Sunday, November 26, 2023

Sunday Thoughts: Walking, Aging, Soup-making


Autumn is beautiful this year, full of sunshine, blue skies, and often frosty mornings. We went for a long walk beside a lake this afternoon. Along the shady side of the trail I wished for gloves, but along the sunny side I was neither too hot, nor too cold, but just right. 

More mushrooms. These growing in and around a rotting tree. 

I've been thinking about two books I've recently read. One is a memoir by Abigail Thomas titled What Comes Next and How to Like It. The other is the true story of a woman in Iceland in the 19th century who became a sea captain and campaigned for justice. Woman, Captain, Rebel is written by Margaret Willson. 

Thomas' memoir focuses on aging. She writes about drinking too much, smoking too much, napping too much, and becoming lazy. I was surprised to read that she was in her early 70s as she sounded much older. 

In contrast, Thuridor, the Icelandic woman, remained active and involved with her community throughout her life, working hard, challenging the status quo, and caring for others. 

We all age differently, but I know that I would much rather stay active and engaged as long as I have a choice. I look at my parents who continue to volunteer and who remain active in their church and community well in their late 80s. 

On another note, I made Hungarian Mushroom Soup from the Modern Proper again this afternoon. How good it is, hearty and warming on a cool day. Making soup is one of my favourite things to cook - the activity of chopping, sauteeing, and stirring - followed by gentle simmering while the remainder of a meal is prepared. And then the satisfaction of slowly spooning mouthfuls of savory goodness. 

One last week in November. I hope my American friends had a good Thanksgiving. Wishing you all a lovely week. 

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Of Little Things that Make Me Happy


A medium-sized pumpkin decorated my porch in October. Now it's been turned into soup with the gentle taste of thyme, sage, and rosemary. Just a hint of each herb. A few toasted pumpkin seeds on the top and a slice of freshly baked bread add the final bits of delicious satisfaction. We eat a lot of soup. I love eating it and making it. 

I'm slowly pulling out my Christmas books. Some I dip in and out of, like the ones above, gleaning ideas or just enjoying the beautiful photographs and accompanying words. I've begun reading a few Christmas-themed books, as well, such as Christmas Crimes and A Christmas Legacy by Anne Perry. Stories that evoke the generosity and loving spirit of Christmas. Easy reading. 

Inspired by Brenda of It's A Beautiful Life, I pulled out Christmas cards from the past. A few I kept for display again this year or for sentiment's sake. Some I cut into bookmarks, and others into tags of various shapes and sizes. I didn't punch holes into the tags - that I'll do as I see how I use them. 

It was a lovely time spent reading each card and remembering the person who sent it. Sending Christmas cards is becoming rarer and rarer, and I do treasure each one I receive. I send cards, as well, not as many as in years past.

It's a tradition for me to order the Jacquie Lawson digital Advent calendar each year for myself and family members. I did that this week and am looking forward to opening each day's offering. My grandchildren love the little videos, the games, and the interactive games included in the calendar. I wonder what surprises await with this year's edition? 

On a recent hike I noticed all the mushrooms in the woods. Apparently it's been a great year for edible mushrooms, but I am not mushroom wise and wouldn't dream of eating any that I see. But I do admire their structure and colours. Doesn't that large one in the middle look like a skirt blown up by the wind, exposing ruffles and lace? So pretty. 

Little things that add a bit of loveliness to my days. What little (or big) things are you finding makes you happy these days?

Monday, November 13, 2023

A Walk in the Woods


I went for a walk with my youngest daughter, her two little ones, and their other grandmother on an overcast, but pleasant morning. Just steps from the road one plunges immediately into woods with tall cedar, golden maple, and fir trees. There is the feeling of otherworldliness here. 

Leaves tumble down in clusters, silently falling to the ground with little waves and twirls, dancing as they go. One can almost hear them whisper a faint 'goodbye' 'goodbye' as they pass. 

The falling leaves, the quiet, the muted light all combine to replace care with deep relief and contentment. The little girls chattered and the eldest one wanted to explore a different path, so we all took a little detour, but soon returned to the main trail. 

Old cement posts that once formed part of a busy work area now host purple martin houses. Bright autumn colours still dot the green coniferous forest, but not for long. 

This little one marches off on her own, back up the hill, turning to see if the rest of us are coming. 

Some days, a walk in the woods is just what is needed. The past couple of weeks have been busy for me as I'm teaching part time for a former colleague on medical leave. Two classes of Foods four days per week. I have a feeling that this will be my last short-term contract - I'm missing being at home, particularly now with Christmas approaching. Now, after Remembrance Day (November 11), preparations begin with joy. There will be some sewing, plenty of baking, and decorating, but I'm taking things slowly, focusing on enjoying doing a little bit at a time. 

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Our First Day in Newfoundland - Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve


After an extremely rough overnight ferry crossing from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, to Argentia, we began exploring Newfoundland. Our first stop was Cape St. Mary's, where tundra-covered cliffs tower over the ocean. It's a desolate place, often misty as it was during our visit. 

We're not hardcore birdwatchers, but oh, how we enjoyed this spot. A 1.4 km walk along the cliffs led us to a high rocky outcropping. Just beyond were sea stacks, small high islands, covered with birds. 

Huge colonies of seabirds nest here. Although it was late in the season, we observed thousands of Northern Gannets. They wheeled and soared above us. In the above photo a female Gannet has pre-digested food for her young who takes it from its mother's throat. Fascinating to watch. The young gannets are so fluffy looking. 

I had never seen a Northern Gannet before. Their heads look so smooth and unruffled. Below the birds the green-blue Atlantic Ocean crashed and roared. Exhilarating. 

Along with Northern Gannets, Black-legged Kittiwakes huddled on the rock faces. There were fewer of them, many having departed for other regions. They are very pretty with their black neck ring and striking colouring. 

Also present were Common Murres, standing watch on the rocks. With binoculars we could see hundreds of murres floating on the ocean far below us. 

We camped at the Reserve and all night long the mournful foghorn sounded through the mist. After a very short while we didn't hear it and slept most soundly, waking in the morning to more mist and drizzle. 

There are a number of songs written about the region including Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary's which is available on Youtube. 

Are you a birdwatcher? 

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Simple and Ordinary Days


Darkness falls and I close the curtains and blinds against the night. It's earlier now that the time has changed to standard time once again. I love to touch a match to candle wicks in the evening. Their flickering light draws me to spend quiet moments watching the flame dance and the light glow through the creamy wax. 

On our way home from our cross-Canada trip, we stopped in Knowlton, Quebec, home of author Louise Penny who writes the Armand Gamache mysteries. In the pouring rain I collected richly red maple leaves and pressed them between pages of books. Now they lie on a silver tray in the dining room and I am reminded of that day.

Tim and I went for a walk on Saturday afternoon. In one corner of the sky clouds threatened, while sun shone in another corner. A rainbow added another light variation among all the light and shadow and golden leaves. 

The two youngest grandchildren helped me bake apple pastry today, then enjoyed a little tea party. They are very careful with the china teacups and saucers, and love to stir their spoonful of honey into the tea. A boat load of animals joined the party. 

Is this the last rose in the garden? Perhaps, although I noticed a few other buds forming elsewhere. Boscobel is a prolific bearer of lovely blooms. I debating cutting the rose, but fear that she will merely droop if I bring her indoors. Instead, I'll admire her as I walk by. 

Simple and ordinary days are often the best. 

Days at Home

  Last night after dinner the sunshine illuminating the bouquet of peonies prompted me to grab my camera. I love the frilly elegance of the ...