For one year, in the mid-1990s, we lived in a rented house in Abbotsford that backed onto a park with a pond and walking trails. That year, my husband studied for his master's degree.
This week I was in Abbotsford for a teacher's conference. Thursday was the perfect fall day: the bluest of skies, crisp air, glorious sunshine. Before returning to my parents' home (I chose to stay with them rather than in a hotel), I drove to Ellwood Park for a walk.
As I walked, memories of that year came to the fore, memories both good and not-so-good. It was a good year, but tough in many ways.
Around the time we moved into the house, a young girl was murdered and another attacked. The attacker was not identified for most of the time we lived there. Our eldest daughter started high school and it was a huge adjustment from the small jungle school she'd previously attended. The entire town was on edge that fall, and I walked her through the park each day to where the path came out on the road, and there were more people.
At the same time there was an attack on a woman by an unknown man who entered her home while she was away and beat her when she entered through the door. He was later discovered to be looking for money for drugs.
In the small town of Shell, Ecuador, we lived on the grounds of the hospital where Tim worked, along with other expats - Canadian, American, Finnish, Australian, German, New Zealand, and Dutch. We all had our own homes, but it was like living on the same block or two as all of your co-workers. At times the closeness could be too much, but if childcare was needed, or someone was ill, there was a built in community that looked after the needs of its members.
In Abbotsford, I was frightened and worried about living in a house where I could not see anyone's front door nor could anyone see mine. There were times when odd noises in the house had me going outside in fear that an intruder had somehow gotten inside. It took several months for me to get used to the isolation in the neighbourhood.
All these memories rushed forward as I walked around the pond on Thursday. There were good times, too - visits with family and friends, proximity to services I had missed, such as libraries and well-stocked grocery stores, and the enjoyment of the changing seasons.
We were also concerned about our future plans - would we return to Ecuador or stay in Canada? There was a lot of praying and talking, and even a job interview. In the end, we did return to Ecuador, but to the city of Quito rather than to the jungle because of schooling needs for our children.
One of the best small things about that year was the park. We walked it together as a family and as a couple. I walked it alone. We walked in the rain and the sunshine. When it snowed we were ecstatic and rushed out to enjoy the event. When spring came we watched the ducklings swim in straight lines behind their parents. Watching the seasons unfold was pure delight.
Thursday afternoon was still and quiet by the pond. The geese and ducks were mostly sleeping, or soaking in the sunshine. Light glowed through thinning leaves.
Memory - what's brought up memories for you lately?
Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life.