Spring Has Finally Sprung (I think…)

 

And to celebrate the arrival of spring (finally!) is the following poem called “Bloom”  by Emily Dickinson

Bloom—is Result—to meet a Flower
And casually glance
Would scarcely cause one to suspect
The minor Circumstance

Assisting in the Bright Affair
So intricately done
Then offered as a Butterfly
To the Meridian—

To pack the Bud—oppose the Worm—
Obtain its right of Dew—
Adjust the Heat—elude the Wind—
Escape the prowling Bee

Great Nature not to disappoint
Awaiting Her that Day—
To be a Flower, is profound
Responsibility—

And in other news, in these unpredictable times when mandates, rules and regulations are constantly being revised, I have found the following website to be filled with good information as to how to conduct oneself during these (hopefully) waning days of Covid-19.  Recommended by a friend’s doctor: https://dfcm.utoronto.ca/confused-about-covid

 

Aren’t We Lucky!

What a fun day we had this Saturday!  Gathered together for our annual business meeting,  we shared food, drink, each other’s company and lots of information about upcoming races, training and trips planned.  I am so grateful to be part of this remarkable group of walkers.  I believe we bring out the best in each other.

My thanks to each and every one of you who came to my house, who contributed delicious food, including someone who delivered a salad but couldn’t attend, our fearless leader who steered the meeting, those who helped clean up, and unbeknownst to me, even left gifts.   Thoughtful photos were taken and circulated among us and lots of laughter was heard.

We’ve been through a lot this past year, a seemingly never ending pandemic, loss of loved ones, physical ailments, emotional pain and lately, a tragic downturn of global affairs, and yet we continue walking together, upright and strong, ever onwards in the midst of uncertainty.

It makes me think of something Madeleine Albright once said:  “The act of striving is in itself the only way to keep faith with life.”  And so with hope in my heart and faith in life, I continue to walk on, with all of you.

Moving On…

Well, the grand old dame on Crawford Street  (and I don’t mean me!)  was well and truly tarted up and she sold for a pretty penny.  But what a process it was!  Plasterers, painters, home inspector, floor plan drafter, stagers,  and photographer.  The last time I sold a house, way back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, the prevailing wisdom was, every time a prospective buyer dropped by, you were to have hot, just out of the oven, muffins, spreading their wonderful aroma throughout the house.  You didn’t even need to do anything else.

Nowadays,  valkyries from Valhalla (or Storm Troopers from Star Wars, if you’d like a more contemporary image), descend upon the house,  spread out like locusts,  and pack things up faster than one could imagine.  I had to rescue a pair of shoes, my phone charger and the TV remote before they were banished into boxes.  I still haven’t found my hand weights or some of my winter walking  clothes.  I finally found my running shoes in a box in the garage.  There are things I’m sure I won’t find until I move.

And so the deed is done, not without some sense of sadness after 33 years but sadness mixed with relief as I know it is the right thing for me to do.  Now I am onto Mission Number two which is to find another place to live.   Change is definitely hard but it is also good.  And as the good doctor said in an episode of “Call the Midwife”, as he was consoling his teenage children about their impending house hold move: “The memories don’t stay with the house, the memories come with us”.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy!

 

To each and every one of you, powerful walkers, may you find peace,  joy and happiness with your families and friends during these holidays.

And as for the new year, I have only one wish that is actually more of a curse and it is:  VIRUS BEGONE!!!  (that should work don’t you think?)

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

I confess, when my turn at the blog came around this month, I intended to write about the experience of loss;  a contemplation of the age I now find myself to be, spurred by the funeral service we attended to support our much loved friend.  Coping with loss (of so many different kinds!) whether it be physical or mental or emotional has become a greater part of our lives and somehow we must find a way to come to terms with it.   But when I woke up early Sunday morning, nature unfolded a different plan for me and I will let Emily Bronte say the rest:

SPELLBOUND

The night is darkening round me,  / The wild winds coldly blow; / But a tyrant spell has bound me / And I cannot, cannot go. / The giant trees are bending / Their bare boughs weighed with snow. / And the storm is fast descending, /  And yet I cannot go. / Clouds beyond clouds above me, / Wastes beyond wastes below; / But nothing drear can move me; / I will not, cannot go.

Go out and enjoy our magical winter wonderland!

Preparing to Say Goodbye…

Not to you, dear walkers, but to my house.  My house where we raised our two baby daughters to adulthood, where I cared for my dying husband, where I have lived for the past 33 years, that house, my home.  I know in my head that it’s time; it’s far too much house for one person and two cats and I’ve seen too many elder relatives stay far too long alone in their homes as their houses crumble around them.  So I know it’s time, but the hard part is that one has to actually do the deed while one is still capable and that means before one has to.  That’s the only way to stay on top of it, to get out earlier than necessary.  I will be turning 70 years old in the coming year and in my mind that has always been my “drop dead” date (sorry, a very bad pun)

But when one leaves a place, presumably one has to go somewhere else and where was that  somewhere going to be???  The last time I moved was 33 years ago and I did it together with my husband.  Now I have to do this on my own (but not without the help of my friends, thank goodness) and where am I to go?  I find this time of my life to be very profound, with almost continuous  losses of different kinds that I must reflect upon and absorb without bitterness.

