childhood, Uncategorized

So many contradictions​

When I was little I was shy and afraid. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself or be noticed as different.

When I was little I felt no fear, I could climb the highest tree, ride the fastest sled. I was invincible.

When I was little I did not know about perfection or imperfection. We were all beautiful on the inside. If not I could feel something bad when close and didn’t like you.

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I had an idyllic childhood. Free-spirited, running wild, loved by my community family.

I had a traumatizing childhood. So many different people came and went. Some good some so very not.

I grew up in a huge family. Encircled by love, prayer, and family.

I have no family. I am an orphan. Wiped from the church records, forgotten like a mistake they don’t want to be reminded of.

As a little girl, I loved nature and would play to my heart content in the woods.

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As a broken-hearted girl, I wept atop a tree terrified to come down and walk the miles home thru the woods.

Loved beyond bounds, tossed away with the trash. Taught so much, yet so little. Prepared for the time of the end. Unprepared for life before the end.

These memories confuse me, amuse me, hurt me, and hug me. Maybe a thread of words will appear and find a flow.IMG_0855

 

childhood, Uncategorized

Walking in the dark

After working the late shift the other night I climbed into bed with my 16-year-old daughter to visit and hear about her day. She had to take the late bus home that day which was a first. I asked if it was dark walking home from the bus stop. ‘Yes it was scary,’ ‘did you call your brother?’ I asked.  ‘No I used the light from my phone and walked fast hoping nothing would jump out at me,’ was her response.

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Her walk in the dark reminded me of the first place I lived after getting on my bicycle and riding away from the ‘farm’ at 13. That is another story for another time.  At any rate, I ended up in the same house I had lived in as a child, even had my old room back. Like that didn’t depress the shit out of me. The community school only went to grade eight so I worked at the bakery from 4 am till 1 pm Monday to Friday. The house I lived in was over a mile up a mountain. I watched the telephone poles be installed. There was no pavement, no street lights. Moonlight was my only guide if I was lucky. I would walk down the mountain using the path as a short cut. It was pitch dark usually. Occasionally the moon came out from behind the clouds illuminating the pathway. I was terrified of mountain lions, bears, and god knows what else. I have no idea how I managed to not only wake at that ungodly hour but to force myself into the cold darkness down that mountain.

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One day at church the elementary school teacher was speaking about things that made her day and my morning walk was one of them. She loved to wake up hearing me sing as I skipped along the path to work. Brightened her day waking to my cheerful song. Little did she know I was singing to keep the paralyzing fear from overcoming me. I had no choice but to get to work walking that path in the dark. Fear wasn’t an option.

Funny it hits me now that in all the things I have done in life:  fear or failure was never an option.

childhood, Uncategorized

Buried carrots

As I stood at the sink washing the carrots from my garden I remembered all the buried carrots from my childhood.  Quite literally. You see when I was about five my parents worked the market gardens as they called them for the community.

If you haven’t read anything previous from my blog… I was born into a self-supporting community. There are many titles that can describe the life I was born into. Today we will stick with simply self-supporting. Other days …

We had large personal gardens and separate fields for community market gardens for income. Other things were started and some stuck. Sawmill, granary, bakery, cookbooks, juice, and charcoal to name a few. Adults from all over came to live and work in the community for various reasons.  Some came from as far away as China others from much closer.  They came for different reasons. To hide, get away, to learn a different way of life, to sober up from an addiction, to pursue a relationship with this particular way of being a Christian. The labor was always welcome. New believers were accepted with open arms. Provided you adapt to the lifestyle of course.

