Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Tickle Trunk / Column 1 / "The Good Old Days"

      January's bright sunshine is shining through the kitchen window, reminding me of winter days gone by when my eldest son Liam, was a little boy.   This January 8th he turned 21 yrs old, and my thoughts turn back to days when we first moved out of the city and into the rural lakeside community we still reside in, in an effort to return to a simpler lifestyle.  As I watch the shadows of the pine trees lengthen slowly across the back garden, shedding gorgeous purpley-blue pastels across the fresh fallen snow, the afternoon visitors to the backyard include the flash of a bright red cardinal, the swoop of yellow finches and the tat-tat-tat of a persistent woodpecker high up in the birches.  Blue jays and doves come too, and rabbits and squirrels, for whom we leave fresh peanuts in their shells on the porch railings.  My Maggie has a 'way' with them, having befriended a squirrel named Nugget when he fell out of a treetop as an infant and landed in her hair.  She, having saved him, was of course responsible for him now 'for life' as it goes with such things, and so he would henceforth come to see her from that day, whenever she bid him.  Treats were left daily for his enjoyment in the old stump in the backyard, and he would reward us with gifts of nuts on the doorstep.   
     Children are often able to communicate with animals, and vice-versa...can we ever forget the time the Blue Jay sat on Krissi Priestman's head, but that is a story for another day.  However we must all remember that the birds can see us humans scurrying around all day beneath them, and they can see other things also, and that we must remember to listen to them, as they are often-times bringers of news and heralders of great events, but we humans have forgotten how to listen.  The Crows and Ravens are known for this, and I have actually conversed with them upon occasion.  It is not as difficult as one may think - just try it sometime when you see a big black crow up in a tree above you.  I assure you if you ‘caw’ at him he will cock his head, and fix you with a beady eye, and ‘caw’ right back. 
          Birds are falling out of the sky dead all over the world right now, and this is because of the fact that humans have not been listening for a very long time - look at the honey bees being killed with the pesticides and so on....the whole biosphere is hurting, and we are all hurting too because of it.  And yet we all want the same things for the world, and for each other, and it is the simple life and the beauty of nature that I think we all yearn for the most.  It is a terrible Catch-22 we exist in these days, caught in the rushing onslaught of world news, technology, survival,  yet all of us longing for the traditions and the simplicity of 'the good old days'. 
    The Good Old Days belong to every generation, however, and it is important to remember that our own children will one day look back on this time - their childhoods - as 'the good old days'.  It is up to us, as parents, to make sure that it is indeed that - and to do our best to shelter them from some of the horrors our modern world has to offer.
      Playing outside - plenty of fresh air and exercise, playing games other than video games, such as Scrabble, Chess, Charades, any of the old card games and board games, Monopoly, Clue, as long as you are all sitting around facing each other and having a laugh - these are the stuff memories are made of!  Most families are struggling right now, as the recession slowly seems to be coming to an end, and money to 'go out' is scarce.

     Does your town have a toboganning hill?  Ours does, and in fact we held Liam's 6th birthday party on it, a fact I was reminded of as I stood atop it the other day with my little 7 year old son Riley.    His face was glowing as he and his buddies raced up and down the hill, and we shared an amazing moment of bonding together on the one excursion downhill I accompanied him on, as my extra weight carried us almost into the pond!    Hilarity ensued, and we all had a wonderful time - and some exercise - before enjoying our hot chocolate and marshmallows.  And yes I had to take an aspirin afterwards - mature Mom that I am - but it was worth it, for the feeling of gratitude I felt for being alive and blessed with happy healthy children. 
You will find us on the big hill every chance we can get for the rest of the winter - hope to see you there! 

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