Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Green and Brown

The woods felt exactly like late March today.  Damp and mild, the air was thick with mist in some spots.  Rocks and fallen logs were slick and the moss and ferns were still vibrant green.  The creeks and streams were high, full of run off from all of the rain we have been getting lately.

I walked through the marsh, and up through the woods and rocks, to the top of the rocky hill that overlooks the marsh.   I saw plenty of evidence of animal activity, paths through the leaves, and places where logs had been rubbed bar and branches broken.

As I made my way back down the hillside, I could hear the water from the stream rushing.  I came to it and made my way along it, moving toward the first beaver pond.  The beaver pond is not a pond any more, since the dam is no longer there.  It`s a small valley, surrounded on all sides by steep high banks with a stream running through it.

It`s quiet here and one of my favourite places to visit - probably the place I escape to most.  As I walked back out through the trees and across the fields the fog came in heavier.  I could feel water droplets settling on my eyelashes.  I needed the walk today - a quiet time before the flurry of activity and excitement that Christmas brings.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Making Ice

As I mentioned in a previous post, this time last year the ice was in and here to stay.  The season has been so mild that we are still pretty far away from "ice in".  The lake is cold, though, and ready.  All it takes is a few hours of below zero temperatures for the ice to start forming.  Below is a picture of a calmer area near the shore where you can see thin patches of ice forming on top of the water.  This thin ice moves with the water, wind and currents and if the lake gets too rough, it will dissipate once again.  

Smaller ponds and marshes were frozen this morning.  The photo below is of the marsh below Swords.  Winter is trying to take hold, and may this weekend with snow and colder temperatures in the forecast.  Come Monday, it will all go away again, there are more mild, rainy days on the way.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Just a Little Bit Easier

A few weeks ago we had some lovely snow and I thought it was the beginning of a white Christmas season.  It has however, been raining ever since.  I love snow for Christmas, but I just can't complain about this.  The last two winters were so brutal, so cold and snowy, that I really feel like I can't handle another winter just yet.

It has been raining most days, with temperatures ranging from just above zero to ten degrees Celsius.  One again, I'm not complaining.  I am enjoying this extended fall weather.  It is easier to do things outside, go places and to keep the house warm.

This time last year we had a frozen lake and two feet of snow,  We did experience a thaw right around Christmas, but winter came back with a vengeance in January.

While I have grown to love snow since moving here, and will miss a sparking white Christmas morning, the mystery and loveliness snow adds to Christmas Eve, and all the winter activities that we enjoy so much, if the trade off is an easier winter season...well, I'll take it, but just for this year.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Beautiful Life

This time of year I continually find what I call filigree leaves. 

They fall from our birches, and are the work of caterpillars munching away high in the branches. I think they are beautiful. 

I love the idea of a creature creating something so lovely just by living out its days. 

If we could all be so lucky. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Rainy Days

We've had a string of rainy, cool days. I'm missing my mom. Rainy days are hard, and I'm sure snowy days will be harder. 

Time marches on as it always does and mom isn't coming back. That thing that happened isn't a bad dream. I am not immune to tragedy. 

Mom, being the Scot that she was, always loved a misty, rainy day. I do, too - that Scottish blood, you know. But it was always best when I had her here, sharing a book and a deep conversation, a cup of tea or a glass of wine. 

Mom. Where are you. We had such plans for this summer. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Turning Corners

The weather has definitely turned a corner in the past week. The air is drier, crisper and so are the plants. Potted plants are starting to get overgrown and straggly, waiting for the time I will trim them back, or replace them in early fall.  Some of my ferns and bleeding hearts have given up entirely. 

The sun is rising later and it's just beginning to get light out when I rise at 5:45 most mornings. It puts me in mind of one thing - school. 

