pronounced in the atmosphere, so many stories untold. It is something difficult to explain. I will try.
As highways go it is well surfaced and an easy journey as it swoops along over a bridge and into lots of farmland. Many large and sturdy yellow brick farmhouses of yesteryear, set back from the road document the family life of the community. Another heritage style home of red brick with it’s lineage date carved on it’s front facade attracts the traveller’s eye. Few of the old wooden barns remain but some have been beautified with barn quilt art. Some bush lots remain and large trees planted years ago provide windbreaks here and there.
Thinking of all the families, the history, the heritage of the First Nations people, the battles fought circa 1812-14 makes one wonder. A beautiful gated woods, Longwoods, beckons with some stories preserved. All of these thoughts surfacing along the drive and wondering all the time what untold stories can be unearthed, but now are so quiet, undisturbed.
Turning around just outside of downtown Melbourne and driving back through it’s one two way stop intersection I see a familiar family name on a vintage sign that had escaped my attention earlier. A connection, another remote and distant relative perhaps but still part of a story yet untold.
The old school, just off the main drag, closed up. Compelling the sensitivity of a retired teacher to turn around once more and drive up the lane for a tribute glance. Stories of families and community glint from the windows somehow and are felt but are unexpressed.
Back in Delaware, the best thing to do at this latter part of a Sunday afternoon is to shop the market there. It is rural village style but with some trendy touches such as an outdoor patio, a deli counter,an ice cream station, groceries, baked goods, some barbeque items and an assortment of small gifts and souvenirs.
With a chicken in the crock pot at home I just picked up a few things for supper, some whole wheat rolls and green onions…and bananas for a treat (instead of giving in to the glorious pies for sale.)
Cashing out at the register, I had a brief visit with the most pleasant mature lady who worked there with a couple of equally pleasant younger women. You could tell she loved her work as she moved from one thing such as sweeping the floor to another such as straightening up a display of items.
We discussed the power outage problems from the recent windstorm, the frustrations some had with technical issues and shared the realization that it was all minor inconvenience compared to what some folks have had to deal with.
I don’t know this lady at all but imagine her backstory would be very interesting and one of a strong work ethic and positive outlook. I’m glad to have met her along the old King’s Highway today.
Slowly our weather has become increasingly more springlike. A couple of weeks ago events were cancelled due to an ice storm. Yesterday we turned on air conditioners. Snowdrops were the only brave flowers for about a month and now the daffodils are nodding in the warmth. Last week, on one of my off the beaten path trips it was grey, wet and cool enough for a warm jacket and I almost made it to the lake. I usually pick such a day for visiting the lake because I now avoid crowds. People are fine, just not crowds.
About half way to the lake I decided it was far enough on a drizzly day and decided instead to further explore some small villages along the way. This is a very quiet way to explore but entirely on my own terms. With a supply of snacks and a half full tank of gas I drive around tiny places, browse the shops, soak up the atmosphere and have very random conversations with the locals. When I’m often asked what I do now that I am retired from teaching I often say….”oh, I do artsy things now, just artsy stuff…” The reaction is often puzzled.
Along the soggy way that particular day, I stopped in at an old place that was once a tiny country restaurant and is now a vintage store called Narin Pickers. Walking in, there wasn’t anyone visibly there among the aluminum teapots, feathered hats and concrete gnomes. At the back, behind the original lunch counter, a friendly owner on his computer called out and welcomed me.
I made two circuits around the store just looking at old postcards, ancient books, assorted bead necklaces, bracelets and bakelite dinnerware. Lots of other stuff beckoned as well. Two amazing grand gilt chairs that immediately made me think of King Louis sat in the middle of the shop covered with others things that paled by comparison. A hand carved walking cane and a collection of old pipes called out to me for some reason and I was transported back in time to being my Grandpa Walter’s constant companion on his porch steps.
All the time during my visit, Billie Holiday was softly singing…”I’ll Be Seeing You” as the wonderful music was coming from the owner’s computer. He mentioned that he and his son were musically inclined and that his daughter was an avid reader.
At that point of the conversation, we discussed what wonderful things might be found in old books such as postcards, photos,souvenir programs etc. Behind the counter, stored away in a jewellery box under cotton batting, the owner had his treasure of four leaf clovers which he had carefully salvaged from the brittle pages of old books. He had felt it necessary to gently treasure them this way as otherwise they would just break up and go to dust if left in the handled books. He shared their sweet old beauty with me and we spoke together about good luck wishes and these long ago people who had found the clovers.
As I prepared to leave I was drawn again to the postcards and selected only one. It had caught my eye earlier but wasn’t exceptionally beautiful or valuable. The message on the back had hooked me in. It was a message to a student from a teacher.I made my little purchase and left…thinking all the while…”Maybe I should buy that gnome?”. Oh well, another time, perhaps.
When I was finally home for the day I took a long shot and looked up the obscure information on the card in hopes of finding these long gone individuals and learn more about them. With one click, the information of the student was there right in front of me. It was a record of his wedding date and also some information about his community.
This information was from at least one hundred and fifty one years ago. Nothing was available about the teacher who had written the card so long ago. I can assume though. This teacher was kind, thoughtful and without a doubt searched for four leaf clovers. I’m also sure this teacher hoped to be remembered in all those old familiar places.