Monday, December 31, 2007

First Impressions

For my first visit to Williams Lake, we drove. Our vehicle was new; we bought it only a few days before we left. It is sure footed in the Ice and Snow, and it does everything except make my morning coffee...

But new vehicles have small bugs that must be identified and fixed. We did not have time to find these inconsistencies before we left. But one problem became annoying and somewhat dangerous...the windshield washer gave up the ghost half way to our destination.

On snowy, muddy, salt-encrusted highways, a clean windshield cannot stay that way for long. We found our water bottles came in handy to wash the sprayed Mud and Ice and Snow from the glass, although this only worked until the next huge semi-trailer passed by.

Nothing could take away the beauty of the Snow-covered landscape, however. This was not coastal Snow...these flakes kept their individuality, even as they lay on the ground. After we stopped for the night, I went for a felt as if I was walking on a blanket of Stars, that winked and blinked at me, telling me their gleeful secrets.

Then I remembered I had forgotten my camera! Both cameras were sitting on the table...back in Qualicum Beach. It was very difficult to accept my ineptitude in leaving them behind. So many photo opportunities were lost; and yet, in the end, I discovered I would have had little time to take photos. Time was distinctly accelerated on this trip, and the impressions made would have to stay in the camera of my mind.

As an individual who has lived on the coast for most of my life, I was enthralled with this Snow that clung to Trees and other vegetation, long after the last Snow Storm had passed through the area. Vast fields of untouched white, with Cattle dotted here and there, gave me the urge to place my footprint here.

It was cold. The temperature lowered the further North we drove, and yet...this was a different cold. Temperatures of -9C on the Coast, with the biting Ocean Wind, would have me diving for the best spot in front of the fireplace. Here, with Sun's smile beckoning, the temperature felt crisp, to be sure...but it also gave energy. The kind of energy where outdoor activities no longer felt scurrilous, a thing to be avoided. Rather, this kind of energy called me to come and see...

Coming from the South, the first glimpse I had of Williams Lake was a sea of White. Even the roads were packed with Snow, making distinctions between the Lake and the City difficult, from my vantage point. It was my first introduction to Snowmobiles racing on the Lake, leaving tracks that were quickly covered over by blowing Snow.

The Sun glittered, calling inhabitants of this Northern Cariboo City to come and play, to take advantage of the Lakes and Rivers and vast Fields and Trails that dot the area.

As we drove down into the Williams Lake valley, I was absolutely astounded by the enormous activity. It seemed as if the whole day was involved in a constant rush hour, it seemed as if everyone that lived there was outside, shopping, window-gazing, going about important business. Restaurants are filled to overflowing; finding a table at lunchtime is next to impossible.

In the middle of Winter, this City carries on. The cold condition of the weather in Williams Lake is ignored.

We checked in to the Fraser Inn, currently being renovated. I soon learned that the entries to all businesses, Hotels and restaurants are sloppy and wet...Snow melting off shoes and boots create puddles and mats become waterlogged. Even the finest entry to the best building falls victim to the melting Snow.

I learned, as well, that Snow falls during the Night, very often, making the sludgy, muddy Roads pristine once again, until the inevitable daytime activities once more turn them into ridged, softened, dirty runnels.

We made an appointment for the next day with a Realtor; with a map of the City we set off, once more, to see what there was for sale, what areas we wanted to be situated in. We wanted country property, so we headed Fox Mountain, Esler/Dog Creek and others.

None of these roads were ploughed. Most were hard-packed Snow; it was difficult to tell where the ditches were on these roads. Thankfully, our vehicle pulled through, dirty windshield and all.

The City of Williams Lake is centred in a valley, with the Lake at its middle. It is a relatively narrow valley, and property outside of the city is situated on the mountainous terrain that surrounds it.

And the higher one goes, the colder it gets, making for a very short growing season, a thing I did not realize and a thing that is important to me. The views of the City are stupendous, from some of the places I saw. But am I ready to exchange a view, as beautiful as it may be, for the shorter growing season?

There is another consideration, in moving to a country property...and that is many of the properties have sewage lagoons, a thing I had never heard about before this trip. This took me aback; this is entirely new to me. A sewage lagoon. The questions I asked were met with gentle smiles and some bewilderment...why was I concerned about this?

Sewage lagoons will require much research on my part, before I could consider buying property with one. Here, on the Coast, if the soil will not perk, there are other ways around the problem and these ways have not transferred North, as yet.

And many of the ideas and creativity involved in building here on the Coast have also not travelled North. Green ideas, conservation and taking care of the environment seems to be a little less in the forefront. In some ways, I felt as if we had travelled to a different country a little back in time.

Most houses here are not meant for two people...most have a minimum of four bedrooms, full basements...every house is really large. Heating with wood is very common, especially after the Pine Beetle left many groves of dead Trees. The Trees are Pine and not conducive for building, but some newer houses use the dead wood for planked ceilings and walls and furniture, a very attractive alternative to burning. Pine Deadwood has a silvery, marred beauty that speaks to me of history I do not intuitively understand, as yet.

