I am waiting at the seniors’ home for my Mom and my sister to get back from an appointment at the ophthalmologist. I had to stay behind to attend the yearly Care Conference meeting, when they review Mom’s health concerns. Bureaucracy being what it is, the home could not change the time to accommodate our mother’s appointment so my sister and I have divided the tasks.
The meeting does not take long – just fifteen minutes – and because it’s going to be a long wait, I’ve brought a book (two books, actually: I’m almost at the end of one of them). I needn’t have bothered: a seniors’ home can be an interesting place in the middle of a quiet afternoon, if you pay attention.
The deer are back. They always stop me in my tracks, making me take a deep, wonder-filled breath.
I am sitting at my desk, fingers poised to write and – as I often do when I sit in this spot – I glance up to look out the window. I am immediately soothed by the sight of some snowflakes that are gently falling to the earth. Unless it’s summer and the gardens are at stake, rain tends to get my spirits down, whereas a soft snowfall always lifts my spirits and makes me feel glad that I am alive to witness such beauty. I also have a lovely view of the river – just metres away – as well as a view of the impossibly-steep, high slope on the far side, covered in trees that always seem to defy gravity by growing on what appears – from here – to be a 90-degree angle (in reality, it’s probably closer to 75 degrees).
The beach is beautiful – the sand finer than table salt – and it appears to go on forever in either direction. It’s a cold day for the folks who actually live in this state (maybe 18 degrees Celsius; 64 degrees Fahrenheit); but none of the beachgoers – clearly all from a colder, northern climate, seem all that bothered.
Note to the reader: I wrote this late last summer. My husband, who hates winter above all other things, asked me to “save it until the middle of winter, when I really need to remember this day”. Tomorrow, my neck of the woods is expecting record-breaking wind chills. I figured this was as good a time as any to post this… Stay warm, my friends…
I am continuously, perpetually tired so unless it has to be done, getting me to do anything, ever, requires an all-out effort on the part of my loved ones. Mine is an old soul, prone to long bouts of sitting and thinking, or sitting and writing, or sitting and reading or sitting and knitting.
My husband is – and always will be – a perpetual puppy. In his opinion, sitting still is akin to being forced into a Medieval torture chamber.
I can see it as though it were yesterday: my little sister, sullenly standing in the middle of the living room, dutifully practicing her tap-dance steps for an upcoming show: shuffle, shuffle, stomp; shuffle, shuffle, stomp. Her movements were embarrassed and stilted; the ‘stomp’ angry and emphatic. She was wearing a cute little dress and her childish little legs, bony at the knee and ankle, had been resentfully stuffed into pretty little white ankle socks and shiny black tap shoes.
You only had to glance at her face – a sullen black cloud – to see that she did not want to be there. She did not want to be practicing that ‘stupid’ dance.
I remember penny candy. I remember when you could buy a chocolate bar, a pop (*) and a bag of chips for 25 cents. I remember when a postage stamp cost 8 cents. I remember listening to music on records – 45s and LPs, to be exact. Cell phones were the stuff of science fiction but you could find a telephone booth on every corner and a phone call cost a dime. I recall how scandalised everyone was when the cost of making a call in a phone booth went up to 25 cents. I remember when computers were as big as a room and almost no one had ever laid eyes on a real one, except for a handful of scientists with obscure titles. When I was in university back in the early 80s, I only called home (collect, of course) on Sunday evenings, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. because that was the only time of the week when the cost of a call was affordable.
It’s funny, the things we get used to; the things we come to expect, year in and year out. I would be utterly miserable living in a climate with no crisp fall; no bitterly-cold winter. It’s what I have always known; what I have gotten used to.
There is something exciting, to me, about hunkering down for the winter.
I love how the world changes; sometimes on a dime: one day it is hot and muggy and the next, the year has deliberately done an about-face in a new direction. The air turns chilly, especially at night: the stars come out in bright contrast against the clear blackness of a night sky that is crisp and humidity free. The trees start to change colour – almost imperceptibly at first – and suddenly, the whole world is a riot of brilliant oranges, reds and yellows. The geese get loud again, noisily heading northward every morning in search for food in farmers’ fields and loudly flying southward in the evenings to bed down for the night. They will do this for a good month or more – the flock growing increasingly big and very loud – until one crisp day when you can smell snow on the air, they will head southward and won’t come back until spring.
I envy my friends and family who have boundless, inexhaustible energy. You know the type: they’re up at the crack of dawn, unable to stay in bed because they simply cannot wait another moment to start their day. They go for a run before breakfast; they stop on their way to work to run a few errands; they work late and still manage to throw a little get-together that evening for friends – with food they cooked themselves. They volunteer for at least a dozen organisations. They have time-consuming hobbies that require gobs of energy to complete. They’re the ones who throw wonderful surprise parties; who cook up a meal for you when you’re sick; who always seem to have time for, well, anybody who asks.
They live life with gusto. They suck every drop of marrow from the bones of life.
She is four years old and utterly, heartbreakingly lovely. With beautiful, shoulder-length, curly, auburn hair and a sweet, round little head that closely mirrors that of her Mom and her Grandma, she always makes me want to gather her up and hold her forever. It has been so very long since I held my own little ones and sometimes, my arms – and my heart – ache with the recollection of my own babies’ sleepy, heavy warmth. Continue reading “Little Girl”