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Janice DePeel

Sometimes Nostalgia Hits the Spot

I’ve been looking for recipes to feed my craving for nostalgia lately.  I’m a firm believer that no one can ever “go home again.”  The way we remember things isn’t always the way they actually are and for that reason, for me, it’s nearly impossible to recreate those memories no matter how accurate the portrayal we recreate.  July is the month of my father’s death and he’s especially been on my mind lately as I face challenges similar to his, thanks to genetics.  As he succumbed to the dementia that eventually overtook his mind he begged for one of us to take him home. He just wanted to see his Mom and Dad again.  His dearest wish was to see his brothers and sisters so they could be at the homestead in Candle Lake.  When he first started to visibly become ill, his emotions surfaced and he often lamented that he was a “sentimental old fool” who cried often, usually a mix of happy and sad tears, some with a foundation seated in regrets.  It was difficult to watch this side of my Dad develop, especially because he was such a proud man who rarely allowed his emotions to surface at all.  But now I’m the one who is feeling nostalgic.  And it’s not because I want to go back and relive those moments now… it’s more about how a picture can take me back to a moment in time that has been locked in my mind.  A simple photograph has allowed a memory to surface.  Sometimes it brings a smile, other times I chastise myself and admonish, “Oh, Janice, let it go!  Why do you have to keep that memory? Just… Let. It. GO!!!”  And I’m usually able to sweep it away until it crops up again in the most unexpected and random of ways.  A memory of tripping over a rope fence at my brother’s wedding when I was fourteen.  Which then has me remembering the struggle to even find a dress to wear to his wedding and how I ended up wearing the dress my mother intended to wear for the occasion.  Those are bittersweet memories, tinged with both embarrassment and happiness at the same time.  Depending on how the memories affect me at the time, I either welcome them or sweep them away.

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Busy Morning!

I’m nervous.  Today my day begins earlier than usual as I have medical appointments.  I wake up an hour and a half before I need to leave so I can prepare and have time to just take a deep breath and relax.  One of my toddlers slept in the bed with me last night and he hasn’t been sleeping well.  I look at his face, relaxed in slumber and he looks dead to the world.  Quietly I climb out of bed, moving in micro movements so as not to disturb him.  Standing, I think the mistake was looking over my shoulder to see if he was still sleeping.  That’s when his eyes popped open.  How do children do that?  It’s like they instinctively know when something unusual is taking place and they want to be a part of it.

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Summer Blues

When I was a young girl I remember admiring my Dad as he tended to his honey bees.  He had six or seven colonies at our home in Candle Lake and then he had a couple of bee yards towards the Meath Park area.  Some of the best honey he harvested came from the hives of bees he kept near specific crops such as alfalfa.  I grew up watching the bees dance around my father as he pulled out frame after frame and gently brushed them aside so he could study the work they were doing.  And because he didn’t get stung, I came to believe the bees were my friend.  One day I saw a honey bee struggling in a deep mud puddle.  It never occurred to me that it might be scared and in distress.  I just wanted to save it.  When I dipped my finger in the water and lifted the bee out to dry ground, I remember its’ tail end curling and she stabbed me in the finger tip.  I went to my mother, crying, and she wiped the stinger away.  I still had the bee in my hand and I remember indignantly crying, “It BIT me!”  Mom replied, “That’s what bees do.”  I couldn’t accept that.  “But, bees are my friend!”  I stayed away from bees with my bare hands after that.  Any rescuing I did began with a stick or twig.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t then that I learned my lesson and kept my distance from those stinging individuals.

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Surprisingly Delicious

Have you ever been on vacation and tried a meal at a hometown diner that was just extraordinarily delicious?  When my daughter was eighteen months old she joined my sister and I on a driving trip to North Carolina.  Along the way we stopped in a small town and chose one of the Main Street restaurants to have our dinner.  The food wasn’t extraordinary.  In fact, it was rather simple and we could have pulled the ingredients out of our pantry at home and created a similar meal.  Perhaps that is why that meal still sticks in my mind.  A dozen years later and I still recall those first delicious bites of roast beef and potatoes, succulent and moist, with gravy on the side.  And there were baking powder biscuits.  Even by the time I finished my meal, which had cooled to room temperature by then, it was still a tasty meal.  You know it’s delicious when the picky eater of the family clears her plate, even when all the food was touching, but I did!  

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Dare I Dream?

Today, as I look at the flowers blooming on the bushes in my front yard, I hear an admonition repeating itself inside my head,  “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”  This isn’t so much applicable with the lilacs as their little buds turn into blossoms and then they die - that’s their life cycle.  But for the blossoms on the Mountain Ash, they turn into bright red berries once the blooms have pollinated.  And I find the berries just as lovely as the flowers.  Part of the reason being because of the aesthetic appeal those berries have for me in the middle of winter when everything is quite stark and bare.  It is mentally stimulating for me to see the colourful berries clustered on the trees in contrast to the snow and ice I often associate with winter.

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Wednesday March 13, 2024