Lately I’ve heard people comment how worn down they’re feeling and it felt like they didn’t really have a summer this year as it’s been the “worst year ever” due to the pandemic. While usually I might agree with them, there have been things influencing my perception of life in general as we were forced to isolate ourselves several months ago. I’m still not ready to socialize as I used to but I am grateful for the opportunities I have to interact with people over social media. And I am taking advantage of little things that may not seem significant to you, but they have helped me to keep a hopeful eye on when life can be more “normal” while building memories with my little ones along the way.
We didn’t get a chance to go to the beach this year. However, we did have the opportunity to visit a hotel with a pool and one of my babies, who hates baths, shocked us by not only coming into the pool but also allowing his face to get wet. He took to the pool like a duck to water. For those of you unfamiliar with the natural swimming ability of a duckling, let me share a story with you from my childhood… we had just brought our order of baby chicks and ducklings home from Smith Hatcheries. The ducklings were so cute and we brought two of them into the house so that we could admire and pet them. As typical little girls, my younger sister and I adored anything ‘baby’, always hoping that we would be able to turn a cute little one into being able to convince Mom and Dad for one more little one of their own. One of the features of our family room was a large fish aquarium that was home to a few gold fish and more than eighty fancy tailed guppies, several of whom were pregnant and ready to give birth. For some reason, someone suggested we should put the ducks into the aquarium, “just to see what will happen.” Dad thought that was a good idea and gave his go ahead. Let me tell you, I’ve never seen animals move so swiftly or deftly through the water. Once the ducklings dived, they glide through the water, propelling their bodies up and down while holding their bill open as they fish. By the time the ducks were removed from the water, (it took three of my older siblings and my Mother to remove them) the floor was covered in three feet of water and we had one gold fish and perhaps three guppies left… two of them being male. And the ducks had very, very full bellies. I was so mad at them, I refused to hold them or take them back to their pen. Fortunately, we had two females in the fish nursery so our fish count didn’t stay low for long but that’s not the point. I swear as the ducklings left, they licked their bills and smiled as they eyed the fish still in the tank. Yes, my son took to the water in the pool like a duckling takes to fishing in a well stocked fish aquarium!
This summer has also been memorable as my boys took their first steps, cut their molars (all four teeth) at once and simultaneously, and are now in the process of growing their eye teeth out to fill in the spaces between their front teeth and molars. My older children are back in home school, with my oldest boy starting school (officially) for the very first time. Both of the eldest are quite excited to be back in the “learning” mode so I haven’t even told them they never did stop learning from when our formal lessons ended in the last academic year to the new one that has just started. We’ve had amazing learning opportunities that included learning about, and making, rainbows, understanding the importance of farming and how we rely on the labour of farmers to keep us supplied with healthy food and how significant things like lady bugs and earth worms are to our daily life. We’ve seen funnel clouds, bald eagles and red-tailed hawks that have amazed us with their power and agility to move. I was able to harvest a hawk that had been killed by a vehicle and passed away in a ditch. We brought it home and took what feathers we could use before respectfully disposing of the body afterward. This was a unique opportunity for me to share Aboriginal traditions with my eldest two children, who have been extremely “citified” so this gave me an opportunity to give them “hands on learning” of some of the traditions my Aboriginal ancestors likely practiced.
As fall begins, we are enjoying seeing the snow geese in the fields as the Canada geese continue to practice flying in formation in preparation of the long journey they will soon take to a warmer climate. And we are making plans for the things we’d like to see next spring and summer, as we anticipate the isolation of this year will have lifted and the pandemic will have passed. We hope. In the meantime, it feels good to be making plans and looking forward… we’d like to see the monarch butterflies migrating back home. We’ve heard there is a place in or near Kingston, Ontario where the butterflies gather in spring and fall so we’d like to witness this for ourselves. We’ve been reading about some interesting places to visit in southern Saskatchewan and they are now on our family bucket list. And we would also like to travel to Vancouver Island before heading to New Brunswick for a visit with family. All of these things will be possible once restrictions are lifted for social gatherings and travel.
It has been a challenging year but it hasn’t all been bad. There has been a lot keeping us all busy and most of us have had a chance to re-evaluate life and how we spend our time. Many of us have taken a moment to relist what is most important to giving us quality in our lives – which has included reaching out to people we might have left behind as our lives and jobs made us busier than we ever thought we’d be. We are using social media such as Facebook Messenger, Skype and Zoom to communicate with one another and keep our family/friendship ties strong, even when we can’t see one another in person. Last weekend a family I know welcomed their Mom home after she was away, out of province, recovering from a medical procedure. The family organized a “welcome home” parade of vehicles, complete with balloons, horn honking and lots of joyous smiles and waving. It was awesome to experience the celebration via video. My heart was swollen almost to bursting and my tear ducts did explode as I watched family and friends celebrate a most joyous homecoming for a lady who recovered from an amazing procedure. She is truly a miracle. All of us need to take care of ourselves to protect and maintain our mental health during these trying times. Whether it’s buying a bar of soap in your favourite scent, drinking an herbal tea that is only available at certain times of the year or reconnecting with an old friend over the telephone, take the opportunity to take care of yourself and have a moment that will help you feel rejuvenated and uplifted. This week, my moment was having a fire in my legal fire pit. At the same time, I was able to burn some branches that had been creating debris in my back yard. It was a great way to spend the afternoon with my two oldest children as we drank hot beverages and enjoyed the fire, talking and avoiding the smoke from getting in our eyes. I had forgotten how incredible a fire can be. It just brings back memories of cold fall days when we were kids and we’d finished gathering all the vines and plants after harvesting the garden. The plants would dry and we’d pile dried tree branches overtop. Then the time came that Dad would light up the pile and, as the sun set, the ashes would be glowing red with wisps of flame rising up every once in a while; red, orange, blue and yellow flames that soon died away until a rake over the coals revealed nothing but black char. Those are some of the best memories I hold dear now, that I am trying to share with my children so that they will hold them tight too. What are some of the things you do to take care of you and your mental health? I hope you have opportunities to share them with the ones that you hold dear.
Until next week, take care everyone.