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Wendi Stewart - Wendi with an 'eye'

Wendi lives in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, but the farm on Rainy River in Crozier will always be her home. MEADOWLARK, her debut novel released September 15, is published by NeWest Press of Edmonton. She is the mother of four daughters who did the unforgivable: they grew up.

Not enough free-range children

I am in Vancouver. It is spring here. The magnolias are in bloom and the grass has been cut, rhododendrons are popping out in big loud colour here and there and everywhere, while at home in Nova Scotia the brown wintered grass is buried in snow and the trees are only imagining their leaves.

Vancouver trees have fresh new leaves, sporting the hesitant colour that is merely a whisper of their summer hue. I am always amazed by the diverse climates in this country, yet the stretch from coast to coast is immense and so it is logical for the weather to differ . . . but still.

The trees talk to one another

Years ago I heard an interview with Martha Stewart (no relation) and the only statement she made that stuck with me all these 20-plus years was the answer she gave when asked who helped her get to where she was going, who inspired her, who gave her a hand up to build her Martha Stewart empire. Her response was immediate, her voice emphatic.

“No one,” she said.

The inquisitive wonder of children

I love the stories my daughters share about the antics of their wee ones.

My grandchildren are learning to maneuver through this crazy world and the stories of them make me smile, giggle and guffaw on a regular basis, even the tales that involve emotional meltdowns.

The beauty of being a grandparent is I know they are perfect as they are and 99 percent of parenting is hindsight, or so it seems.

It's sugarin' time again

I'm not sure there are many tasks I find more gratifying than making maple syrup. It's a bit like magic.

It's called sugarin' season by some but whatever you call it, the act of collecting sap and putting it on my wood stove makes me happy.

I have a gargantuan green pot that I use for little else aside of reducing my maple sap. It takes about two full days to reduce all that clear liquid down to about one litre to be put in the fridge to wait for the final boil, and by that time it is a lovely golden brown.

No need for extremes

I may have been watching too many spy movies lately. Let me explain.

I was walking one morning last week, checking my maple tree buckets and shaking my fist at Mother Nature, who promised ideal temperatures that week. I got an eyelash in my eye and I was fussing and rubbing and silently whining and complaining.

Take shelter under an umbrella

I love an umbrella and not for the obvious reason of keeping dry in a downpour, though I suppose that reason may play a part.

And it can't be any umbrella. It must be an umbrella that looks as though it has a story to tell, a secret perhaps, and it's best if the umbrella is yellow.

An umbrella creates its own world and if you tuck under it, you become part of the secret world, too. Others may be able to see in, just a little, but they can't get in, not really.

Aristotle would be so proud

Aristotle had some firm ideas on writing and how to present a valid argument to an audience of readers.

The elements of ethos, pathos, and logos must be present in balance, according to Aristotle. And though Aristotle was born more than 2,000 years ago, his sense of a written argument holds up even to this day.

A hug a day is important

One of the rules in my five-year-old grandson's classroom is “no hugging.”

When I heard this, I was puzzled. I know we are called upon to be vigilant in our awareness of, and recognizing and preventing, physical abuse but I'm still wondering.

I'm thinking back to the first few days of school for Linden, when I was chauffeuring him back and forth for his graduated entry. He was happy one day at dismissal time and spontaneously threw his arms around his teacher's waist before we departed the school.

Phobias are not easy to explain

“The best way out is always through." Robert Frost penned those wise words but for some of us, "through” is not as easy as it sounds.

I have a confession and I hope you won't judge me too harshly, though I have judged myself with merciless vigour for many years. It may require hypnosis to get to the root of it but for 63 years, I've had a phobia that continues its relentless grip on me.