wings and things


When we first moved to Bunbury, Western Australia, after five years in Canada and three years in Papua New Guinea, we were befriended by two extraordinary families. At the time, I was 15 and my brothers were a bit younger. The way in which our friendship grew with these two families is a very long story and definitely worth telling, but that is not for this post.

This post is about Heather.

Tonight I opened a silver envelope within which was a card from one of my mother’s best friends, Heather, a member of one the above families. Inside the card she had written the most beautiful message to me – a message of comfort and love and with a buoyant positivity (which she apologized for because she is rather famous for her positive attitude that she thinks people don’t always like). Well I like it very much!

Heather was my mentor when I was a teenager struggling with the culture shock of transitioning from PNG to a private school in Bunbury and she, her husband, and her children, helped me to adjust. They were all so kind.

So this is just to say, Heather, that I DO like your positivity and I have drawn such strength from your kindness to me in this card. The fact that you can be bothered to make this gesture, even though you and your family have your own challenges, joys and busyness, amazes me. I didn’t realize it until now but I have always drawn strength from your incredible ability to see the best in people and situations AND your inviolable faith.

Heather’s card was sitting beneath a mountain of bills and letters and all that stuff I loathe doing. Its envelope caught the light, so I picked it up out of the stack of old mail and opened it today. And my heart did one of those somersaulty things with gratitude to have someone like this in my life.

I can’t just thank you, Heather; I salute you. Much love
– Julie


Canada, 1968: the squirrels

The taming of all these birds has made me terribly nostalgic for my childhood in Canada. One of my fondest memories is of the squirrels. The following is my mother’s story. She tells it well, don’t you think?

“Not long after arriving for our big adventure in Canada, when the children were 5, 7 and 9 respectively, Dad told us one evening that we were to wake up really early the next day because he had a surprise for us. He wouldn’t even tell me what it was.

So at dawn the next day, with that secretive Charlie Chaplin walk and wink of his, he bundled us into the car, patting his bulging pockets and driving us off into the unknown.

 It was a beautiful municipal park in Toronto, entirely deserted at this early mystic hour.

His finger to his lips he crept ahead of us to the base  of the biggest, widest tree, and from his pockets he drew out the bags of peanuts he’d been hiding. Handing them out he showed the children how to tempt the squirrels down from the treetops, to cheekily grab the nuts right out of their hands before scampering triumphantly back to the treetops with their trophies.

We had never experienced anything like this in Australia. Taming native creatures right in their habitat, to eat from their hands gave the kids the most tremendous thrill, and a memory to last forever. I can still taste the dew, and hear the silence of that magic moment.

Later on, when we were invited to stay at the cabin of friends on one of the myriad of lakes north of Toronto, Julie actually tamed chipmunks to eat out of her hands, a feat seldom attained with those tiny timid creatures, but that’s another story. M.L.”

Thanks, Meggles!

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