How A Cookbook Enriched Our Marriage

“Books are the quietest and most constant friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors and the most patient of teachers.”  ~ Charles W. Eliot

A Taste of The Mediterranean by Farrow and Clark, book cover
A picture of the cover of our special cookbook.

Eating together has always been a rich part of my relationship with my husband, even while we were dating.  He has always expressed his artistic side through his cooking, and loves to experiment with recipes, adding his own twist.  He gets recipes from everywhere: old magazines, Youtube, cooking shows.  As we celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this week, I want to tell you about the one cookbook that has most influenced the meals we’ve shared with family and friends on special occasions, as well as quiet meals at the end of a long day.

When my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Gimli, we went for a walk one afternoon, and found ourselves in a charming shop near the hotel. The small store had been there for a long time, and I believe that it is still there.  It is located in the corner of an old building, and has an eclectic collection of goods: everything from clothing to unique toys to books.  And that is where my husband first spotted this book, and I encouraged him to splurge, to go ahead and buy it.

A Taste of the Mediterranean Clark and Farrow
The book is full of gorgeous photographs of the Mediterranean.
A Taste of the Mediterranean Clark and Farrow, a page from the book
It is a well researched book with lots of interesting information about the ingredients and regions.

There was something special about this book, A Taste of The Mediterranean, by Jaqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow.  As we looked through the pages, it felt like such a labour of love.  It was a well-researched feast for the eyes. The colours, the imagery of far away places, and mismatched ceramics that were so clearly part of a real, time-worn collection, and of course, the recipes.  It simply connected our imaginations to a world of possibility.  And it still does.

I will always remember the first, official “Greek Feast” that this book inspired.  (Though we are not greek, we could have been!) Early in the spring of our first year of marriage, my husband decided to make a special dinner for my small Winnipeg family (much of my family lives elsewhere).  Several days in advance, he started to prepare: shopping, cutting, dicing, marinating.  He planned to serve lamb, with all the fixings: from Greek salad, lemon potatoes and homemade tzatziki sauce to a decadent dessert.   We decorated the kitchen in sparkling lights, and prepared to illuminate the living room and dining area with candles.

Then, on the morning of the big dinner, Winnipeg was hit by what was being called ‘The blizzard of the century’.

It was unlike anything I had seen before or since.  I mean, I’ve seen blizzards, but this was something else.  The city was paralyzed.  For the first time in more than 50 years, school divisions would have to cancel classes on the upcoming Monday.  And that Sunday, we had to cancel our dinner.  It was disappointing, but there was no choice.  Now, we wondered, what to do with all of this food?

At the time, we lived on the 10th floor of an apartment building, and my husband’s best friend happened to live on the 9th floor (he had been the best man at our wedding).  So, our friend lucked into an impromptu invitation to our Greek Feast.  Much to our amusement, our friend would later declare that it was this kind of evening that makes life worth living.

It was such a surreal experience. Picture this: through the glass doors of our balcony were the awe-inspiring sights and sounds of freezing blizzard winds whipping record amounts of snow into white-out conditions. Meanwhile, inside our apartment, the atmosphere was glowing with warmth.  We were celebrating life with an exuberant home-cooked feast.  Rich culinary fragrances.  Lively greek music (and all other kinds of music, too).  Red wine.  Dessert.  Laughter. This contrast deepened the exhilaration of witnessing a winter spectacle.


That dinner marked the beginning of many memorable meals to follow.  But some were memorable for different reasons.

I remember, shortly before I got pregnant, I kept telling my husband that the next recipe he should attempt was the ‘Polpettes’, which are fried little morsels of potato with feta cheese.

Well, early in my pregnancy, I developed terrible nausea and was having trouble eating.  In an effort to help, my husband surprised me one day with a big batch of these freshly fried Polpettes.