School starts in four weeks and that means a couple of things. Henry starts junior kindergarten this year, and I'll be spending another year supply teaching. Unlike what's around the corner of the weather turning, I don't know what's around this particular corner. I have hopes and dreams for both Henry and myself. It's going to be an interesting fall. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Today I kayaked up the river joining Maple and Martin lakes.  I crossed two beaver dams, portaged around a waterfall and eventually turned back when I came to a set of small rapids.  My goal had been to make those rapids - which I had seen while snowshoeing through the woods.  Next time, I'll cross them and go farther. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Greening

The air is full of just budded, misty green leaves.  

Spring peepers fill the marshy spots with their incessant ringing.

Scents come alive and drift into memories. First loves and lost loves. Places we've left behind.

The smell of my toddler's neck slicked with humid curls. 

The sight of my four-year old's excitement over a newly sprouted plant.

Spring holds all of these things.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


And just like that, the ice is out.  

It went out yesterday while the rain lashed and the wind howled. When I woke up, there was about a third of the ice left. The wind had jammed it hard up against our shore. 

It was completely gone when I got home at 3:30. When Henry noticed, he shouted, jumped, danced, and hugged with joy. "We have WATER, mommy!"

I am equally thrilled. After a long, difficult winter, it's good to see warmer, easier days coming. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Tough Going

I hadn't snowshoed since my mom died until today. 

My sister in law, Leanne and I went out earlier today for a hike, and it was tough going. I've never worked so hard at snowshoeing. Since I haven't  been out, there were no trails and no base. We tried to walk on snowmobile tracks, but even that didn't help so much.  

We went across the field, and through the  swamp. It was deep. So deep. We made it to the place where I usually enter the woods to go up to the first beaver pond, but the snow was just too deep. Absolutely impassable. We turned back, hiking along our path through the swamp. I wasn't done, though. I NEEDED more time alone, more time in the woods. 

I set off for a short hike through the woods, and down to the lower field. 

Sometimes the hardest things we do are the most important. The hardest things to say, feel or do physically. Sometimes we need to push through to the other side. Today I needed physical exertion and silence. I needed to get back outside, where I haven't been since my mom died. I feel everything when I'm alone. I needed to face this today.  I'm glad I stuck it out, but it was tough going. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Dear Mom, 

Tomorrow Henry turns four. FOUR. I can't believe how quickly the time has passed. 

I am really struggling today. Tomorrow is the first "event" I've had to go through without you. I've planned just a small party- but it's still plenty of organizing and baking that I need to do, and to be honest, I'm having a hard time putting my whole heart in to it. 

I am hurting terribly thinking of how much Henry adores you and how his memories of you are soon going to start to fade. He talks about you, and he knows you are dead, but I don't know that he really understands it yet.  He asked me yesterday when we were in the spare bedroom if we were getting it ready for Granny to come and visit.  We actually have many moments like this, and they are sad, but not devastating.  I like that you are still close in his mind.

Well-intentioned people will tell me that "it's okay, you will keep your mom's memory alive through your stories", and yes, of course we will do that, but these words are not comforting to me. 

I want to scream, "IT'S NOT THE SAME". It's not the same, and it never will be. You will never have a living, breathing relationship with Henry ever again, and that hurts me. I know it hurts you, too. I can feel it and I will carry that with me forever. 

Mom, today, tomorrow and for the rest of my life I hold you close to my heart and I will miss you every second of every day. 



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Make Friends and Influence....Birds

When I was younger, I spent a lot of time visiting my grandparents at their home on Ahmic Lake. They had many different bird feeders for many different kinds of birds, and bird watching in the winter was particularly interesting. 

Now, we definitely don't have the extensive bird feeders that they did (and still do now that they've moved into Parry Sound), I did learn a thing or two about feeding birds from those days, like how Blue Jays are very social, even friendly birds, and absolutely love peanuts. 

If you want Blue Jays to flock to your house, go out and grab a bag of peanuts in the shell. Toss a handful out every so often, and call out to the birds - I have my kids yell out,  "hey, Jays!".   Pretty soon, you'll have Blue Jays flitting about, and they will come and call to YOU, eventually. They are bold birds. 