I digress, back to the carrots. I remember how very cold it was. Stamping my little feet, jumping and swinging my arms to get the blood pumping.  My nose either exposed to the freezing cold or wet and humid behind a muffler. The beauty of the crisp fall did little to help me forget my frozen fingers as we sorted the wet carrots pouring out from the tumbling drum. Cold water, cold carrots, cold air. A cold that gets into your bones and never lets you warm up. Holding our hands over the fire barrel trying to thaw some feeling back into them. There were a few of us children ‘helping’ the adults work. We were given the odd colored carrots, yellow or purple ones. I would pretend the carrot was a doll and make up great stories.  If it wasn’t so cold I would have been tempted to nod off as I waited for them to finish for the night.

Why they harvested the carrots and then buried them deep underground with a backhoe I can only guess. Twice the labor and a cold unpleasant work environment. They must have determined it was not the greatest way for it only happened that one winter. Buried carrots is a memory I will never forget.

childhood, Uncategorized

Memories of christmas

Tis the season to reflect and give. Spend time with family and friends. Show a little extra love and caring to others. Give to the soup kitchens and homeless shelters; attend the toy drive or fill the bus fundraiser.  Enjoy indulgent foods, sip on mulled wine, eggnog, or make that special thing you have been wanting to try. Time for me to spend a little time reflecting on childhood Christmas past.

We celebrated Christmas but not in an extravagant way. I’m not sure if this was because of religious views taken or the very real lack of money. Either way, It wasn’t a time of baking of treats and decorating the house and yard. It was a time to give and to reflect on the birth of Christ more than anything.

Don’t get me wrong there was laughter and joy, caroling and excitement. Delicious food to eat if you didn’t know better (humorous probably only if you’ve eaten that food). Carmel popcorn balls, carob coconut balls, gluten steaks ( yes Gluten ), and roasted vegetables from the garden. We had presents wrapped up under the piano bench. The fern plant proudly acting as our tree. Undecorated to be sure. Wool socks and Pear soap for gifts were a ritual. As the years went by washing machine and rototiller were the big splurge gifts. I did love to rototill the garden. One of my favorite gifts I recall as a little girl was the flour sifter. Shaped like a measuring cup but with a handle inside the other to be squeezed. When I would squeeze it the inside liner would spin and flour would fall from the outer screen. Quite fun for a little girl when compared to the socks and soap.

One year was super exciting as we got a box in the mail addressed to us all for Christmas from moms sister. The wrapping paper was taped to the box and also glued to the box from the inside. We were laughing at how serious auntie took testing our ability to open the gift. Turns out she had gotten mom real Canadian maple syrup and the jar had broken in transit. The entire contents of the box was a dried syrupy mess. The lovely white and yellow sweater she had knitted me was now a brownish stained mess. I was heartbroken. The excitement of opening the gift had turned to disappointment that everything was ruined. Mom promised she would do her best to wash the sweater out for me so that it would be good as new.

I was probably ten the first time we got a tree. D – swore it fell off the back of a truck he was driving behind. I was so excited to finally have a Christmas tree. We strung popcorn onto the thread for decorations. Popping as many kernels into my mouth as I put onto the string. Ribbon from the sewing box was brought out to add some color. After that year I  think we had a tree a few more times. The plant for a tree had finally been replaced thanks to the jolly friend who insisted the tree fell from a vehicle on the highway and would go to waste if we didn’t take it.

Ironic to me was dad’s reason for not wanting to cut down a tree. He said we didn’t need to cut one down as it would kill it. Fun fact about dad, he loved nature. Hiking, camping, canoeing, survival skills, you name it he did it or had it on his bucket list. We went survival camping a few times a year. In fact the first few years of my childhood we lived in a teepee in the forest for a week or two at Christmas time. The building of a teepee included cutting down a minimum of six trees per shelter never mind the boughs cut to make our beds and insulate the walls. Yet we didn’t cut a singular tree for Christmas. Priorities I guess. ( this is where I want to say lol and put a wonky smiley face but apparently, that isn’t proper writing )

Anyway, it sure made for a memorable day when D came with a tree for us. I can still picture him with his thick dark hair all wild in need of a haircut. Wearing his lumberjack clothing covered in sawdust standing in the kitchen saying if we didn’t take the tree it would just go to waste. Doing the good old guilt trip in front of the three kids – one old enough to speak up – that would be me! That Christmas was probably the first and third only time I celebrated with a tree, parents, and food.

