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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'm not writing about dandelions

I bet you thought I was going to write about dandelions, those yellow works of art that began popping out on my lawn yesterday (May 11) as I write this, like sunshine in the grass.

But I'm not going to.

I wrote about dandelions in my very first column back in 2010 and I've celebrated their glory a few times, because my love of dandelions bears repeating, I tell myself.

The smell of spring

It is spring today. Not because the grass is growing.

Not because the trees are straining to burst into leaf. Not because the pussy willows have come and gone as has the maple syrup.

Not even because the frogs are singing to me at night, my window lifted enough to let the frogs' voices come in and play in my dreams.

Not for any of those signs, though they are lovely accessories to the announcement.

Witnessing the beauty of tai chi

While I was in Vancouver I met a friend at Queen Elizabeth Park, which is a “horticultural jewel” according to the City of Vancouver's Parks and Recreation Department and I would have to concur.

The park is at the geographic centre of Vancouver. The park is a former rock quarry when settler population began in earnest in the 1870s.

The park consists of 130 acres. At the top of the hill, Little Mountain, the highest point in Vancouver proper at 500 feet above sea level, is the Bloedel Conservatory, a geodesic structure with a lovely view over the city below.

Hats of every kind will be atop most heads

I love hats—hats on other people.

I can't do a hat unless it is a ball cap and I'm hiding a frightening hair day.

You have to have a certain sort of panache to pull off wearing a hat. The word panache is derived from the historical reference to a tuft or plume of feathers, especially as a headdress, so that alone is explanation enough of the requirements to don a head covering.

I admire those who do wear hats, admire them without envy or judgment, just a happy witness to self-confidence.

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.