Sweet Jane

When you step on to the wooden porch of Jewitt’s store, it is the first step into a magical world.  The hanging flower pots show that there is love to be experiened here.  The chairs off to the side beckon you to sit.  Take a load off.  Before entering the store, one is drawn to the notice board to the left of the door.  Posters for chalet rentals, property management, boats for sale flutter in the wind.  After perusing the notices you open the screen door with the Orange Crush sign across the centre and enter the store; the second step into this  magical world.  The door jingling as it opens, and closes.

As you walk down the aisle, you have a display case on your right.  Inside you see everything from fireworks, to children’s toys to postcards.  On the left, the shelves hold cookies, a number of varieties, including Maple Creams.  As you walk towards the meat counter filled with local meats and cheeses, you pass the cash register.  In front of the cash register you find the penny candy.  Yes, there are penny candies.  Small red, swedish berries.  One penny each.  An assortment of other candies are there too.  Fuzzy peaches.  Sour worms.  Gummy bears.  Some kind of blue gummy candy coated in sugar.  Black liquorice pipes.  Cherry twizzlers, with the bag closed with a clothes pin.

And behind the counter you will find Janie.

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Janie is one of those people that when you meet, you instantly like.  Her smile, infectious, always reaches her eyes.  She will call you by name and if by chance she does not remember your name (which was never) she will say something that let’s you know that she knows who you are.  That she remembers you.

If you are in the store when there are no other customers, you will find yourself immersed into a conversation that can last for as long as it takes for another customer to come into the store.  If you are are lucky, it could be a half an hour.  Sometimes more.

To use a term from Anne of Green Gables, talking with Janie was like talking to a kindred spirit.  She had a way of making you feel special.  I can’t put my finger on it.  Not anything specific always.  But you could not leave there without having smiled with her, or having shared a laugh.  The conversations her and I shared over my endless purchases of toilet paper are too numerous to recount.

She had a way of making you feel special.  In the way she looked at you.  In the way she spoke, in the words she said, in the smile she shared.  In the way she listened.

I have always thought Janie to be an exceptionally special woman.

What I find to be most special, is that everyone who came across Janie, had the exact same experience.  Today, after hearing that we have lost sweet Jane, I found myself on Facebook where post after post, recounted the same experience and feelings that I had.  So many have known Janie their whole lives.  But no matter how many years that may have been, it all comes down to the same thing; she was special and she made everyone she came into contact with feel special.  I read of the numerous accounts of penny candy being purchased; more candies than the coins in hand should have allowed.  Families happily stopping upon their arrival to the lake, and sadly saying good bye at the end of vacation.  Everyone mentions conversations, smiles and laughs.  She has been called a friend, family, an aunt, a confidant.

We are all better for having known her.  Sweet Jane you will be missed by so, so many.  All around the world tonight, hearts are heavy.  Watch over us.  We will always need you.

 

Wave over Wave

Vacation winds down and not a surprised my flight is delayed.  Gives me a the perfect opportunity to write the post I have been drafting in my head since this morning.

The past 6 and half days have been filled with sun, sand and the ocean.  This morning I donned my bathing suit for the last time.  Lathered up in sunscreen and for extra protection, added my rash guard to my look.  Put on my ball cap and sunglasses and started to walk across the beach to the water sports pavillion.

This has been my routine for the past 6 mornings, and finally the water sport guys have figured it out.  I was met half way with my lifejacket.

“One more?”

“Yes, the last  one.”

He measured the paddle for me and while I walked into the water, he pulled out my board. I jumped up and he attached the ankle strap for me.

“Remember to stay where I can see you.”

I looked at him, smiled and he smiled in return.  “I know,” he says.  “You will be going out far.  Just make sure I can see you.”

I get to my feet, find my balance before the next wave comes, and start the 700 metre paddle out to the first buoy.

Instantly I sense that today’s paddle will be different.  While it was windy on the beach, it was not as windy on the water.

Every day my paddles have had a very familiar feeling.  Hard, seemingly soul crushing.  Every day I battled the wind and the waves coming at me from the right, while paddling on the left just to keep a straight line and get out to the buoy.  With each and every paddle stroke, I was so thankful for the hundreds of lat rows, lat pull downs and chin ups that I have done over the past 12 months.  Every single one.

