Posts Tagged "memories"

Combining past and present selves

Posted by on Nov 29, 2016 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

“If we think of Baudrillard’s division of collectors into the young and the old, we might account for the seriousness of the older collector by noting that often the nostalgia involved in a hobby is to do with the wish to reanimate an earlier incarnation of the hobbyist.” – In Defense of Hobbies I’ve been thinking about this article–and, in particular, this quote–a lot lately. It seems that my hobby is walking, and watching any animals I find. It doesn’t have to be anywhere in particular, and there doesn’t have to be a destination. If I’m outdoors, I’m happy. I especially love hikes in the woods. I always say that I wouldn’t go back to my younger days because I love the life I live now, and some aspects of my childhood were challenging. But, there are little pockets in my memory that are calm and happy. There was one fall, somewhere between 1996-2000–Dad and I can’t seem to agree on the year–that the two of us were out for a little drive through the Laverty Lake auto trail. We got out of the car when we reached the lake and we took a little look around. I heard a rustling nearby, and I turned around to see a small baby raccoon lying on its back and tossing a leaf around with its little paws. It continued to play, mostly unaware of or unconcerned with our presence, until we drove off. I named the little raccoon Meeko–Disney’s Pochahontas film had been released around this time–and we occasionally drove back, hoping to see it again. We never did. I thought about it for a long time. Recently, I took my daughter down to Alma again for a brief visit with my parents in the middle of the week, just after Halloween. Mom, Amelia, and I decided to go to McLaren Pond in Fundy Park together and walk around the little trail loop that encircled it. We got a little way in and saw a large beaver dam, and watched as four beavers started swimming and working around it. After a few minutes, a little way down the path, a massive beaver–one of the adults, we later learned–wandered into our line of sight. She grabbed a stick in her jaws and tossed it in the air until it got the correct balance, then went back into the water to continue working. We continued down the path, and the second adult walked out of the water further ahead. He turned his head to observe us, and my daughter pointed at him and said “hug!”–she wanted to go over and give the beaver a hug. Something about this entire experience brought back the long-forgotten feelings of that day by the lake, with the baby raccoon tossing leaves in the air nearby. Suddenly, I was a much younger version of myself, standing there and watching the creatures swimming around us and standing before us. The lost feelings of humanity intermingling with nature and the desire to embrace it fully bubbled back to the surface. This feeling of nostalgia that I felt that day was a visitation by my past self. It’s amazing how parenthood forces so many of us to relive our past in a new way: with heightened awareness and appreciation for experiences we may have taken for granted earlier on in our lives. Our children invoke often unexpected memories. November is a strangely nostalgic month for me. It’s the stillness between Halloween and Christmas, and that’s why I like to wait until December first to even start thinking about holiday preparation. This time of year, I’m obsessed with the smell of smoke, and anything that tastes smokey. I love woodsmoke smells and the tastes of smoky coffee, beer, cheese, and Lapsang Souchong tea. It’s a comforting smell during the colder months, but I think a big part of it is the nostalgic reflection I subconsciously feel when I smell it. At our home in Alma, we had a wood stove that Dad would light to keep us warm in the winter. Smelling wood smoke brings me back to cold days at home as a...

