Tuesday, January 22, 2013

building mighty menageries

"Come play zoo with me?" my grandson asked as I took off my boots in the doorway.  "My room is just down the hall, Grandma" he said, as though it was my first time in his house. 

I have no idea what "zoo" looks like when others sit with his wonderful menagerie of monkeys, elephants, bears - so many bears, zebras, tigers, a dinasaur, dolphins, a little rooster, and a penguin.  But it is more like "Calvin ball" with rules and expectations constantly morphing than any other game I've played.  Sometimes we organize, sort and count them.  Sometimes we put Tyler onto his chair and see how many animals we can stack onto his head and lap before the pile collapses in laughter on the floor.  Sometimes we pile them all into the box ark and pull them across the carpet ... all except the dolphin, of course, who didn't need an ark.  nor the crocodile (as he fell out).  nor the penguin (who loves to swim through the cold water). 

And sometimes a zoo animal goes tragically missing, abandoned on a lone adventure. 
So of course we must go looking for them.   

Tyler climbs onto my back as I go down on all fours,
back down the hallway to find the lost creature. 

...I learned that technique long ago from another one who loved to play on the floor
with his children and grandchildren
entering with them whatever world they created
following their directions into that world, and helping them build it.

perhaps that is the only way back into Narnia ...


Sunday, January 20, 2013

winter migrations and mountain ash

On this sunny January day in Saskatchewan with windchill dropping temperatures down past -27 C, there is a robin in my mountain ash tree stubbornly standing guard over her winter food supply.

Heavy pollen dust in our backyard this spring was the first sign of the tree's fruitful intentions.  A thick musty smell drifting through the yard welcomed us when we walked through the back door, and the back deck and table were perpetually covered with a fine whitish powder.  By late August the branches bowed low over the grass, weighed down with the tree's overproduction.  The robins fought off the other birds coming in for meals but there were too many berries to successfully fend off the competition.

The fall migrating birds didn't even begin to make a dent in the berry supply, and I looked forward to the winter flocks of cedar waxwings that often swarm through the neighborhood in mid-winter.  They would come to a mountain ash tree laden with orange berries, descending en masse into my yard. 

My back deck and table are again perpetually covered with whitish power, of a snow rather than the pollen variety.  The cedar waxwings have not yet arrived.  But the tree seems to have convinced a robin to abandon its warm winter vacation plans.  The sparrows flit lightheartedly around, perching on the neighbor's bird feeder for only seconds before flying off to another snow-covered  perch.  The squirrel bounces along the back fence, knocking off a ridge of snow with each landing.  The robin, though, grasps desperately to the one branch and moves only her head to keep watch over her storehouse.

I wonder ... Was she too drunk with fermenting fall mountain ash berries to catch the last group of robins heading south?  too preoccupied with getting her last hatch out of the nest before realizing that it was time to leave?  somehow got turned around and headed for Saskatoon rather than San Francisco? 

Enough with the wondering.  Googled "robin migrations" and discovered that this is not all that unusual.  Food supplies affect robin migrations, so my mountain ash simply made it unnecessary for the robin to head south.  (I consider these facts far less interesting than my speculations.)

...so back to wondering ... I wonder if she regrets that decision these days! 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Available at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon: "What Kind of Goodbye?"

I am pleased to announce that "What Kind of Goodbye?" is currently available at McNally Robinson's in Saskatoon.

When a parent, grandparent, or other loved one dies, a child will grieve deeply, but often differently than an adult. Samantha McRorie's paintings of prairie landscapes partner with my writing, creating a resource to help children, and those who care for them, to walk into the difficult journey of loss. It includes spaces to record treasured memories of the person who is gone.
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