Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Things I Love

This morning I am preparing to leave home for a trip west to see my girls. I am reminded of that delightful commercial( I don't remember what it is advertising) where the little girl recites all the things she loves. I have been repeating this morning how much I love my home. At one point I referred to the character Amelia Walton in Ten Thousand Truths who had not left home for over thirty years wondering if in fact I would be content to follow her lead. Of course not. I do not want to go to that extreme. I love going away but I do hate leaving home. I love going out to see my girls, Meg and Cody. This time my sister in law Louisa is going with me and we are going to two family weddings and will get to join Elias and Mary in their celebrations. I will get to see Meg and Cody's new house and meet their neighbors. I get to bring my girls home with me. It will be great. I have done all I set out to do to get ready. The garden is all planted, (Burton says he will weed a bit) flowers and the yard looks good, the lawn is mowed and Ashlie is keen to keep it that way. All my writing goals have been met and I am free to go. But I love my home. I love watching each row in the garden change daily. I love my lake. I love my dogs. I love my husband(that was not an afterthought). I love what each season brings to my Walton Lake home. So this morning I take a deep breath and get ready to go. I will enjoy what the trip brings and keep the vision of coming home in my mind ,confident that the things I love will still be here when I return.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Day of Wearing Red and Remembering

The sun is shining this morning and for that I am grateful. Yesterday, the day went from sun to rain to a beautiful rainbow as Moncton buried three of their RCMP officers. A week ago today the terrible act that took their lives and the terror of a city locked down in fear, left behind an unforgettable scar. After a beautiful, moving and overwhelming show of support on the streets of Moncton and in the Coliseum all affected begin again this day to deal with the tragedy. For the wives, children, parents, siblings , extended family and friends in the days, months and years ahead the loss for them will always be present. I pray that they will find their way through those days as best they can, supporting one another and may we not forget their sacrifice. I spent yesterday afternoon in the company of four classes of Grade 5 students at New Maryland Elementary School. Most of them were wearing red to honour the fallen RCMP officers. The librarian, Mrs. Cook had just finished reading them The Year Mrs. Montague Cried. They came to me with lots of questions and comments. I spoke to them about my story of loss and tried on such a sad day in our province to share my experience of living with that loss. I talked about the balance we all must find between joy and sorrow, fear and hopefulness, laughter and tears. As always I looked into young faces and saw such a clear understanding of this aspect of life. I believe in the power of narrative to open dialogue about the difficulties we all face. In a bright, colorful, vibrant building I got to share my writing and a bit of my story. Thank you so much students and staff of NMES for allowing me to spend a part of such a sad day with you.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dear Author

Yesterday ,I left the beautiful Kingston Peninsula on a Saturday,something I seldom do , to go to the city. I was attending the Dear Author reception at the Saint John Public Library. A few weeks ago I participated in the judging of Dear Author letters that had been submitted by Grade 9 students in the area. They wrote to an author whose book had impacted their lives. We selected ten winners and yesterday we met to give out the awards and hear the students read their moving letters. Congratulations to the winners! In preparing for my remarks I chose to write to an author that has influenced my life. I read the following letter. Dear Lucy Maud Montgomery, I would imagine that you have received thousands of letters from readers since your book Anne of Green Gables was first published in 1908.Today, I am writing one more and telling you how that book, your writing and your life has influenced me. I will begin with the book. I have probably read Anne of Green Gables at least twenty times ;so many times that as I read it I can predict what is on the next page and could probably recite most of the dialogue. As most readers did, I fell in love with the chatty, imaginative, resilient character of Anne, the generous, loving and insightful Matthew and the practical, cautious and caring Marilla. For me though, I think my passion for the book was deeper than just the love of the characters. For me, one of the things I loved about it the most was the words. I still thrill while reading some of the long beautifully crafted sentences and the wonderfully unfamiliar words. There is such music and rhythm in the words. In my first book The Year Mrs. Montague Cried , Taylor writes in her journal about her experience with the sentences and words she encounters when she starts to read Anne of Green Gables. The Year Mrs. Montague Cried Pg. 47 November 22 For me, the other powerful aspect of the book Anne of Green Gables is its sense of place. From Anne's small bedroom , the farm of Green Gables, the Haunted Wood, the Lake of Shining Water, the school house, Avonlea, and PEI itself ; I saw such beautiful, secure, and predictable places. For a young girl who moved too many times and too often, I found in the pages of this book something I so longed for ; staying put, putting down roots that wouldn't be yanked up, being known in and being connected to a place. The Kingston Peninsula ,where I summered as a child and on which my family finally stayed put when I was in grade seven, became this place for me. It was my Avonlea. I happily chose to raise my four children there and still call the peninsula home. I read about Anne's experiences in a one room schoolhouse , her differences with the stern Mr. Philips that ends with the smashing of her slate over Gilbert Blythe's head after Gilbert makes his teasing "Carrots" remark. I saw Anne love going to school again when a new teacher , Miss Stacy comes to Avonlea. This firmly implanted my desire to become a teacher. I greatly admire you as a writer. Despite a life that provided many challenges and little encouragement, you sat down and wrote. After the writing , you set about to get published and even after rejection and discouragement , persevered to become one of the most well known Canadian and international writers of your time. Anne's love of telling and writing stories throughout the series of Anne books also led me toward wanting to be a writer. In my second book Ten Thousand Truths I included an acknowledgement to you. I am one of the world's hugest Anne of Green Gables fans and hold Lucy Maud Montgomery in high esteem. Rachel is my Anne Shirley and Amelia Walton is my Marilla Cuthbert. I applaud the author's determination and tenacity and feel honored to join her in the ranks od Atlantic Canadian authors. May some young reader care about Rachel Garnham as much as I cared about Lucy Maud Montgomery's famous red haired character. Thank you , Lucy Maud Montgomery for writing your books, and sharing your life with the readers of the early 1900's and the readers of the generations that followed. Thank you for giving a little girl in the 1960's a book to love and dreams to dream.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Back From the Rock

Burton and I had a great trip to St. John's where I attended the TWUC's On Words Conference and AGM. It was my second trip to NFLD having gone in 2012 for the Atlantic Book Awards (where I won the Ann Connor Brimer Award ,just saying)We didn't have as much time to enjoy what St. John's has to offer but we did visit George St. a couple of times. We had a lovely supper with Karen and Bill Squires at Greensleeves on Friday night. I went to the Margaret Laurence lecture to hear Guy Vanderhaeghe. His warm and moving talk was an inspiration to everyone in the packed room. I did two signings where I met several very friendly Newfoundlanders and some book buyers. All the best to Samantha.Saturday night we went to the dinner and dance. Boy, do writers ever love to dance. We were led in several Newfoundland dance steps and we were certainly put through the paces. Overall it was a good experience. As much as business meetings are not my favorite way to pass a few hours it was informative to see first hand the running's of the union and to meet the staff and National Council. All the best to outgoing chair Dorris Heffron and congratulations and good luck to incoming chair Harry Thurston.I will certainly consider going to Winnipeg next year although I can't imagine that the dancing will be as good. So now I am back home, June has begun and I must get planting. We went to Sussex for seeds yesterday and so for the next few days I have my work cut out for me. Hopefully I will also get in the lake. I guess we missed a lovely weekend that probably would have gotten us to take the plunge. Thanks to Caleb and Ashlie for mowing the lawn, making garden rows and doing some other chores that certainly made coming home seem even nicer. * Adding to my entry later in the day I am pleased to announce that Burton and I took our first lake swim. For anyone that knows me you will know why that rates an announcement. I am so happy to be back in the lake!