Wednesday, June 29, 2016

on we go

Another Wednesday afternoon and we are all seated around the tables in the main dining area. The afternoon sun has turned the leaves outside the window into a patchwork of greens. Somewhere, a sparrow is chirping and chipping away. I am holding a huge handful of paper strips, fanned out in my hand.  Each person seated round the table cautiously pulls out a paper and reads the single word written there aloud to the rest of the group. Then they tell a little story to us all inspired by the word and the others add on a sentence or two making a chain of small stores. One person chooses the word ‘bicycle.’ She laughs. She recalls how much she wanted a bicycle as a girl but her mother was afraid she would get hurt and so, she learned to ride her friend’s bike. None of us are surprised at her independent streak. When her mother saw her skimming along the road, she relented and bought her a bike. Others add stories of riding bikes to school. We are reminded that another rode a horse to school. The stories pass quickly round the table and back to the beginning. I hold out my paper filled hand and on we go.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

deeply gaze

My eyes were on the wooden bridge where a man leaned against the railing.
Not my husbands eyes though.
His gaze was already aligned with the strangers.
They spoke in unison. "There's an owl."
Perched on a curved branch hanging over the bubbling creek, was an owl. A Barred Owl. It stared solemnly at us.
We whistled softly at it and hooted but it just blinked.
I wished my grandchildren had been along. It isn't often that an owl perches where it can be admired and scrutinized.
I remembered walking with my daughter and the children on a long ago afternoon and being startled by a bird suddenly swooping between the trees, right across the path where we were walking in the dappled light of a heavily wooded park.
It was a giant bird.
A Great Grey Owl.
Silently, it swooped back towards us, and up into the branches beyond.
There it perched in all its magnificent, regal greyness.
What a huge bird.
No wonder they are called Great Grey Owls.
It stared and stared at us and we were just as impolite.
The children and I stood in a row and hooted and hooted.
The eyes of the owl never left our faces.
It began to feel a little unnerving.

My husband went back to the woods with me the next day, hoping to see the Great Grey Owl but alas, the branches were bare.
We hooted and whooted and did hear owls calling but none came for a closer look.

I'd like to be an Owl Whisperer.
I'd like to stand and call, and wings wide would silently sweep.
Black glistening eyes would deeply gaze.
And I would hear with my heart.


I apparently take caution to a legendary level.
"He's come up with a word for that," my daughter said, laughing.
"He says it's been Gramma-fied."

Should my grandson contact Websters?
definition: an activity modified to reduce danger.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


We went for a sunny Sunday stroll in the woods and were astonished to see ripe Blackberries glistening among the tangled green.
We ate a handful.
Then we saw a Huckleberry bush, its fruit hanging like tiny decorations.
We ate a handful of them too.
Salmon berries were beautifully ripe and sweetly tart, and Thimble berries were everywhere.
We ate both just for comparison sake.
"Look," my husband exclaimed.
A huge Saskatoon bush, and then another..
Plump, dark purple berries.
We each ate a handful.
Summer fresh, U-pick.

grace on wings

"Look," my husband says, pointing skyward. "It must be a Sandhill Crane."
Such wide, wide wings.
A huge bird, with rust colored wings is losing altitude rapidly.
Down over the marshy shoreline it coasts, grace on wings.

Friday, June 10, 2016

made her happy

 A flannel quilt for my daughter.
She wanted something cozy and warm.
So she chose flannel.
She wanted colors that made her happy.
So she chose black, gray, creamy white and red.
She wanted something simple but graphic so she chose a woven look.
I loved working on this quilt.
Flannel is so soft.
And I love the colors.
Black as night, cloud gray, birch tree white and berry red.
And the pattern was so simple to stitch up that the top was together in a blink.

If you like the front, you'll probably like the back.
Same fabrics.
Same colors.
Still graphic.

There is always a huge question mark over a quilt top as it is finished and sandwiched. How should it be quilted? As usual, the quilt had the final say. Simple graphic pattern, simple graphic quilting. I just stitched straight lines to and fro. It looks sort of like I dropped a fistful of giant pick-up sticks on the quilt.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

in a circle

I volunteer at the Home my mother is living at now.
I lead a group once a week called Story Circle.
It began with stories read from books.
Stories, pictures, poetry.
It morphed into something else though.
Something unexpected.
And simple.

We just became friends.
And now we sit and talk.
And tell each other stories.
In a circle.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

all the better

I'm a volunteer.
Saying that makes me think of plants that just appear in the garden.
They weren't planted.
But there they are anyway.
Sometimes a potato is missed by the pitchfork or a cherry tomato falls unnoticed, hidden in the tangle of a late summer garden.
Then leaves fall.
Winter stills and chills.
As spring sprouts into summer, likewise the volunteer raises leafy arms and joins the rows marching off into the distance. It is usually in a strange spot, sort of out of step yet somehow perfectly placed.
Autumn harvest is all the better for them.

all around

We camped and fished last weekend and came home sun scorched and mosquito bitten with the yodel of loons still ringing in our ears.
I know it will fade over the next few days, but I can still see the periwinkle sky reflected on the surface of the water, smooth as polished glass.
Can see the bald eagle fishing.
The flash of yellow goldfinch and the startlingly blue wing of the bluebird.
Butterflies zig-zagging above the wild flowers.
Lupines, Oxeye Daisy, Wild Strawberry, Indian Paintbrush.
Birdsong all around.

live up to

My little granddaughter and I sat side by side in the shade, telling each other a story.
Little Red Riding Hood.
I supplied a few words and she filled in the details.
It was a revelation.
Apparently, Little Red picked apples in the forest. Green ones.
So THAT was what she had in her basket. 
I was startled to learn that she planned to make a smoothie with them.
And the grandmother, well, she had things under control.
She got on with her life.
She made cookies and smacked the wolf.
I felt so pleased.
That grandmother sounded like someone you could count on.
Someone brave.
Was I the inspiration?
The little author set me straight.
"That wasn't you grandma," she said. "That was the other grandma. The one in the story."
Of course.
The one in the story.
That grandma smacked the wolf, dusted off her hands and whipped out the freshly baked cookies.
Now that is a woman to live up to.