Wednesday, March 30, 2011

There Once was a Girl...Part Two



Childhood traumas. Everyone has em'. Some are big and some are little...and some...we embellish...for effect. Living so close to the water growing up made me both love and fear it. It's depth and darkness still chill my insides, but it's soothing rhythm, refreshing splash and fresh scent make it one of my favorite places on Earth. I have written before about some of my playing along the river, and most of the stories are endearing except for one "near tragic" evening. It must have been evening because that is when the scaries start for me.

My older, fearless sister and Mim (our anonymous friend) were with me on the beach. It was a neighbours beach with a tempting wooden raft floating near the shore. I have no memory of why we were on the raft together. I could make something up at this point, but that would be lying. So never mind that a big black bear chased us onto it just before devouring us with it's big sharp teeth. Anyway, we were on it, singing loudly and feelin' free until it began to drift out to sea. That is when I first noticed the depth and darkness of my beloved river. Remember, rafts do not have sides to hold onto or block the view of the abyss from fearful little eyes. Not really being able to swim well yet, I started to panic. My older, responsible comrades made the executive decision to abandon raft. Now if I recall properly, it is usually women and children that are to be rescued first in these kinds of situations. I realize that we were all female and children, but leaving the wee one, trembling with fear all alone on our Titanic (with a very small "t") seems...well..just not right. I'm not bitter though.

With the first jump to shore by one of the two heroes, the raft was pushed out a bit more. Then, the second friend jumps, barely making it, but sending me and the lonely raft out to a distance impossible to clear by even Olympic long jumpers. I'll never forget the feeling as I slowly, helplessly drifted out to forever waving goodbye to my dear friends. One of whom was laughing so hysterically, I thought she was going to end up falling into the river with me. She didn't. I secretly hoped she would...revenge...and then she could swim out and rescue me. So there I was, watching my short life flash before my eyes, looking into the deep dark water...my destiny...when all of a sudden, out of those depths arose my salvation. A bronzed skinned merman reached up to carry me to shore...no...actually it was just a rope. The raft had been tied the whole time. It floated out as far as it could and the rope appeared as it tightened, anchored to a sturdy tree along the shore.

I don't recall how I got off the nightmare, all I remember is my frightened mother escorting us home to our beds...early...it was still light out...and we had company. Two cousins arrived for a visit, which was a rare treat...that we did not get to enjoy due to our delinquent behavior. My younger, innocent sister got to play with our cousins all by herself. No sharing time with the two criminals, one of whom lay guiltily and sad on her soft, safe and dry bed. How quickly we forget the gratitude and relief of being saved in light of present pleasures denied. I still fail to realize that my present raft is tied securely to a sure anchor, no matter how far I drift, what my situation "looks" like or when my illusion of a merman fails to appear.

Memories are not the most reliable sources of truth, but THAT is how I remember it :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Snapshop of the Past


I had to add this wonderful picture my dad sent me after reading "There Once Was A Girl-part1". This is us (Mom must be the photographer) a couple of miles in the woods behind our house...a priceless, precious picture. I wonder what Dad was thinking? Can we go just one more mile, or should I get these kids home before dark? Lookin' good Dad...nice sideburns :)


Saturday, March 19, 2011

There Once was a Girl...Part 1, Scene1...



Have you ever watched a movie that really stuck in your mind? One that so touched you emotionally that it was difficult to shake it's plot and message. Eventually, it starts to fade. Not completely, but it doesn't overtake your thoughts anymore nor do the details remain intact for remembering. Childhood is like that. Twenty some odd years have created enough distance that the little curly headed, strong willed drama queen seems like a completely different person than the one typing these thoughts.

The rustic, warm, river side home and the peaceful play places that surrounded it seem as foreign as Narnia. Did it really happen? Was I really there? I wish the memories could be magnified and sharpened with a strong lens into the past. I wish I could share with you the treasure of it's existence. Only three little girls were prized with it's glory. A few special people were able to receive supporting roles in it's play. People with whom I made endless amounts of "frogs", pretended to be grown up working women clad in heels, lipstick and purses with gum in them...only grown ups carried gum, and much hiding and seeking in the quiet, dark bliss. Long days of make believe, swimming, laughter and a few squabbles over who sleeps "in the middle" graced our little lives. Being home most of the time because Mom didn't have a driver's license for a long while nor the desire to run around town, was a true blessing. I wish every kid could have the worry free mind I was able enjoy for so long.

