Sunday, October 30, 2011

Once Upon a Halloween



Once Upon a Halloween

It’s 2 am and the night air is sticky with humidity.  I can’t sleep.  The skies are full of cloud and thick with moisture.  Suddenly it is raining, a gentle patter on the metal roof of the porch, water sloshing down the storm drains, a soothing sound, a relief from the heat held night.

Just as gently, distant lightning—heat lightning—quiet, like strobe lights flashing on…off…on…off…on…off…

Now it’s raining harder, abrupt, pounding, like waterfalls of marbles, hitting the roof noisily and splashing out everywhere

The rising wind blows the frail cotton curtains at the windows, wind searches through the house, rattling doors and jiggling door knobs, odd sounds creak across the floors

Unexpected fear overwhelms me, I’m a guest here sleeping in his old bedroom, is he here somewhere?  Don’t be so foolish I tell myself.  You’re an adult, you know that’s impossible.  You know these things don’t happen…yet part of me believes that energy residue can remain.

I’m afraid shivering in his bed, his curtains blowing wide…dread overwhelms me and floods my mind.  My mouth is dry with fright.  It is difficult to swallow.  The lightning isn’t just distant heat lightning anymore; it has changed and comes closer.

Lightning flashes again and again.  Shocking thunder—bellowing through the night, cracking, close, so close, then, lightning hits, splitting an ancient tree beside the house.  The wrenching twisting sound of the tree falling fills the night. Lightning strikes come, heavy with thunder illuminating the fallen tree, the yard, the room with eerie green-white glow.  Is someone here in the room?  I think I see, then no…

My heart pounds; my blood races; I am panting, short of breath.  The lightning and thunder are nearly one, they come together so rapidly.  The room is full of the screeching roar of the storm.

The air smells different, sulphur?  Burnt wood?  The rain thrashes the broken tree, tearing off branches, spiralling leaves out across the night yard, loudly pelting the roof, coming so fast that the gutters cannot contain it.  Water spills out over the edges of the porch, over the gutters and runs in rivers around the foundation below.

The room is unnatural with light and windows are reverberating with the crash of thunder.  I feel foolish for being afraid, childish for letting my imagination creep into the unknown.

Still I lie here, unable to close my eyes, peering frantically round the room, searching the corners for something.  What?  The storm subsides; the intervals between strikes are longer.  There are spaces of near silence and the rain subsides between the growls of thunder.  I grow drowsy and my eyes close.

Now, I'm fully awake.  Again, I sense something here, what is it? 

I’m trembling, afraid now to open my eyes, letting my senses search the space, is he here?  I shudder and force myself to open my eyes.  Another flash of lightning…there seems to be a glow, a shape by the door.  Is it?

Stop this, I say to myself.  Get a grip, you’re being ridiculous.

Unfamiliar noises creak through the room, the parquet floor squeaks, old wood work aches and groans.  The ancient plumbing moans.  There is a fragrance wafting near me.  What is it?  The hair on my arms and the back of my neck stands up.

I smell his aftershave.  Is it just memory?  Is he here?

The lightning flashes again and I see…

The picture and story are mine.  If you use or share them, please acknowledge the source.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Neuville, Quebec


Three weeks ago, we visited our family in Neuville, Quebec.  Neuville is a quaint village on the north shore of the Saint Laurence River, just west of Quebec City, Canada.  It was founded in 1667, and remains quite picturesque.  Today, Neuville has an eclectic mix of ultra modern and ancient style homes; the older homes are similar to those found in the old part of Quebec City.





We drove the countryside around Neuville and were impressed by the mountains full of autumn colours, narrow farm roads, valleys of harvested fields and the sheer massive sweep of the landscapes.

My mother’s grandparents came from the Eastern Townships of Quebec, so there is much of this countryside, the aged homes, the magnificent views of the St. Laurence River and the sprawling farms that remind me of that
family legacy. 














The day was hazy so the shots of the
St. Laurence River don’t show the bridges over to Quebec or the opposite shore as clearly as they should.  They do show the modern marina in Neuville, which provides mooring for sailboats and yachts and easy access to the river.

Neuville is the perfect combination of quiet country living within fifteen minutes of exciting urban life in Quebec City; close to all the heritage sites, entertainment, cultural activities and shopping that Quebec City offers.


The next visit, we’ll organize ourselves to take more time, in order to travel the secondary roads through the fascinating Eastern Townships and make a journey back in time and through my family’s history. 

 

The first two photos are from google images, the remaining eight photos are mine. 
Any words in red will take you to another website with more information, if you click on them.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Autumn Harvest

This time of year is marvellous for exploring our farm markets. 

They are full of produce and pumpkins, flowers and handmade crafts, things to do, places to play.

Autumn is spilling over with the abundance and plenty of harvest.

At every garden centre and each pumpkin patch and all farm markets,  people are happily wandering the richly filled stalls and heavily loaded tables.

We are so fortunate to have so much...that pumpkins can be left in a field for children to play, that potted chrysanthemums bloom profusely, that harvest-weary farmers will allow little boys to climb their old tractors.

