Friday, 9 August 2013

Friday morning ramblings of the mind . . .

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The wheat is like a sun-flecked sea beneath the summer sky. 
Little ripples break the surface as the wind goes by . . . 
Here and there the scarlet poppies with their petals wide . . . 
dip and rise like red-sailed boats upon the restless tide.
~Patience Strong

I love these words . . . having driven past fields of rippling wheat in Saskatchewan, Canada I can clearly remember how very like the sea it looks, undulating waves of gold streaking across the vast prairie  landscape going on for miles and miles . . . and miles.  No poppies there to break the surface, just wheat and . . . it is a magnificent sight to behold.

I am a very lucky person.  Unlike my grandmother and her mother before, neither one who ever had the opportunity to travel much more than a few hours from the places they were born . . . I have seen a good part of the world.  I've travelled all across Canada and back, as well as all of the Northern States and down the Eastern Seaboard.

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I've crossed the Atlantic many times.  First as a babe in my mother's arms as we made our way via aircraft to Germany to be with my father who was in the Canadian airforce.   We landed in Scotland to refuel, but of course I remember none of that.  We lived in Germany for 4 years, in a place called Baden Baden in the Black Forest.  My sister was born there, but of course, I have only snatches of that place in my memory as well.  I was a small child . . .

The second time I traversed the Atlantic, I was travelling on a Cunard Ocean Liner and we were on our way back from Germany to Canada.   It was November and the crossing was very rocky.  I don't remember a lot of that either.  Only four years old, once again only snippets remain . . .

My father took us across Canada to live in a small town in Manitoba where we lived for about six years.  That is where my childhood memories really begin to kick in.  

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There were summer days at the beach in down town Gimli, ice creams on the wharf.  Summer days exploring in fields of grass, picking wild flowers . . . in shaded woodland, exploring . . . climbing trees, discovering treasures like bird's nests filled with robin's eggs, (I did not touch, just gazed in wonder) fairy rings, lady slippers . . . it has been many years since I have seen a real lady slipper in the wild and not in a photograph . . .

The excitement of the first day of school after the seemingly endless summer, with new shoes and pencil box in hand, as the leaves of the trees began to turn crimson and amber around me, floating to the ground and dancing across the pavement with every little breeze and step.   Frosty mornings and golden afternoons, catching the best of the weather while we still could before the cold of winter grasped us in it's firm grip.   Skies filled with V-shaped formations of ducks and geese flying south for the Winter broke the skyline and we knew that it would not be long before it held us in it's cold and icy grip.

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Winters were long and hard back then.  The days short, the nights long.  Weekdays we trundled back and forth to school, our booted feet crunching down through the crust of the hard snow, cheeks aflame with the cold, our breath puffing through our scarf wrapped faces in white clouds.   The smell of wet wool accompanied us all the way . . . the school cloak room a mass of dripping mittens and boots, hats and scarves, snow pants and heavy coats.   I can remember trying very hard to take my brown rubber boots off without removing my shoes.  I never succeeded . . .

But there was fun in the winter too . . . skating on the outdoor rink at the weekend, because it was cold enough back then to keep an outdoor ring frozen the whole winter through.  They would put up little huts with benches along the outside of it so we had a place to sit and put on our ice skates . . . strings of bare bulbed lights hung across it so that we could skate even at night, our breath huffing and puffing across the dark sky, stars above us shining so brightly  . . . there were a million of them, and we saw each one.  It has been forever since I have seen a night time sky so embroidered with twinkling light . . .

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There would be a few teasing days early in the year, when Spring seemed about to arrive . . . the air would get warm, and filled with hope, but then Winter would hold us again in her icy fingers . . . for just a few weeks more . . .

When Spring finally did arrive, it seemingly arrived overnight . . . and it stayed.  Each day gradually growing warmer, and longer . . . as great piles of snow became smaller and smaller, leaving huge puddles in their wake . . . it was difficult to walk through them without splashing or having the water fill your boots.   We floated sticks along the ditches with little paper sails, dreaming of faraway climes and landscapes. WE picked pussy willow branches and watched them turn into catkins like magic.   Water bugs skittered across the surface of the puddles and ditches, and then the night peepers arrived, singing us to sleep with their lullabies . . . the grass, all withered and brown from the winter, which appeared in great patches that grew from day to day, slowly began to green up and before we knew it . . .

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It all began again, and we were once more playing marbles in the dirt, hitting home runs and making daisy chains to hang about our necks . . .

"Evening sunlight on the river, 
dragonflies about the reeds.
Herds in peaceful pastures
grazing by the quiet water-meads . . . 
In and out between the islets moves
a swan with queenly grace . . . 
to a nest amongst the rushes 
where the willows interlace . . . "
~Patience Strong

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We're talking Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame over in The English Kitchen today.   A delicious exercise.

Have a fabulous Friday!  The weekend is about to begin!  What treasures will it bring??

    

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