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).
Do you remember When I’m an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple? The poem, entitled Warning, was written in 1961 when the author, Jenny Joseph, was just 29 years old. Here is a link, with Jenny herself sassily reading the poem aloud just a few short years before her death.
I think I was a young woman aged about age 29 myself, when I first read that poem. I smiled affectionately at the thought of that cheeky old lady finally letting her hair down; finally acting any way she darned well pleased, free from social conformity at last: wearing purple if she wanted to, drinking brandy if she wanted to, learning to spit, sitting on the pavement if she got tired, and ‘hoarding pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes”.
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.
I am not a great traveller. There, I said it. I am a homebody. I like my quiet routines. I love my cat. I love my dog. I like knowing that my little domain is safe and cared for. I like keeping an eye on things.
If you dig a little, you will find that every family has at least one: they come in a variety of names: dirty laundry, skeletons in the closet, the Family Secret or just “Shhh! We don’t talk about that.”
It was a cold we will tell our grandchildren about: indeed, the last time it was this cold in my province was at almost the same date, one hundred years before. Record-breaking freezing temperatures and windchills affected much of Eastern Canada and the United States during the first week of February, 2023. At its coldest, the weather in my province – including the windchill – plummeted to -45 Celsius (-49 Fahrenheit).
There are 49 derogatory terms for women listed in Wikipedia, including quite a number of terms I’ve never heard in my life. I do know they are all meant to be insulting and I am sorry to admit that I’ve used a few of them, mostly in the privacy of my own mind.
I’ve also occasionally been called a few of those words.
As you can perhaps imagine, I never liked the experience.
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 didn’t avoid the funeral because you were going to be there.
In all honestly, I hadn’t thought of you at all until my husband – who did go – told me he saw you there.
I’m not sorry I missed seeing you. It would have been a thirteen-hour round-trip and since my catastrophic – and permanent – burnout seven years ago, my body just can’t handle that big of a day. But I’ve been thinking of all the things I could have/ should have said to you, had I gone, that we both know I wouldn’t have said because well, I never think on my feet.