We are lucky to live in such a place.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Memories of My Visit


Memories of My Visit

It’s Sunday, sunny with a chill wind.  The only way I can be comfortable sitting outside is to find a sheltered spot in direct sunlight.  Nearby a hefty grey squirrel seems to be thinking the same thing.  He munches on his pine cone aware that I am here but apparently unafraid, as we share this pool of sunshine.  He knows he can run faster than I, escape, if need be.

Sitting on a wooden storage box on the front porch, I'm looking across the street at a modern, creamy yellow house.  It appears to have been built to mimic the stateliness of this home.  The new house doesn’t work and looks oddly out-of-place in this older neighbourhood of Port Washington.  There is something solid, comforting, time worn about this 1896 house that nothing newer can duplicate. 

The cement porch hugs two sides of this massive home, providing shelter and welcome; for me, a secluded place in which to write. The grey squirrel runs off after finishing his cone, to find another or to chase the chipmunk that chatters and scolds in the side yard.  A scent of pine balsam carries on the mounting breeze.

The Port Washington area of Long Island, New York is farther south than where I live in New Brunswick, Canada.  Consequently here, the vegetation is still lush and green belying the cooler breezes and chillier nights that approach and have already touched our trees at home with sizzling colours.

My hooded sweatshirt isn’t cutting the cold from the stiffening wind so I will have to move soon.  The wind blows through me, picking and tossing stray leaves, shed from the tender shrubbery.  I need to shift to a warmer seat, seek somewhere more protected than this wooden box on the porch.

This early Sunday morning is peaceful, quiet, except for the rising wind rustling through the five-story maples that surround this house, breathing through the pines with sighs like waves on sand.  At first totally embraced by sun, now only my legs are warm.  I can feel heat on my jeans, warmth on my shoes.  But the wind carries thoughts of ice and my sunlit pool is shrinking.

A thin woman, in a tiny black tank top and matching spandex shorts, jogs by the front of the house; her dog is the same crinkly blond colour as her hair.  The pat, pat of her sneakers keeps time with the clack, clack of her dog’s toenails on the pavement.  I shiver as I watch her.

Yes, running is one way to keep warm.  But I want to write, so I am up now, searching for another sheltered spot of autumn sunlight, in which to further enjoy the last of summer, in this magical old house.



All photos are mine unless otherwise noted.
Words in red will take you to another site
wih more information,
if you click on them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Little Boy at the Beach


Little boys need fresh air and laughter
and lots of running each day.


This day, he has all three. 
His dad throws stale crackers
to the seagulls and pigeons




Other children join the chase.


The pigeons don't fly away.  They run faster than he can!



The seagulls flutter out of his reach,
but keep a close eye on the tossed cracker crumbs.



He runs and laughs and whirls and laughs again.

Such fun for a little boy at the beach.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin Search



What happens when you mix this bright, golden curled girl



with her dark haired talented brother



on an idyllic fall day in the countryside



searching for pumpkins with Mama and Papa



at a local Farm Market?



You get a day full of colour and laughter and joy!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Birthday Cake


I am fortunate to have been able to celebrate my daughter's birthday with her and her family this year.  It's the first time we've spent it together since she moved to the United  States years ago.



We bought a special chocolate ganache cake, sang the song, blew out the candles and opened presents.



Guess who



enjoyed the cake



most of all?


Warning:  He enjoyed the cake but none of us enjoyed the after-effects of all his excitement and too much sugar!  He doesn't have sugared food generally so it wasn't good. 
Bad Grammy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Grandchildren in Quebec


We visited family in Quebec recently.  It was fun to spend time
at a local farm market with our grandchildren.


They were delighted to see baby animals and to feed carrot
tops to the bunnies



and to the kids (baby goats).



There were wagon rides and a pumpkin patch to explore
and rolls of hay to climb.







And everyone had a great time, even the bunnies.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Air Canada 616




Air Canada gets lots of bad press.  Threatened strikes and lost luggage, late flights, employee rudeness and attendant crabbiness.  If you bring up the subject of Air Canada, each person has a story; not all of them are positive.

I flew with Air Canada on a recent trip to New York.  The ticket agents were helpful and friendly; the staff were pleasant and went out of their way to accommodate my needs and to answer my questions.  All went well until the last leg of the trip home. The flight itself from Toronto to Halifax was uneventful, except for weather related turbulence and heavy rain with unpredictable winds.

As we began the landing process in Halifax, approaching the runway and decreasing speed, suddenly we were ascending.  The pilot spoke to us saying that front controls for the airplane were not working properly.  He said that we would try again to land after circling to get into position.

We circled for nearly 20 minutes.  The pilot indicated that front end controls were still not working… there would be emergency vehicles on the runway … we were re-routing to a longer runway.  He also assured us that the landing would be normal.

This seemed to me to be more disquieting than if he had said we were having problems and the landing would be if-y.   How is it helpful to say there are front end mechanical issues on an Airbus 320 and then to say, “It will be a normal landing”?

