View From The Glen

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Change in the weather

A month ago we were at the cottage and then in Niagara, and it was Summer.

Today...not so much!

Monday, September 27, 2010


I'm a country girl, no getting away from it. Boots by the backdoor, morning tramps through the misty fields with the dog bounding at my heels, gravel lanes and overgrown hedgerows where the last of the fading summer wildflowers nod their heads: these are the things which fill my world and offer me sustenance.

But occasionally, even a country girl craves something different. And with Montreal being just a short drive from my back door, it's not difficult to achieve.

The kids were at a birthday party in the West Island on Saturday. So I traded in my usual weekend wardrobe of jeans, wool sweater and corduroy jacket for my version of chic: black pants, crisp shirt, polished black boots, and-gasp-jewellry, dropped the children off at the party, and went shopping.

Shopping. There's an experience. Normally I hate shopping. We don't live near malls so I don't have to worry about it much. Which sometimes means we do without because it seems too much trouble to head into town. (Erik, for example, has worn pj's that were too small for the past two years, because I just never hit the right stores.)

The downside to never shopping - or the upside if you prefer - is that on those rare occasions when I do go and am in the mood for it, I tend to spend a lot of money. And Saturday was no exception. I finished the back to school clothes shopping that I never quite managed to do in August (including two sets of pyjamas for Erik), picked up the stuff we'll need to hit the slopes come Winter (feeling smug and organized as I did so), and browsed through Brault & Martineau's lovely furniture showroom, drooling. Patisseries, boutiques, specialty stores, crowds and crowds of people - it was a full day, a busy day, an exhausting day. By the time we had hit Toys R Us for a couple of gifts and had our  mandatory wander through Chapters, I was done. So we had dinner out and drove home.

Yep. Once in a while, shopping in Montreal is just what the doctor ordered.

But boy, was I glad to get back to the slower pace of the Glen. Where, if you stand still for a moment, you can hear the earth breathe.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reader's Block Remedy

Shocking Admission: I have not read a complete novel for fun ALL SUMMER.

No - that's not true - I read one my mother-in-law lent me at the cottage because it was a library book and I had to finish it.

I've been slowly plodding through The Mists Of Avalon most of the past two months, without any real impetus to finish it. After all I've read it many times before. The first time I read this huge tome of a novel I stayed up all night locked into the story.

Friends recommend books and I think: That's on my shelf. Or Sounds good! Sometimes I even purchase them and they sit unread on a shelf that is too full already.

I made a list of books to re-read - books I know I have loved before. But I haven't got to them.

Heck, I saw the Giller Short List and recognized none of the books. I didn't even know Jane Urquhart had a new book out!

It's a sad, sad thing.

It's not that I haven't been reading. As a fiction editor, I've been reading lots of books. But picking up a new book and devouring it the way I always have in the has evaded me of late.

Until today. Today I have found the remedy:
If a new Jamie Fraser book can't pull me out of my reading doldrums, then nothing can.

The Exile is the graphic novel version of Outlander, told from Jamie's perspective.

Graphic novel.

I think I can manage that.

I'm pretty sure I can manage anything with Jamie in it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

History Mystery: Dark Lady

Who is the best selling novelist of all time? She has sold between 2 and 4 billion books - only the Bible and Shakespeare have sold more (sorry, JK Rowling). Her first manuscript was rejected by six publishers before being published in 1920 and she earned £25 for her first story.

She created two characters, so well loved that when she killed one of them off in 1975, The New York Times ran a full obituary - the only fictional character ever to be given such treatment by the paper.

After a fight with her husband, she disappeared for 11 days, causing a huge manhunt, and fears of her death by drowning, but she was found unharmed and refused to talk about the incident even in her autobiography.

Her books were made into plays and films, and when she died in 1976, London's West End Theatres dimmed their lights for an hour to mark her passing.

She was born 120 years ago today.

Who Am I?

Monday Answer: You are all so clever - of course it's the First Lady of Mystery - Dame Agatha Christie.

If you haven't read her books, get thee to a used book store or the library. Murder should always be so gentile! They are perfect for a Fall afternoon.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Week Of School - And All Is Well

That sigh you hear…? It's the collected sigh of relief from parents everywhere as their children return to school, as they mingle with old friends and new, as they get used to new teachers and new routines, as the dust settles on the first week of classes.

A sigh of relief not just because a return to school means a return to a routine (a routine that us parents become very good at over the years), and not just because for us working moms we now get a reprieve from the summer expense of child care. But also a sigh of relief because the first week is so fraught with concerns and worries – all little, but as a parent, you can't help but enlarge them. Will he be okay on the bus? Will he make new friends? Is she going to like her teacher? Will she eat her lunch?

A friend of mine was upset because her daughter and son had been put in the same split grade; another friend whose daughter started kindergarten was worried because she wouldn't know any of the other kids; the mother of one of Erik's friend's confided that she was concerned her son will have a hard time adjusting after a summer of fun.

Oh yeah. Been there. And I'd like to say now that my three are in grades 5, 4 and 2 that I've stopped listening to those niggling doubts and worries. But I haven't. I still wonder if Anna will mind that she is in a different class from her friend. Or if Erik will be more assertive this year. Or if Grace will make a special friend of her own instead of always hanging out with her sister.

But while I can't stop my brain from thinking this stuff up, I know from experience that I am making it bigger than it needs to be, and that in the end there is one over-riding truth. The kids will be all right. No matter what gets thrown at them, what obstacles get in their way, or what concerns I may have, they will adapt and they will succeed.

All is well.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Morning

The first of September is a good day in my world, conjuring up promises: the promise of a glorious fall; the promise of new routines, new menus, new adventures; the promise of possibilities – endless possibilities; the promise of change, electric and static in the air.

I love summer, I do. All the seasons actually. I feel blessed to live here where they vary, sometimes dissolving into one another as Spring becomes Summer; sometimes striking unexpectedly as when an October snowstorm turns Fall into Winter overnight.

But if I have a favourite, it is Autumn. Fabulous autumn with its colour and vibrancy. Crisp days and the smell of apples on the air. Making soups and eating them hot on the veranda, a rug around your shoulders against the chill. The crack of a bonfire and the smell of woodsmoke as the last of the yard clearing is completed. The herbs hanging to dry, their subtle pungency wafting across the kitchen in the breeze. Piles of crimson and golden leaves under the maple trees. The gardens cut back, the vegetables harvested and the ground tilled in neat rows, next year's garlic in the wheelbarrow ready to be planted before the frost. Wearing an old faded pair of jeans and a colourful wool sweater to go for a hike through the woods and then come back and watch the early sunset over the fields.

Today is still Summer. But Fall's promise is just around the corner.

Bring it on.