Landfills can no longer accept the dead wood; there is too much of it. In time, other uses for the wood will proliferate, and there is an eventual end to the Deadwood. The pine beetle has moved on.

This trip turned into a fact-finding mission. What was I truly facing, beyond the romance of the Northern country? What was mundane life like, here in the Heartland, far away from the sophistication of the western shores? What challenges or opportunities awaited me here? And how would I find the best way to deal with them?

I found a butcher shop, selling cuts of Beef and Buffalo only found in the finest restaurants, which also sells the same brand of Goat Milk I buy. I found two large grocery stores and countless other smaller ones. I found another butcher shop, that sells nothing but Pork products. I found organic vegetables are delivered in the Summer growing period, from a local farmer.

I find a branch of the Thompson Rivers University. I find many beautifully kept schools, with large playing fields and well-thought out designs. I find a zest for life here, beyond the outward look, beyond the fashionable designs of the West Coast.

And I find I do not hurt in this climate...arthritic knees and shoulders and feet and hips all felt much more limber, in this dry cold.

People are open-hearted here, true and honest. Friendliness is a given and nurturing goes beyond the necessary...Graham is suffering with the most dreadful cough and a waitress in a restaurant, with high solace, asked him if he wouldn't like some honey in his tea, wrapping him with care.

Our life is turned inside out, for awhile. Everyday events will change, each hour bringing a new idea or thought. It is exhausting and exhilarating.

Williams Lake awaits us...a City built by cowboys, loggers and miners. Adventurers all, their Spirit still imbues the City with a palpable energy.

What will this energy teach me?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Who Knew?

Sometimes, my doctor says, a change is as good as a rest. And sometimes, the Universe has plans for me I could not, in my wildest dreams, ever have conjured up.

A month ago, I was contemplating Christmas and what I would serve for dinner. Two weeks into that month, Graham received word of a new Williams Lake.

And today, after two weeks of tremendous excitement, anticipation and research into the Cariboo-Chilcotin area, I find I will be moving North into the interior of BC.

For an Island girl, used to the tempering breezes of Ocean all around, this will be a change in temperature, to begin. The mean temperature in Williams Lake is -10C for January...and during our recent cold snap, the temperatures there were closer to -17C. This will mean zone changes for me, as a gardener who has gardened on the much milder coast all my life.

Yet Williams Lake's flower is the of my favourite shrubs of all time. And I hear Rudbeckia and Echinacea does very well. There will be others I look forward to knowing, for their Northern hardiness.

There will be different varieties of wildlife from what I am accustomed to. There are Moose, Elk, Cariboo, Grizzly Bear, Wolves...and the Spirit Bear lives close to where I will be.

There are myriad Lakes and the Fraser River runs close by. Fishing is world renowned...and it is the home of the Williams Lake Stampede, huge ranches, lumber and mining. Williams Lake is the hub of the Northern Interior.

I think, perhaps, I may have a chance to manifest what I have always dreamed of having...a tiny guesthouse. A Bed and Breakfast, with produce grown in my own garden. With perhaps the stewardship of a Forest nearby, and Water not far away.

Along with the euphoria of a New Adventure...comes the sense of loss. This home and garden mean much to me...two weeks ago, I thought we were here for a long time. And Ocean will be three hours driving away, instead of just down the road.

In a two week time period, my life turned upside down, like the Tarot Card depicting the fallen building, called appropriately enough the Tower. This card, along with others depicting a great future, showed up often during my anticipatory Wait. There were many prosperous messages sent by the Animal Kingdom...the Eagles and Hawks...and the Snowy Owl.

If he wasn't a messenger from the North, I don't know who is.

In two weeks, mountains were moved to facilitate this complete change in my life. Obstacles were flowed as smoothly and surely as River moves to the Sea.

Even the move is all taken care of...all I have to do is find a place that will be a home. In the middle of winter, where the landscape is covered by an easy foot of Snow. The garden in the Cariboo will be a little like opening a box of chocolates, when Spring arrives.

The Wheel of Fortune also came up often, during my Wait. Mountains were moved and Rivers were crossed easily and safely because the whole thing was fated to be.

I feel a deep urge to move to this place I have never visited. Something calls me, strongly enough to leave my family...a thing I never imagined I would do. But by flight, they are only an hour away. And there is a great airport at Williams Lake.

For the last two months, I have undertaken to purge our home of items no longer serving their purpose, with an urgency I cannot convey. Even as I did this, I wondered at it...I asked Why?

The answer came with a suddenness that defies description.

Who knew, two weeks ago, that my life would be taken by a giant Hand, and shown a different path?

Friday, December 14, 2007


"Anticipation, anticipation, Is makin' me late, Is keepin' me waitin' "...Carly Simon

The Wheel grinds slowly these days.

The minutes and hours seem longer than usual, when I look to the future...instead of where I am, in the present moment.

However, it seems I must test these things; so I find myself wandering off to a date in the future, when this will have happened and that will appear.

I notice, as always , time slows to a trickle, as my anticipation of the future grows.