The lights went dark and the cabin filled with heavy, thick silence. We circled and circled for nearly 45 minutes.   My husband, waiting in the terminal said that the boards indicated that our flight had arrived; probably some screw up caused by our plane starting to descend to the runway in the beginning and then having to ascend rapidly.

We did land in Halifax, eventually, albeit roughly, with considerable bumpiness.  I felt relieved to be on solid ground and the cabin occupants burst into stress released conversation, the false brightness that anxiety passing brings.

We landed as smoothly as possible without benefit of the flaps down and the flare out that planes generally use to slow themselves to an easy, gentle descent to the runway.  Emergency vehicles were nearby

These had been tense moments.  And I felt grateful to the experienced pilots of flight AC 616 from Toronto to Halifax for knowing how to land a huge airplane with 200+ passengers, despite some necessary parts not working.

Perhaps, we were never in much danger.  I don’t really know.

Perhaps Air Canada needs a tune up on personnel, customer relations and luggage tracking; I don’t know about those issues either.  I only know I am thankful that pilots with experience and calm determination got us out of the sky on a rainy miserable night with minimal discomfort despite mechanical problems on the Airbus 320.

Thanks to Air Canada for a safe landing!



 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Phases of Autumn


Phases of Autumn

In the past two weeks, I’ve experienced three different phases of autumn.


Here in Riverview, leaves have been changing for weeks.  Trees are brilliant with fiery colours, the harvest moon hangs heavy and low in the evening sky, gardens are dying, preparing for rest.



North of here, in Quebec, the season is farther along.  Many trees are bare.  White birch stands stark against the remaining foliage, much of it blown off and crunchy, lying colourful on the bed of earth.




South of here, on Long Island New York, autumn has hardly begun.  This dogwood tree is one of the first to change into its delicate rosy hue.  Everything else is still verdant and lush.



Travelling this time of the year provides glorious scenery and awe-inspiring vistas.  It reminds me: everywhere landscapes, life-styles, priorities and perspectives are as varied as the stages of autumn.  Different from what I call home.  Different from what I know.  It is good to be stretched and to acclimatize to other ways of being and living.  And it’s good to be home again!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Away for Awhile

Hello everyone,

I am away from the blog until the 21st of October.  I am visiting family and will return full of stories and rich with photos.

Carol

Friday, October 7, 2011

Writing Brings Me Joy


Writing Brings Me Joy

This is my 200th blog entry.  Today I want to celebrate what writing means to me.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve explained my life in stories: stories told, stories written, stories shared.  In childhood, when I didn’t understand what was happening, I automatically turned to stories as a way of making meaning, a sort of self-created mythology.

As I grew to adulthood, I began to journal.  I kept track of joys and sorrows, looked at writing as a way of making sense of relationships with others and with myself.  My journals held the rich deposit of reflections and learning from my life: school, university, marriage, births of children, deaths, accidents, job and career changes, children growing up and leaving, divorce, travels, struggles, grandchildren arriving, relationship failures, illnesses, moves, re-marriage and myriad other events across my life span.  Events large and small, successes and failures, the dark times often taught me as much or more than the bright ones.

Lack of confidence and feelings of vulnerability prevented me from sharing what I’d discovered and written in my journals, the stories I’d created and the poems that spilled like shimmering ribbon.

Finally, as an older adult, I know that something accomplished despite fear is a thousand times better than doing nothing while fretting about being good enough.  Not writing is the worst choice!

Writing, learning, practicing, seeking help, asking for feedback, finding people who will encourage yet speak the truth, these are essential to a writing life, to my writing life.  On-line, in writing groups, among friends, I’ve found inspiration.  There are published and un-published writers everywhere, if I search.  I learn from anyone and everything, the world is my teacher, if I pay attention and write about what I see, hear, touch, taste, feel and know.

Deepak Chopra says, “What brings you joy, brings you closer to your own soul.”

Writing brings me joy.  Writing brings me closer to my own essence, my own true self, to my own soul.  I am grateful for the courage to share what I write, those stories that swirl in my head and those poems that dance in my heart.  Humble and thankful; so thankful.  This writing gift grows more profound the more proficient I become; the richer depths I plumb.

Thank you to all you who read my blog, who view my photographs, who join the site and who offer comments. This blog is 50% me the writer and 50% you the reader.  I write to touch you.  Thank you for encouragement and for support of this blog and of my other writing. 

Photo is mine.
                                                                                   

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Song for Autumn

Song for Autumn


In the deep fall
    don't you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
    the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
    freshets of wind?




All photos are mine.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

An Autumn Song



At the top of Gunningsville Boulevard looking toward Riverview, NB
 

An Autumn Song

Bliss Carman (1861-1929)

There is something in the Autumn that is native to my blood,
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.


At the top of Gunningsville Boulevard looking toward storm clouds gathering over Moncton



Light standards and trees on the boulevard



The maples planted along the bicycle path


For more information on Riverview NB, click here.

All photos are mine.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October



October

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
To-morrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.



Words in red will take you to more information on another website,
if you click on them.   All photos are mine.