The Crow

The Crow

Road Trip Cronicles

The Crow 

March 29, 2019

It was my birthday, yesterday. I turned 55. 

Like most days since I moved out to the country, in late fall, my morning routine was much the same. 

First thing is first, I start the fire which has inevitably burned out during the night. I open up the vents and stir the ashes in hopes there are hot coals still clinging on to life. I throw on a couple of small splits, make coffee and tend to The Toots. 

I open up the curtains on three large, south-facing windows and check the tall pine trees, which helps me gauge how strong the wind is blowing, hence, how big I can build my fire. 

I have heated entirely by wood, this winter, a ritual which I have enjoyed immensely. It brings me back to my early childhood, living with my grandparents, in Laggan, Ontario. Nannie would make toast on the stove using a reconfigured wire hanger. Everything tastes better on the woodstove. 

With a French press of coffee and my lap top, I sit at my desk, in front of the windows, looking out at the trees, the snow, and the lonely, wooden, lovers’ swing, immobilized for the last four months by snow and ice and the absence of a suitable candidate. 

Through the cluster of tall pines, across the road, is the Mennonite church where my neighbours gather to worship. I love to hear the clip-clop of hooves coming down the road. I stop what I’m doing and watch the parade when they come by. 

So anyway, yesterday, as I sipped my coffee and checked some sweet messages of birthday well-wishes, I noticed a lone crow coming to settle on the very top of the long, gangly sprig, on the tallest of the hundred or so pines on the property, her weight bending it over. 

It was windy, but she hung on for the longest time, teetering and balancing like a daredevil high-wire act. Although she could have flown off to somewhere safe, she just braved the wind and maneuvered her wings out to help her keep her balance.

I couldn’t help wonder why. Why would she hang on like that, and lean into the struggle, when she could very well have just flown away to a lower branch or tucked herself in, somewhere, away from the wind? 

Then, it struck me, and I understood where she was coming from… She was loving it!

For a great part of my life, I’ve been hanging on for dear life, grabbing at the tallest, metaphorical branches that I can reach, teetering in the wind. Although, I could always choose a lower, safer branch, often, I choose the most precarious of branches, in sometimes the strongest of winds. I’m not always successful and I’ve taken some falls, but one thing is for certain, and the crow can attest to it, the view from those branches is spectacular. 

Thank you so much for the kindness you paid me, yesterday - family, friends, community and those I’ve met along my journey. I love you, too xxx

Wanderlust 

It happens every year around this time... Wanderlust... I’ve got it, it’s bad, and it’s sure to get worse as spring morphs into summer.


Anyone who knows me, knows that I have had a love affair with the ocean. The first time I saw “big water” was in 1976, on a family trip to Vancouver. We were living in Edmonton at the time… Now there’s a whole ‘nother’ story…

We had moved to Ottawa in 1974, from Alexandria (via a year in Cornwall) and my gypsy mamma decided that it was time to sell everything we owned (not that there was that much to begin with) and move across the country. I can remember all our belongings being laid out on the front lawn at the grandmother’s place and it being auctioned off, carried away, by strangers… toys, records, dishes, everything… 

We only stayed out west for a couple of months. I remember returning back to Ottawa and living in a virtually empty apartment, for a while. Eventually, my sister and I bought a second hand record player from the neighbour upstairs, financed by our babysitting money. At least, we had music. We collected 45s. It was the summer of Bohemian Rhapsody, You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, and Silly Love Songs…  

Anyway… Back to Vancouver…  

Although I was very young, I can remember feeling how grand and special the ocean was. It was early spring, cold and rainy, but my mother still took off her shoes and put her feet in just to say she was in the ocean. I may have missed the significance at the time, but I realized as I got older that it was something else that I inherited from my mother - an unmistakable draw to the ocean.

Spring is in the Air 

April 1, 2018

Happy April, Happy Easter, Happy Spring and Happy Belated Birthday to me.

I have just recently celebrated another birthday. I like birthdays for many reasons. This one, I spent with two dear sister friends. It was a wonderfully rainy and dismal, late March St. John's Day, so other than a walk with the Toots, between the raindrops, we stayed in. We had fish tacos, red velvet cake with cream cheese icing and wine, a lovely chat about everything and nothing, and watched Lady Bird.

The film wasn't what we thought it would be, after all the hype, but we certainly all agreed that it reminded us of our generation's version of that coming of age genre, Pretty in Pink. Remember that one? Ah, a road trip down memory lane, another reason I like birthdays. Thanks Witches!

In honour of road trips and birthdays, I want to re-post an entry from a couple of years ago.

Wanderlust...

Wanderlust...

 

March 1, 2015

March is my birthday month... I will be 51 on the 28th. I've never minded birthdays; I never mind getting older. Someone once said, "Do not regret getting older; It is a privilege denied to many." So I am blessed and I know it!

Fifty-one is particularly significant because my beloved mother died at 51, after a year-and-a-half-long battle with Leukemia. Losing my mother was at first devastating, but through those ashes I became born again, and I learned to live life to its fullest. You might say she gave me life, twice.

At her father's farm in Laggan, Ontario, circa 1947.

At her father's farm in Laggan, Ontario, circa 1947.

My mother, Colena, was born February 3, 1943, in rural eastern Ontario - Laggan to be exact. She would have turned 72 last month. She was hard working, strong-willed, and strict. She was also loving, supportive and wise, with a gypsy streak a mile wide... wonder where I get it. She had a contagious laugh and a beautiful singing voice. She was a career waitress and although the best damn waitress there was, would have loved to have been a performer. She once told me that I was living the life she would have done, given the opportunity.

Instead, she married my good-for-nothing father and followed that up with an equally-useless second husband. For a smart woman, she sure made some foolish choices.Third time was indeed the charm for her. She lived the last 10 years of her life with a wonderful man, who she married six months before she died. We've kept him on, and recently celebrated his 80th birthday. She's always there in the room with us when we celebrate anything as a family.

I would say that, mostly, she lived an unfulfilled life, and although she loved my sisters and me like a mama bear, would probably have done things differently, in retrospect. She  would be the first to admit that she made some pretty major parenting mistakes while we were growing up, but in the words of 20th century prophet, Oprah, "She did what she knew, and when she knew better, she did better." Indeed she did.

So instead of dreading my birthday, I look towards it as another year that I've been blessed with to live the hell out of. I don't make resolutions, just plans. Some of those include finish writing and recording my second album, traveling, working on my use of punctuation, staying fit and healthy, nurturing old friendships and cultivating new ones... one in particular.

I learned a lot of hard lessons in life watching my mother's struggles, and I carry the torch for both of us. I am her, she is me. In her honour, I vow that I will make the best of "our" life. I am everything I am because of her, and for that I will be forever grateful.