Even though I am FAR past the giddy child stage of anticipating Santa’s visit, I find myself pondering all thing seasonal. Today, we dropped off an enormous bag of bath towels and a bag of clothing at our nearby homeless shelter. Once we found the correct building, we were welcomed in warmly. A staffer immediately began creating a tax receipt for our goods, as we chatted with the clients. Before we left I asked the staff person about whether or not yesterday’s Christmas party was able to provide gifts for each of the hundred child residents. Oh yes, she assured me, since the local community has found out about this shelter they have received far more than ever before!
” We have been absolutely overwhelmed with the unexpected generosity, especially from the people at your mobile home park! It all started with the efforts of a couple of older ladies that just couldn’t stand the idea of kids being overlooked, especially in this incredibly wealthy area. They felt that it just wasn’t fair to have these innocent kids go without something as simple as a baby doll or a dump truck. ”
I must admit to being taken aback when we first entered the building. It was an old manufacturing site with grey concrete floors, but now it was littered with mattresses. Hundreds of mattresses, all different sizes, some with people napping or sitting on them, others empty but for blankets folded neatly on top. Occasionally a child’s drawing was taped to a nearby wall. As we arrived, a man exited the building with a leashed chihuahua, sporting in a pulled red sweater who was obviously heading out for a stroll.
We are having a quiet evening, in preparation for getting up in the morning, enjoying the breakfast casserole I’ve made, and prepping the turkey for its noon hour oven date. We will cook the meal here at our home, so we can continue learning everything about our new LG oven that was our big holiday expense this year.
Then, at around 5:00PM, we’ll load everything up and head over to a friend’s house, in a ‘meals on wheels’ adventure! Cathy is a retired engineer that lives by her self, just a few streets away from us. She married and divorced young, and never had kids. Now, she is quite disabled from longtime MS, and manages with daily visits from caregivers and nurses. I try to visit her for a cup of coffee and a chat, most weekdays.
I get frequent updates from the Canadian Weather Network in Ottawa, Peterborough, and Windsor. The last broadcast warns of a foot of snow in Windsor where Glenn’s mom is, and closer to eighteen inches in Peterborough and Ottawa! Because it is Christmas, that level of snow is welcomed, to enable Santa and his sleigh of course! This, the first major winter storm also signals the COZY feeling, as the wind howls, the savvy Canadian throws another log on the fire, and turns the kettle on for another cup of tea.
I remember our last autumn in the Ottawa area. We had recently moved into our cedar cottage overlooking the Ottawa River. The evocative smell of woodsmoke reminded us that we should get a load of firewood in, chopped and stacked. This time, we didn’t have to order any, as we had a large woodlot, just out of our back door! There was plenty of dead wood available there, so it would’t even need an extra season to dry before burning! The fireplace in the main living area was a Heatilator, which was a bonus, but hidden in the back corner of the basement was a wood stove. When we got both going, the furnace quietly shut off.
I LOVED that little house! The main living area was all one room, with two beds and two baths completing the main floor. The front of the house was a gigantic window overlooking the waterfront cottages, the river, and the Gatineau Hills in the distance. That first fall, the felling of trees, the burning off of the small branches, the chainsaw and the axe making short work of half a dozen trees, and ME stacking the wood down the wall of the garage. The whole process of preparing to settle in and hunker down, while winter has its way with the world around you, is immensely enjoyable. I often wished that I had learned canning and preserving skills from my mom and grandma, but alas it was not to be!
Our chat with Evan and the girls earlier today brought longing into my heart. The snow was howling, and Evan explained the need to create a path to their woodpile, further back in their three acre yard. He mentioned purchasing a wood splitter, and the lengthy learning curve of living in a house that doesn’t have central heat. The large wood stove in the basement has an immense brick chimney, climbing all the way to his third story office. His company is still located in Peterborough’s industrial park, but he hopes to relocate it into a ‘sea-can’ on his lot, But due to the increasing popularity of repurposing these large units, they are getting expensive, so timing is everything.
We are often asked about our plans for retirement, a short eight years away. But though short, eight years is still long enough to bring about much change. We’ll see……