It was at that moment, as my husband was smiling at me with eyebrows raised in anticipation of my reaction, that I realized I had developed an undeniable aversion to fried food.  I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I tried picking at the morsels with my fork, admiring them, and pushing them around in an effort to stall actually putting a bite in my mouth.  Breathing through the sensations that were welling up in my stomach, I had to put my fork down and break the news to him.  Understanding the situation, he quickly took the plate from my view, and I honestly can’t remember what, if anything, I ate instead.  Probably plain toast.  We still chuckle.

This cookbook has accompanied us through so many experiences.  We have turned to its recipes for ideas when celebrating, and to raise our spirits during difficult times.  There have been moments of exuberance, and quiet evenings – sitting by the fire place, dipping fresh baked olive bread into a velvety mix of oil and vinegar.  Unlike most cookbooks that may yield 1,2, maybe 3 favourite recipes, this one has contributed more than 30 recipes to our culinary repertoire.

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This snapshot was taken a while back, one weekend, when my husband was inspired to bake a couple of olive bread loaves. Here they are ready to go in the over. Too bad my picture doesn’t really capture it’s beauty!
A Taste of The Mediterranean, Olive bread picture.
Sadly, when the bread came out, I never thought to take a picture! So here is a detail from a photo in the book (A Taste of The Mediterranean), to show you what the finished product looks like. Yummy!

You could say that this book has become a kind of reminder to live life fully.  To savour each bite.  And to some small degree, like that Greek Feast, maybe things haven’t always gone exactly as expected, but we’ve always made the best of times.   I guess that’s been our recipe.

And really, that is how this book has become – more than a cookbook – a book about stories of our life together.

A Taste of The Mediterranean, the bookmarks and papers on a well worn book.
A well loved and often used book.

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Little Family Traditions

Do you have any special traditions that you like to follow in your home?

If you were to ask me whether my family does, my first response would be, “Nah, not really”.  But when I start to think about it, I realize that we do.  A lot of little traditions have evolved naturally through the years that my husband and I have been together: little rituals that signal the start of the weekend, and small customs that celebrate each season.  This brings me to last weekend.

We finally put up our Christmas decorations!  Now, I will admit right off the bat that my Christmas decorating is probably not what most would call ‘chic’.  But I do think it is kind of… sweet, and there is a cool story behind my beloved artificial tree and pretty much every decoration on it.

Years ago, when my son was still a baby (rather than the 13 year old teen who towers over me today!), my aunt offered us her Christmas tree.  The timing was perfect.  She was ready to let the tree go, and we had just decided that we needed to buy one.

This was a special tree, too.  In my youth, our whole family had spent many a Christmas Eve by it-  eating delicious meals, laughing, opening gifts.  So, naturally, I enthusiastically accepted the gift.  My aunt also gave us the decorations.  This collection continues to grow with the passing years, consisting of a variety of ornaments that were given as gifts, hand-crafted by my son, family and friends, and also some season-end purchases.

Every year, we put on Christmas carols, break out the eggnog, and start to… ahem… construct the tree.  Yeah.  That’s the one funny thing about this tree: you have to build it ‘from scratch’ every year.   You re-connect the trunk, put each of the individual branches into the tree trunk, replace the needles that have fallen off…

Have you seen one like this?  I could be way off on this, but I’m guessing that they don’t make this kind any more.

My husband always constructs the tree, and then my son and I decorate it… and we sure make a fun evening of it.  I have to admit, though, the actual construction and deconstruction of the tree can seem like a bit of a production sometimes.  So this year, I made a rather Scrooge-ish suggestion.

Since we were busy and a little tired, I offered that perhaps it was time to get a modern tree. Of course we wouldn’t get rid of our beloved tree!  Just give it a break for one season.  I mean, why not benefit from the technological advances that have surely been made over the last 35 years in the field of artificial Christmas tree assemblage!

Well.  Let’s just say that my son did not go for that idea.  And the truth is, I was kind of relieved.

I guess this tree, which is probably at least 35 years old,  has become a real tradition in our home.  Once we started to put it up, I immediately remembered why it was worth the effort.  What was I thinking?  I love this tree!  And we are officially in the holiday spirit now!

