Friday, May 14, 2010

Spring treasure hunt

Ever heard the saying, "Take only pictures, leave only footprints"? Nik and I put that into action today, on our first nice weather morning in weeks. Rather than going out to pick flowers, we just took the camera along, to capture every beauty of Spring in a photo, to save and share. See our treasured finds below!

It was good to see green back on the trees.

And there are so many blossoms to be seen in the neighbourhood.

These seeds will turn tan and flutter like helicopters before long, but they were a gorgeous red today!

Beautiful bulb plants have pushed into view...

We also saw a few Spring critters...

And what would a spring photos post be without a robin? We finally spotted one when we were almost home.
Wishing you wonderful spring walks in the days to come. Don't forget your camera!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Drizzling rain, croaking frogs, the call of birds... I am in bed early tonight with my bedroom window open, letting in the smell of freshly fallen rain, and all the backyard music.

Ours is not a spacious country home, just a small half-a-duplex in one of the decidedly less cool neighbourhoods in the city, but we are fortunate to live on the edge of a development, with ditch and dirt path and grassland just beyond our backyard fence. It is land owned by the hydroelectric company, and they have built their towers all along it, holding up long stretches of electric cable, and as a result, I know it is in no danger of being developed into the newest suburb. A funny way to get a nature preserve, I guess, but when I hear the frogs and watch the red-winged blackbirds dart in front of the setting sun, I feel lucky to live just in this humble spot.

My favourite kind of meditation is just mindful awareness of sound. I remember doing it for the first time in sixth grade, with the classroom windows open, everyone listening for as many different sounds as they could. I feel my ears stretch into the distance, searching for every pin drop of a sound, and my mind clears of everything else.

Tonight, the frogs are stealing the show, but the symphony coming in my bedroom window is varied and rich for anyone with ears to hear. There is the hum of the far off industrial plant. Also, the roar of a distant train, punctuated by the whistle blow now, and again. These are the only sounds the survive even in the dead of winter, my constant companions. Now, in full spring, I also hear birds, many kinds of birds, but my uneducated ear does not know how to name them. A hawk is there, I think, and a robin... A Canada goose... Many others call, and while I do not know their names, my ear remembers their songs, heard many evenings before this one.

Dripping water hits the fence, leaking from the eavestroughs, long overdue for a cleaning. A squirrel screeches, a cat meows, and I hear the frogs, the frogs, the constant frogs... Only in springtime are they as loud as this.

As I listen, my breathing slows without effort. My mind feels emptied, opened up by the evening air. I wonder why I don't do this all the time. I know why.

I know how prone I am to rushing, to busyness, to always finding one more thing I should be doing, until I collapse into bed, exhausted by the activities of another day, making mental lists of everything I want to accomplish tomorrow. Moving through life at this pace hardly leaves room for these sacred moments. It hardly leaves room to breathe.

Tonight, I took the time to breathe, to listen. And I hear just one more sound: the small voice of my still-awake son, quietly singing to himself in the moments before sleep. A reminder of how to slow down, and why, and for whom. It is not just about me, anymore.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Melancholy mama

I am approaching Mother's Day with a heavy heart this year. It is hard for me to put aside the fact that, without our loss earlier this year, I would've been 24 weeks pregnant this Sunday. Additionally, many friends of mine have also lost pregnancies in the past year, and earlier this week, I witnessed a very old friend standing at the graveside of his first son, barely one week old. With so much loss, it is hard to be excited about gifts and cards in celebration of motherhood.

It is not like me to focus on what's missing, and yet, this year, those missing things seem too significant to overlook. The missing pink line on a pregnancy test. The missing bump in my middle. The missing baby from my friend's newborn-ready apartment.

Opening the door to parenthood makes you vulnerable to measureless heartache. Loved ones all around me have had their hearts put through the wringer while trying to conceive, or after a pregancy was lost, or a baby died. Even if your child is born healthy and grows to adulthood, you aren't immune to heartache. Your child could still hurt you, leave you, pass away. Whether you lose a child at 6 weeks pregnant, 6 weeks old, 6 years old or 60 years old, there seems to be no loss quite so tender.

When I was working in a personal care home during my university years, one of the residents lost her daughter, Joy. Joy would have been a senior citizen herself, I think, or at least very close to it, but the pain her mother experienced at her passing was overwhelming and difficult to witness. I sat with her for hours that first weekend, watching television, and holding her hand, and hearing her cry and softly sing, "I've got Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy, down in my heart." I learned the depth of a mother's heart from her.

This week, I saw the strength of a mother's heart when I saw a young mother turn, and walk away from the grave of her only baby, as a whole crowd of mourners watched. Back at the church, when I held her hand, I glanced at her belly, still swollen from pregnancy and said, "I'm sorry for your loss." Words seem meaningless next to a loss of such magnitude. And yet, she was standing, and looked at me with the tired eyes of a mother, and thanked me.

This Mother's Day, my thoughts will be with all those families who have lost a child, and also with those who are deperately trying to conceive one. And if any of my readers are standing in that particular crowd, I wanted to share this:

It's worth it. Every penny, every sleepless night, every teardrop. Loving a child, even one not yet conceived, may open you up to no end of heartache, but there are moments with no end of joy, too. I wish for you all, Joy, down in your hearts.
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