A Good Home, Nature, The Seasons

! — Oh, Joy!

Did you know?

Our exclamation mark (!) is believed to come from the medieval Latin exclamation of joy: “io”.  

Some clever scribe reportedly put the ‘i’ above the ‘o’!  It became an exclamation sign to denote ‘admiration’, ‘wonderment’ or ‘joy’.  An ancient ’emoji’ icon. ♥♥

Did you also know? The exclamation mark didn’t have its own dedicated key on standard manual typewriters before the 1970s. Instead, one typed a period, then backspaced, then typed an apostrophe above it. 

Joy and Other Words For It in Italian and English

la gioia: Joy, delight, enjoyment, rejoicing, glee, mirth

il gaudio: Happiness, joy

la delizia : Delight, joy

la felicità:  Felicity, joyousness

la letizia: Joy, happiness

il giubilo: Jubilation, joy, glee

la contentezza: Contentment, gladness, joy, cheerfulness

~~

As you can tell — I’ve been thinking about joy.

The absence of it – a thing to be dreaded, as I well know – but mostly the heart-filling presence of it.  Joy.

Blog Photo - Autumn Leaves Early

Blame it on the first days of Autumn, a season which — at least in its early appearances — brings me a bitter-sweet feeling of happy anticipation and hovering loss.  

Winter has its joys.  Quiet joys, like a walk in a wintry forest. 

Blog Photo - Cardinal in Snow

Or Advent, the 24-day period of anticipation before Christmas.

Blog Photo - Christmas -Advent Calendar

Advent summons a slow and certain joy, a reflective joy, one that grows as it approaches its destination — the big, jubilant joys of Christmas.

Blog Photo - BOAA Christmas village church

Spring makes me want to jump for joy.  The giddy celebration of Winter’s end; the sight of new shoots and flowers, the urge to thrust hands into the earth. It’s a barely-restrained joy, a can’t- wait-to-see-what-will-pop-up-from-the-earth-next kind of joy.

Blog Photo - Crocus in Spring

For some, Summer’s joy is the thing.  Outdoor activities like walking, swimming, paddling; visiting with friends.  The delight of being on holidays.  Sitting outdoors in a garden, perhaps reading a book  — or not.  

Blog Photo - garden Sept 2018 chairs and pool

One feels no guilt at being idle. La dolce far niente, as the Italians say. Sweet Idleness. Or: “La gioia di non fare nulla”. The joy of doing nothing. 

But Autumn: Autumn is in a class all its own. 

Blog Photo - Autumn Leaves CU

That awe-struck joy I feel when I stand in the woods, looking at the sky through a curtain of red, gold, and orange leaves.

Blog Photo - Autumn Trees 2

When I look down at the same colours on the forest floor… interrupted only by the grey-brown of tree trunks, or a rock, or a squirrel. Or me, kicking my foot through a pile of leaves and watching them fly. 

Indoors, we pull out the old Hudson’s Bay blanket.

Blog Photo - Old Blanket

We light the first fire.

Blog Photo - Christmas 2016 - Logs Burning

We make the first Autumn soup — butternut squash and apple — and the first pies.

Blog Photo - Kitchen Pies on Table

And then the first big family event of the fall: Thanksgiving dinner. The joy of extended family, together. 

Almost always, someone says: “Let’s take a drive to see the colours!” We pile into cars, happy and excited as small children on a Sunday afternoon drive.

Blog Photo - Autumn trees and Driveway

Joy.  That thing that fills the heart to bursting, the thing that makes me pinch myself in wonder.

Wonder, astonishment, and gratitude, at the familiarity and newness of it all. That the earth can be so beautiful, so glorious, and that I am so fortunate to live on this planet, in this place, at this time.

!

Photos by Hamlin Grange

~~

 

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A Good Home, Autumn, Autumn Colours, Blessings

Autumn Blessings

Photos by Hamlin Grange

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“In the midst of it all, however, we keep giving thanks. I keep reminding myself that there is no perfect moment in life when all our problems are solved forever. So, let us seek out our blessings wherever they are, whenever they come, and be grateful for them.” (Cynthia, in a note to a friend.)

Autumn is bittersweet.

Blog Photo - Autumn road ahead

It’s the most gorgeous season of my year — its colours so brilliant, they glow. 

Blog Photo - Autumn Tree and Fence

But Autumn also brings a warning.  Of the freezing cold of December, January, February and March. 

My meditation coach would remind me to live “in the moment”.  St. Paul’s writings declare that worry solves nothing; the key is to find contentment in your present situation. 

Blog Photo - Autumn Jacko

~~

Will I ever get used to Autumn, in all its fleeting beauty? Or is its brevity key to its glory?

Decades of witnessing Autumn and I am still in awe of it. Every year.  

Blog Photo - Autumn Leaves CU

It is, I know, a gradual arrival; colours brighten and deepen on apples, wild berries, shrubs, trees and vines.

Blog - Ripening apples in tree

And yet, there is always a day in October when it catches me by surprise. Every year.  

Blog Photo - autumn - trees on N Road

Suddenly it’s Autumn, arrived fully dressed. 

I catch myself holding my breath…. because there are still sights like this, moments like this, that take one’s breath away.

How can it possibly be this beautiful? I wonder.  That same question, every year.

I wish it could last a bit longer. The resplendence of it, the blazing glory of it, the time before strong winds and heavy rains strip the leaves from trees and leave them naked.

Blog Photo - Autumn Trees 1

I wonder: without the leaves that clothe them, do trees shiver in the cold? Do they regret the passing of their most beautiful season? Or do they give thanks for the respite of winter? For the leaves that, having fallen, will now plenish the soil around their roots? 