These little traditions really add something sweet to life, and they are part of what makes the season sparkle with charm.

How about you?  Do you have any beloved traditions? (Big or small)

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Transformed Landscape



It always amazes me.  You think at some point it wouldn’t, but still it does.  The way that first big snowfall transforms the landscape.

Not so very long ago, Winnipeg looked like this:

Then…

On Monday evening, as Winnipegers tucked off to bed, weather forcasts warned us to prepare for the first big snowfall of the season.

By the time I woke up on Tuesday, the wind was howling, the snow was blowing and it was already deep enough to be causing all sorts of traffic troubles.

I decided to take a bus to work. I just didn’t want to deal with the stress of maneuvering my vehicle through fresh snowdrifts, and around other vehicles.

I knew I’d made the right decision when I got to work early and without any white-knuckle driving.

On my way home after work, though, the bus got stuck in a snowdrift at an intersection. Yes, the enormous 60 foot city bus, completely stuck. The traffic behind it was backed up. In the other lanes, car tires were spinning, but not much was moving.

So, I bundled up, got off the bus, and walked the rest of the way home through the hard blowing snow that was now knee deep.

Truth is, once I got going, it felt like an adventure.  It was quite fun, and a lot of exercise to boot – several kilometres, for sure.

At some point, I couldn’t resist the idea of taking a picture. It was kind of silly because my phone was getting all wet and my fingers were numb, but I was having such a great time, I hardly noticed.

Now, it’s already Wednesday, and the snow finally let up late this afternoon.

I took a lot of pics, so I am sharing a few of them with you  here today. There are a few more below, too.  Hope you enjoy.

In the meantime, I am off to bed.  The last two days of walking and commuting in the storm have left me ready for a good winter’s nap.



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Four Tips to Help You Enjoy Winter.

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.

Edith Sitwell

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See the complete drawing at the bottom of the post. I’ve been inspired to make a bigger painting from this small section of my drawing.

It’s December 1st.  Yay! The charmed month that brings us the sparkling holidays, fresh snow, and the winter solstice.

In some ways, I find November to be kind of tough: it’s not winter yet, but one can feel that autumn is making its gracious exit, leaving the land vacant and ready for winter to settle in.  The hardest part, for many people (including me), is that the days get drastically shorter, especially with daylight savings time. Suddenly, it’s 4:30 pm and it’s already dark.

But now it’s December, and with winter around the corner, I have to admit that, over all, I have come to like winter.

So, today I wanted to share four things that always help me to enjoy winter more, and dread the short days less.  Here are the four simple things that make the biggest difference for me.  Maybe they’ll help you like winter more, too:

~  I’ve learned to look at these short, cold days as the temporary season of coziness: dress in warm, cozy clothes, eat comfort foods, and create a cozy atmosphere at home.  This doesn’t have to cost much at all: play nice music, and keep soft, cozy blankets and throw pillows handy.  And hey, since it’s dark anyhow, just settle in for a movie night on Friday.  That’s right, unabashedly embrace and focus on all things cozy!

~   Lighting changes everything!  (Yes… everything!  Barbara Walters once said that good lighting can do more to help us look attractive than make-up can!)  Anyhow, during the shortest, coldest months, I love using this easy DIY trick to create a joyful glow (see photo below). It’s also helpful to decorate with an attractive lamp that bathes the room with a soft, warm light.  And, of course, consider safely lighting candles every now and then.

An EASY DIY!  Remember that you can produce different moods depending on the colour of light that you choose:

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Multicoloured lights in a big, glass vase are an easy way to make a room feel festive.

~ Make some time to connect with others during the colder season… even if you are a bit of an introvert like me!  In fact, whether it’s family, friends, or a beloved pet, spending time together in a cozy environment can do wonders for our spirit.

