Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Click on the link for superb drone footage of Canada.

Listen to the Scientists!

What is the point of going to school if we have no future?

Our earth is burning!
The posters flashed their messages as we drove through Vancouver’s on Friday. 120 thousand people took to the streets, many of them children. They swarmed out from schools and colleges and eventually gathered at the City Hall. Many took the day off  to let their voices be heard and this certainly sent an earnest message to us adults. The message was clear. We need to get serious about protecting their future!
It was with a heavy heart that I drove back to the north shore over our scenic Lion’s Gate Bridge. Vancouver is beautiful!
The mostly calm sea with the islands in the distance, the majestic mountains that frame the harbour and the forests that stretch into infinity. These children had really hit home and I valued my beautiful surroundings as I pondered its future.
This theme continued to plague my thoughts over the weekend.  I came across a research scientist from the UK who was expounding the merit to your health of spending time in the garden. Francis Williams used a term called ‘forest bathing.’ Don’t you just love that term? I think I fantasize about the other kind of Forest Bathing!

My Lady Anne Barnard moment…..

 While at school I came across the character, Lady Anne Barnard, who supposedly partook of this rather scandalous act of  bathing in a forest pool in Cape Town, South Africa. She was the wife of an English governor during the British occupation at the Cape. She was somewhat older than her husband and was not too concerned about being a demure Georgian wife. This was in the late 1700’s! But I am getting off track….
The ‘forest bathing’ that Francis referred to was the practice of spending time outside surrounded by nature. It did not have to be a forest walk. It could simply be a stroll through a park or time spent in a sunny spot in a garden. In expounding on the merits of this activity, she added that you get to experience all the senses…..the smells, the sounds and even perhaps the feel of the breeze. Just 15 minutes of being outside daily can lower your heart rate, your blood pressure and your cortisol levels  It can be explained like this…… by being present in your experience you relax your cortex,. that is your thinking brain. It is no wonder that this has become a popular practice in Japan. Doctors even prescribe ‘time outside’ to their patients who struggle with various ailments including stress and pain management.

Forest bathing at the bottom of my garden….

My garden continues to draw me in. I play in it and tend it for hours. While I might not be adding much to climate change, I can take care of and manage my small piece of this magnificent world here in Canada.

Read Full Post »

 

“Congratulations! You’ve reached the next step in the citizenship process.”

This was the email that suddenly appeared in my inbox late yesterday. It came from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. There was an initial rush of excitement. We were almost there. It meant there was just one more appointment with the authorities.

Within the next month we would be singing…..Oh Canada!

I slept badly which surprised me as I thought the news of the previous day would send me into a soporific dreamland. Somewhere through my wakeful periods and my jumbled dreams came these uncomfortable thoughts. They were thoughts of failure, abandonment and being disloyal. Was I being disloyal by taking on the citizenship and culture of another country? It seemed fortuitous but I then received a message from a dear friend to say she was standing outside what she thought was my family home in Stellenbosch. The tears just rolled down my cheeks. So many happy family memories and the faces of the people that I love filled my mind. I still love South Africa and the Western Cape and all that goes with that…..

Please don’t think that I need you to feel sorry for me, I certainly do not. This was all my own doing. But have you any idea how hard this is? I have knowingly left behind 60 years of all that is familiar, my history, my dear friends and estranged family members. Family often take strain with this whole process too as they feel that you have run from your responsibilities. But my responsibility had to be firstly to my immediate family. Fortunately I knew my parents understood that and they gave me their blessing.

I have allowed myself to be sad today. I mourn the life I once had in South Africa and the people that I love back there. When the time comes, I will sing the Canadian Anthem with pride but the gentle words of Nkosi Sikeleli will play a soft tune in the background of my mind.

Read Full Post »

I almost can cannot handle it…….

It had been months of preparation and finally the truck had been packed up with all our worldly possessions. You could not squeeze another toothbrush into the back of the neatly tessellated boxes. We had managed to downsize somewhat and I felt relieved that the loot had reduced to a more manageable amount. I waved at the already familiar truck driver as he rounded the corner. He had a good 40 hours of driving ahead of him across Canada. Did I ever realise how big this place was before we got here?

Another box to add to the pile....

Another box to add to the pile….

 

I have been waiting for this moment……..

The relief was tangible and I felt the stress just tumble off my shoulders. Now all that was left was to organise Josh’s travels and the 2 cars. The vehicles were fetched that evening by 2 flatbed trucks. The drivers walked around the 2 clean immaculate passengers. Even ‘they’ had been prepared for their trip to the west coast! The drivers strutted around and rubbed at the dust marks on the body work. But I knew these 2 beauties were ready and scratchless and could be winched into place. From there they would be driven into a carrier and securely tied down. Our pool table was going to be slide in alongside the cars. Another thing to tick off the ‘to do’ list!

My Highlander graciously takes up her position....

My Highlander graciously takes up her position….