Various clips replay in my mind repeatedly and too many have been removed from the final cut. Trips to Fredericton (and Timbuktu, for that matter), MANY car shows, LONG walks in the woods...walking, when driving in the outback got too thick for wheels. Apprehension revisits me as I recall my Dad wondering if our little 4 wheeled Bronco can make it through that large puddle in the road..more like a budding lake, but who cares...there are things to explore on the other side. Water quickly rises past the tire tops and my little eyes, wide with excitement, watch adventure in the making. Dad whoops with victory on the other side as Mom smirks with a "You're crazy, but I really like it" kind of look.

Our fearless leader takes us (sometimes carries us) to many a deep wooded paradise. Mom, spotlighting beautiful flowers and feeding us with her finest corn meal rolls, prudently packed. Dad, listening for wildlife and reciting scriptures or "If" by Kipling...he really isn't a poet, but that one, he keeps close to his heart...and mine now..."If you can dream and not make dreams your master..." sorry...it's flooding back to me now. No maps, no detailed plan, just stimulating exploration...soggy socked exploration...the best kind. Winter didn't even stop us. Five pairs of cross country skis carried us into our family playground. Then home to the open fireplace for hot drinks, Gospelaires music and likely a hearty crockpot meal from Mom...the true Pioneer Woman.

Time for a commercial break. My movie is far from done. Choosing the next scene is a tough task, but inevitably destined. It's important to make these movies. Lest we forget. Lest we stop appreciating. Lest we refrain from giving the same kinds of experiences to our own children. I need a title for my little screenplay. It just seems to call for one. "Little House on the Prairie" is already taken...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jack be Nimble, Jack be Quick


I have said before that I am not a night person. After about 8:00 pm my brain and body quickly shut down as they enter into sweet slumber. Well, this week, I experienced an amazing physiological phenomenon...adrenaline. My casual, East Coast, domestic life rarely involves the hype and excitement regular to Navy Seals and big city ER doctors. I'm not accustomed to the fight or flight decisions...more like instant or perked? ...and I haven't seen 3:00 am since I had babies. I don't miss it.

I reluctantly awoke to a conspicuous beeping sound around 1:00 am. Upon a blurry scan of the other side of my bedroom door, by body transformed instantly. Our house was filled with smoke and I met adrenaline.We didn't take time to shake hands and small talk...it just picked me up and carried me along for a dreamlike ride. The next 15 minutes or so involved feelings, visions and scents that I'm not yet sure I want to remember. God given, mama bear instincts got my 4 babies out of our burning house...which was not yet consumed by fire, but saturated with enough smoke to make eyes and lungs revolt. Shaking fingers pressed 911 on the hot phone...twice...I actually messed up those 3 little numbers on the first try. Papa bear was doing what he could to put out the small fire starting around the wood stove pipe, not at all aware that the outside wall of the house was already ablaze and beyond water bucket's help.

Once we were outside, cuddled up together in the cold, silent unreal night, the adrenaline seemed to vacate as quick as it moved in. Standing there with my family, watching nature take it's uncontrolable course, I felt an amazing sense of happiness and hope. Yes, the house was still burning and I was verbally entreating my Heavenly Father to slow the flames and save our sweet little home, but I was delighted. Delighted that I was holding all four of my shivering, distressed children. Their fearful faces glowed in the firelight and I was thrilled to be able to wipe away the tears, smile in their eyes and ease their worries. Warming their panicked bodies, singing choruses to fill them with hope and celebrating with them as the first firetruck pulled up to the house. So very thankful to continue being Mom.

Teetering on the edge of tragedy is unnerving, but there was no tragedy. It did not happen. Only five minutes separated the two tales, but only one was told. A glimpse of imagination tries to rattle reality, but cannot take it's place. I entertain the imagination just enough to protect the future and to preserve gratitude, but not to continue in fear. I know the Master of the Universe. He created fire, water, wind and earth. The winds and the waves obey him. He cannot do anything but love me, even if I don't understand His ways. Trusting Him is the absolute answer to peace and happiness, but doesn't come easily. In order to have faith we must experience doubt. I have to stand in the face of fear in order to find courage.

I will never be a thrill seeker. I will never enjoy the rush of skydiving, race car driving or storm chasing, but I have a great appreciation for adrenaline. That wonderful little biochemical turned a midnight zombie into a thinking, functioning woman of action...but there are side effects. Sleep does not come to one who has had a recent encounter with the little tyrant. My later motionless body was still a frenzy on the inside. Like most parties, the clean up takes awhile...but in this case, it was well worth it :)