11 July, 2009

~ Peaches ~

I am five. It is the first year I have been allowed to go on holidays with my parents, and we have driven across four provinces to visit Grandma (whom I have missed every day since they moved from Manitoba) and Grandpa (who is sometimes cross).

We are out touring, seeing the valleys and the orchards, marvelling at the
mountains. It is getting on in the day, and the light has begun to change colour. It must be ninety degrees, the grown ups have said, and isn’t it hot, they have asked one another, then murmured in agreement.

Grandma and I are sitting together on the passenger
side in the back seat. The world flies past outside the car, and stands still inside it. Grandma shows me how to properly experience the peaches we bought at a roadside stand, peaches larger than both my fists together. She shows me how to brush them against my face, and feel their velvety sun-warmth before I bite through their skins. Peach juice runs down our hands, our wrists, our arms, and we lick it off ourselves and off each other's elbows. What we aren’t licking, we wipe away with Kleenex because we can’t keep up, the peaches are so juicy. We are shaking with the effort of muffling our giggles, our sight blurs with tears of silent laughter. We are being as quiet as we can be so Grandpa doesn't notice us, see the mess we are making of ourselves, and get cross.

The window is open and Grandma's hair dances around her temples. The evening light has made her cheeks the colour of our peaches. I lay my head against her chest and look up to see the slanting rays have illuminated the fine hairs on her face, creating a delicate halo.

The peaches are Grandma, Grandma is the peaches.

We are sticky and full to the top, and we smell as sweet as summertime. Grandma smiles and closes her eyes against the sun, and so do I.

This moment never, ever ends....

Peace ~

14 April, 2009

~ Apron Strings ~

Grandma wore aprons. Grandma wore hair nets with beads as well (which I thought were perfectly splendid in a mysterious, other-generational sort of way) but those don’t figure so prominently in my memory as do her aprons.

She didn’t wear hostess aprons which were more decorative than functional, and she didn’t wear little half-skirt type aprons with dai
nty pockets and coordinating ties. No, Grandma wore proper, full-coverage aprons with high bibs that kept splashes and garden soil off her dress, and broad straps that marched over her shoulders, crossed in the middle of her back, and buttoned to the waistband. Grandma wore serious aprons with back hems that could wipe gravel from skinned knees, sturdy aprons with pockets that could hold enough pegs for a whole line of laundry or enough peas for supper, generous aprons with skirts that could fold up to become a gentle nest for two bouquets of sweet peas and enough raspberries for desert.

Grandma played with her aprons - smoothed them over her lap, toyed with the pocket tops, fiddled with the edges. By the time I got to know her, she was grey-haired and becoming frail. By the time I got to know her, she was so set in her ways that wearing an apron over her dress and under her cardigan was what one expected to see...except when she went to church.

I loved Grandma’s aprons - loved the way they looked, loved their colours, loved their patterns. I loved the simple intricacies of their straps and buttons. I loved that there was always enough scoop to the neck to show off the brooch pinned to her dress underneath. I loved what they represented.

I still do.

Somehow, that part of it all becomes more important as the year-distance between us here on Earth grows.

I have - and use - several aprons, but none so substantial as the ones Grandma used to wear. I have a pink cotton apron (dusty rose, really, since it has been around since the 1980’s when dusty rose was fashionable) with a bib...but the bib is small, bearing two crocheted lambs (at least, we think they are lambs, sometimes they look like pigs) in the middle and a ruffle around the edge. It is stained. It is wearing thin in spots. It has no pockets. It is the apron my children tell me they equated with baking and treats...but it is not a Grandma kind of apron.

I have a Christmas apron that has been plasticised, laminated or treated to some sort of process that makes it almost resemble an oilcloth....almost. It is the apron that mostly kept small children mostly clean and mostly dry when they, um, helped me in the kitchen. It is handy and it is dandy...but it is not a Grandma kind of apron.

Treasured are two aprons given to me (indeed, made for me) by my cousin, who remembers Grandma’s aprons with as much wistful affection as I do...and that’s saying something! I know that thoughts of Grandma are attached to those made-for-me aprons, that they were cut and sewn while my cousin was thinking of the oh-so-shy woman who marked us both so strongly - we have marvelled to one another about how a woman of such quiet and gentle demeanour could have had such a powerful influence.

My cousin and I have agreed that somehow...no matter that their straps are narrow and buttonless, no matter that friendly teddies play on the bib of one, and little rose clusters are scattered across the blue ground of the other...somehow they are each, at least to my cousin and I, a Grandma kind of apron.