It is good to be alive round about now…..

At 5am the next morning Josh was collected. He gingerly jumped into his crate and settled down on his familiar soft blanket. He looked across at me knowingly. I assured him ‘that the trip was shorter this time round.’ The last of my packing was done. What a relief! The next few days would be spent with family and friends. It was bitter sweet to say goodbye. I suppose the reality of what you have meant to people and what they have meant to you only really hits home when you leave. I was very honoured and touched by the outpouring of emotion. I am so grateful to them for being part of my life over these last 5 years. We hope that Vancouver will be on their favourite list of vacation spots in the near future.

I think I have finally found my Hallelujah….

The call came in at the airport that the truck in which are cars were traveling had met with an accident. No one was hurt fortunately….. except the cars! In true Canadian fashion a moose had walked out across the road and the truck had swerved to avoid it. What are the chances? Oh well, they are after all, just vehicles. I will be most grateful if the second truck gets to us safely. Hopefully no moose migration is imminent over the next few days.

The culprit.....

The culprit…..

Somehow I fancy a little red low- slung number. On second thoughts maybe an orange one……we are after all empty nesters with no ‘real’ responsibilities!

I could get used to this……

My beloved garden pots have certainly seen a bit of the world....

My beloved garden pots have certainly seen a bit of the world….

 

Read Full Post »

This is what I have been waiting for……..

My car is parked surreptitiously down the side of our house in my neighbour’s driveway. Josh is next to me in his basket. He watches intently as the ‘foreign’ visitors make their way up our stairs and through the front door. He is accustomed to the ritual of ‘clearing out of the house’ each day. Private viewings seem to be the format here in Canada and Show Days are reserved for the inquisitive shoppers. Once he notices me grab hold of his bed, he rushes to the door. He is ever hopeful that this evacuation might include a walk. We sit there in the sub-zero temperatures until the viewing is complete. Each prospective buyer is sized up by myself and my canine helper. Is this the one?

I know it is going to be a good day……

I struggled to write this passage as I found the whole process of selling our beloved house emotional and difficult. Strangers were in and out of our Maison de Morkel. They quizzically sized it up from all angles and inspected every corner. But 3 weeks have passed since then and I am happy to announce that the deed is done. Our house is finally sold!

It has happened!

It has happened……

Canada is a huge country and to move from east to the west coast is like moving to another continent. It would have taken us 4 days to drive the distance. Instead we are going to wing our way over this vast country while the contents are being shoved into containers and onto a truck. Josh has had his very own designer wooden crate made and squeezed back into the hold on the plane too.  The Groot Trek Mark 2 is about to begin.

I shuffle my slipper less toes to the kitchen……….

A house does not just shut itself up! Besides the disconnection of all the usual utilities like gas and water, there is mail to be redirected. We won’t even mention the sorting and discarding that needs to happen. Conveniently I am the only one left at home once my youngest son leaves for university. So the lot of packing and throwing out has been unanimously delegated to mom. A quick word of warning…….Don’t play the ‘Where is it?’ game with me once we get to Vancouver!

Hello, you beautiful thing……

There is some merit in the sorting frenzy as one gets to re-evaluate your worldly possessions and to say farewell to those that just don’t bring you ‘joy’ anymore. I know that might sound trite, but hear me out. I recently read The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up. According to the author on the New York best seller’s list, Marie Kondo, “If it does not bring joy……chuck it!” This book could not have arrived at a more timely moment when all our household goods were about to be scrutinised, categorised and some eliminated. You begin to realise how little you really need.

My thoughts are all I have so I try to make them brave……

In my mind’s eye I can see myself with my head buried deep in a cupboard looking for the elusive joyless item!

 

 

Read Full Post »

Anne…….my name rang out through the hollows of the shopping centre here in Oakville. I was deep in thought and dismissed the familiar sound. Back in South Africa I used to get my name shouted out wherever I went. The friendly little faces of my pupils would pop up all over the place and they would always make sure that I took cognisance of the fact that they were there. Hello ma’am…..It was precious but there were times that I wished I could have gone about my day incognito.  Be careful what you wish for…..

Those Boland Mountains...

Those Boland Mountains…

Today is the 4th anniversary of us being in Canada. Four years…..It seems incredible! Time has moved so fast and there are moments that seem almost surreal. One makes links to the familiar back in South Africa and then I have to remind myself that I am actually living in Canada!  So today is one of mixed feelings. On the one hand it is a day of celebration….like a birthday. We have planned a special family meal to commemorate it. There is even that bottle of champagne that had for some time been hiding at the back of the fridge. As with each birthday maturation has taken place with the passing of each year. There has been settling in, acclimatisation and growth. On the other hand there is also that sense of loss that lurks in the shadows of the mind. The place that you try not to visit too often as it evokes those pensive thoughts ….

A Canadian sunset along the Sixteen Mile Creek.

A Canadian sunset along the Sixteen Mile Creek.