I searched thru all the old photos but the slides. The slides I haven’t completed capturing with the projector. Nowhere have I found photo’s of holidays accept below. The first Christmas not living at home. First Christmas since dad passed. For whatever ever else there is to say about mom she was a tough cookie that year taking a van full of Japanese teenagers, her 3 toddlers, and angry teenager out camping into the bush with guns!

childhood, Uncategorized

Running away

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As I walked down the laneway pulling my suitcase in my little red wagon I began to think. I knew grandma lived far away in AB. I knew I would have to make sure the light was green to cross the street. What way should I go at the street, how many lights were there. Oh dear I couldn’t remember the entire route from our home a mile up a dirt road from a long road that came from a small logging town that didn’t even have a hospital. Realization hit hard and sad. I couldn’t actually run away for I didn’t know how to get anywhere.

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Yes, I still have Sally, a little dirtier maybe, a few scuffs and smudges but not loved any less.

I quietly snuck back into our yard. Dragging my wagon and suitcase far under the porch and sat with my back against the wall. Now this was just embarrassing. I couldn’t very well just walk back in like I wasn’t leaving. Admit defeat – never. Again the stubborn proud insecure little girl I had met the night of the lightening… She has been my saviour and my disgrace through out life. So there I sat in the dirt hidden by the porch waiting for my parents to miss me. Soon my tummy began to rumble, I was cold and bored. Obviously my parents didn’t love me or they would have come looking for me. I crept back into my room, put away my warm wool socks. Placed Sally back in her bed. And resumed my afternoon as though I had never had a little tantrum and run away to begin with.

Now as a parent myself I can see them watching me walk down the road. Keep an eye as I snuck back. Waiting with a smile of amusement for me to give in and move on with my afternoon. Sometimes the best way is to have patience. Not to push and push until everyone is past their breaking point. I have learned  it is best to pick your battles.

childhood, Uncategorized

First scary memory

I took a self-help course and they wanted to know our first traumatizing event. What shaped us into who we are. I didn’t know what to say. My dad falling off a cliff, my mom passing away on Valentines for Pete’s sake, or maybe all those other painful moments. So I focused on the ‘first time’ of the sentence. The first time I knew fear, bone chilling, teeth chattering fear. It is also when I met my stubborn, embarrassed self. The one who has difficulty admitting the need for anything I can’t do myself.

I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. Fall had already begun. The cool chilly nights. Darkness enveloping the world by dinner time. On this particular day, a thunder and rain storm had begun to roll into the valley before we headed back up the mountain. A lightning bolt hit the mountain across the valley and started a fire. The hillside was bone dry from the hot summer. It burst into flames spreading as only fire can. My father and the other men in the car needed to go to investigate. Apparently, that could only be done by putting me in the hay barn alone in the dark to wait for their return. You can imagine how that went I am sure…

How many 6-year-olds do you know that can wait alone in the dark watching a forest fire spread. I became certain he wasn’t returning. The fire monster surely had eaten him and I needed to do the only logical thing. Walk to the nearest home to find an adult. No flashlight, headlamps weren’t even a thing yet. Barely a sliver of moonlight to guide my little feet along the lane towards the road I needed to cross to find the nearest residence. I passed various paths and lanes that led to empty homes or sheds. My eyes had adjusted enough to see the large shapes looming out of the darkness. I was terrified a cougar or other creature would jump out and eat me or worse.

As I was walking along with the fingers of fear wrapped around me I began to think. I had left the barn. I had expressly disobeyed an order from my father. That became scarier than being alone in the dark. As a child, you do not question your parents’ knowledge or authority. You blindly obey and follow with a deep love and devotion only a child feels for their parents. For our family is the center of your life. So here I was a disobedient child far from the barn, far from home and too scared to knock on the door. Scared to walk out of the darkness to the warm yellow light beckoning from the porch.

