Monday, October 13, 2008

Stories from Prince Edward County

Some of us who have moved here call ourselves E.T.’s – Ex-Torontonians. I have passed the two-year mark of living in lovely Prince Edward County and it’s beginning to feel more and more like home, I am falling into the rhythm of the natural world around me.

When I moved into my house two years ago the splendor of growing wheat unfolded in the fields below. My dog Sassy loved leaping through it in wild bounds like a young deer. I had seen the green carpet of winter wheat when I placed my offer late in the winter season and was able to watch it grow and mature from a rich green to a splendid golden colour. The wind had fun playing through the wheat when it was tall and glorious, creating undulating patterns much like ocean waves. I respond to this with the deep body cell memory that has been imprinted in all of us for eons.
I remember during my childhood in Germany hiking to the top of my beloved hills where there were large flat areas to grow wheat, oats and barley. I don’t recall the fields being infested with wild greens, but surrounding them like a tight fitting frame grew wild poppies and wild cornflowers of the deepest red and the deepest blue imaginable. These are good memories, memories that bring joy to my heart.

The wheat in the fields this year is disappointing and markedly different. Much shorter, almost by half its size, even the wind is disappointed and has lost interest in playing. My soul does not recognize its colour, it seems drab and spiritless, there is a sadness that begins to settle in that won’t leave me. The green of the grass at the edges seems even more exuberant in contrast. What might it whisper to the fields as solace?

This morning, the dogs and I found a dead chipmunk on the road. Its mouth had been pushed open upon impact, and was framed as with a string of pearls with wheat kernels. What impact, I asked myself with a deep ache in my heart, does all this altered food have on the wild creatures, birds and insects? Our Native friends teach us that we must look ahead seven generations. What is there to say? I have such a deep love for the natural world. It is what powerfully compels me to teach the Living Foods Lifestyle and its philosophy. It is a philosophy that places us in the earth and makes us recognize her power, love and wisdom. It makes us realize that she endlessly gives to us and never asks anything in return. But she is beginning to speak with a powerful voice.

I’ll share some of that in my next story, for I believe in storytelling. Before the alphabet was created, we were all an oral society, passing knowledge through stories. Stories endure as a powerful learning tool, and storytelling is the way I like to teach.

Thomas Berry in The Dream of the Earth, invites us to ponder and search in our souls and hearts for answers. He writes:
It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I have a Friend

I have friend; now this reads like an everyday simple statement, but is it? How does the word friend feel in your body, feel in your heart? Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’ comes to my mind, the brotherhood of men, a poem born out of the idealism of my tribe, powerfully set to music by Beethoven. It is some of that, but it goes deeper yet. It is love, trust, knowing, the sharing of a 44 year long history together. It is powerful and it goes deep, and most of all it is filled with gratitude.

Let’s say my friends name is Emily, although this is not her real name. Had I been blessed with grandchildren, and had the child been a girl, and had I been asked to name her, I would have called her Emily. The reason I don’t give my best friends real name is that she would become quite upset with me, understandably so. But I wanted to share my thoughts, to invite you ponder what friendship means to you. To me friendship is like a precious flower, for it to flourish it must be carefully nourished.

Emily was a nursery school teacher at a local church for over 25 years, lucky the children who came under her wings. She called them the little people. “I love my little people,” she would often say. When time allowed, I attended the little peoples’ Christmas Concert, eat your hearts out Vienna Choir boys, it was a concert given by angels. And one year, my dear dear friend Emily was honoured for her 25 years of service. I felt my heart grow ten notches with gratitude for being blessed with such a friend.

I met Emily, her husband and children when one of my daughters was three years, and the other three month old although I had seen Emily two years earlier at a Christmas party given by the company both our husbands worked for. ‘I’d like to get to know her’ I thought, my heart intuitively
knowing of the strong bond that would ensue.

Summers meant going camping with our families in Kilbear Provincial Park. We would always choose Harold’s point camp grounds, sharing one of the very generous campsites together, setting up at the May two-four weekend and keeping the site all summer. Yes, it was possible then, and for young families with stay- at-home Moms’ affordable. May and June would see us driving up north every Friday evening, staying until late Sunday, and during July and August Emily and I stayed up north with our children, keeping one family car, while our husbands used the other to come up north on weekends with fresh supplies. What lucky children, all five. Our two youngest would go off fishing, blessing me with the tiniest filets of fish for lunch, likely the best fish I have ever eaten, or they whole bunch would go together blueberry picking or exploring. Or Emily and I would sit in the shade by the beach while the gang had fun in the water. Treasured times that only in retrospect reveal their depth and beauty. Lucky children, lucky us.

During those early years Kilbear park was a newly created camping paradise, there was plenty of wood for campfires. Emily and I prided ourselves in having the best fire going even in the rain. That fire was important because we would sit in the kitchen tent after having put the children to bed; night after nigh and talk, likely ‘till midnight while the other campsites around us went dark one by one. I don’t remember what we talked about, what do friends talk about who are bonded so deeply, creating history together.
Treasured times, lucky us, lucky children.

The impressive rock in the photo is from shore by the bay. I thought it to be a great symbol of friendship.

I have a friend. Her name is Emily.