Blog Photo - Autumn trees 3

But there I go again. 

So I return to the now. The wonder and splendour of now.

Blog Photo - Autumn Vines Wall Wide-shot

I give thanks for the gifts of this particular autumn. The passing parade of colours outside,  the constant love of my family inside.

The steadying hand of my husband; the care and kindness of my daughters, sons-in-law, and siblings during challenging times. These are love’s own true colours.

Blog Photo - Autumn and sign on door

~~

This Autumn, there’s also Myrtle the Purple Turtle, published 28 years after it was written as a bedtime story. Our family feels doubly blessed that Myrtle is touching other lives. 

Life goes through its seasons, yes. Some days are a trial, yes.  But:

Let us seek out our blessings wherever they are, whenever they come, and be grateful for them.

Blog Photo - Autumn Trees 2

~~

Dedicated to my family.

 

 

 

 

A Good Home, Autumn, Autumn leaves, Trees in autumn

Autumnal Tasks

 

Autumn is here, rustling all of the leaves

Soon ’twill be time to take care of the eaves

Last time we didn’t, we paid a big price

The eavestroughs were clogged, a magnet for ice

~~

And speaking of leaves, I’ve had cause to wonder

Why don’t they stay near their trees over yonder?

Why does the wind blow them into our place

Why, when around them is so much free space?

Photo by Hamlin Grange

And speaking of wind, there’s a shutter gone loose

Far up near the roof, nearly high as the spruce

And if it should fall, it may land on our heads

Or just fly away as we sleep in our beds

~~

And speaking of beds, there’s the garden to tend

And errors we really must hasten to mend

Those wild strangling vines and the tough creeping Jenny

You put up with one and you end up with many.

~~

And speaking of errors, that tree we bought little

Has outgrown its place — but is fit as a fiddle

Too big to dig up but too nice to chop down

Which leaves us between both a smile and a frown

~~

And speaking of digging, some pesky wild thing

Has me gathering stones, and I’m ready to fling

It’s digging  our daffodil bulbs from the soil

It’s making a mockery of all our hard toil

~~

“You terrible wretch!” I shout, all dignity lost

(‘Cause bulbs must be planted before the hard frost)

“You do this once more and I’ll wring your foul neck!”

But Squirrel just smirks and says: “What the heck?”

~~

 

 

 

A Good Home, Autumn leaves, Farmers' Markets, Heritage nieghborhoods, Maples, Natural products, Small towns, Villages

Natural Goodness Available Here

Photos by Hamlin Grange

I’m a sucker for certain things.

Like autumn days, farmers markets, natural products and villages.

So I’m smiling as I write this. A huge smile.

Blog Photo - Farmers market leaves on ground

My husband and I recently visited one of Ontario’s best-preserved villages: Unionville, northeast of Toronto. Founded in 1794, Unionville’s charm draws visitors from far and wide.

Blog Photo - Farmers Market Village Street and autumn leaves

But for the families who live here, it’s home.

Blog Photo - Farmers Market Story Old house

Some of our friends have lived here for decades – so Unionville is a very familiar place.

Blog Photo - Farmers Market Story Village Church

There are restaurants and specialty shops on the main street.

Blog Photo - Farmers market Story Street and pedestrians

An art gallery, churches and a square with live music every summer.

Blog Photo - Farmers Market Story Unionville Village Square

One of our favourite spots is the farmers’ market. Held outdoors in the summer, it moves indoors into the old Stiver Mill in the fall.

Blog Photo - Farmers Market Barn

Blog Photo - Farmers Market Sign and Vendors

Here, one can buy a wide variety of products – such as honey, fruit preserves and baked goods….

Blog Photo - Farmers Market The Strudel Guy

Blog Photo - Famers market Corey holds strudel

Trout, sausages and other smoked fish and meat….

Blog Photo - Farmers Market smoked Goods display and customers

And wine…..

Blog Photo - Farmers Market  Wine sign

Blog Photo - Farmers market Wine Vendor

Goodies galore and vendors with interesting stories.

That’s one of the reasons I like farmers’ markets: the people selling the products are often the same ones who grew or made them. They’re usually happy to chat.

Hilda Crick-McDermott worked for an international chain of luxury hotels and traveled to many parts of the world.

Blog Photo - Farmers market Hilda and Customer

When her son developed a skincare ailment called Kawasaki disease, she started making natural products for his skin.

“I struggled to find a natural product good enough to help my eczema-ridden kids, yet pure enough to be trusted for their dry and sensitive skin. I even wrote to a skin care manufacturer asking for help, but that resulted in rejection.”

Blog Photo - Farmers Market Hilda's Products

That rejection led to extensive research and eventually, a whole line of products, made by hand. Some ingredients used are: coconut oil, shea butter, peppermint and lavender.

Blog Photo - Farmers market LotionHilda says 90% of her SpaHket products are “anhydrous solid lotion; this means our lotions contain no water and as such are 100% pure natural goodness.” 

Yes — I tried Hilda’s products. They really are as soothing and fragrant as she says. They’re not cheap, but a little goes a long way.

Blog Photo - Farmers Market Shampoo Bars

Facing challenges, some see opportunity. Hilda seems likes such a person.

Her three children have done enormously well in school, she says contentedly.

Somehow, I was not surprised when she quietly added: “They were home-schooled.”

Blog Photo - Farmers market CR and Hilda

**Dedicated to all resourceful people.**

More about Stiver Mill Farmers’ Market:

http://www.guidingstar.ca/Stiver_Mill_Farmers_Market.htm

More about SpaHket products:

http://spahket.com/collections/

http://spahket.com/pages/ingredients