Wednesday, February 3, 2016

to say

"You always try your best." I say to my grandson. "You always work hard and that is why..." I paused to get just the right words. "And that is why I'll be successful in life?" my grandson asks earnestly. "Yes!" I say joyfully. "Oh," he breathes, "I was hoping that was what you were going to say."

probably would

"Can you do this Grandma?" my grandson asks hopping, his two skates rising off the ice in a perfect leap, and then another. I think about jumping. I think as hard as I can. I even bend my knees but my skate blades stay firmly bonded to the ice. "I jumped in my heart," I say, but my grandson has whizzed ahead and is now skating backwards. "Can you skate backwards?" he asks, sliding to a stop with a frosty spray. "I never learned to skate backwards," I admit. "How do you stop like that?" I ask admiringly.
"Hi Grandma!" my granddaughter calls. Her eyes are bright, her cheeks flushed as she rushes up the ice, her hands gripping a blue frame. And only a few moments later, there she is again, skating along with 'no visible means of support.'
My littlest granddaughter has made it out onto the ice too. It was touch and go in the change room. "They're too tight!" she wailed. "Too tight." The skates, the ski pants, the zipped up hoodie, the helmet.....But out on the ice, with standing up AND moving happening at the same time, happiness distracts her with a different kind of freedom.
I felt as stiff as a stick when I started skating. Stiff, but not brittle fortunately because I fell. Wasn't even sore the next day like you'd think. I could probably fall like that once a week without any trouble at all. And if I skated once a week, I probably would.

Friday, January 29, 2016


Did you go to Sunday School when you were a child? Church and Sunday School were a package deal when I was a kid and I have a lot of very early memories with wooden pews and ladies hats right in the middle of them. I must have been part beaver because I can remember kneeling on the pew as a preschooler and peering over the back at the people in the row behind..... and gnawing on the wooden back. It gave way so delightfully to my teeth, just like a pencil did a couple years later in grade one. My mother would eventually spot me defacing the property and give me 'the eye' or a murmured admonition. Oh the advantage of being the fifth born whence your mother's patience is a finely honed thing.
My Sunday School class in the little church of my childhood was up a very curved, steep staircase that opened upon a tiny room with miniature painted plywood chairs. I think if I had one of those chairs now, I'd hang it on the wall like artwork.
My teacher was a very short and very round lady with a wonderfully gravelly voice named Grandma Johnston. She always wore a hat; a sort of glorified head band. Very glorified because it was bedecked with gossamer flowers. I can't imagine how she got down low enough to perch on one of those little painted chairs so perhaps she didn't. I can't remember that detail. I do remember the stories though. Stories like Jonah and the Whale,  and David and Goliath, and Daniel in the Lions Den. Stories of high adventure and high stakes. I loved those stories. They were always told with flannel graph which was 90 percent of their charm. I have a sudden urge to tell you a story using flannel graph but alas, I have only Playmobil handy as a prop. What do you think?