Gratitude makes the journey better and so does kindness

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Sunny Sides Up – An Update

This is all, folks!It was just one magpie to start with. When you’re used to mice running around (in your living room, that is) a magpie is a festival of beauty. In black and white, of course. It would sit in the┬ámajestic, wide-crowned have-yet-to-identify tree in the front yard, wobbling front and back but regaining balance thanks to the long black tail. Everything has a purpose, I do believe that.

We left the mouse manor behind on the last day of December and settled in yet another house on the hill, mouse-free (so far) and bright as can be. Plumbing woes were also left behind as our new home has a brand new bathroom, which to no toilet/laundry/shower hardcore dwellers like us is a well-deserved relief. Not an ounce of bitterness, but gratitude still, after the long month of all the above mentioned deprivations. A game changer as they say.

My desk is still by a large window; no view of the winding steel colour water or of the ‘moving dots’ on the occasionally sun-drenched north shore – that is how we referred to the dogs we would spot from our previous house. The imagery was fascinating and even more so, the reality of not being able to spot more than a dot, in case of the smaller dogs. Size humour can brighten one’s day, regardless of circumstances; it sure brightened mine during the days of mice galore and bubbling toilets.

Nowadays it is the magpie that catches my eyes. A second one came by two days ago and today I counted six. The tree is becoming popular. I also noticed a blue jay and a bird I could not name until I did what every able body who owns a computer does. Yep, Google. It was a northern flicker, a type of woodpecker. A lover of wildlife I am, but birdwatching has never caught my interest to this degree. A wide window and a few curious magpies, plus their sudden interest in a particular patch of snow in the front yard can do that.

So a new chapter begins. New house, brightness, views of snow-enveloped Kenna Cartwright hills and the mountains stretching far into the north, birds with beady eyes and curious behaviour, the next door grandpa walking his pug and waving as he notices me at my desk, a new road is contouring as I write this.

If you add some good sledding in the front yard, a newly built igloo in the back and a return to our evening walks with the boys, plus a good supply of new birds to look at (a small ‘what-could-it-be?’ just landed in the tree) we are about to get busy.

The magpie is back, smug as can be in the big tree as a whole bunch of unidentified small birds crowd the top of a much smaller tree across the street. Inequality reigns supreme in nature.

Today might be the day when I’ll coax the boys into creating some bird feeders for the many feathered guests, and even a bird house or two down the road. That might just erase the somewhat bad memory of the two bird houses we built a while ago that served no bird, but instead became wasp nests. Yes, we do seem to have a thing for pests. Or rather they do for us. No one said nature’s ways are easy to understand; they are sure fascinating though.


The Value of Humble

The car broke down over the weekend. It could be a small thing or a big one, as it often with cars. It could be solved in a day or the car could be a write-off. Yes, one of those. A humbling event that points to dependence, a sorry attribute of the intrepid human spirit one could argue.

No car meant we had to postpone the Harper Mountain ski outing planned for Sunday and it also means walking everywhere with a bike ride here and there, ice-permitting. The patches of hardened ice can be unforgiving to the blissfully, occasionally unaware or hurried human.

We walked to school this morning. A perfect opportunity for the four of us to talk, debate, laugh, point out to this and that and see the morning. It makes cheeks red and cold and it warms the heart. Why not then?

Midday is still sharp cold and I ride my new bike to town. My face is frozen and the feeling of car-less freedom is absolutely exhilarating. Soon I will pick up the boys.

On the way back the boys have stories, questions. We stop to look at leafs trapped in ice, some hiding under their perfectly shaped ice-images and ‘How could that be mom?’… Do you know? Isn’t it nice that there’s still why questions that leave you humbled and wondering…

We talk about Thomas Edison. The boys point to the unbelievable value of his discoveries, the light bulb most of all… ‘What if he had not invented it, mom?’ Indeed. What if. I point out to something that I often decry the slow and sure death of: patience, persistence over things that matter and we believe in even when they are mere ideas.

I point to relentless as one awe-inspiring quality of the human spirit. The boys are trapped in words and ideas, they are as fascinating to talk to as the leaves they point out as wonders along the way.

In the early evening, karate training sends us ten blocks away from home. It is snappy cold but Sasha hops on his scooter. We go slow enough to manage uneven sidewalk and occasional patches of ice. And we talk. Times becomes that much more precious.

After I drop him off I walk to the store, stock up on the bare necessities and walk up on 3rd Street. There are people here and there, fragments of laughter, conversations, cars driving too fast in the dark, taking turns that make me jump backwards… And then time stops again when the organ from within the Sacred Heart Cathedral envelops the cold in ‘Ode of Joy.’

How privileged to witness that. How easy to miss from a car where music might play – even the same tunes would not be the same – or conversations are tossed relentlessly. How important to witness this at least once.

I turn around at the top of the hill just before I enter a warm coffee shop. The North Shore sparkles. Silent. Close by, luminous darts of cars driving fast down on Victoria Street point to fast, another facet of Kamloops.

I listen and remember. My old hometown at night, as I saw it so many times from up on the hill where my parents home was. It was very similar to here, now. Surrounding hills, trains ushering their way through snow and sunshine alike, a river running through the middle of it and bridges as walkable cinches connecting one side to the other.

The sense of belonging creeped in and it felt good and warm, just like the coffee shop I was about to step in and the warmth of the heart I hold near mine waiting for me there.

A long day ends with both boys saying ‘It’s been a good day.’ We smile to each other. We did well. The car is not fixed yet. It turns out it’s not just a little thing. It will take a while. Everything happens for a reason. I know that already.

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