Embracing the seasons

What I've Been Up To (or, A Summer Gratitude List)

I've been summerin' and it's been good. I am grateful for a lot of things, grab a drink and settle in...

Our new-to-us pop-up camper (ADVENTURE, POSSIBILITY)

I am grateful for our little cottage on wheels, Daphnie. She offers comfort, simplicity and possibility. This is our first full summer with her and we love her. Sometimes we pop her up right in the driveway just to hang out.

  Daphnie at Fitzroy Provincial Park last September. This scene makes me all warm & fuzzy inside.

Daphnie at Fitzroy Provincial Park last September. This scene makes me all warm & fuzzy inside.

.:.

Thought-provoking prose (DISCOVERY, INTROSPECTION, INSPIRATION)

I am grateful for finding books that expose me to different viewpoints, that make me think and question. Books that explore how it feels to be a Black American through common lenses like home, nature and birding. Books that follow the author as she sits with the staunch Right - in some cases, folks who happen to be my Acadian "cousins" in Louisiana, in which I learn about their fears, their dreams, there grievances with life and the Left.  Books that make me open just a little bit deeper. These books push me to reach and stretch outside of my known and norm in a way that is gentle yet eye-opening. Yes, I am grateful for that.

  My current library stash, some read, some not yet.

My current library stash, some read, some not yet.

.:.

Beach reads (ESCAPE, REST)

Then there are seaside cottages and lakeside dream houses, independent women and seemingly stuck-up men who come out of their hard shell to fall in love, or maybe a story about an artist finding her wings in Paris during the roaring twenties. Mmm, yup. Easy and light, beach reads are a welcome counterbalance to the intensity of thought-provoking prose. I am grateful for that too.

.:.

A last-minute camping trip to Bonnechere Provincial Park (SPONTANEITY, REST, TRUST)

I am grateful for a wee last-minute adventure that packed a healing punch. We booked a campsite one Friday morning for that weekend at new-to-us Bonnechere Provincial Park with no advance planning whatsoever. After a half-day at the office we loaded up the truck, hitched the camper and went with the flow. Expectations were released. Best. Decision. Ever. We slept, we swam, we sat in the shade and did nothing. That weekend I felt more relaxed that I'd felt in months. There was an active bear in the campground. I DIDN'T EVEN CARE. We ran out of battery power in the camper after two hours when we thought we'd have some for two days. Didn't faze me ONE BIT. Chance of a thunderstorm? Whatevs, I had ear plugs. THAT's how relaxed I was. Spontaneity, rest and trust for the win!

  The beach at Bonnechere was pretty sweet that weekend, the water warm and welcoming.

The beach at Bonnechere was pretty sweet that weekend, the water warm and welcoming.

.:.

A whirlwind road trip to Southern Ontario and back via the Bruce Peninsula (ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY, ESCAPE)

I am grateful for road trips and new places: six days and 1660km (about 1030 miles) in this case. This included a visit with my aunt and uncle, a wedding on D.'s side, two new-to-us great lakes, two new-to-us small towns, three new-to-us provincial parks and one national park, two amazing hikes, a boat ride to an island, all the while enjoying superb, welcoming spaces as our home base. It was soul-filling. There may be a future dedicated post on this one, I can't do it justice in one paragraph.

   The Reeve Bed and Breakfast , Dunnville, Ontario. Luxury, warmth, comfort - and amazing breakfasts!

The Reeve Bed and Breakfast, Dunnville, Ontario. Luxury, warmth, comfort - and amazing breakfasts!

   Bruce Peninsula National Park , Tobermory, Ontario. The water, the views, the trails... GAH! Gorgeous.

Bruce Peninsula National Park, Tobermory, Ontario. The water, the views, the trails... GAH! Gorgeous.

.:.

The Waltons (ESCAPE, INSPIRATION)

I am grateful for my DVD box set of The Waltons. I'm in the middle of season 3,  John-Boy Walton is my hero. He writes, he ponders, he has a good head on his shoulders and owns up to things when he screws up. He values family, respect, and does the right thing. I want to be like John-Boy.

.:.