On these bitterly cold, but brilliantly sunny days, making new bird friends has been an activity my little kids have loved, even if their yelling at the birds through the windows makes it near impossible to get a decent photo. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Hardest Part

Dear Mom, 

I want to tell you about the hardest part. The hardest part wasn't finding out you had died. It isn't going through your things, and it wasn't even turning my back and walking away from your casket in the cemetery. The hardest part was at the end of your service, when we followed your casket out into the cold and snow. 

A piper was playing Amazing Grace. Michael, Matthew, Mel, Duncan, Mark and Luke were your pallbearers. I held tight to Henry's hand (Rick had taken Clare to another room), and we walked up the aisle out of the chapel. I couldn't look up- I didn't want to look at everyone looking at me.  Holding Henry's hand was the only thing that kept my feet moving and me upright. 

When we got outside, they placed you in the hearse. We were all sobbing. Deep, soul wrenching sobs. Your boys, Katie and me. I tried so hard to not completely break down because Henry was with me and I didn't want him to be scared. 

I remember Matt standing with his head down, hand on your casket, sobbing. It was cold, but we didn't feel it. Snow fell lightly all around. 

And then that was that. They closed the door to the hearse. 


And that was the hardest part. 

I miss you so much. 



Thursday, February 19, 2015

Three Weeks Ago Today

I don't know how it's already been three weeks since my mom died. It's been three weeks, and most of the time it doesn't feel real. 

I don't really know what else to say except: three weeks and I've barely scratched the surface of the emotional iceberg that I'm carrying around with me. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015


My mom died in a car accident. 

My mom DIED in a car accident (not just injured). 
MY mom died in a car accident (no one else's). 
My MOM died in a car accident (my mother). 
My mom died in a CAR ACCIDENT (sudden, immediate, too soon, preventable). 

No matter how I say it, it somehow still doesn't feel real, and yet no matter how I say it, it's still my reality. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Grief is a delicate thing.

I find I'm moving through the world cautiously, trying to move slowly and mindfully. I don't want to do too much, take on too much, or expose myself to something that will be too much.

Yesterday, I felt great. I woke up to my alarm, took a supply job, and had a fabulous and rewarding day.

Today I woke up feeling strong, and I decided to go grocery shopping. On my way there I passed an accident on the highway. Nothing horribly serious, but it wrecked me. 

I ended up in the parking lot of the grocery store gasping for breath and sobbing. 

 What hit me had today was the fact that my mom died all alone.  This will always haunt me, along with the words my sister spoke to me the day she died, "they worked on her at the scene...". 

Something happened after I saw the accident, though that I need to share. The very first car I saw after I got off the highway was the exact same car as my mom's. EXACTLY the same. I don't know what to make of that except to say in the time I needed her strength, she was there. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Your Funeral

Dear Mom, 

We had your funeral this past Saturday, but you already knew that. Even though the day was filled with soul-wrenching sorrow and tears, and I knew you were gone, I still found myself wanting to turn to you and tell you things about the day, just as if you were right beside me and it was someone else's funeral. 

I wanted to tell you about all the people who came. So many friends, old and new, colleagues and of course, family members came out to say their final goodbye to you. You would have been surprised at the old friends and neighbours who showed up. Hearing your colleagues talk about you was really special to me.  I've always been proud of the work you did. 

I wanted to tell you how Michael delivered a beautiful eulogy. He delivered your story and a message of love and living life to its fullest- everyday, with no regrets. 

I wanted to tell you they should have gone with the rose coloured lipstick, and not the peach, but of course you were beautiful anyway. 

I want to tell you everyday from now until the day *I* die how much I love you and how much I will miss you. But like I said before, you already know that.

Love always,


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My Grief

My grief lays like a thick blanket on me. Sadness has settled into my bones. Despair weighs me down. I move through life dragging my heavy limbs. I'm underwater. My back hurts. My head is a fog. I want to lay down and sleep. I want to sleep for days. 

