As a child, who was your favorite relative?
Eleven aunts, ten uncles, twenty-three cousins…..and that’s not even getting started on my maternal grandmothers hoard of living relations who were ‘greats’ of all sorts…..it’s impossible to name a favourite. Impossible. I could probably name two or three I wasn’t too fond of if you want, but why speak ill of the dead? Actually I’ve always wondered why you’re NOT supposed to do that, so I looked it up. It is distasteful, disrespectful and even cowardly. And rude. Too much like dancing on someone’s grave. Plus the person you are disrespecting might come back to haunt you. Do your ill speaking while they’re still alive and can defend themselves I guess.
Really, as a child I was blessed with more relatives than I could keep track of, but of course now I wish I had paid better attention to who they were and where they came from and where they went. We had company all the time on our farm when I was growing up. I’ve known a lot of amazing people and it makes me happy knowing I’m related to them.
If you could be a tree or plant, what would you be?
A great big red maple, changing with the seasons. I would be tall and beautiful, with at least one sturdy strong horizontal branch perfect for a child’s swing. At the age of one hundred someone can chop me down and make me in to furniture.
What would be your preference, awake before dawn or awake before noon?
There’s a lot of fuss made about sunsets, but have you ever watched the sun rise? I don’t mean getting out of bed in the dark and rushing around doing stuff and then eventually noticing that it’s light out. I’ve done a lot of that. I’ve also been awake before dawn, sitting in a deck chair with a coffee warming my hands, watching the sun come up. That’s a wonderful way to start your day. Then you can go back to bed and sleep until noon, but remember to leave that part out when you’re boasting about your incredible pre-dawn experience.
Would you like to sleep in a human size nest in a tree or be snuggled in a burrowed spot underground?
This is such a weird question, I can honestly say I’ve never thought about doing either one of these things. But no to being underground, thanks. And I would like the tree nest to be the size of a queen mattress please, because I’ll be taking one of those up there with me.
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
I am grateful for my nice warm house and my comfy bed and for not once in my life ever having to sleep in a tree. We’re getting some cold January weather now and I don’t even want to go out for a walk. So I’m grateful to have that perfect excuse.
I don’t know what’s going on next week so let’s just say I am grateful to be living in suspense. What will be will be.
Photo Credit James Lee
A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene. Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.
We went for a stroll one afternoon in the park. I thought it might be our last outing of the season before the snow came, or even the last for the year until spring, supposing I survived the winter. Possibly the last park stroll of my life. I didn’t know. There were no birds to feed, the geese had all gone south. Leaves were falling and skittering across our path in the brisk wind and there was a faint smell of burning in the autumn air. Cold enough for a jacket buttoned up and for noses and cheeks to tingle. So I was surprised when we came across the old woman sitting alone on her bench, bare hands on cold steel needles. She looked up but the little clicking sounds the needles made as she worked bright red yarn around them never faltered. Her steely grey eyes peered straight through me as if I wasn’t even there. I let go of Sally’s hand and roughly brushed the tears I couldn’t control from my cold cheeks. What the hell? I never used to cry. But my emotions had gone haywire lately. I wanted immediately to lash out at a perfect stranger, shake my fist, yell at her wrinkled old face. Look at me, I’M STILL HERE! I’m not gone yet. And it won’t be today. Today is NOT a good day to die. I looked away, wiped my palms on my jeans, and grabbed Sally’s hand. And then we just kept walking.
There was such a sadness in Sam that last fall we spent together. And so much anger. I honestly don’t know how I’d handle a similar diagnosis, but when he got the bad news, I decided the right thing for him to do was to keep on living. No giving up, no wallowing. I wanted him to be grateful for every single day he had left and happy to live all of them. But his moods were just all over the place. Of course I understood why, but still it was hard for me to cope with the intensity and the fierceness of his feelings. The funniest things would set him off. Like the day we went for a walk in the park. Everything was so beautiful and colourful and crisp. I’ve always loved Indian summer. There was a little old grandma sitting on one of the park benches busily knitting a child’s bright red sweater. She glanced up at us as we approached and I returned her sweet smile. It vanished though, when she looked at Sam. Because he was crying. Deep wrenching sobs, although later he’d claim it was just a few tears from the cold air and some pent-up emotion and naturally he didn’t want to talk about it. He dug his fists into his eyes, and then he grabbed my hand again and almost wrenched my shoulder out of its socket pulling me away. That poor old grandma, I’m sure he must have given her a crazy scare. And poor me. But mostly, poor, poor, dear Sam.
I was never one to sit at home by myself with nobody to talk to and nothing new to see, so as long as the weather stayed decent and my legs were willing, I’d pack up whatever I was working on and shuffle my old bones over to the park across the way. The bench I liked the best was under a big old red maple tree, and that fall it was just gorgeous. Red as the little sweater I had decided to knit for the dog I didn’t have. Once in a while the odd curious person would take the time to stop and chat. I lived for that. I used to tell fortunes and predict the future in my younger days, but those skills must fade away with age and lack of practice, because I got pretty rusty. Still, I liked to give it a whirl whenever I had the chance. Mostly I’d come up with nothing much to write home about. So when that young couple walked up the path it was like I’d been struck by psychic lightning. Her sadness mixed up with bewildered confusion, his rage manifested in clenched fists and choked back tears. Their combined unhappiness almost bowled me over. There was so much I wanted to say to them about hope and faith and nothing written in stone, but they didn’t stop. Maybe it’s just as well. They were both already resigned to a future they believed they were powerless to change. Too bad no one likes a little old lady who interferes.