I muse...Is this how children feel? Is this terrible, disorienting, joyous anticipation of a decision which will change my life, once again, exactly how children feel, as they look towards Christmas Day?

I think it is.

I remember it now. Time slows to a crawl.

How many more sleeps?...I remember asking, over and over again, with the desperate hope inside that perhaps, somehow, some way, a couple of sleeps had occurred, just when I wasn't looking.

This kind of anticipation surely wakes all the bodies...the spiritual, mental, physical and emotional...ohhh, the emotional bodies. It feels as if I might crawl out of my skin, it feels too tight to breathe. All senses are heightened, as I wait for a decision.

Each morning, as I wake, I wonder what day it is, how much closer am I to knowing...?

As a child, I learned that the anticipation of a holiday is sometimes more exciting than the actual event. And so, I try to balance the excitement with that thought in mind. I list all the cons...and yet, the pros still outweigh.

And the excitement spirals once again.

That wild exhilaration leads to contrariness. It led to contrary behaviour when I was a child; it is no different now.

If pleasures are greatest in anticipation, just remember that this is also true of troubles Elbert Hubbard quotes (American editor, publisher and writer, 1856-1915


Expecting is the greatest impediment to living. In anticipation of tomorrow, it loses today.”

Seneca quotes (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD)

Living in the present moment. Today will not come again.

“An intense anticipation itself transforms possibility into reality; our desires being often but precursors of the things which we are capable of performing.”

Samuel Smiles quotes (Scottish author, 1812-1904)

Then again, when I w
as a child, I would try and will into being that new doll I wanted so badly under the Christmas Tree...and who's to say I didn't? It was certainly there.

And so, as I try to live these next few days like a mature adult, I still find the dreams and hopes take centre stage...I still believe if I only will it...

Sometimes changes appear that I required badly but did not know it. Sometimes I am broadsided, looking like Grandfather Tree when he takes a blast from the North Wind.

The harbinger of change became apparent on the same day the man in the Homburg hat appeared, with his convoluted message. The bombardment of messages from different beings...I could not, after awhile, ignore them or explain them away.

Even as my faith grew, it wavered with doubt...but the doubt and negative thinking is fast disappearing with the synchronicities being displayed.

It appears my path in life is taking a thrilling curve...and I guess I'll go along for the ride.

And when I come to this realization, this knowing that I can let go and let God...I remember how, as a child, I would come to a point where I had done all I could to receive a much loved item that would be mine on Christmas Eve. I would sigh with relief...the fever pitch of excited anticipation and the patience required to wait had quite worn me out.

So it is today. Now. At this moment. What's done is done. And the waiting is part of the test.

“Hope is the companion of power, and mother of success; for who so hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles.”

Samuel Smiles quotes (Scottish author, 1812-1904)

I wait. With hope and faith and finally, acceptance of the outcome.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Memories

Years and years ago, when I was a child, Santa Claus came on the day of Christmas Eve. By seven or eight o'clock that night, gifts had been wrapped and placed under the Tree...which was behind closed doors.

Always, I heard the jingle of Reindeer's collars on the roof. Always, in my youngest years, there would be a sister who would tell my youngest sister and I stories, to keep us occupied.

Santa disappeared, I was told, if children caught a glimpse of him, when he delivered presents. Along with all the gifts.

After a meal, we were allowed to view the Tree in its splendorous, bedecked glory, with gifts underneath piled high. As our family grew, the gifts did, as well. At my youngest age of memory, it was overwhelming...I remember well how difficult it was to just stand in one place.

But we were expected to sing Christmas Carols. Before opening gifts. This was one of my mother's favourite traditions...the singing of Carols on Christmas Eve.

As I sang, I calmed down a little, I felt myself lost in the beauty of the old German Carols we sung. I especially remember hearing bells in the heartstoppingly beautiful renditions of the music playing on the record player behind us. Those songs that were played will forever remind me of my mother.

And then, as the spell of the Christmas music consumed me, it was time for gifts. My mother would hand them out, and we were expected to wait until she regained her seat, and able to watch us open them.

I was never quite sure how to react when I opened a gift, and so I resorted to enthusiasm and smiles, regardless of what I privately thought of the gift. And thankfully, attention was never centred on me for long, as there were many family members at home on Christmas Eve. The celebrations lasted long into the Night; Christmas Morning was for sleeping in.

When I became a teenager, Christmas Eve and the gifts I received did not seem as important or as thrilling as when I was a youngster. Could I play with a Sweater or a Skirt? I still wanted new toys, toys that could be played with and assembled and imagined with. I wanted books and art supplies, along with the Sweater. For years, it seems to me, I could not quite clear that hump to adulthood...Christmas was a time for the complete child in me.

One who still wanted to play.

And then, the day after my twentieth birthday, my child was born. And Christmas was forever given over to my children, after that day. The child in me delighted in my children's awestruck demeanour, at Santa Claus, at hiking for a Christmas Tree, at the music that filled the Air. At the toys and books and craft items I could make sure they received. The ones that I really wanted to play with.