~ It’s good to try activities that will help you enjoy winter itself.  Getting outside into the natural light, even for a short amount of time, can transform how we feel.  This can be as simple as bundling up for a short, invigorating walk in the brisk air.  Keep in mind, though, exercise is a wonderful mood enhancer, whether you do it indoors or out.  So, if you prefer to get active inside, that will still help you feel better about winter.  Check out this link to the mood enhancing benefits of walking.

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A detail of a drawing I made. The complete drawing is at the bottom of the post.

Now, here are some lovely words of collective wisdom shared by others: 

Quotes on The Changing Seasons:

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”

Yoko Ono

“There is a season for everything under the sun—even when we can’t see the sun.”

~Jared BrockA Year of Living Prayerfully: How a Curious Traveler Met the Pope, Walked on Coals, Danced with Rabbis, and Revived His Prayer 

“…Never in any of the four seasons
Should you neglect your gifts for any reasons
The world needs you to make it a better place
Don’t pack out; run your race”

― Israelmore AyivorBecome a Better You

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

~Lewis CarrollAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

She enjoys rain for its wetness, winter for its cold, summer for its heat. She loves rainbows as much for fading as for their brilliance. It is easy for her, she opens her heart and accepts everything.”

― Morgan LlywelynBard: The Odyssey of the Irish

 “SEASONS OF LIFE

Sometimes I fall
And feel myself slowly wilt and die,
But then I spring back on my feet
To go play in the sun outside.
I am no different than the weather,
The planets or the trees;
For there do not always have to be                                                                         reasons for the seasons                                                                                                     turning inside of me…”

~ Suzy KassemRise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

“All seasons have something to offer”

― Jeannette WallsThe Glass Castle

One Last Thing…

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This is a detail of a drawing that I made late last fall. I had fun working from my imagination on this one.

One last thing!  Late last fall, I made the drawing featured in today’s post.  It was from my imagination; a fun and spontaneous process.  Kind of like a big doodle.  It’s not quite finished –  I will probably go back and edit a few things, eventually – when the mood strikes me, but I’m focused on other projects, now.

A Time for Home

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Pondering Peace ~ Lest We Forget

St Vital Park Peace Pole.
A Peace Pole dedicated in a popular Winnipeg park.

Today is Remembrance Day, here in Canada. It’s a day to reflect on the lessons that we’ve learned from war, especially since World War I; to remember and honour the sacrifices that were made by so many so that we may live in freedom; and to consider the suffering that conflicts are still causing in modern times.   The hope is that, in remembering all of these things, we will continue to work toward a more peaceful world.

In these times, it seems especially important to take a moment to pause and remember.

St Vital Peace Pole.
Peace Poles can be found in more than 180 countries to promote peace, understanding, and goodwill.

I took a walk in a popular Winnipeg park today, where a Peace Pole was dedicated in 2015.  Have you heard of these?  The inscription explains that they are “found in over 180 countries to promote peace, understanding, and goodwill.”

This Peace Pole was added to a beautiful little garden in the park that, in the summer, radiates colours and delightful fragrances.  Since it’s November, many of the flowers and plant life around the pole lie dormant amongst the evergreens, waiting to bloom again in the spring. A fitting symbol of life, perserverence and hope.

“LEST WE FORGET”

 

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A little down the the main road in St Vital, we see the Red River through more November trees.
A little down the park’s main road, we see the Red River through more November trees.

In the meantime, in the nearby pond, all sorts of birds gathered to prepare for their autumn  migrations.  It felt good to pause and reflect, as I watched with interest how the animals in nature – ducks, geese, and seagulls – managed to share this space in the park.

Seagull flying takeoff, ducks and geese, in St Vital Pond.

St Vital Park, ducks and a seagull on the pond.
Ducks and a seagull.

Pond at St Vital Park on Remembrance Day.

May we humans continue to learn how to treat each other, our planet, and all life on it with empathy and compassion.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 

~Martin Luther King Jr.