Peace ~

13 March, 2009

~ Seasons ~

“Name your favourite season”
she said,
and I balked ~
how do I choose between those I love so much?

Shall I choose Spring for it’s awakening?
For it’s sweet new breath and delicate green lace?

Shall I say ‘yes’ to Spring for the arrival of
blessed warmth
and the appearance of
new shoots?
Precious Spring ~ I love you best!

Shall Summer ignite my passion?
Summer, with its’
twenty-hour days
and sweaty-degree heat,
Summer of the deepest greens and brightest flowers.
Mosquito-bitten, barefoot Summer ~

you are my favourite!

Shall Autumn’s golden elegance claim my heart?
As shadows lengthen and days darken,
Autumn steals upon me
~ a secret, determined lover ~
(it’s crisp breath a thrill upon my ear)
of a slower pace.
Autumn, o gilded season ~ how I adore you!

Shall I submit to the crystal promise
Winter leaves upon my doorstep?
Severe of beauty,

fierce Winter demands respect ~
yet, in return,
presents me with
a world a-glitter.
Diamond upon diamond,
I am held fast within Winter’s
fearsome thrall.
Season of Ice, you have my heart.

Peace ~

01 March, 2009

~ Footprints on Hearts ~

There are voices that whisper in the quiet moments. I hear them in my ear - gently, softly. They are the voices of my grandmothers, my parents, my teachers, friends who have loved me, friends who love me still. They are ever-present, they are as Thought and Memory, the two ravens of legend. They guide, remind and chastise me. They encourage me, and they suggest I wait. It is an inescapable fact that we are touched by others as we move through our lives.

If we are truly fortunate we will have loving influences along the way. There will be people
who touch our lives in ways we cannot fully explain - people who touch our lives in ways we may never understand. My life has been full of these people, and I hear their voices as I go about my daily tasks.

Perhaps it is an overabundance of sentimentality that keeps me holding fast to the unique and specific timbre of each voice, recalling in minute detail the cadence of speech and the manner of expression of every one. Whether it is the clipped, formal accent belonging to my Grade 3 teacher (a severe Englishwoman with steel grey hair and cerise lipstick), or the eager slur of my youngest cousin (whom I adored and who adored me in return), I hear the words they spoke as clearly as when they were spoken. I may not have grasped the importance of their lessons, and I may not always attain the goals set, or the levels of being that were taught, but the words of their teaching remain unsullied.

Whenever I am tempted to cut corners on a project, my great-grandfather reminds me to “Buy the best you can afford because the cheapest will be the most expensive in the long run.” Should I find myself considering compromising my ideals, it is my mother who says (and this one really annoys me), “You do whatever you think is right.” On the rare occasions I entertain the notion of donning the backless, floor length, baby blue, satin halter dress that was made for me in 1978, my brother’s velvet voice intones, “Isn’t it a bit too...oh, I don’t know....too ABBA for you?”

It is important to remember the lesson as well as the teacher, of course, which is why the little reminders from the recesses of my brain are so welcome. I have a fantastic long-term memory but am lamentably lacking in short-term memory skills. It is for this reason I write things down, making dozens of lists that I invariably forget to take alone with me when I go out to obtain whatever it is I am after.
It is impossible to say for certain how profoundly some of these people have affected me...how changed my life has been through my knowing them. I cannot measure their contributions, nor can I assign a value to the wisdom they imparted. I do know that while I am is due, in part, to each one of them...that I would have become a rather different person had any one of them been excluded from my life.

It was Flavia Weedn who said, “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Others leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.”

This is true.

I count myself lucky to have footprints on my heart, and whenever I need to be reminded of the important things, the voices of those I have held dear whisper in the quiet moments - father...mother...brother...grandparents...teachers...friends...and even a few enemies. Their words are important.

Please, Father, may I always listen.

Peace ~

11 February, 2009

~ The Tale of Three Drunken Bridesmaids ~

Sometimes when one is presented with a barrel of fish, the polite thing is NOT to go fishing, but to graciously decline.

Sometimes, however, the opportunity presented is so beautifully perfect it simply cannot be passed over.

Many years ago, my husband and I were guests at a wedding where the three bridesmaids (it will come as no surprise) were dressed in matching, perfectly hideous gowns. Why brides do that to the women they profess to love best in all the world, I will never understand. (shaking head sadly) I didn’t. I stepped neatly around the issue of choosing bridesmaids’ dresses by choosing my brother to stand as witness for me when I married. Clever, eh?