Camping trips to come (ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY, REST)

I am grateful for three more camping weekends in the works between now and October: three nights at Bonnechere Provincial Park (we loved it so much during our spontaneous weekend that we booked a second one on the spot), one weekend at new-to-us Lake St. Peter Provincial Park and one weekend at Fitzroy Provincial Park, which is the park we visited on our first two camping trips with Daphnie last September. By having these plans laid out I feel like I've extended the summer by two months. I like that.

.:.

Adventure, discovery or escape, anyone? Throw in some r&r, usually by the water or surrounded by trees, and well, so far the summer has been pretty gosh darn good.

What are YOU grateful for this summer? Tell me. I want to know.

Stephanie

Why fight it? (or, How I'm Trying to Embrace Winter)

  A corner of my  vision board , created in August 2017. I bet it was sunny & warm outside.

A corner of my vision board, created in August 2017. I bet it was sunny & warm outside.

January is gone, February is here. Friends, family and colleagues are jetting south for their yearly pilgrimage to sunny climes for a week of warmth and sun, that wisp of hope that will keep them going during the winter months yet to come.

I have never travelled south during the winter. I've been told that if you go once you'll want to go every year. Maybe that's why I resist. I don't want to kickstart the habit.

Or maybe I don't really mind winter.

Let me be clear, I do not particularly like having to leave the house in freezing rain, a snowstorm or the descent of a polar vortex. In fact, I detest driving in crappy weather only marginally more than I detest scraping ice off of my car windows – the latter with a seething passion.

But it's part of the package that is winter and if I choose to live in Ottawa, it's what I've got, like it or not!

So why fight it?

"To see ice crystals hovering in perfectly blue air, to walk on a moonlit night through a field of freshly fallen snow, to mark the tracery of a snowflake, to slide or ski or skate or roll on ice and snow, to stand under a crow sending a dusting of snow down from a hemlock tree – there is glory there."
~ Gary Schmidt & Susan M. Felch, Winter, A Spiritual Biography of the Season

The sight of freshly fallen snow clinging to the branches of our cedar hedge, the rhythmic sound of snowshoes breaking a trail through the underbrush and yes, even the glistening branches that follow the ice storm. Goodness, what beauty.

And don't even get me started on cocooning, wool blankets and fairy lights. Bliss for this introvert!

“A mind of winter, a mind for winter, not sensing the season as a loss of warmth and light, and with them hope of life and divinity, but ready to respond to it as a positive, and even purifying, presence of something – the beautiful and peaceful, yes, but also the mysterious, the strange, the sublime...”
~ Adam Gopnik, Winter: Five Windows on the Season, CBC Massey Lectures

I cannot imagine living without it.

I can cope with the cold and the crappy weather easily enough; a good set of snow tires, a supply of salt for the driveway and a good parka can do wonders. A few strategically placed f-bombs help too ("EFF it's cold!"), as does a healthy dose of surrender (seriously, there is NOTHING I can do about the weather).

  © 2018 Stephanie Guimond, iPhoneography piece

© 2018 Stephanie Guimond, iPhoneography piece

I read, I listen to music, I create. I try new recipes, I spruce up the house, I watch Little House on the Prairie. I dream of camping, I work out, I get outside. And though I enjoy the fresh air, I also appreciate that these winter months are conducive to pause and restoration. I slow down, I turn inward, I embrace my homebody-ness completely.

So far so good.

It's still early in the season mind you and my view may change between now and the end of March, but in the meantime I sure feel a lot less miserable. Besides, this week I heard a Cardinal sing so spring can't be THAT far can it?

But there's no rush. Because it's only February and I still have three seasons of Little House on the Prairie to watch, two jigsaw puzzles to finish and a giant Costco-size tub of hot chocolate to go through. Who wants to deal with that in May?

I sure as heck don't.

So just for today I'll take February. I'll take the cold and I'll take the snow. I'll take the slower pace. If you're looking for me chances are you'll find me curled up on the couch bawling at a moment between Pa and Laura Ingalls, feeling grateful for central heating and indoor plumbing.

And if you listen carefully across the miles, you might even hear me exclaim "EFF it's cold!"

If escaping to sunny climes means I would deprive you of that, well I just won't do it.