The pond at St Vital Park.
Long shadows at noon in November.
November in St Vital park, long shadows on the pond.
November shadows on the pond.

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img_4351A little down St Vital park's main road, we see the Red River through more November trees.

Two Things in Three Blocks.

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Today, just a little show and tell to share with you.  By the way, when I publish this post, I will know if the tech-problems on the blog are finally, actually fixed!  Or not.

Recently, we made a little discovery, here.  When we were in the process of getting our 13 year old son his first passport, we learned that his birth registration form had been transcribed incorrectly.  My maiden name had been misspelled with a “u” in place of a “v”.  It wasn’t our mistake, but we needed to correct it officially, if we wanted our son to have his own passport.

So, last week, I headed downtown to the Department of Vital Statistics.  65 dollars, and a couple of hours later, I got this bureaucratic error corrected.  I had parked my car only three blocks from the building, but that was a long enough walk to wind up with two things to share.

The first thing that got my attention was a small, diverse crowd that had gathered in an alley, by an old pub.  Turns out that I’d stumbled onto the ‘unveiling’ of an enormous picture of the queen of England.  This painting has a special history in this city because it used to hang in Winnipeg’s old hockey arena.

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Years ago, when the old arena was knocked down and a new one was built, this painting of the queen was put into storage. (I think it eventually wound up in the province of Ontario).

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Recently, two Winnipeg businessmen bought it back, and they plan to permanently hang it in a public place where anyone can view it, for free. A generous gesture, I thought.

There was one lady in the crowd who had heard about the unveiling less than an hour ago, and had dropped everything to show up and see it in person.  She told me that she had been collecting royalty memorabilia, and following their stories, for the last 28 years.

Anyhow, readers might know that Queen Elizabeth II is Canada’s symbolic head of state because Canada is a constitutional monarchy, and the queen is represented here by the Governor- General.

Fans of hockey and royalty alike seemed equally pleased to see this painting returned to the city.

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The other thing that caught my eye was this mural.

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I was intruigued by how the images painted into the mural seem to blend in with the real-life cars and roads!
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…and how the building’s real windows blend into the mural’s painted windows and walls.  Very cool, I thought.

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Murals are such a great way to beautify an old urban area, and there are quite a few in Winnipeg.  For now, I’ll say this might be my favourite Winnipeg mural.  Now that I am paying attention, though, I might find other contenders for first place.

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Thanks for stopping by –  hope you have a great rest of the week!

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A Little Wanderlust.

Here are some of my thoughts and pictures from a long walk I took in Winnipeg, last Saturday.  Hope you enjoy…

~ Carina Spring

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In my last post, I announced that my blog’s technical troubles were finally resolved.  Turns out that my celebrations were, um… premature. Yes, after my gleeful announcement, I joyfully pressed “publish”, and soon realized that the email was not getting delivered to subscribers’ mailboxes.  Every time one problem gets resolved, another one pops up!

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Honestly, autumn has brought a few challenges with it, and not just with my blog.  When I stumbled on these words, yesterday, the mindset struck me as helpful:

“Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.  Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills.  Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.”

~ Jim Rohn

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Anyhow, on Saturday, when I went for a long-overdue haircut, I decided to walk home.  I have been going to the same hairdresser for 15 years.  Her salon is downtown, a fair few kilometres from my home, and in a different neighbourhood.  It was a gorgeous day.  Without thinking much about it, after my haircut, I strolled into the fresh air and started my walk.  It took several hours to get home, though I don’t know exactly how long, because I didn’t pay much attention to the time.

The sun was in my eyes and I carried my big purse over my shoulder, and I felt kind of free: no plans, no car.

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By the time I got home, around 5:00 pm, I’d taken a bunch of snapshots with my cell phone (those are the pictures in today’s post), and I’d accepted a friend’s spontaneous dinner invitation for 6:00 pm.

Hiking, even the urban kind, can be so relaxing. There is something therapeutic about walking by yourself, for hours, like a tourist in your own city.  Now, I feel a vague kind of wanderlust.  Like I want to wander. Everywhere.  Even if it’s only around here.