Then I heard my name again. There seemed to be more insistence in the shout this time. I hesitated. In my four years here in Canada, I have yet to be recognised by someone in a big shopping centre. I turned round slowly and saw the familiar face. Her bright eyes shone and the warmth of her smile greeted me.

“Hi, how are you doing?”

I ran up to my yoga teacher and threw my arms around her.

Yes, someone knew and recognised me.

I have history!

The sun sets on our fourth year in Canada...

The sun sets on our fourth year in Canada…

 

Read Full Post »

 

 

The turkey has enough butter stuffed under the skin to make Nigella blush and the gluwein is simmering away on the stove. Our tree sparkles from the front room……

The trees lay stacked up on the side of the road bursting with the promise of Christmas. The Douglas Fir, White Pine, Scottish Pine and the Blue Spruce….the choice was endless. Which one would it be this year? We had driven along Highway 8 through the greenbelt along the escarpment. The vegetables stalls had given way to the sale of Christmas trees, no more pumpkins and asparagus but rows of fuzzy green. Much thought and effort goes into the right choice of Christmas tree here in Canada. Families deliberate over how tall it has to be, the shape and whether it will shed its leaves. We stop the car at a nearby diner to grab a coffee and notice a little boy as he gazes up at the tall frame of the chosen tree.
“Dad, this is the one!”

The excitement and wonder beams from his face. The practical dad contemplates how he will tie it onto the roof of the car. He paces out the length and works on his plan. Mother has a faraway look on her face as she recalls the Christmases past and is envisaging this tree with the family decorations. There were heirlooms that are brought out each year and a few new additions to add to the sparkle. My coffee steams as I make my way through the brisk air. I pull my hood over my head and feel the fur trim snug against my face. My thoughts go back to 3 young boys that gathered around our tree back in South Africa. It will be the turn of our grand children soon!

Our Christmas Tree

Our Christmas Tree

The bare deciduous trees that shook off their leaves in the fall are tinged with snow. The evergreens cling onto the soft white powder like a cake does to frosting. The sun slips down behind the hills early as we wend our way back home. The snow illuminates our path and the houses twinkle with Christmas lights. Bright white lines the roofs, iridescent blue around the doorways and soft red sparkle in the shrubs. Fresh garlands accentuate   the wooden slatted porch and rustic White Birch reindeer guard the front door.

It is Yuletide in Canada and a time to make memories with family and friends. There will be a special place near our tree this year for those who are no longer with us. They will be  greatly missed.

I wish you all a joyous Christmas!

A white Christmas.....?

A white Christmas…..?

 

Read Full Post »

With a little love and some tenderness we will walk upon the water and we will rise above the mess….

A peel of laughter resonates from the car as I slip and catch myself just in time. The ice is thick in the driveway and each walk to the bottom is a trip of concentration and careful placement of my new snow boots. Designer…… ‘nogal’ with very becoming soles as thick as tractor tyres. I would not say that they are the most flattering pair of shoes in my repertoire. But this is Canada and we adapt or die!

A stormy day at the lake...

A stormy day at the lake…

With some peace and some harmony…..

There is an audience inside the car. They are appreciating my performance while I negotiate the driveway….of course I am trying to have a conversation as well. It just does not work for me! I hate to admit that I cannot do 2 things at once. There is no place for those who feel they are just too feminine or just too gracious either. Soon enough the ice gets you and before you know it, you are flat on your rear. What a great leveler this weather can be!

 

I have a hand for you….. 

I passed my ‘snow squall driving test’ the other evening which left me bursting with pride. I need to set the scene for you……. The sun had already set (not that we see it that often at the moment.) It was a blustery evening and the snow was drifting all over the road. The temperatures were nearing minus 30 and I was traveling an unfamiliar route. Suddenly I realized that I had taken a wrong turning. It was time for the infamous U-turn. I put the flicker on and just did it! Some kind soul waited patiently for me to perform my act of dexterity. The turning circle in our vehicle is somewhat under developed. This is purely my observation. Need I say then that this fact caused me to mount an ice heap! It was purely a design flaw. I stopped and regained my composure. By this stage quite a queue had formed. They politely waited for me to perform another antic. I had to get off this mound of snow and ice! After a few manouvers, which I will refrain from expounding upon, I drove off the icy mountain. Thanks goodness for the 4-wheel capabilities and the snow button.….whatever that does.

 We are treated to a Canadian sunset!


We are treated to a Canadian sunset!

I want to love you the best that I can……

And so we battle on through yet another Canadian winter……our third. It is apparently the worst recorded since 1986. I am pleased though as I can officially say that we DO know what it really feels like ‘to be cold.’ No longer will I have to endure the words: “Just you wait till February hits you.” We are grateful to the local knowledge that is graciously shared and this has equipped us to cope with most eventualities. Although I think I need to get a bit more detail on how to dismount an ice heap.

Can I say that I have done it and have the T-shirt?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »