Winters Voice

 

Nestled in the van with the heater warming our toes we sped along the cold roads early this morning leaving our house. We came down the hill, and there before us was a sight to behold.
“Wow! Look at that!” Jonas called from the back seat.

The sun broke from the clouds igniting the silver mountains. In shimmering rays it pulled at Fog slumbering upon the tree tops, drawing out his spindly arms. There before us they danced,
Sun and Fog
swirling together like marbled sponge cake.

As we neared the woods I saw as they skipped and chased after one another through the forests of tall aspens. Beams of light and tendrils of cloudy mist weaving in and out. The scenes flashed by our windows like photographs in a film reel.

The Aspen stood there, knobby knees poking out, wearing only their white bathrobes and fluffy bunny slippers. Their twigs tangled with their neighbors, like a swath of bad morning hair. They didn’t join the dance, they remained firmly planted in the icy snow drifts- observing.
Much too drowsy from Winter‘s voice.

An old three rung fence, had his arms outstretched protectively around the aspens, scolding the sun and the fog for playing so. “HUSH!” He creaked, quivering with age.
“Don’t wake them!”
Did Old Fence hear something I didn’t?

Ah, it must be Joy. So beautiful, childish, and bright. Whispering of Hope and Spring. Joy singing while Winter preens showing us her dazzling beauty.
The day just bursts with it all, shouting, whispering, singing
of their Maker. God.
King of Hope.
Purpose.
Promise.
Life.

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An old photo of Sun… because I “wrote” the photo of what I saw

 

 

The Game

 

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Sometimes my 15-month-old want’s to go outside so badly, the kids and I just don’t have the heart to say “No”. He brings you his shoes and says “sh, sh, shhhhh…” (shoes) and we melt.
Anyways, It was about that time of day when I’m suppose to know what were having for supper… and should be working on it. But instead we all piled on our bikes, plunked the baby in his captains seat, and wen’t and got the neighbor boy. The Little boy down our street makes any-old “bike trip with Mom” more exciting for my kids.
With the neighbor boy blasting ahead with my oldest, and Elise and Sammy trailing behind, we entered the large acreage behind our property. The moss covered old grey gate threw back one of it’s arms as if to usher us in.

To the secret world.
Where the game is played.

It was silent except for the sound of bikes whizzing through the puddles that lined the long, long, soggy dirt road. The road blurred out at the end, and the closer we came, the more of it disappeared. It was like it was becoming erased and soon we would bike off

into space.

Fog. It filled my nose, curled the tendrils of my hair. It was glorious.

It hung on the tips of wheat, hushing the field, making it yield with it’s palm.

It slithered it’s self around an abandoned farm shelter, teasing the old boat ground firmly in rich farm soil. That boat.  The one that dreams of floods.

 

The trees popped their noses up like they were going for air, the fog tightening at their throats. It hypnotizes the world, willing all to be still and silent.

But those bikes.
Those children.

They laugh and break through the clasped fingers, sending fog rolling off to the sides.
They fly through the spell unharmed.
Well, except for me… (I get a bug good and lodged into my eye ball. It pricks me endlessly till I remove it with a q-tip at home. Garth! Why always my eye?!)

But the fog? It pushes at our backs with dusk, urging us through the gate, before it slinks back to it’s game, without kids.

The fast children bike fast,
and the slow tug from behind,
and I peddle that little Outside-Baby back to the safe house.

I make creamed veggie soup with cheese and pepperoni, and Jonas helps me whip up some biscuits that we slather with homemade jam. We sit happily and I mull over thoughts of the Creator- and His fantastic world.

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The Little Cleaning Lady

I cleaned the toilet today.

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As i twirled the toilet brush around and around making white the sides of the bowl- her words streamed through my mind.
Yet again.

“Oh and I don’t use a toilet brush. Don’t you just think they are absolutely terrible? They are never cleaned and just carry all that bacteria… Don’t you agree?”
Nineteen-years-old, working as a newbie cleaning lady, I found myself nodding. Of course I agreed, toilet brushes ARE disgusting, and seriously if this lady doesn’t want me to bother cleaning the inside of her toilet- I’m totally for it. I was agreeing enthusiastically when she handed me a rag.
“So I just clean it by hand then toss out the rag.”
Wait. Can I change what i said about toilet brushes? I LOVE the them. They are a bathroom revelation.

It’s funny the things you remember.

You know… when you forget how much your kids weighed at birth, what day to pick up your Mother-in-law from the airport, or that year you devoted to Music Theory. But somehow cleaning stories found a dusty corner in your brain and nestled in for long term.
I was nineteen and wanted to get a job working with elderly people. Turns out it was harder to get one than i thought. Somehow I ended up a cleaning lady for a business called “Senior to Senior”. The idea being that an older lady came to clean another older persons home. Thing was,

I wasn’t old.

In fact I sported a baby face making me look like I should still be in school. Which plenty of elderly ladies scolded me for. I’d ding the bell and they would open the door. “Yvonne? Oh my. Your much younger than I expected.” It’s my name right… “Shouldn’t you still be in school dear?”

There was a lady, who we later learned had Dementia, who sometimes wouldn’t let me in because she couldn’t remember me. Or threaten to not sign off on my competition form because, after all, she never called for a cleaning lady and if I wanted to clean her place who was she to stop me?
I once picked up a spoon in her kitchen and screamed as the bowl came with it.
Glued by stale milk.
She had a beautiful piano. Buried beneath stacks and stacks of newspapers and magazines. I polished it’s wood, where i could find it, and tried not to listen to it as it called out to me, screaming to be freed from its grave of unuse.

Mrs. Glass, a famous author for adventure Scottish books, was stuck in a little apartment way up on some floor I can’t remember. How did she write about the world, when her space was so confining? And she had a terrible vacuum.

The little old lady who always baked for me. She’d insist before I did the kitchen floors I had a glass of milk and one of her lemon squares. She taught me about vinegar and dish soap being the best floor cleaner. She also gave me her 5 bottles, because she thought I might like to spoil myself with a little something with the refund money.

One couple I cleaned for had a really fancy house. They reported that they didn’t like the way I cleaned the bathroom and wanted their old cleaning lady back. I’d missed cleaning the bathroom baseboards. My boss came with me and had them explain how they wanted things cleaned and they kept me on.
I hated it.
Every ornament I picked up to dust had me persperating. Then one sunny summer day they were sipping cool drinks on the patio with a friend over. On the other side of the balcony’s screen door I vacuumed the house. I was vacuuming around the corner in the living room, looking at one of their framed pictures, when I realized with instant horror my vacuum had just swallowed up the bottom of one of their shear curtains! “Crap, crap, crap!” I muttered shutting off the vacuum.  I ran to the corner of the living room and peaked around the corner to see if they had heard. They were laughing sipping cool drinks, fluffing their white hair. I ran back flaming red, dripping with anxiety, to the drape devourer.
Somehow, painfully slow, I untangled it. I brushed it as clean as I could and moved on.
I never told them.
But, to this day,  I always remember to clean my bathroom baseboards.

I wasn’t a very good cleaning lady. Some of my clients taught me how to do it properly, or how they liked it. Others, like this old guy who wanted the rust out of his toilet, thought I was a waste of money. Some took advantage of my youth and put me to good use weeding rock landscape, or doing two story houses in their 2hr time slot. But my boss took good care of me, and dealt with clients.

Some clients were simply fantastic! I remember strapping rags to my feet with this one couple and skating all around their house polishing hardwood floors with them!

Mr. Sanders.
He was like Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace. He was prickly, but I had a heart for him. He was terribly lonely. His wife had died, and he had nothing left except her many paintings to keep him company.
Oh and his Florida girlfriend who occasionally visited and he spent winters with. She wasn’t the settle down type.
Mr. Sanders will forever be in my memory. Reason being, he will probably be lonely till his death.
As sweet as he was in his prickly own way, He couldn’t forgive. He disowned (His words) his two children. Thing is, I don’t remember ONE of the “terrible”, “unforgivable” things his children did to him… although he told me over and over again.
I just remember watching with sadness and trying to explain to him- that it was Him that was suffering from his unforgiveness.
He was bitter. Lonely. And missing out big time.

When I get old (and suit my old-fashioned name in all its glory) I hope I bake lemon squares. Share my pop bottles, polish floors with little cleaning ladies, give hugs, and am busy pouring into family and many grand-kids. Maybe take them out for pancake breakfast on their birthday like my Grandparents always did.
Hope I treat people with value. Not objects or fancy curtains.
Forgiving even when I’m wronged, because “God demonstrated His perfect love for us- while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”* When Christ was being crucified, nailed to a cross with thorns on his brow- He pleaded with God to forgive them “for they know not what they do”.**
I can forgive because I’ve been forgiven.
Jesus didn’t wait till we said sorry. Or got our crap together. He gave everything for us. Sometimes we need to forgive even when we haven’t been asked.
For them… But also for us.
So I was thinking. Forgiveness is kinda like a toilet brush- making things all clean and sparkly white on the inside… till next week when you’re gonna have to go ahead and use that brush again…

Anyways.
Parting note: When I’m old I’ll probably be a real gem. I might break tradition and start stacking pianos on top of my newspaper.

* Romans 5:8
** Luke 23:34

Goodnight Gunner St.

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The farmers have bailed and rolled up their hay.

The hay, rolled, sitting in the green grass like sleeping bags abandoned after a giants slumber party.

The bushes are alive and moving with living creatures finding beds for the night.

The branch that just broke in the woods?
A horse and goat munching leaves near a farm.

Hoes and shovels stand tall in their beds, proud of the hard days work they have done.
Green house doors and windows are swung shut. The pumpkins flowers closed tight.

My neighbors chickens 1, 2, 3 perched before dark. I bring down the board to close the run and keep them safe for the night. Their calf lowers to its knees after a day of munching, while it’s mom sways it’s head tearing at some grass too tasty to be left for morning.

Back in my own yard, my own chickens fluff, coo, and swap places finding spots for nine on their roost. They tell me off as I stand there with the door open too long doing head count and just smiling at their strange night rituals.

The snowmobiles sit in the dark by our garage, looking parked and lifeless. But I know that by day they were sea-do’s for the rescue squad saving hurt animals and children abandoned on deserted Islands. That sometimes they have to stay steady so the rescue squad can jump across their backs in high speed emergencies.

Tin bean cans and milk jugs lay damp in the recycling bin after a busy afternoon of feeding thousands at a high end restaurant situated on the patio.

There are no street lights. Just the light norther sky, still clinging to it’s blue while pink and orange dash by.
The gates are all closed.
Clicked shut.

The trucks still. With gavel wedged between their tire grips.

And the children? Who pumped the peddles of bikes on the street.
Scrubbed behind the ears, brushed, and sprawled out in their beds.
Given over to sleep.
May God watch over you,
as he does them.

Good-night Gunner St.

Summer Storm

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Thunder crackled as we pushed tortellini into our mouths with forks at dinner tonight.
“Do you know what makes that noise?” Sam asked the kids.
And they all said clouds.
Sam told them about lightning and it’s speed, leaving behind its sound- thunder.
I told them about counting the “Mississippi’s” between the two, trying to figure out how far away the lightning was.
Then after salad the sky let loose. Rain fell harder, and harder like the building of musical sound in a symphony.
We ran up the stairs where the pounding on the tin roof was elating. Then with a triumphant clatter hail fell! From the windows we could see water pouring and filling all the low spots in the yard. Water filling our ditch like a creek.
Silas banged his baby palms against the glass pane as I ran through the rain in my boots and ball cap through the yard to the chicken coop. Like Noah I counted animal heads and pulled up the ramp securing their door.
Then we were all out in it. The kids and I.
Counting “Mississippi’s” as thunder crashed over our heads. Only 1 and a half!
Running through the puddles in our boots. Stirring up the brown ones like vats of coco and milk.
“Lookout for the river boats!” Jonas called, as Sammy and him rode through the puddles on their bikes.
Then I slipped away, scooped up my baby from his stroller and brought him inside.
With damp hair, I sat. My soft little chub apon my lap in his P.J’S, his fuzzy wiffs of hair brushing my lips filling my nose with my very favorite smell- baby.
We read baby board books. His pudgy little finger feeling the animal touch and feel spots on each page.
Just the two of us.
He loves it, his feely finger finds the book covers hole and pokes at my leg beneith the resting book. I laugh woundering what “animal” he thinks hes petting then wiggle my findger up through the hole and get a toothy smile.
I never get to do this. Or maybe I just never remember to do this when we have time to ourselves.
After just the right amount of cuddle time the River Boat Captins are kicking off their boots at the front door and are crowding around the book. There are hands everywhere, pages flipping, sounds, “look Si, touch the piggy!”, “Whats this Silas?!”, “How about a tractor book Silas?” and the animals books tossed to the side.
Yep. That’s more how baby books are read around here, lol. With lots of love and help- from EVERYONE.
Then baby is off to bed after being smothered with “good-night!”s in highpitched lovey voices. The children snuggle up on the couch with their new library books reading and picture gazing. Later I join them with the sound of Sam filling the tub for a soak replacing the last of the rain sounds.
Summer evening rain.
3hrs.

How do you spend rainy evenings?

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Falling for Yellow

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I love where we live.
I think Ive just experienced the most beautiful fall of my 28 years of life.
It’s technically still fall, but most of the beautiful leaves have found there way to the forest floor.
When the leaves flutter to the ground and land they sound like someone stepping through the woods. On a still moonlit night around the camp fire with Sam, I was convinced bears and cougars (popular to the area) were sneaking up on us from all directions;)
The children and I have never experienced leaves like the leaves of the the Cariboo. The mountains that push up from the river are painted yellow. The streets slide their way through the yellow, and the bright green grass on the sides of the road look like some one painted borders to hold all that crazy yellow in.
The kids build leaf towers the size of their bodies in 5 mins because its a leaf sea out here. Right now they are out in the yard making leaf-less trails to bike around in.
The falling of all the leaves opened up a new world to us. Trails through our woods we never knew existed, hidden by the dense wood,  have come to view. The leaves fall on to their paths lighting the way with yellow. We discovered one such path snaking from our back yard near the tree fort.
Tree limbs have fallen over the path, mushrooms the size of heads have popped up, and sometimes deer have ran across it. All this making it a game trying to discover just where the path goes, and where it is when we can’t see it anymore.
We spotted pink ribbons tied to trees, the remains of a large animal, abandoned nests, a tree stand for a hunter, and fallen fence posts tangled in barbed wire.
I had Silas, my three month old, bobbing in front of me in his carrier, and a musical band following behind as I trail blazed. Snapping twigs, moving branches.
The band was my 3 other children. They had a train whistle, a harmonica, and a bamboo whistle. My happy Band of Bear Scare-rs;)
I wondered if maybe the neighbors thought their were fairies in the woods.

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This isn’t the path though our woods. But a trail to a favorite place- the gravel pits. Where the kids love to climb and play.

Fall also brings Homeschooling, and Hunting.
The other night after a long hard day of grumpy children. I finished the dishes and took my fussing baby for a walk in the stroller. Leaving the others with their Dad, I ran from the house like it was nipping at my heals.
The fresh damp fall air and silence ministered to my soul. It grew dark fast and I found myself winding my way back to our street.
I came upon our house in the dusk, looking down at it from our long gravel drive.
OUR house. Our very own.
The lights shone yellow out the windows. From the playroom, living-room, the kitchen, and the little cozy rooms upstairs.
I took the stroller around to the back of the house.
I could see our happy kitchen with so many stools and chairs, plastic colored cups lined up on the table. My hard working husband on the computer with music on.
I pushed on to the next window; looking in on the living room.
I could see Jonas and Elise sharing Jonas’ desk. They were up on their knees leaning over and coloring.
I went to the next window, and there was Sammy climbing around under the desk finding his felt. They were all laughing about something and their smiling faces shone out to me in the dark.
My heart swelled.
It was like looking in on my life. On all my blessings.
My frustrations and grumblings fizzed out like spit on a flame. And thankfulness rushed in like a flood.
God seemed closer. His heart and kindness more real.
Then I touched the picture by banging on the glass and growling like a bear.
Squeals of laughter followed me as I hid and banged on the next pane.
Finally I scooped up my quite little bundle and entered the glow of the house. Closing the door behind me I saw my life
from a different light.

It’s Fall .
Here at our home in Quesnel.

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