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When I was in my late teens, I figured life out by running  kilometres and kilometres at a time.  In those runs I found my strength, and I figured out that life was short, and that it all comes down to the present moment.  I think walks like this one are another way for me to better understand life.

Here are a few more snapshots that I took with my cell phone, if you’d like to see what Winnipeg looked like, from my perspective, last Saturday.  It’s a pretty diverse place.

If you enjoyed the post, please feel free to subscribe (see the menu box at the top).  Thanks for the visit!

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Yay… Finally!

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“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

~Melody Beattie

I can’t believe it!  After all of the emails, phone calls, and much research, the technical problems on my blog have finally been resolved!  All in one conversation with one talented technician who really knew what he was doing, and took the time to help.  In a matter of 20 minutes, the last of the problems were sorted out!  YAY… it’s finally behind me!

Now, I am looking forward to reconnecting with all of you, and posting regularly!

A water damn in the town of Winnipeg beach. The beauty of autumn in Manitoba.

Today is Thanksgiving, here, in Canada.  This has always been one of my favourite holidays.  We are enjoying the long weekend – it’s amazing what a difference an extra day off makes!   Our family celebrated on Saturday.  My husband prepared an amazing supper, and we all relaxed in the cozy warmth of our home.  Life may not always be easy, but we have a lot to be grateful for around here.

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I went for a bike ride to enjoy this beautiful Saturday. Birds, colourful trees, unbelievably blue skies.
The beauty of autumn in Manitoba.

Wishing Everyone a Very Happy Thanksgiving!  

A Walk with A Stranger, and The Bizarre Story of Good Memories from A Bad Evening

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After my walk with a stranger, I saw this huge caterpillar, and decided to bring out my cell-phone and take some snapshots.

I had an unusual experience last Saturday morning, When I went for a walk.

Just as I entered the park, I saw a woman, probably in her late 50’s, walking a little, white dog.   I casually commented that her dog was cute, when – much to my surprise – the woman began to tear up.  Apologizing, she explained that tomorrow would be 8 weeks since her husband had died of cancer.

Trees at St.Vital Park in September, in Winnipeg.
Trees in the park on a September day in Winnipeg.

I really felt badly for her.  I lost an aunt to cancer a year and a half ago, so I have some understanding of just how hard the whole experience can be.  I gave her a hug, and we started to stroll together.  Wound up doing a lap of the whole park. Mostly, I just listened.

When our walk was done, I felt good that I was able to lend a friendly ear to someone who needed it.  It got me thinking about how acts of kindness really do make both the receiver and the giver feel better.  Actually, this unexpected walk with a stranger also got me thinking about a remarkble experience that happened to my family, years ago.

imageI used to live in the city of Edmonton, Alberta.  One evening, my mom, grandma, brother, and cousin were on their way home after a day-trip to Drayton Valley, when they were rear-ended by a distracted driver on the highway. My mom’s car was a total write-off.  The policemen said how incredible it was that no one had been injured.

The accident occurred in front of a campground about 200 km from Edmonton, so my mom called my oldest brother to ask if he could come and give them a ride back home.  He immediately went to pick them up.

But.

He was a student at the time, driving an older vehicle and – shortly after picking everyone up – his car broke down.  What an evening, right?

Now, it was past 11:00 p.m.  This was the age before cell phones, so my family stood stranded by the side of the road, assessing the unfortunate circumstance in which they found themselves.

That’s when a young farmer stopped to help. He drove my family back to the city, more than an hour and a half in one direction (never mind that he still had to drive all the way back to his farm).  When my mother offered to pay him for his troubles, or at least for the gas, he refused to accept.  No, he said.  Pay it forward.  Help someone who needs your help in the future.

That is not the end of the story.

When the accident occurred, my mom’s car got towed away. In the stress of the moment, my mom wound up abandoning a bunch of the stuff that was in her car.  Some of these items were kind of valuable, like tools.