I push through most of the time. Kids need to be fed, and loved and I'm afraid if I stop moving now, I'll never start again. Sometimes though,  the thick, muffled hands of my grief reach up and pull me down. I am overwhelmed with thick sleepiness. I am engulfed. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Still Waiting to Wake Up

Do you ever have dreams that seem so real that when you wake up there's a moment or two where you're not quite sure if what just happened during sleep is actually reality? 

I do. Something terrible happens to my kids, or my husband, and I wake up panicked.  A flood of relief follows when it turns out to be all a dream. 

My mom died on Thursday, January 29.  

My sister called me around four in the afternoon with the terrible news.  A car accident.  Immediate death. 

Since that call, my life, the lives of my siblings and my family have been turned completely upside down. No time to breathe, we ran a metaphorical marathon last week toward her funeral. So many details and so much work.   And the work doesn't stop now. There is a long, long painful road ahead of us. 

I just keep waiting to wake up.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Something Out There

Do you ever get that feeling in your gut that something is terribly, terribly wrong?  I do, and my gut has proven itself so many times in the past, that I can't help but trust it.

Last Thursday I was snowshoeing in the bush.  I'd gone through the lower field and then up the old ski hill into the woods.  I hiked along the edge of the upper field and continued deep into the trees.  Soon, I was following the river up toward Martin Lake.  Last winter I happened upon a sweet little waterfall and rapids and wanted to find the spot again.

Going in, I was slightly apprehensive as it's about an hour hike in, which is putting me at a distance from home that I'm not entirely comfortable with while alone.

I was following my old tracks when I came across a big moose track.  Moose punch deep holes in the snow with their long, long legs.  I saw where the moose had stopped to munch on some hemlock, then veered off my track.

Next, I came to a wolf or coyote track.  They are everywhere in the fields, and don't often give me pause, but this far out, I was a little concerned.

Hearing the rapids, I pushed on.  I was winding my way through the thick hemlocks, trying to figure out how I'd made it down to the riverbank the last time I'd been out here.  The trees seemed impenetrable.  I said out loud, "how in the world did I get down there last time!?".  And then, I heard a "WHOOOOOSH" sound, and it filled the silence all around me.  I don't know what it was,  and I'm not even going to make any guesses, but all of the tiny bits of apprehension I'd felt up to that moment hit me HARD.  My heart was pounding and I turned and followed my path back as fast as I could move.

I feel there is something out by those rapids.  There is definite and obvious animal activity - big animals.  It is something I don't want to meet face to face and I'm certain it wants nothing to do with me.

There have been two other occasions I've been out that way and felt a presence.  Once last winter and once last spring.  I get a feeling in my gut that something isn't right every time I'm there (and yet, I keep returning...).  A feeling in my gut that makes me move away, turn back and not linger.  Like I said, I'm not making any guesses, and it could be lots of different things, but it's something.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Into the Woods

Today I walked into the woods in the blowing wind and snow.  In the field, the wind was wicked, but upon entering the woods, everything was hushed and the snow feel thickly, but gently, all around.


When the snow is falling heavily on the trees, everything is lovely.  Everything is art.

Tall trees arch like cathedrals.  Snow nestles on pine and spruce branches just so.  Everywhere I look, all I see is something perfectly beautiful.  It's more than I can describe in words, these perfect hikes.  Days like these feed my soul.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Keep Your Chin Up

I hope you know what if feels like to have someone be consistently proud of you.   I hope you have someone in your life that can always impart a quiet wisdom, that can bolster your confidence and build you up from the inside out.  I hope that there is someone in your life that can make you feel better just for having been in their presence.  A person that affirms what you know in your soul to be true.
I know what that feels like, and I am grateful everyday.
I have been feeling particularly defeated lately.  My saving grace has been my Grandad's voice in my ear -
I am.  And I will.  Because his pride in me is a light that I refuse to let be extinguished.
My Grandad and my daughter, Clare on Christmas Eve 2014.