In Her Eyes

Daughter is lying on her changing pad, looking out the window. This is one of her favourite spots. She can happily spend thirty minutes here sometimes; just gazing. 

I kiss her cheek, then lay mine on hers so that I’m looking in the same direction she is. I feel the softness of her cheek on mine, while I see the world from her perspective. The startling blue of the sky contrasting with the vivid green of the leaves. And the sun shining through it all, painting shadows on the blinds. 

I hold my breath for a second, wanting to hold on to the beauty of it all. The surprising beauty of an ordinary day.

What are you grateful for today?

Berry Picking Angel

Opa (my dad) is coming for a visit, so I tell Son we need to pick Saskatoons for Opa. I mostly just want to get him out for a walk, but I know if he has a purpose like this, he will be more willing. And I saw a couple days ago that the Saskatoons are looking ripe and perfect, and I can’t resist.

We’re at a bush and we’ve started picking berries, but not too many because they are quite high up and hard to reach. Plus Daughter is sleeping in the carrier, which makes it doubly hard. We are about to move to a second bush, farther down the path, when Son turns and sees an older Chinese man walking towards us. Son thinks it’s one of our neighbors, who is always very friendly, so he opens his arms wide and says, “Hi!”, to the man. It’s not our neighbor, but the man is delighted with Son’s greeting. He sees what we’re doing and asks us (with hand gestures because he doesn’t speak English) if the berries are ok to eat. I nod, yes. He points down the path, indicating that there’s another bush there too. I nod and say, “yes, there are more there too.” Then the man walks to the bush, grabs a branch, bends it down efficiently, and picks berries like a pro. Where I pick and choose the berries, one by one, he pulls them off in bunches, then drops them into my bucket. He keeps picking them, so Son and I join in. He has clearly decided to help us get as many berries as we can, so he keeps picking and we keep helping. We communicate simply with hand gestures, each speaking in our own language or we rest in comfortable silence. Once we’ve decided we’re finished with one bush, he rushes us to the next one. The berries here are fat and juicy. He says points to them and says what I imagine to be something like, “look at these beautiful berries. There are so many of them!” And I nod and say, “yes, so many!” Other Chinese people come walking by. He chats with them, explains what we’re doing. Those that speak some English ask about the berries. Son explains it all to them. He loves explaining. Suddenly, an ordinary morning of picking berries in the woods has turned into a party.

Eventually the passerby go on their way. We pick some more until Son and I have filled one small bucket and half of a large one. We thank him profusely, then walk together until it’s time to part ways.

Isn’t it amazing what can happen when we greet each other with kindness? 

What was the best moment of your weekend?

Snails

The ground was damp from rain when Son, Daughter and I went for a walk, so Son found a snail. He walked with it for a while, then said, “Mama, can we take it home?”.

Snails were my first pets, and they’ve held a special place in my heart ever since. I said, “ok.”

Now we are home and Son has two snails in his hands. I put Daughter in her bouncy chair, then rush to find a jar for the snails. We put them in, add some leaves for food, then I find a lid. It needs holes, though. 

The snails start climbing out of the jar, so I put a small, metal strainer on the top, hoping it’ll hold them for now. Then I find a lid and start punching holes in it with a hammer and nail. Son watches the snails for a while, then watches me.

I put the finished lid on the jar. Success. Then I look inside the jar to see one snail, not two. I open the jar, move the leaves around. Definitely only one snail.

“Son, there’s only one snail in here, have you seen the other one?” I ask, carefully.

“No”, says Son, “where is it?”. His voice trembles.

Husband, who is not wild about this project, enters the room. “What’s going on?”, he says. “Let me know if you see a snail”, I say.

I look around for the snail. It can’t have gone far, but I also don’t see it anywhere. I look around the jar, on the floor of the kitchen, under the fridge. No snail.

I decide to scan the countertop. I’m thirsty. I reach for my water bottle, then stop. The snail is perched on the sport-cap, stretching out of its shell, reaching up to me.

“Here it is!”, I say. We all laugh, and I gently return the snail to its jar, where I hope it will stay until we release them both back into the wild on Monday.

Butterfly 

Almost at the park. On a gravel path now, feeling cool air on the sweaty skin I got pushing the stroller mostly uphill. 

The land at the edge of the path turns sharply down into a ravine here. From where I stand, I can’t see the bottom of the ravine, only the tops of the trees growing below us. 

Son is chugging along the path, pretending to be a train, stirring up dust in his wake. The afternoon light sifted through the trees is golden and the dust in the air gives a sense of magic. 