“I’m scared”, I thought, “I can’t do this”.  But then I remembered; to be alive is to be subject to continuous change and so really the challenge of selling, then buying, moving out, and then moving in, setting up, and then settling down is an integral part of life that proves I am still alive and in motion…Not dead yet, I think!

 

And Still We Persisted!

Who could have foreseen it?  After all the planning BD had done and the training we had endured during the hot summer months (including that excellent hill training in High Park!),  who could have imagined that Alberta  would be in such horrific pandemic shape by the end of September 2021?  And the race we had decided for our first(!) post pandemic trip out of town together would also be out of the question for a second time in a row.  In the words of Dorothy Parker:  “This wasn’t plain terrible, this was fancy terrible.  This was terrible with raisins in it”.

So what did we walkers do with our disappointment?  We held our own “Melissa’s Race” along the waterfront of Lake Ontario;  a far cry from the city of Banff to be sure and yet there we were, undaunted and unstoppable, doing our own “virtual” race in the spirit of the actual race we were missing.  The day itself was race perfect, a little cool but sunny with a glorious breeze blowing through every once in a while.  Varying start times reflected the differing lengths the walkers were doing; 5 km, 10 km and 21 km but we all knew where we were going to finish – on the patio of the Amsterdam Brew Pub where we celebrated being together again after a well walked race and a wretched pandemic. Now just how lovely was that?  We have the photos to prove it.

Oh, The Places We’ve Been!

I was born and raised in Montreal and only came to Toronto as a young adult, and being a city girl, I have lived all these years in the downtown core,  within a 10 block radius.  The  sprawling suburbs of Toronto are therefore a complete mystery to me.  Oh, I’ve heard the street names in the radio traffic reports;  Morningside, Ellesmere, Kipling, Winston Churchill Blvd, but I have never been to them.  This has now changed for me, as we walkers explore parts of the Pan Am Trail.  We’ve travelled to places in Scarborough that I’ve never been to before and oh the sights we’ve seen:

We’ve walked through parklands where men of a certain age bring their caged birds for some fresh air and school buses sleep,  through meadowlands bursting with wildflowers and where a rabbit lingers, down dirt paths running alongside wandering creeks, through thick forests of dappled light and shade,  and on out to the big beautiful lake itself, where the sound of the surf crashes against retaining walls and showers us with spray, where a mink has caught a cormorant for dinner and drags it along the shore to its den.  Experiencing the wild and unpredictable beauty of the eastern shore of our city.

What an inspired thought to get us out of our routine and exploring the land where we live.  My thanks to M and P for making it happen.

 

PPE (aka Post Pandemic Euphoria!)

I know, I know; people are already talking about a possible fourth wave in the fall but give me some slack here! This month,  I have had lunch (inside!) with two friends; I have had dinner outside (no masks!  no physical distancing!) with six friends; I have had lunch on a restaurant patio (not my own cooking!)  with two friends;  I have met (in the flesh!) some people I have only ever seen before on Zoom, and I am so very, very grateful for every single minute of it.  May it continue for as long as possible and remain a testament to the miracle of vaccines.

Speaking of gratitude, how wonderful it has been to be training again!  A group of us has signed up for a race in Banff at the end of September and  we have plunged right back into a training schedule.  We’ve been doing hill training on Thursdays and endurance walks on Saturday, travelling all over the city to walk on parts of the Pan American trail. We walk, we talk, we support each other when we tire, we moan and we groan,  and we go the distance.  How good it feels to be back in the pack.

Speaking of distance, why do races have to be so darn long?  Just asking…And finally, when will we old enough to stop doing this?  Never, you say?  Pity…

 

 

Welcome: the Two Dose Summer!

I love poetry.  I’ve loved  It right from childhood (now who doesn’t remember the giggle fest of “Eletelephony”?) so it’s not a later in life acquired taste.  It’s a bred in the bones, deeply resonating, visceral connection with the language of poetry.   My father used to recite “The Lion and Albert” at parties so perhaps I inherited the poetry gene.  I also love science fiction, having fallen under the spell of  “The Foundation Trilogy”  as a teenager (in which I encountered the word “jihad” for the very first time).

So perhaps it is natural that I will quote this from Ursula K Le Guin: “And in poetry, beauty is no ornament; it is the meaning.  It is the truth.”  Below are two poems about entering a new world – which for us is the summer of 2021.

Instructions on Not Giving Up

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out of the crabapple tree, / more than the neighbour’s almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate / sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees that really gets to me.

When all the shock of white and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, / leave the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath, / the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin growing over / whatever winter did to us, a return to the strange idea of continuous living despite the mess of us, /  the hurt, the empty.

Fine then, I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf / unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

(Ada Limón      Fireflycreativewriting.com)

Autobiography of Eve

Wearing nothing but snakeskin / boots, I blazed a footpath, the first / radical road out of that old kingdom / toward a new unknown. / When I came to those great flaming gates / of burning gold, / I stood alone in terror at the threshold between Paradise and Earth. / There I heard a mysterious echo: / my own voice /  singing to me from across the forbidden / side. I shook awake – / at once alive in a blaze of green fire. / Let it be known: I did not fall from grace. / I leapt / to freedom.

(Ansel Elkins)

P.S.  Just imagine it, Eve wearing snakeskin boots!  You go girl!