Monday, January 24, 2011

Our Very Own Woods and Magical Stream

I'm a towny, always have been except for a few years living in a very small village as a young child. I'm used to being able to walk downtown whenever I need to for a shopping fix. I'm also now able to walk to a coffee shop, Wal-Mart and Home Depot due to the land being available at our end of town. It usually takes me twenty-five minutes to walk to the bridge over the river downtown and from there I can access my doctor's office, dentist's office and my optometrist all within another ten minutes or so. I have even ventured on occasion to walk all the way to our Zellars Store at the opposite end of town but it's a feat I don't tackle anymore. There are many hills in this town, some very steep and if I can avoid them I do.

This past weekend the temperature here has been minus 26 degrees with the wind chill making it feel like -37. Since I find that way too cold to go walking outside I have set up a jigsaw puzzle to challenge me. Actually I'm on my third one, they all involved flowers of some description. These flower puzzles made me think of spring and spring made me think of May, the month we hope to return to Prince Edward Island to start our renovating process on our over seventy year farmhouse.

Thinking of our farmhouse put me in mind of our wonderful property. To some it might look like just a bunch of fields bordered by trees. In the spring the fields will be planted in potatoes but to an old towny like me it looks like paradise. To think my husband and I own all those fields and the long, deep woods behind them is so exciting to me. Last year along with my sister-in-law and her husband we grabbed a pair of long handled loppers, a small axe and headed into the woods. Several of the first dozen trees had a yellow plastic ribbon tied around them so we figured that's the trail to follow. It was tough going after awhile. It was very dense with small trees trying to reach towards the light of the sun, dead trees, old logs plus branches reaching out to halt our progress.

But the charm of the woods was the lovely, deep moss covering the forest floor, hearing the birds sing and finding all sorts of different mushrooms, none of which we knew. One particular mushroom has the reddest top I've ever seen. It was so beautiful. Jim's brother placed it on a tree branch so we could get a good photo of it. We knew from the deeds of the property that there were several streams on the property. Plus the owner had told us as a small child she fell into one. We tramped through the dense woods for nearly two miles it seemed, ducking here, dodging there to escape a branch in the head. One small clearing made me exclaim with joy as there were stately maples growing there. Some small enough I hope to dig up and transplant later.

When we finally reached what we thought should be a stream it seemed to be dried up, no water was flowing but the moss was very spongy and wet. We trekked on, up hill and down dale and finally found the most magical little stream I've seen in a long time. I was beside myself with joy. Bouncing around with delight at this narrow little stream with clear, sparkling water flowing ever so bravely on. I suppose to some it wouldn't look like much, but I have a vision of fairies dancing there in the sunlight when no one is around. I envisioned cleaning up the stream, pulling out soggy logs and branches, clearing vegetation away near the edge and even putting little benches here and there to sit on someday.

There will be so little time to go exploring in the woods over the next few years as we renovate the house and barns but hopefully we can set aside one day each summer to go exploring. Even the fact I caught my right foot under a log and fell headfirst on the soft, cushiony moss, really hurting my foot and ankle won't deter me from searching out treasures in the woods again. I was limping for several weeks and lucky I didn't break my ankle so instead of looking UP next time I will try and look for twisting roots or old logs that want to trip me up.

I shall feel like Anne of Green Gables or the Girl of the Limberlost when entering my dear woods. Loving, admiring every tree and bush. Listening for the birds and marveling at Mother Nature's bounty and goodness to a towny part of the year and a bonafide "country girl" the few weeks we get to spend on the island until we retire there permanently.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One of Mother's Greatest Gifts To Me

My Mother was a very talented woman. She was a writer or author as she had many stories published during her "writing" years. I inherited a small bit of her writing talent as I'm now writing my Memoirs and leading a group at our town library who are writing theirs.

Edith, my mother was also in my opinion a very talented artist. Her medium of choice was watercolours. When she passed on, all of her five children inherited at least three or more of her framed or unframed paintings. Mine hold pride of place in my guest room, living-room and bedroom. I had also hoped to inherit some of her talent for doing watercolors, having purchased many books on the subject. I have taken lessons on occasion to learn better the technique but finding the time seems to allude me. I am not the best organizer of my time.

Something I did inherit from my mother was her love of puttering. A whole day can pass by with me wondering at the end of it what on earth I accomplished. I was in every room of the house and opened drawers and put things here and there but what the heck, I had fun.

If I had to mention the one gift that my mother passed on to me that I perhaps treasure above all others, besides the love of flowers, birds, quilts, photos, magazines, love of old movies etc., it would be the love of reading. It started because she read to me as a child when we lived in a huge, rambling yellow brick house in the village of Burgessville. A salesman came to the door one day who was selling children's books. Those books were called "Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories". Mother ended up buying the whole series I expect, the salesmen back then were very persistant. They were numerous too and often came to the door, something I'm not sorry to see has changed over the years. She was so overcome one day by a pushy salesman, I had to run down to the C0-0p building where which my father managed to tell him to come home quickly so he could tell this man to leave our premises. Which he promptly did.

Mother started reading to me story after story from these bedtime books. Having a vivid imagination even at a tender age I could place myself in these stories most of which had a moral. Did mother have a motive for reading certain stories to me? Perhaps. There were black and white pictures in those books which I would look upon for hours also. Our village was very small, there were two garages across from each other and two general stores. The one store though had a magic place upstairs at the back. We would walk along a narrow sidewalk and open a door and climb up many, many stairs. At the top was a long, narrow room but it was filled with treasure. It was a very small but exciting library. Imagine a person a small as me could borrow books, read them and then take them back for more! Life couldn't get any better.

Then as I grew older and got an allowance I discovered comic books. Not just any comic books but big, thick Historical comic books and then romantic ones or just plain funny ones. I had a friend who lived five miles away in Norwich and her and her brother had boxes of them out in their front porch under the couch. I had struck gold! I was allowed to take some home, then after reading them bring them back. The library in Norwich was also a treasure-trove where I met Lucy Maud Montgomery and fell in love with Anne of Green Gables. You wouldn't want to know how many of her books I have on my book shelves. Then I fell in love later on with an author I'm now rereading Gene Stratton-Porter who wrote Freckles, Laddie and my favorite book of all time "Girl of the Limberlost". (well actually I have hundreds of favorite books).

Often at the library there were books which became torn, faded and too old to keep on the shelves. It was our family's good fortune that mother just happened to be the librarian. One day she brought me my most treasured book, a faded old ragged copy of "Girl of the Limberlost". I was transported into another world, a world so filled with nature as I didn't want to leave it. I think my gardening gene must have been formed into a little bud that day, later to burst forth into an all out explosion of activity each spring and summer. If I were to admit to addictions, they would be reading and gardening.

I realized today I don't have all of Gene Stratton-Porter's books so the hunt will now be on to try and find those treasures written back in the 1900's if at all possible. I have written down all the titles I can find and who printed them. Now I will hunt in dusty little book stores whenever I find myself in towns where such a thing exists. Perhaps I'll email some of literary book hunters in the family to be on the look-out as they live in a bigger city where a treasure-trove of book stores must exist. I hope as I sit each morning enjoying my coffee inside in winter or outside on my back deck in the summer reading away for an hour before starting my puttering, that mother is looking down on me, smiling and reminiscing about all the glorious books she read, knowing my time is well spent.