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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.

Reflecting on the ‘if only’

I was thinking of the definition of family the other day, wondering why it seems limited to “a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household; a group related by blood or marriage.”

That seems a stark definition to me—lacking the soul and depth that the mere word family conjures up.

Family is the place where you lie your head when you rest, the place where you limp to when your heart is broken, the place you run to with exciting news, and it is the place where you slide into a hammock and breathe quiet.

Young people need our help

Oh, to be young again.

How often do those of us over 50 utter those words when our backs are aching, when our hair is thinning, when our eyesight is dimming, and when our memory is . . . ummm, I can’t remember what I was going to say about my memory.

We don’t mean it, though, because none of us with any good sense would want the struggles young people have today.

There are roadblocks at every turn. Unless you have unlimited cash resources, getting ahead is a bit of tricky business.

I need answers

Why? Why?

If I were able to list three questions that I could pose to whomever is in charge, given the opportunity, I would not have to ponder said collection of questions very long before arriving at three—with a whole line-up of questions on stand-by.

I would inquire as to the sanity of car racing and the use of leaded fossil fuels. This seems a no-brainer to me, the arguments stacked against the sport, though I’m certain car racing fans would strongly argue the contrary.

The promise of gardening

Gardening is a promise. I can’t think of a better way to describe it.

I don’t know if anyone else has said that before me, but I’m saying it now.

We scour seed catalogues in early spring and examine seed racks at every second store. We start seeds inside, making little incubators for them and watching for their tiny green heads to rise out of the soil.

And all this is based on hope—no matter how green our thumbs are and no matter how deep our pedigree is in gardening, it is all about hope and promise.

Colour me cerulean—or Laser Lemon

I love Crayola Crayons. There are other crayons but let’s face it: they just don’t measure up.

Crayola Crayons are extraordinary. When it comes to colouring, you have to have the best. It’s one area you just don’t want to cut corners in quality.

Did you know that there are 133 Crayola Crayon colours? That’s the total even with the retirement of 13 colours over the years.

In quest of pillow perfection

I know I’m on the downside of middle age, or at the very least deeply-immersed in middle age, when I choose (or, more accurately, feel obligated) to travel with my pillow.

My mother used to do so, and I must confess I did exercise some judgmental thoughts when she climbed into the car with her pillow in tow.

Her pillow was soft and round, and fit just nicely in the crook of her neck. It was so small, however, that I couldn’t understand why she even bothered to bring it along.

Rainy Lake is my own medicine

If you grew up in Saskatchewan or in the middle of Toronto, water is something you undoubtedly admire but daily interaction with lakes and rivers wouldn’t have been common.

If you grew up in Northwestern Ontario, specifically Fort Frances, lakes are a necessity; an addiction that has no remedy.

Even when we move away from our roots and our wandering finds us on the ocean, it’s not the same—the salted magnificence does not satisfy the “need” for the rocks and lakes of Northwestern Ontario, that earthy dark from which all life seems to come.

Woods ticks are no fun

Wood ticks are on my list of does the world really need these things.

Also on this list are tent caterpillars, tomato hornbeams, the little green caterpillars that flourish in my organic broccoli (choosing only to come out when boiled and the broccoli placed on my plate), and people who throw garbage out their car windows.

It’s a short list, but wood ticks come out on top—or maybe second to the garbage-throwing losers.

The joys of being a ‘looker’

I’ve become a bird-watcher, although there should be a category of bird-watchers that are merely referred to as bird-lookers.

I consider bird-watchers to be a dedicated, informed group who know their “stuff”—who can spot a Cerulean Warbler from 100 feet and then recite that particular bird’s habitat, diet, and shoe-size.

I, on the other hand, jump out of my chair when something yellow lands and my heart rates changes proportionately (the more yellow, the higher my heart rate).

Oh, the stories shoes tell

I recently spent time in an airport, waiting—my least favourite thing to do.

I gathered with a crowd of passengers waiting to be herded on to the plane and squeezed in like cattle at the stock yards; bags loaded with every article of clothing they own and can’t risk losing, and with food for a long flight so they won’t require a bank loan to buy a sandwich made at the turn of the century.

I may be getting off on a different tangent. My apologies.