Saturday, October 21, 2006

Today in an e-mail I received the following excerpt.

"Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I'll focus on this new day and all the happy memories I've stored away. Just for this time in my life....

Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from it what you've put in.

So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories!"

This little homily, together with the presence of four LARGE boxes of pictures that sit on the trunk at the end of the bed, has prompted me to consider the contents of the four LARGE boxes and the memories that we have accumulated there. Memories of
Husband and I, our family and our friends. For a number of years in the 60's and 70's we relied on a movie camera to record the passing days. Those memories are tucked away on film, in a box. All except a select few that we had transferred to VHS, and thence to a DVD. For the past few years we have used a digital camera, and there are a couple of thousand pictures of the Similkameen Valley, the Lost Garden, Sunsets and Sunrises, and family celebrations stored in our computers.

Well, what do you do about those thousands of pictures once you get to be an octogenarian, and you know that someone, somewhere, sometime is going to have to deal with all these memories. Husband's sister has tackled the job, year by year, and is creating extremely elegant snapshot albums recording each year's family gatherings, visits from friends and important events. I admire her work and the time, the love and the dilegence she has devoted to it. I realize, however, that the task is beyond me unless I wish to give up the garden, the weaving and all the other activities that fill our days now.

This is about the time that I realize I am not alone in enjoying rummaging through these abiding memories!! Husband is equally as sentimental as I, and far better at organizing a method for dealing with this problem than I could ever be. Given the 17 empty albums we have accumulated over the years, in hopes that at some point we will buckle down to the task or sorting pictures into family groups and passing them on to children, - and given the number of shoe boxes that are sitting around waiting to be used for sorting, - Surely the moment of truth has arrived, - the point of no return!!

To strengthen and support this project is the advance of winter, the need for Husband to find something to do that will favour his sciatica (now that the tractor is in decent repair).

I can see it now, - the happy hours spent in contemplation of times long gone, - precious friends who take their place either amongst the quick, or the dead. The stories associated with times and places, and the reminiscences of Christmases, small children, birthday parties, travel to well loved woods and fishing spots.

I pick up a handful of these pictures, and I am taken back to the time when we were young grandparents - and all the delightful times we enjoyed with young grandchildren.

Here is a picture of a distant cousin from the 1800's who is the spitting image of one of our granddaughters when she was the same age.

A picture from the 50's of Husband and young friends with a rogue bear they shot, with our oldest son looking on, wide-eyed.

One of dear friends, gathered together for New Year's Eve sometime in the early 90's; a picture of me that Husband carried with him when he was Overseas, together with a snap of some of his crew and Himself, on leave at the Spa Hotel in Tunbridge Wells.

There are pictures of our grandparents and their family and friends - a few even of the generation that precedes them. All precious and worthy of good care, - all part and parcel of the memories that we have banked over the years, for just such a time as this.

At the end of this homily which arrived in my e-mail box were the following five simple rules to be happy.

Free your heart from hatred.

Free your mind from worries

Live simply

Give more

Expect less

All rules that reminded me how simple it all is, - this business of being happy!!!!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Life holds many joys, and to the positive and cheerful soul each day contains within it the power to uplift and satisfy one's spirit.

However, just occasionally we are faced with disappointments that bring sorrow and dismay to our lives. Indeed, no matter how sincere the effort or how diligent the work that goes in to it, some things seem to be doomed to fail, and the failure brings a heaviness to our hearts and a feeling of despair.

Things get out of hand, egos clash and misunderstandings arise. Matters of discernment are twisted, and true meanings and intentions fail to reach from one person to the next. Idle gossip and dangerous assumptions ferment the cauldron, and soon the pot is boiling over with bitter invective.

When such situations arise it is hard to regain serenity and hope, but with the passing of even a little time our perceptions of the troubles become more bearable. With the dawning of a new day and a little breakfast conversation, the future looks brighter. When solutions appear even faintly possible we can greet the day with a hey-ho and a smile, - and I suppose a certain amount of naive trust that maturity and intelligence will win through; and that intransigence will give way to cooperation..

I quote Pope on springs eternal!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

O suns and skies and clouds of June,

And flowers of June together,

Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's b
right blue weather.

October's poplars are flaming torches
lighting the way to winter.
- Nova Bair

In this case it is a Sunset Maple, but just below us is a straight line of pears, which reach like golden torches to the sky.

Many years ago, in the 1960’s and 70’s, we owned the orchard just across the highway from the land these trees stand on. At its eastern end was a block of magnificent old pear trees, and I remember one autumn in particular when the leaves on these trees turned golden, scarlet, subtle and luminous shades of green, soft yellows and glowing earth tones. What a gorgeous tapestry it was.

We pastured sheep amongst the trees on this property. The apple trees were old, - gnarled

Macintosh and red and striped Delicious. It was more like a park than an orchard. The sheep cropped the grass and lent a pastoral air to the land.

The sheep were a family enterprise, - everybody participated, right down to the littlest ones feeding the occasional orphan lambs with bottles. But the Shepherd and the Shepherd’s Border Collie, Candy, were the ones who had most rapport with the flock. Candy arrived in the Shepherd’s pocket one day, to the children’s delight. The Shepherd trained her well, and they made an extraordinary team.

At one time we had four hundred ewes, and lambing time was a mixture of pleasurable anticipation, as we picked out the ewes who were liable to lamb that night by observing them at feeding time, and intense maternity activity in the hours to follow. The Shepherd calmed the sheep, just by walking into the barn and speaking to them, and Candy kept vigil at the door.

The flock were not the most profitable venture, but we had some sheep all the time we were on the farm, and they were the part of farming that brought us the most satisfaction and delight. And sometimes frustration. I have a cameo of trying to herd a recalcitrant ewe back to where she belonged without the help of the dog, tears and rage vying for dominance..

Eventually we planted rutabagas as a ground crop, - seven miles of rutabagas, - up one row and down the next. It was a labour intensive operation, but it was also a time of free spirits and “hippies” who turned their backs on established lives and sought the wonders and adventures of the open road. A lot of them found their way to us, and in particular a University Art Professor who had chosen the alternate style of living, and seemed to be a mentor to all the young people who traveled with him. We learned a lot from these people, and grew especially fond of some of them. Some of our children were at a vulnerable age, and took to smoking the funny cigarettes that were so prevalent at the time and contributed so much to the way of life. It is hard to judge the ambivalent influence these children of the New Age had on our family, but they came back year after year and were a great help to us.

Our farm ran parallel to the highway, and it was not hard to judge the influence the topless turnip workers had on the community driving by!!!!