Dip the paddle, pull straight back, elbow close to the body, bend my knees.  Repeat as quickly as possible before the wind knocked me off course.

At the buoy, I maneuver the board to the right and begin the 1km paddle, directly across into the wind and over the waves.

Dip the paddle, pull straight back, elbow close to the body, bend my knees.  Repeat as quickly as possible to avoid being pushed back to where I have come from.

This is the hard work.

Perseverance.

Determination.

Drive.

Every day I battled that wind.  And every day, I won.  After a couple of days of very hard work I learned to feel the wind, look for the wind, anticipate the wind.  I learned that I could see the wind coming, by keeping my eyes on the water.  Looking at the waves and watching for the small, jumpy ripples as they moved towards me.  As the small ripples moved along the water, closer to me, so did the wind.  I braced for it, I paddled harder and eventually moved through it.  The wind and the ripples.  Sometimes the wind was so strong that the effort of my paddling simply kept me in the same spot and did not allow me to drift backwards, but I did not make forward progress either.

I became so focused in my paddling that I was always surprised to see the rocks, my turn around point, so closely in front of me.

I am sure there is a name for the phenomenon I encountered every time I approached those rocks.  A point in which the water was moving in waves towards me, and right in front of me, at the end of my board, waves running away from me towards the rocks.  This was were I would turn around.  Right before being battered into the rocks.

I would have thought the kilometre paddle back to the buoy would be easy with the wind at my back, but it never was.  I still can’t quite figure out why.  Maybe I was just so tired from the paddle to the rocks.  As I approached the buoy, I would maneuver the board to the left and head back to the beach.

Today’s paddle was different.

Less wind.  Wind still, but with less power, less strength.

I easily paddled out to the buoy and turned right.  A balanced paddle, I was not fighting the wind.  I was able to use each arm, each shoulder, each lat muscle.

I could feel the wind on my face, but it never gathered strength.  I paddled, almost effortlessly. The waves today were bigger.  Rolling.  Gently flattening under my board.  Soft knees, I glided over them.  I paid attention.  I watched for the ripples but they never came.

The time for easy had come.  I had worked hard all week and this was my reward.

I paddled across to the rocks and turned around again, like I had the other  6 days this week.  I gently paddled back to the buoy and then back to the beach.

I enjoyed each and every smooth paddle stroke.  I relished in the harmony I created with the wind for today.  The wind and I had become one.  Equals.  Neither one of us having won the battle.  Each of us knowing that on any given day it might be a toss up, but the wind knowing that I was a worthy opponent.

As I approach the beach, my water sports guy meets me.  I come down to my knees on the board and undo the ankle strap.

“Good paddle?”

“Amazing.”

Head Full of Dreams

Into life I just been woken
With a head full, a head full of dreams

~ Coldplay

“This feels so surreal.”

These were the words Nicole said to me, last Saturday afternoon, as I drove her to the airport.  She was about to embark on her first solo trip without her family.  She was chosen to participate on an exchange with her school and was going to be traveling to England.  Undoubtedly, she was excited.  She never admitted it, but I wonder too if she was a little nervous.

“I feel like I need to ground myself so that I can enjoy this trip,” she continued.

The definition of surreal, according to the online Miriam Webster dictionary is: very strange or unusual : having the quality of a dream.

I thought briefly about what she said.  I disagreed.  Surreal yes.  Needing to feel grounded? No.

Today we hear so much about how this generation feels entitled. I explained to her that I was glad she felt it was surreal.  To me that showed that Nicole felt that this opportunity she has been given, was a privilege.  One to not be taken lightly.  Not one that was “expected”.  I explained that if she felt grounded about it, that maybe that meant that she felt entitled to be going on this trip.  That she deserved it, “just because”.

The conversation carried on and I felt a sense of relief from her.

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As we checked and double checked for passports and money, the time came to say goodbye.

Talk about surreal.

I put my baby girl on a plane that was flying across the ocean to another country.  The first of what I suspect is going to a lifetime of adventure for this one.  Independent.  Not one to be held back.  Always on the go.  Has been since she was 10 months old, pushing the chair around and around the kitchen, living room and dining room.

I hope it always feels surreal to her.

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