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Aunt Doris and Uncle Gordon

Posted by on Sep 21, 2014 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

Aunt Doris and Uncle Gordon

Many years ago, on a previous blog, I wrote a poem for my Great Aunt Doris, who had Alzheimer’s. She and my Great Uncle Gordon were very special people in my life, and I learned a lot from both of Aunt Doris. Photo from the Albert CountyFuneral Home’s website. them. Aunt Doris passed away in April of 2008, and Uncle Gordon left us just two weeks ago. Rather than making this a sad post, I’m going to reflect on some fond memories I have of them. There are a lot. I was lucky to have loving grandparents growing up, but I also had some very special great aunts and uncles. Aunt Doris, my Nana’s younger sister, would visit with Uncle Gordon to stay in the cabin in our lower lot–a cabin Aunt Doris’s parents used to rent out to tourists many years prior. Due to the frequency of their visits, and the time we would spend together, they became like a third set of grandparents to me. Their care and love was so strong. They were also very generous with their time. They never had any children of their own, thus having no grandchildren, so they always treated me like the granddaughter they didn’t have. They took me on drives in the park, and, with my parents, we would all go on hikes together to enjoy the natural beauty of Fundy National Park. They told me that when they were visiting, I could come over anytime. Once, I took this entirely too literally. I was invited to come and see them for breakfast one morning. I combined the two offers and decided to show up to visit for breakfast–at seven AM. A much older picture of UncleGordon. I was still in my pyjamas and I was excited. I went down to the lower lot and knocked on the cabin door. Uncle Gordon greeted me in his own pyjamas, his hair dishevelled–obviously they hadn’t been expecting me so early. But he didn’t turn me away. He greeted me with his booming “hello!” and welcomed me indoors, and I had breakfast with him and Aunt Doris. Aunt Doris made these beautiful little shortbread cookies, and she would feed them to me with milk every time I visited them. These shortbreads were always topped with colourful rainbow sprinkles, and I would dip them in the milk to let the colours run. We would eat them together while playing dominos. She was a fantastic cook, and I would join them for suppers and lunches on a regular basis, as well. Both of them were very patient with me. When I couldn’t figure out how to tie my shoes, Uncle Gordon, knowing I learned things a little differently than other kids, showed me the “bunny ears” method. To this day, I still use that method. I’ll end this with a poem I wrote in the years that Aunt Doris’s Alzheimer’s got to the point she didn’t recognise most of us. I’ve edited it recently. A decorated tin filled withWhite shortbread cookies topped byRound rainbow sprinkles that make theMilk turn colour Sits on theKitchen table.A fold-out table made of tin withSturdy aluminum legs and the scene of aForest brook in autumn, surrounded by sepia foliage andThe glimpse of a deer is set up before theCouch, with aSmall box of dominoes spilled over: aGame to be played.I can’t quite tie myShoes yet, but he helps me.Two bunny ears. Tuck under. Pull. Now it’s aBow.An overstuffed yellow armchair sits by theDusty screen door, and beyond that, thePorch, where theJune bugs used to collect at night and buzz in our ears.Strawberries grow here too, hidden in theTufts of grass.She has me gather them in aPorcelain dish. I pick them andShe washes them for me.We eat them together.This is what I remember, and thoughYou cannot, I will keep rememberingFor both of...

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Crystal Palace closed yesterday.

Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

Crystal Palace closed yesterday.

Crystal Palace was a magical indoor amusement park that I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy while growing up. It was a place I went to with family and young friends: a place for March Breaks and birthday parties. I had my first actual date with a boy in grade 6 at Crystal Palace, too–we went on a bunch of rides, won a purple plush bulldog and saw a movie together, back in the days that the theatre and park were connected. The connection was only removed in the last few years, and I remember experiencing a wave of nostalgia every time I would leave the movie theatre, met by the sounds of excited children screaming on the roller coaster.  I’ll always have fond memories of getting my face painted and riding on the giant swing set to be propelled through the air across the park. I felt like I was flying. And, of course, I’ll always remember challenging friends to the Laser Runner laser tag game. One last shot of the Crystal Palace sign. Animaritime, a convention I’ve been staffing at off and on since 2008, took place in the convention centre in Crystal Palace for their 2007 event. That year, I played mini-golf while dressed like a comic book character, made some incredible friends, and got to experience the ridiculous fun of being at a convention in an indoor amusement park. It was a perfect location, but sadly the convention centre wasn’t big enough to house the growing convention. Recently, my husband Brad and I stopped in at Chapters to browse around.  We decided we’d take a walk through Crystal Palace. We have a little one on the way, after all, and we talked about how much we were looking forward to bringing the child there when he or she is old enough. A few weeks later, we heard the sad news that Crystal Palace would be closing at the end of the day on September 1st, so this was never going to happen. We decided we would bring the baby there anyway–so to speak–before the place closed, for one last night of fun and fond memories. So, the night of Friday, August 29th, we went. We spent the evening playing games and trying to win a prize for the little one, since I couldn’t go on any rides. We had discovered the day before that we are to have a little girl, and we were going to try and win her a stuffed dragon. At one point in the night, as we took a break between games, a young girl came up to us and handed us several tickets, saying “you can have these”. I looked at her parents, who were with her, and asked if she was sure she wouldn’t rather have them for herself. She insisted, and her mother smiled at me and said “we know you’re trying to win something for your baby”. Brad and I accepted the tickets gratefully, and noticed that they included a slip for over 300 tickets. I tried keep myself together as I put the slip with our other winnings, and the two of us took a break to grab a snack at Pretzelmaker. As we sat with our snack, we watched a a young boy and his father riding the Jumpin’ Star together. The look of joy on the little boy’s face was unmistakable. A lot of people are going to miss this place, I thought. We went to cash in our tickets at the end of the night, and the man behind the counter informed us that they would be honouring all tickets in double from Saturday until the park’s closure on Monday evening. We decided to come back the following morning, get a few more tickets, and get our baby girl an even better prize–prolonging our goodbye just a little longer. Before we left, a janitor stopped to chat with us, asking us if either of us remembered the bumper boats from the nineties. Since I did, he brought out a little bag...

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