The following week, my mom and her best friend returned to the site of the accident, in the hopes of recovering some of the items. My mom entered the campground, and asked around a bit, just in case.  Turns out there were a number of seasonal workers who were living in the campground while they worked in Drayton Valley for the summer.  Everyone was so nice.  They had collected all of her belongings and, expecting that she might come back, had stored everything neatly under a tarp.

And there’s yet another twist.  On this trip, my mom had been driving a rental car provided by the insurance company.  Believe it or not, it also broke down while they were out there! Seriously!  It had to be towed, but, fortunately, the rental agency had an outlet in Drayton Valley, and my mom and her friend were able to get a replacement vehicle right away.

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What a strange experience, don’t you think?  Such a bitter-sweet combination.  They had a terrible accident, but, miraculously, no one was hurt. Every car that went out there had to be towed away!   Yet, the kindness of strangers transformed the memories of this negative experience into ones that are warm, and rather positive.

There is something very touching, even powerful, about an act of kindness from a stranger – extended without the hope of any retribution.

Sometimes, it can even be simple gestures that make a difference: being patient and present for others, or smiling at someone whom you sense might be feeling alone.

Kindness has a way of coming back to you in mysterious and beautiful ways, and studies show that helping others increases our own happiness.  It has a way of restoring hope, not only in the receiver, but also in the giver.

I am not sure why, but when I was done this walk, I knew it was time to start blogging again.  I am excited to be here, and I look forward to sharing the simple, everyday adventures that challenge, comfort, and enrich.

By the way, after I said goodbye to the woman last Saturday, I decided to do another lap of the park.   This time, for me.  I’d had a stressful week, and needed to process it so that I would have more energy to give to my family and my work.  Even though I had not planned on it, during that second lap of the park, I took a few snapshots with my cell phone.  Those are the pictures in today’s post, in case you wanted to see what one of Winnipeg’s city parks looks like.

Oh, just thought of one more thing!  While we are speaking of the kindness of strangers, have you heard this story of a life-changing phone call?  Not exactly light-hearted, but it gave me goose-bumps.

A caterpillar in St.Vital Park in autumn

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How’s Your Summer So Far?

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My dear blogging Friends!  You may have noticed that I have been away from my keyboard for the last while, and I will be away for just a little bit longer, but I sure am looking forward to connecting with you again, soon!  In the meanwhile, I hope that you are all having a refreshing summer and enjoying it in your own way!

And…

Before I go!  Here is an eclectic collection of ‘homey’ links, in case you are in the mood to explore the web a bit (and the links should work this time!):

transparent house?  

Her work and photographed spaces are the most repinned Pinterest posts ever: See Jennifer Harrison-Ciacchi’s inspiring home.

Feels like home to me.

Placemats: a neat idea, and a way to remember vacations.

Have you been noticing any of these home trends this year? (My bathtub stays!)

This was the first video I ever posted on homehurrah.com.

Would you live in a house like this? (It is surprisingly inviting and spacious!)

…(Or check out this tiny village!)

My unexpected discovery:  I’d love to live in the Flintstones house

For those who like this kind of thing, here are 8 really creepy secret rooms found in houses.

You can’t always trust your eyes!

(…Okay, the one above was not about homes or secret rooms, but it is a mystery to me!)

On a Final (Musical) Note:

This is such a fun song!  “Home“, by the indie pop band Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros.

Growing up, my mom would play an eclectic range of music in our home – from classical to country.   That is how I came to love John Denver’s sweet melodies.  It was my mother’s favourite tape cassette (hehe, remember those?) for some time, and I remember Denver’s soothing voice frequently playing in the background of our everyday activities.

A different kind of song about summer and home…

Just for fun, a classic rock song

Thank you so much for the visit!  Take good care!  

Oh… and if you enjoy the blog, you are most welcome to subscribe (See the first item on the menu).

🙂