My favourite gift is still something I can play with over the Christmas Holidays. A book is always a welcome gift, but for the day after, when adrenaline still runs high, I need to work energy off. I think the Cuisinart I received years ago was a great gift. More vegetables were chopped, pizza dough created, cheese grated over the holidays following receipt of this gift than any other time.

Gourmet foods fairly flew out of the kitchen, with my children and their friends being easy targets that year.

When I married, Christmas traditions I had grown up with, where we opened gifts on Christmas Eve, changed to celebrating on Christmas Day, with gifts opened in the morning.
And in so doing, I lost the wonderment of lighting the Night on Christmas Eve, for a time. I lost some of the awe I felt as we sang those songs...Kling, Glockchen, Klingalingaling...I can hear the words now.

But that is the thing about memories...they are always there, when I want to grab them for a look. And as an adult who knows her own mind, I can play these wonderful old songs, and remember the awe and wonder I felt, so long ago, when I sang them.

In memory of both my parents who have passed on, my mother just recently, I have decided I will find a CD with songs similar to the ones that were sung on Christmas Eve during my childhood. Those were the best Christmases, the ones where childlike innocence still reigned. They were the early years in my life; before bad memories superseded and Christmas became, during some years, a trudging climb to get over.

As I read Sheila's post recently, wherein she spoke of favourite Christmas melodies, the memory of my mother's tradition, where her children sung her favourite songs, with voices clear as bells, on Christmas Eve, came clearly to mind.

With it, came the memory of how wonderfully excited I felt, how the anticipation seemed so much better than the real thing.

Once a year, those memories take me back to an innocent time in my life, where the world's experiences lay ahead of me, and there was nothing to fear, nothing to regret.

And there is no greater gift than that.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

December Storms

A foretaste of the Storm was to hit Wednesday afternoon with viciously cold, bitingly strong Northeasterly Wind and freezing temperatures. Snow crippled the roads for a time, then the weather cleared, with a breathless hush, as if lying in wait...

Then the Blizzard hit, swirling down from the North, following Wind and blowing icy Breath over the entire landscape. Dark and menacing, this was no Winter Wonderland...

Heavy and wet at times, and with crystal clarity at others, the Snow Flakes obscured the camera lens with regularity. Menacing blasts of Wind, sending clear icy drops into my face also hampered the photo opportunity.

I mused on the photos I took last week, of Rose and Passion Flower, even after two or three Wind and Snow storms still holding their Blooms up to the Heavens...shouting their defiance at Winter's coming cold.

It snowed for the next three days. At times, the Snow Flakes slowed their hurried descent, becoming like graceful, plump pillows of down floating their way down to join their fellows.

At other times, the Snow Flakes joined into one billowing mass...sending furious, stinging energy clear into my consciousness, bringing clarity...

Sounds were muted...only the howling and whistling of Wind and the swish of the snow ploughs broke the silence. Winter was awesome in his wake up call to the dark, silent Nights to come.

And then...another weather alert. This time for massive flooding to begin, right after the Snow Storm ended. Record rainfalls and melting snow warnings were posted, and there continues to be a River Watch in effect.

It was awe-inspiring, to watch the swirls...the complete circles of weather change. My body did not adjust, for a time. Sinuses were bothering me, arthritis acted up and then disappeared...the weather barometer moved from clear and dry to heavy rainfall and warm, moist weather the next. It was a roller-coaster ride.

Within hours, we moved from frigid Arctic temperatures to warm, breezy Southern ones...the ones that remind me of early Spring. The Snow melted, right before my eyes.

For a time, we had Lake front property, as the back garden area flooded with melting Ice Water, with the run off ditch plugged. The dogs moved delicately through the Lake, trying to sniff out their familiar grounds.

Thoughts ran through my mind about the gentleman in the Homburg. This stranger who was not a stranger is a showman, I think. His warnings and his introduction came before a huge Storm, which ran the gamut from cold to moderately warm...all in the space of a few days.

The backyard Lake was due, in part, to the run off from the Park.

His arrival signals another life change, another big event arriving soon. I will look out for him during the coming months.

And there are other signs of change...a Snowy Owl flew low over Grandfather Tree the other day; five Eagles soared and flew low over the House, inciting Lucky to a grand hysteria; my dreams have a particular urgency and flavour.

What other surprises await for me with this wild advent to December storms?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Who Were They?

This morning my horoscope advised me not to whine.

I am known for my deep ability to whine and whimper over not getting my way. So I decided to practice acceptance of conditions the Universe decides to send my way.

It's Wednesday. Usually, I would have travelled to visit my daughter and grandchildren today.

The aberrant weather, however, warned me not to attempt the warnings were posted everywhere, of a huge Snow storm blanketing the area.

We received some Snow last week, which melted into slush during the following sunny days...and then froze overnight. The roads are sheets of Ice, in the morning. As difficult as it was...Wednesday mornings with my family are infinitely precious to me...I stayed at home.

Did I whine? Yes. Did I complain? Yes. For awhile, I forgot I wasn't to do this. In my befuddled state this morning, I told Graham I was going to make Lemons out of lemonade. He wished me luck.


