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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.

I need new sheets

I made it to Dawson City. I don't know if you are aware, but this is a very large country.

Did you know this? It takes a great deal of time and patience, with some chanting and meditation and deep breathing and assuring yourself that you will survive another three or four hours in cramped quarters, to get from one coast to the other coast and almost to a third coast.

Planning to be more rebellious

I am a rule follower. I struggle to go in the “out” door. Jaywalking is a challenge.

Rebellion wasn't hard-wired into my genes. I'm not sure that is a positive attribute—despite the ease for my parents during my teenage years.

I think I can blame my father. His brand of discipline involved his hand placed over his heart, a pained look on his face while he whispered, “Oh, Wendi. I never thought you would.”

Going it all alone in the Yukon

I leave for the Yukon today (Sept. 6). For the next four months, I will call Pierre Berton's childhood home my home—an honour and privilege that still surprises me.

I think part of me believed this wasn't really happening, but that it was all an imagined dream. But I've received my instructions and my flight information, and all the other details that will guide me through living in Dawson City.

I am excited, but I am also anxious.

My private refuge

It's a very hot day. I'm hot—but not in the way one would like to be hot.

I think it is the hottest day yet this year. This kind of day zaps any evidence of ambition that may have been dwelling in my cells and grinds said enthusiasm to dust.

There are many chores barking orders at me. “Pick me, pick me,” they shout, almost too loud to ignore. Almost.

Not just any old pen will do

I used to think I would be an excellent skier if I had good skis and, of course, matching attire in very cool colours.

Something slightly more form-fitting than my black-and-orange Moto-Ski snowsuit that kept the cold from my skin while I stood on Pembina Highway waiting for the Winnipeg city bus to rescue me from the freezing temperatures and whisk me off to the University of Manitoba; my orange scarf wrapped round and round my head as though my mother had dressed me for play during a blizzard.

Being warm out-ranked being cool, as I am sure you can imagine.

Set your own pace

I was in line at a small grocery store the other day and the woman in front of me was struggling to retrieve money from her purse.

Her fingers weren't co-operating and she appeared to be rushing, which intensified her struggle.

The two check-out teenagers looked at me apologetically and rolled their eyes as she dug into her purse appearing pained and rattled.

In that moment I saw an error in how society handles itself.

I reached up and put my hand on the woman's arm and told her not to rush.

“I'm in no hurry,” I said, but that was hardly the point.

Lost time is never found

August snuck out from behind the weeds in my garden and from my so-called lawn and pounced on me, when I least expected it.

August caught me off-guard and threw me to the ground before I could fight back, and then knocked the last bit of oxygen from my lungs.

Yes, August—the month of seeing summer in the rearview mirror—has arrived.

I promised my mind

I just had the great fortune of spending time with Aimee, daughter #1, and my wee grandson, Linden, who is three.

The moments we spend with family are far too rare these days but when it happens, I ask the cells of my heart to take it all in; to store the magical moments until “next time.”

We laughed, we remembered, and we shared a few tears.

So grateful for my dear Finnegan

A cat is a home's visible soul, said Jean Cocteau. If that is the case my home's soul is visibly in need of vacuuming.

I have moments when I am sweeping up pet hair from my floors and from my furniture for the fourth time on any given day, moments while I am sifting through waste-laden odour-filled kitty litter, moments while I look at the thread-bare arms of my now pathetic living room furniture.

And during such moments, I make disparaging comments about my pets—and I sometimes pause to count the years until I may be free of my so-called pet burden.

The water of Northwestern Ontario

The lakes of Northwestern Ontario have the power to restore a soul.

And if scientists should test that hypothesis, they would concur—and it would be documented and written up in medical journals and the like, and everyone would know what Fort Frances residents (and those in surrounding communities) have known for a very long time; forever, in fact.

It is the water that calls us home.

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a couple of days with my precious “old” friend in Red Lake, where we spent time on the water.