Guilt Grout

Murphy's_Point_Sunrise

Morning at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park

“When did we ever lock our tent?” said my husband as we unrolled our sleeping bags on the sturdy pine bed.

True, I thought, but our tent didn’t have a door with a latch and the yurt we’d rented at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park did.

“Doors should be locked,” my city-girl brain reasoned, but I nodded.

We had returned alone to this campground after 14 years absence. The last time, our daughters were with us, then 6, 9 and 12 years old. That outing ended at dinner time in rain with a sputtering campfire and stone-cold, tinfoil wrapped potatoes. Continue reading

Nuclear Power – by Melissa Ballard

 

Leon

A writing mentor, Richard Taylor, said recently “What do you do with the shit in your head if you don’t write? Hit a supersize bag of cheetos and a litre of Coke?”  So many reasons to write. Here’s one of my favourites –

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. – Joan Didion

 

Or how about this from a great Canadian writer:

I’m concerned about the unknowability of other people. – Carol Shields

I can guess why my friend, Melissa Ballard, wrote this story. See if you can, too. Whatever drives Melissa, I’m grateful for her beautiful non-fiction stories and exploration of events and people in her life. She finds the universal in the particular as you’ll read in her latest story in Belt Magazine. I hope you like it as much as I did.

 

 

A Shot at Redemption

I wake to my mother’s black and white image every day. Her photo hangs over my dresser and she stares directly at me. Its one of those photos where the eyes follow you. My husband has never objected to the location of the photo or that her gaze is focused on our bed. Perhaps its because she is very beautiful and serene.

Judging from the hairstyle and clothes, the photo was probably taken around 1940. She looks like a big city gal which belies her rural Midwest roots. I wonder if it was taken while she lived in Chicago where she finally settled down after years trailing her Dad in the Dirty Thirties as he looked for work.

Propped in my bed with the dog snoring beside me, cozy in a nest of pillows and books, we loll in soft grey light. A squirrel skitters across the roof and I tense, hoping he doesn’t fall down the chimney as happened to one of his brethren on Boxing Day. As I hold my breath, I hear my mother’s voice. Continue reading

The 42nd

PointPeleeSign

Mainland Canada’s southernmost tip is parallel to Rome and although there are no ancient monuments, the ecosystem is as old as the last ice age when glaciers slid into Lake Erie 11,000 years ago. Point Pelee National Park (pelée being a French word that means “bald”) is on the 42nd parallel and it pokes into the shallowest of the Great Lakes like Pinocchio’s nose. Varieties of plants, animals, insects and birds found within its bounds are unique in the country. It’s a complex ecosystem.

CarolinianForest

Walking through the Carolinian forest of Point Pelee

To reach the Point you drive to a little town called Leamington, Ontario. Leamington is known as the tomato capital of Canada and the tourist office on the main street is housed in an enormous tomato replica – undoubtedly a beefsteak. It comfortably holds two people who peer out of its window and greet you, offer advice on what to see, where to go and how to get there. Continue reading

Games I don’t play

It is a few evenings before Christmas and we’re in the living room of my brother’s house in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  A low fire winks behind the screen of the small coal burning fireplace and undernotes of coffee mixed with alcohol intermittently finds my nose. Continue reading

The half-truths and lies of my photos

I cobbled together a sampling of where we went and what we did from mid-June to September first. What struck me about these images is what they don’t tell you and what I may not remember ten years from now – the temperatures, smells, and feelings behind each shot. Maybe most importantly, why the photo was taken and the context.

None of these photos will be printed and saved. It has been years since I made a photo album either digitally or the old-school method of printing and placing them in tidy chronological order. I justify this as a blessing to my children who won’t have to sift through dozens of albums after I die and toss out 99% of them because they will have no meaning to them at all.

So, kind reader, indulge me in a September wallow down recent memory lane. Below each photo you’ll find a short background story. Continue reading

There goes the neighbourhood

“Mamaaa! Maaa-maaa! Maaaaa!” his thin, sharp cry carried through the screen door, sieved into mosquito sized pieces and scattered through twelve back yards. Deck doors clunked closed, but I was in my back garden listening to wind chimes, which I swear his sound waves agitated, and I wanted to be outside.chimes

“Darius!” his mother yelled. “Stop whining! Do you hear anyone else behaving like you? Just stop!”

I went inside and closed the door. I could still hear the caterwauling.  I wanted to invite them both over to listen to the chimes but I didn’t. Continue reading

Profoundly seeing

national-gallery-entrance

National Gallery of Canada’s Grand Hall

This is our tradition on New Year’s Eve: Make a fancy dinner, drink wine, and watch a movie together. It started in 2008, when the best paying contract I’ve ever had came to the end and we decided to eat like January 1st was the start of the zombie apocalypse. No matter that I’d be collecting unemployment insurance until I found another job and the future was as murky as a snow filled sky. We would what-the-hell it up, mouths brimming with bonhomie. Continue reading