On my way to answer correspondence on the computer, I happened to glance out the office window, just in time to see the Snow plough blade hit the recycling box stationed at the side of the road for pickup. Cans and bottles and papers settled in the snow, and the blue box ended up upside down a fair distance from where it originally sat.

The plough carried on, faster than most vehicles drive on this road. A few choice words found their way past my lips, until I whining and whinging.

This is where things got a little strange. Weird. Goosebumpy, even.

There was nothing for it, but to go and pick up the recycling. Certainly the snow plough guys were not going to come back and fix what they did. It was up to me, complaints or not.

As I picked up the cans and whatnot, I noticed, very suddenly, that there were people around me. I wondered where they came was very early, the morning still darkened by ferociously cold weather.

But I'd my head down, so I assumed they were out for walks...until I remembered seeing this same group of people the time our garbage can had been overturned, and I was out picking up garbage. They had a familiar energy signature...I had met them before.

We discussed the shameful practice of having a snow plough hit the recycling container. I was advised to call the Town to complain. I demurred, saying it was my day to not complain at each and every thing that occurred to me.

They muttered amongst themselves, as I continued to pick up the recyclables. Intending to change the subject, I brought up the weather. One man told me I would feel the East Wind soon and as he spoke, recycled papers went flying across the yard from a blast of Wind from the Ocean.

I turned my back on the group to chase down the papers, and when I turned back...there was only one gentleman there...

I glanced up and down the road...nothing. Only the howl of Wind.

The gentleman continued speaking, telling me he had lived not far from here long ago. He asked if there was still a problem with water running down from the Park. His voice rose with the sound of the rushing Wind. I answered as best I could, still searching for the other people. He did not seem concerned, just continued to pass the time of day. He told me it was a great time for a walk, but that I was to stay put and not go wandering off over the Hump, a word used by locals to describe the mountain pass I would have to travel over, in order to visit my daughter.

I wanted to ask him...What happened to the other people? Where did they go?

I was afraid he would answer...Who?

And when did I tell him I had thought of going to Port Alberni?

As addled as I was quickly becoming, I took a closer look at the man. His face looked as if it could break into smiles at any moment, it was wreathed in round wrinkles. He was dressed warmly, in what looked like those pea coats we used to wear, way back in the sixties. He wore a Homburg hat, a hat that looked very similar to the ones the gangsters in the movies wear. And he wore a green muffler. And he had on brown leather gloves.

He kept speaking...I felt I couldn't interrupt. As Wind picked up speed, as leaves flew and my hair loosened from its braid, he told me the Hump was going to be a mess, this afternoon. He smiled, said...Be thankful you're not on that highway. Better to stay put.

I only nodded my head, wondering how he knew I was considering making the trip after lunch.

By this time, my eyes were as big as basketballs, but he remained cheery. He lifted his hand, wished me a good day, and walked away, along the road. I watched him for a minute, wondering if he would disappear as well, but he was still there as I walked back into the house.

Who were the others...where were the others? I know all my neighbours, by sight, at least. They were not my neighbours, and there wasn't a house that they could suddenly walk into, either, unless it was mine.

And who was this amazing man?

In the long run, perhaps it doesn't matter. This episode took me aback because it happened when I was fully aware. I wasn't sleeping, and receiving messages from figures that appear to me in my dreams.

I wasn't meditating or journeying, wherein I am able to travel to other realms and where seeing people surrounding me is a matter of course.

I was wide awake. In the early morning cold...busy picking up recyclables. Fully in touch with my surroundings.

I believe these people were warning me. In my headstrong manner, where my heart ruled my mental acumen, I had considered travelling over the Hump in the afternoon. Perhaps I may have been involved in an accident, perhaps it was not the time to challenge the weather.

Who were they?

All I know is, allies and guardians show up in all shapes and sizes.

And I'm grateful.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Solitary Pursuits

I found myself with a few days all to myself, this past week. I had plans to keep myself busy; it turned out, however, those good intentions mostly fell by the wayside.

I'm one of those know who I mean...where the road to perdition is paved with good intentions. The ones who make lists, in anticipation of chunks of time in which to do them. And when the time seems as if other items suddenly become important.

I kept my medical appointments and massage therapy appointment. Two of these involve driving distances to keep. Because the weather turned towards bitter cold, I was a little apprehensive of black ice on the apprehension borne out by the many fender benders left littered behind on the highways.

I couldn't seem to settle on the rest of the list. Wandering from pillar to post, I couldn't grasp the strength of determination to tackle the rest of it. Things like cleaning out closets and cupboards, wherein I can find nothing at the moment...did not hold my attention.

And you wouldn't want to know what my office looks like...dusty papers stacked in piles which had some significance at some point, and very little now. Each time I begin to tidy...I notice an object that takes me off to the past entirely.

This time that object turned out to be Grampa's magnifying glass. I noticed how dusty it was, cleaned it...and then spent the next hour looking at items through the lens, towards a different reality. Objects are much more complex than they appear to be, way up close.

Back I went to the office, after following the wee detour to the side, my back straight...determined energy propelling me back to the dusty papers.

But oh! I just had a thought...and I write instead. A few hours go by this way.

The other morning, taking the refuse container to the curb for pickup by the Town crew and placing the items for the Canadian Diabetes Association on the other side of the house, making sure I didn't mix-up the two bags...I couldn't help notice the heavy frost that blanketed the yard.

It was very early; Sun had not yet arisen. It was that time of the morning where the edge of daylight is still only a hint in the East. But Moon still shone, almost full, giving the garden figures a ghostly sparkle. It was cold!

And it was time for a walk. I bundled up, considered taking the dogs, and pushed down the guilt I felt...I didn't know for sure whether I could handle both of them, especially with every dog walker in Qualicum Beach out at the same time.

I walked, this time, towards the Forest, instead of towards Ocean, my usual walk. I wanted to see the rays of Sun pouring through the tall canopy of Trees, when he arose. I wanted to see the Mist that blanketed the soccer playing pitch catch those rays and disperse in ghostly little clumps.

But most of all, I wanted to talk with the Trees...I needed to hear their collective wisdom, as a group. These age-old Trees give a comfort to me I have found nowhere else. Forests, with their silent ability to hold boundless life, have experienced Spirit.

It is still. The hush of the distant highway filters down to me through the cold, silent, coming Dawn. It is with a sense of coming home that I find the path into the Forest, into the comforting energy of the mighty Trees that surround me.

My steps are silent; the path is covered in bark mulch and cast-off needles. I walk briskly; for me, these new shoes work well. Especially when it is this cold, and my usual meander does not warm me.

I touch the trunks of Trees close to the path, I run my fingers over the Moss-covered nurse Logs that lie everywhere, giving life to all manner of beings. I notice the Snowberries are prolific this year, and take a few berries, placing them in my pocket for planting in the garden. They've always been a favourite; when I was a child we would pick them and pop them on a hard surface. The one with the loudest pop was the winner. It amused us for days, until there were few berries left on the bushes, only the small, hard ones.

I will plant these berries to make up for my innocent youth, when I actually destroyed them.

I find one of the benches empty, as I come to a fork in the path. This would be a good place to watch what the rays of Sun will illuminate, and so I sit. It is good to rest, I have walked farther than I have for many months at one time, and I want to hear the quiet of the Forest. I want to hear the awakening movements in the little glade I am in. I sit with my eyes closed, feeling and scanning the minute sounds around me by my hearing.

In the stillness, there is so much noise. The crunch of a Leaf, Bird song, the sound of wings beating the air, a Seagull's harsh cry, the repetitive voice of Eagle, the chittering of Squirrels. It's the large branches breaking that makes me open my is just Dawn, after all, and wildlife is abundant here...but I see nothing. I try squinting, focusing on the light and dark, softening edges...using all the observation tools I know, but still only hearing the breaking branches, the sound receding in the distance.

While my eyes were closed, Sun broke the edge. The Forest was now bathed in the warmest crimson glow you can imagine....almost tinting some Trees bright red. I knew the Sunrise itself must be spectacular, yet I lingered inside the huddle of Trees. There was beauty here, as well.

The damp, mushroomy scent of a West Coast Rain Forest filled my nostrils. Steam rose from the Moss logs, as Sun nudged it with a long, vermilion fingertip, warming the surface and melting the Frost. Rustling in the underbrush became more prevalent; instead of sleepy chirps here and there, the Forest burst into a full greeting to Sun, in an instant leaving the stillness behind.

I watch the rays of Sun turning all things a golden red, every object reflecting Sun's wakeup call. People walking the path looked as if they had bathed in red-gold paint. The rays touched the bark of the Trees, illuminating the craggy runnels, highlighting the frost-covered old Spider Webs left from last Summer. The leashed Dogs' eyes shone golden, as they frolicked beside their owners, feeling the anticipation of a sunny day.

I am asked, over and over, if I have ever seen a more spectacular Sunrise. People's voices carry a gladness that is palpable over this gift from Mother Nature.

I feel my body's call to move my bones. The cold can stiffen me up for hours...exercise is the answer, and so I heed the call. I follow the circle on the pathway in the Forest, and come out near the Skateboarding Park, cold and forlorn at this early hour of the morning. Only the graffiti shouts loudly to the coming day.

But the soccer pitch still has low-lying Mist on it, tinged pink by the Sun's awesome arrival. As I walk, I watch the Mist disperse, clinging to the fence and goal posts, holding on in little pockets over the field.

I walk home, greeting Nate and Lucky at the door. They subject me to vigorous sniffing; there have been other Dogs around me, and they need to know who they were.

A cup of coffee in hand, I wander to the office, intending to clean...but instead, I allow myself to be distracted, and read the posts entered on Kilroy's blog carnival at Blog Village...finding myself entertained instead.

And then, I make a very large pot of Greens...Kale and Collards, mixed. It is enough to feed me for days, this mess of Greens. I'll eat it over rice or potatoes or just gets better as time passes.

Perhaps it will give me the strength to tackle my office.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hello, Feet!

All my life, I've taken my feet for granted. Oh, sure...they would clamour for attention every once in awhile, with ills other than trimming toenails.

There was the time I had a plantar's wart, which grew huge before I summoned the courage to have it cared for.

There were the numerous operations on my Big toes, with the nails finally being removed.

Each time these things were dealt with, I marvelled at how much I missed my feet, and their usual good health. But the wart and the toes...once those maladies healed, I went back to mostly ignoring my feet, swiping moisturizer over them after a shower.

When I look back, I notice the ability to be able to wear almost any shoe in my size decreased over the years. It happened so slowly, I was unaware...and continued to buy shoes that gave no support, that fit oddly...that had high heels.

I was unable to join the running shoe people. Every time I tried to wear those shoes everybody told me were good for my feet, I would trip. At times, I would lose my balance entirely, finding myself sprawled on the ground, wondering what had happened. I was sure this odd behaviour was unique to myself; nobody else ever commented on their inability to wear sneakers.

It turns out, however, there are many like me. All I know is, I feel clumsy and awkward in the ordinary styled sneaker; less so with leather walking shoes.

In my fifties, I learned to buy appropriate for walking, shoes for hiking, shoes for a night out. They became more sensible over the years...heels became lower and lower, although I still loved a bit of a heel. They were all leather, and mostly brown or black. My shoes were alike in style, a wide toe with good arch support.

My feet were beginning to be more prominent in my life. I have Arthritis, Osteo and Rheumatoid, and suddenly the one part of my body that had rarely given me problems, did.

Now they hurt, sometimes with a screeching pain that almost brings me to my knees. Alright, I told my feet, alright, I give...I will search out a Podiatrist. Perhaps something could be done.

I had gone to the Pharmacy to buy specialty socks, the kind that have padding under the toes and heels. The lady there gave me a brochure from a Podiatrist, and I called for an appointment. I was asked to bring all my shoes.

I wondered if I should hire a truck.

I sat in a wonderful chair, one that supported every part of my body, and watched the Doctor examine my feet and my shoes. There were a pair in the huge bag I brought that I had never been able to wear; I loved them, and had always wondered why. The Doctor said they were the one pair that were totally wrong for my feet, and completely different from the rest. Had I not noticed?

Obviously not, since those shoes cost me a small fortune...and I paid fairly happily. They hurt everytime I tried to wear them, however. The Doctor told me there were C feet and D feet. These shoes were the opposite of what I required.

I was so enthralled about the idea of C and D feet, I never caught what she said mine were. And quite frankly, I can't tell by looking at them what they might be, since they tend to swell and change entirely.

Things progressed quickly after this.

She sent me into the World of Orthotics, into previously unknown territory.

After some x-rays, the Doctor wrapped my feet with a quick drying plaster and took an inverse impression of them. They would be sent to a lab, where corrections would be calculated and orthotics would be made. These would be sent back to my Doctor, who would fine tune any adjustments that would be required. I was told to expect my new orthotics in perhaps a week.

A few days went by. I began to trudge around shoe stores, now looking for the words ortho and orthopaedic and orthotics on the windows of the shops.

If someone had asked me, I would have told them there was not one pair of shoes I could bring myself to pay me, they looked like the shoes my grandma once wore.

As, indeed, they were. And the cost was as dear as any shoe I had ever bought.

I learned, first of all, that the insole must be removable. There went my idea of just placing my new orthotics (which I didn't have yet) into the shoes I already had...

Once the orthotics arrived, after paying a large amount of lucre, I paid a visit to a training shoe store, to appease my doctor. She had advised that I may not get the heel support I required in leather shoes, and to try the running shoes, at least...instead of dismissing them out of hand, as I was inclined to do.

There were some strange shoes in that store.

I found myself trying to walk, inside the store, in shoes I would swear were skateboarding shoes. I imagined myself on uneven ground, and shuddered. The resulting injuries would not be pretty.

The people there told me they had never seen an orthotic with as high a heel, as were on mine. Since I didn't know an orthotic device from an insole, I couldn't give any advice to the salespeople. I was floundering as much as these so-called experts.

After trying on every shoe that would fit the orthotics I had, even the luridly coloured ones...the ones I shuddered at, wondering what I could wear that would incorporate these shoes...I left the store, sweaty, sore and disheartened.

The next store was one where I had bought shoes on a regular basis. I had not noticed their orthopaedic section previously, when I still bought what I considered fashionable, yet comfortable footwear.

But the section was there. The saleslady picked out the shoe that would fit, immediately, and said it was possibly the only shoe they had that would. I was astounded, being prepared for another session where I would have to explain my whole history, before a shoe was found.

I asked for brown. Magically, she fit the orthotics into the shoe, and fit the shoe onto my foot.

I don't have the words to describe how wonderful the shoes felt on my tired and swollen foot. It was sheer heaven.

I walked through the store, checking out their inventory of the Autumn season's new footwear. I heard my saleslady behind me...Don't even look, she said. Don't even.

Ruefully, it finally dawned on me. I had better like comfort more than looks, at this stage in my life. Those wonderful, little boots over on that pedestal, just what I would have at one time loved to own...those little boots were history. If I was to move forward, in my fight to stay mobile, I was limiting myself by even dreaming this shoe scenario could be different.

Finally, after more than half a century of ignoring my feet and their needs, I said hello to them...and decided I would find out what feet are all about.

It's a new journey. I will have to go back to my Doctor; she will have to make adjustments to the orthotics, I will have to work my way into wearing my special shoes all the time. It helps when my footwear is now so comfortable. And the shoes I bought are very similar to a favourite pair of hiking boots I once owned in the seventies.

I have already discovered the alignment of my body is changing, as I stand properly. My posture has changed for the better. At night, I am in some pain, but it is the kind of muscular pain that occurs after a therapeutic massage...the kind that tells me my muscles are finding where they are meant to be, once again.

And wonder of wonders, I gained a couple of inches in height. For a short person, who suddenly can easily reach items once out of reach...this is a miracle.

Shoes are not all about looks, you know.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Family Wisdom

I've been reading many books, lately, that try to describe what Wisdom is. It seems to be a recurring theme, in my choices.

I use the Serenity Prayer almost every day. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference."
It is the Wisdom part that I have trouble with, at times.

All I know is that I know nothing
." ― Socrates

So, this morning, I looked up the study of Wisdom. I found an article on Wisdom written in February of 2004. I discovered the study of Wisdom is sometimes called Sophology. And I read the more Wisdom one thinks one has, the less one really does.

"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom."...Gandhi

I discovered there is a lot of differences in the study of Wisdom. There are religious traditions, there is folk wisdom, there is over-the-fence type wisdom, and there is kitchen table wisdom.

Over-the-fence wisdom seems to deal mainly with gardening; there are also references to philosophical discussions about any subject neighbours wish to discourse upon. Folk Wisdom...well, these are homilies which are familiar to anyone who grew up with families that used them. For instance..."Red sky in the morning, sailors' take warning; Red sky at night, sailors' delight."

There are many such. I discovered that these sayings don't necessarily translate well into English from another language. I remember a lot of these German sayings from my youth; they made perfect sense to me when I was still thinking in the German language, still bound by the German culture; now some of these are just odd.

And yet...there is tradition in these folk sayings. People relate to them. They mean something, something that has been handed down through the ages. I know I don't use folk sayings when I talk with my family; it has been lost to me, this art of having a wise saying right at my fingertips. A saying that would fit any situation with equanimity.

The elder generation committed these folk Wisdoms to memory; I don't remember doing the same.

My favourite way to hand down familial Wisdom is that which is discussed around the family kitchen table. This, to me, is kitchen table Wisdom. This is where my family heard the woes and joys that made up a day; here is where we solved and celebrated them. Here is where we shared and listened.

We still do this tradition, my granddaughter, my daughter and I. One day Graydon, too, will be included, when he is old enough to voice his thoughts and opinions. Even now, his opinions are definitely heard!

On Wednesdays, I travel to my daughter's home, early in the morning. Early enough to visit with my granddaughter for almost an hour, before I drive her to school. And then, I go back and watch my daughter and her son go through their morning routine. It is a highlight of my week; this opportunity to share Wisdom which has been given to me for a relatively short period of time. I intend to use it to the utmost.

It will be over when my daughter returns to teaching, after maternity leave. We will have to be more creative, at this point, to find time to touch each other's Spirit.

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." ― Plato

Our time together will have to be quality time; the telephone and the computer will be used to continue to share stories. These are the backbone of family heritage...these words we share are important. Regardless of circumstances, we must continue to make time to share the joys and sorrows.

"Certain qualities associated with wisdom recur in the academic literature: a clear-eyed view of human nature and the human predicament; emotional resiliency and the ability to cope in the face of adversity; an openness to other possibilities; forgiveness; humility; and a knack for learning from lifetime experiences." The Older-and-Wiser Hypothesis by Stephan S. Hall

Those life time experiences Mr. Hall mentions in the above quotation are the ones that build around the kitchen table. Sometimes, I feel as if I am floundering, once again going into my head alone. And on Wednesdays, my daughter will take the tangled knots, and straighten them out for me. Wisdom does not only belong to the elders.

Mr. Hall, in his essay in the New York Times, says it is easier to define what Wisdom isn't, rather than what it is. He writes that psychologists, after thirty years of the study of Wisdom, still don't agree on an answer. But he gives a very good account of the beginning and continuing study of Wisdom and why it is essential to the future of society.

Where would I be without the Wisdom contained in the family stories? The stories of experiences in the family and how they were handled, as messy as the telling might be, gives enormous connection to each other. By sharing and questioning, being open to answers, choices become more apparent.

Forgiveness, then, follows from the discussion of the subject, the questions that are answered...the tears that are shed. There is Wisdom in the shared knowledge of the experiences of each other, in similar situations.

Around the kitchen table... this is where family Wisdom grows.

As for the study of Wisdom? Well, as Stephen Hall so aptly writes, the journey may be as enlightening as the destination.

And at the end of all my research, what Wisdom is, and how I learn it, is still a mystery.