I see a butterfly, floating through the fairy dust in the air. It’s soaring. I’ve never seen a butterfly soar before. It flutters a bit, here and there, but seems to be more eagle than butterfly. 

I breathe in the moment, the light, the joy of the butterfly, then carry on.

Saskatoons

The sun glints briefly through the leaves as my fingers brush them. I reach up to the highest branch, then wrap my fingers around a plump, purple berry. Time slows and I can almost hear the breath of the plants around me. For this moment, there is nothing but berry, leaf, and the sky beyond. My chatterbox brain is silent and my worries fall away.

The Saskatoon berries are ripe. Son and I have been prowling the little patch of woods by our house, waiting for them. In the meantime, he’s been eating his way through the Huckelberries and Salmonberries. Today, the Saskatoons are finally ripe and we’re excited to try them.

I grew up on the edge of a city in the prairies. My parents were both raised on farms and knew a lot about plants. A family walk would always be punctuated with stops to  point out the Edelweiss or nibble on a rose-hip. In a place with a very short growing season, we would eat any edible berries growing wild with relish. Especially Saskatoons. My mom loved Saskatoon berries. She grew up in the same city and they were a childhood treat for her. We grew some in our garden and would also pick them in a ravine near our house. I remember walking to the ravine in the summer and coming home with full buckets of berries. We’d eat some berries and my mom would make a pie with the rest. So they’re a childhood treat for me too.

Saskatoons are less common where I live now. There’s only one little bush in these woods. Son and I won’t get buckets of them, just enough for a few of his snacks. But I’m glad that they will be part of son’s childhood too.

Moon

The air is as thick and warm as an old quilt. One of our first real summer days, though, so I’m not complaining. Windows are open and fans whir.

Daughter is asleep on my lap and I’m on our bed, waiting to transfer her into the crib for the night.

I look out the open window and am surprised by the moon. The big window is usually closed at night, and I’ve never looked out of it at this time of day.

The moon is bright yellow, a perfect half-circle hanging in a sky that is more dark, dark, blue than black. I can see the faint shadows etched on its surface. Are they seas? Or craters? I’ll have to look it up.

The noise of the day is absolved in this silence. On a day filled with the logistics of combing hair, changing diapers and the always mad rush to dinner, the moon reminds me of wonder and dreams.

Night Trees

3:23 am. Daughter is spread-eagled across my lap in post-nursing baby-bliss. I’m waiting ten minutes until I can safely transfer her into the crib without waking her. The Venetian blinds directly across from me are white and opaque. I blink at them, trying to keep my eyes open.

Suddenly, the light in our bathroom, that had been dimly lighting our bedroom, blinks out. (It’s on a timer). The white, opaque blinds transform into a black-and white, impressionist, leafy canvas. The shadows of the trees outside our window are thrown boldly onto the blinds. I blink again, awake now. I am reminded of the trees around us and now feel almost as though I am in a forest, instead of in my little square room in a rectangle house.

Night Garden

Watering our little patio garden is the last chore of the day. I think about skipping it and going straight to the bowl of oatmeal and Chocolate Panda tea that’s waiting for me. But one of the blueberry bushes looks like it’s dying and I want to see if the flower on the strawberry plant will turn into a strawberry, so I march myself to the door.

Stepping outside, I’m instantly glad I came. The dark air is soft and cool. The lane, which by day is the site of soccer matches, chalk art, and preschool toy wars, is now quiet, with only the occasional dog-walker passing by.

I can smell the plants now in a way that I don’t during the day. The sweetness of distant flowers and the humid, pete-moss smell of the soil rises around me.

The cool water rushes through the hose and the plants drink in the water. Fatigue falls from my shoulders and I go back inside to my waiting oatmeal, restored.

Pondering

The smell of sweet flowers, lilacs, maybe, mix with grass and poplar. Robins are having a concert in the trees behind me. Clouds form a roof over me so the sky looks uniformly white instead of blue.

Son is racing off on his scooter, Husband is chasing him and Daughter and I are walking behind.

I feel my familiar tension, dirty old shoestrings looped around my chest. I wonder what my life would be like if I stopped trying to get everything right. And for a moment I feel completely free.

What was your favourite moment today?

Mixed Bag

A tough day today. Son was extra ornery and so was I. I’m so tired! Daughter isn’t sleeping well and so neither am I, of course.

I’m grateful that even though Son and I got mad at each other, we also got past it, and he gave me a rare hug at dinner.

I’m grateful that Husband brought me flowers for Mother’s Day.

I’m grateful for the glorious sunshine and blue, blue sky.