At any rate, when it came time to leave the wedding, we found ourselves excusing our way through the flock of inebriated bridesmaids on the hall steps. They surrounded us though, and they had hold of our clothing, so without sacrificing it to their painted and coiffured clutches, the only escape was through their maze of questions.

“We don’t know your names,” they giggled, and batted their lashes. We offered our given names. They pounced on mine like a fish tossed to three gulls.

“Mylene,” they giggled, “That’s a different name. What kind of name is it?”

“It’s a French name,” I smiled.

“A French name!” they tittered, and one of them hiccoughed delicately, “Is your family French?”

“No,” I said, “my family is Irish.”

“Irish!” they cooed, their eyelashes fluttering. “So what’s your last name?”

“It’s English,” I answered.

“English!” they laughed, and one of them clapped. There was an expectant pause. “So...what is it?”

I smiled. “It’s English.”

They frowned, blinked several times, and rustled a bit in their horrible dresses. “Yes, you said it’s English, but what IS it?”

I said, “It’s English. My last name...is...English. My name is Mylene English.”

They thought on this, they blinked, they blinked some more, then they laughed. “That’s great! Your family is Irish, your first name is French, and your last name is English.” They were greatly amused.

They turned to my husband and fluttered their lashes, “So are you an English, too?”

My husband, who was born in England, said, “No, I’m not an English, but I am English.”

The flutter of horrible dresses was stilled. The only discernible movement was the rapid blinking of their eyelids, the only sound the faint click of their mascara’d lashes.

“What?” they asked in uncomprehending unison.

My husband smiled his most charming smile and offered again, “I’m not an English, but I am English.”

We grinned brightly at the flustered, fluttering bridesmaids, clad in their horrible, phosphorescent dresses, bade them a ‘good evening’, linked arms and giggled across the parking lot to our car.

“Fish in a barrel,” laughed my Englishman, “just like fish in a barrel!”

~ Peace

28 January, 2009

~ The Phone Rang Behind Me ~

The way we locate where a sound is coming from is by calculating the difference between the time the sound waves hit each of our ears.

That’s very clever.

Also fascinating.

And helpful.


This morning I finished clearing up after breakfast, grabbed the white phone, and headed off to make my bed and get ready for the day. I was standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom, putting my hair up when the phone rang behind me. I went back to the bedroom to get the white phone which I had just been holding a few seconds earlier.

The phone was not on the bed. I stood a moment, puzzled, knowing I had just had it in my hand. The phone rang behind me. I thought I must have left the phone on the dresser, so I turned around to look there.

The phone was not on the dresser. I stood a moment, puzzled, knowing I had JUST had it in my hand. The phone rang behind me. I thought I must have covered the phone over when I made the bed, so I turned around to look there, and started pulling back the quilts and blankets.

The phone was not in the bed. The phone rang behind me. I stood a moment, puzzled. I thought I must have dropped the phone into the laundry hamper, so I turned around to look there, and started flinging clothes every direction 'cause I KNEW I had JUST had the phone in my hand SECONDS earlier.

The phone was not in the laundry hamper. The phone rang behind me. I thought I must have left the phone in the bathroom after all, but because the phone had rung five times and I still hadn’t located it, I ran to a different phone, muttering to myself that I would have to find the white phone afterward.

Afterward, I found the white phone............hooked on the back pocket of my jeans.

Peace ~

14 January, 2009

~ Wint'ry Wednesday ~




Alright, still.


Sure is pretty, though.

Won't be long before the sky is once again the colour of dresses I see on smashingly elegant creatures wearing gobs of pave jewellery but can never find for myself.

Oh....I know why that is....I have no pave diamond jewellery to wear such a dress with.


Someone told me the other day she was tired of winter, that it could be all over with now. I said, "But, we need winter, the trees are sleeping!"

She wasn't convinced.

It's true though. And if we didn't have winter, the trees couldn't sleep....we would have to get all new trees and....well....seriously....take a look around....we live in the middle of the Boreal forest....who's gonna replant millions of hectares of forest???


I rest my case.

Peace ~

10 January, 2009

~ The Guardians ~

(on driving into Canmore, studying the mountains with - as always - much apprehension..."It is possible," says my husband, "they fear you, too.")

recumbent giants
expectant sentinels
consider my arrival with
some amusement
for my fear of their


innocuous presence

within their ancient belly
in prayer
for safe regurgitation

swallowing stars
nibbling at the moon
chuckle as 
drive deeper
into their darkness

gentle behemoth
free me
release me
return me to
and hearth
safely bland


~ Peace