Standing in the shadows I can see my friends home. The light beckoning thru the darkness to me. Yet how could I explain why I was there. I couldn’t very well say I had disobeyed. I didn’t know what to do. I was too scared to walk back to the barn. Too embarrassed to knock on their door. So I turned away and began down their long long driveway. Cold, scared, unsure of myself, and now worried about facing my father. I had no idea now where to walk to. It was my first taste of insecurity, fear, and embarrassment. I was at a total loss as to what to do besides blindly keep walking in the darkness.

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Once I was back on the main road I began towards an elderly ladies home. She would know what to do. As I stumbled towards her lane a car pulled up. It was my father. He was so happy to have found me that the anger at my disobedience was overruled by his joy at finding me.

I now can understand his fear. The horrible feeling you have when you think you may have lost your child. Only a parent can understand the grip of despair, the band of agony, the ray of hope that it’s not too late. That your child is safe and you just have to get to them. That fear is much worse than the fear I had as a little girl. It just would take me 30 years to realize that.

childhood, Uncategorized

Dreaming of snow

When I was little I loved snow. I loved everything about it. Falling backwards to make an angel. The careful gentle reverse crab move trying to get up without leaving a mark. Lying back and watching the beautiful flakes swirl around me landing on my nose my eyelashes my tongue.

When the snow was wet enough getting on my knees and rolling my snowball into a giant chair or snowman base. Jumping off our roof into the big pile left from clearing the roof and road. Till I knocked the wind out of myself. Then I stopped jumping off the roof. One time we even dug an igloo into the giant pile of snow from clearing all the roads.
But best of all was the sledding. I could sled almost sled all the way to the bottom of the mountain we lived on. Dad would wax the bobsled runners and we’d be off. It was always a discussion which way was best for speed and control. To lay down or sit up. I liked sitting so I could see better as the snow didn’t blow into my face blinding me. The set back was that steering with my feet was difficult. Part of the trouble may have been I was six or younger and dressed as the abominable snowman in all my snow gear.

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Once I got to the first corner where our road began to slope downhill I would give a little run and flop down on my belly. The trick was to go fast enough that I wouldn’t slow to a stop when the road flattened out. But not so fast that I would slide off the road into the ditch. There were steep twists and turns followed by a couple long straight stretches that flattened out before declining again into sharp corners. The speed needed to make it thru most of the flat was terrifying on the corners. I usually had to walk two spots no matter how bravely I sped around corners and downhill.

One time dad and I went together and tried to make it the whole way. Mom was working at the bottom with some of the ladies. If I had to guess I’d say they were carting sheep wool for quilting. Best childhood quilt – love that one. Anyway she was not impressed to find me with him crying and bleeding with my face a terrible ice rash from wiping out on suicide corner. That last corner at the end before the nice long lazy stretch was a killer. No matter what transportation being used. We wiped out badly and I lost a good bit of facial skin that day. I don’t recall using the bobsled again after that. Not sure if they disappeared or just that we moved the next year to the hottest valley in BC.

childhood, Uncategorized

A child of

One of the scariest questions for me is ‘where did you grow up’. I know people are just making polite conversation but the answer takes a big decision. Do I give a pat answer or the truth…

I grew up in BC I say. Sometimes I will just name a few towns I lived in. Other times I will further explain… A small community outside of a very small town. One you didn’t leave unless you weren’t coming back.

As a child of a commune the world seemed overwhelming and scary. I jumped into it at the tender age of 13 with both feet leaving behind all I thought was wrong. Years later I miss some of what was good that I was too young to value. Now from time to time I reminisce and wonder at the past while loving the present. So different yet not.

I will try as time goes by to tell the story one memory at a time or question at a time. We shall be friends this history and I. Maybe you and I will become friends as time goes by.