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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.

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.

Ice sure is a wonderful seasonal joy

A friend of mine from Dawson City recently sent me a joke with the headline, “You must be from Nova Scotia if you shovel snow in the rain.”

That's true, more often than not.

But I'm not from Nova Scotia. I'm from Northwestern Ontario, where you have to be hardy and not afraid to pile on the clothes to withstand a polar vortex. It's not a climate in which to worry about fashion.

Can't learn from error of my ways

There are those who dedicate their lives to the study of one thing: stars, insects, migration paths of the Monarch butterfly, the fatality rate of those who insist on texting while driving, or whether the toilet paper be fed from the top or the bottom.

I think you probably know someone like that—who knows everything there is to know on a particular subject.