I’m glad this day is rolling to an end. I’ve been nervous as my COVID cancelled appointment at the Pain Centre at the big hospital in Halifax has been rescheduled. This is a great thing but I’m nervous and not sleeping well. This morning I was very tired. I reached for my vitamin D to spray in my mouth. It was my deodorant. I had already put the Vitamin D spray under my arms. They look sort of similar, right?

It’s late spring here in Nova Scotia, spring seeping into sudden summer. The seasons blend into each other now, as do the days and the weeks, the months. In our house we call it “pandemic time”.  We are fortunate to have what rural people call a back forty. In exchange for this, we live in a rural area, and it’s hard to access the urban life and all that comes with it.

Out back

Then I went for a walk out back, to sit in one of my cheap plastic lawn chairs. I kept walking.

Cheap plastic chairs not used by Henry James

There was something rusty yet vaguely familiar in the bushes.

Our Christmas tree, composting in the soil it grew in.

I used to have this romantic image of the writer in a country cottage, happily typing away as the birds sang and the wind whistled through the leaves. There were also English cottage gardens involved, and probably some old ladies who garden like no others, tending the rambling roses and soaring perennials.

In my fantasy, I would write many pages and then head out with a gathering basket to cut swooping fox glove and daisies and delphinium.

I can’t quite remember all the details because years passed, and ha ha, I got old. Living in a rural area and having a family pretty much derailed my writing career.

I’m not sure how I went from young foolishly idealistic writer to old lady outside in the evening (the only time I have for a bit of slap dash gardening), trying and failing to have a postcard garden. Maybe the genesis of this was from reading Henry James, his fiction and his letters, but being oblivious to the fact that he had money and servants. Ha ha ha ha, oh, what we can overlook on all levels, eh?

The children went to visit Granny for March Break, just before everything locked down. They stayed for three months.

Empty rooms.

They’ve just come back. Our home is frenetic, chaotic. When they left in March there was not a leaf on a tree, nothing but dead grass, and snowflakes falling from the sky. They have moved through the seasons as a fish swims through water, as a bird flies through the sky, while I stand and feel the weight of these seasons etching into my flesh. 

Now they are back. We are having big family meals, and many conversations about anti-black racism. It’s much easier now to do this, face to face, our humanity and our biases at the table with us.

Resources we are using with our children to talk about Black culture and anti Black racism in Canada:

This amazing documentary, The Skin We’re In. “Acclaimed journalist Desmond Cole explores what it’s like to be Black in the 21st century Canada. Do Black Lives Matter here?”

Sylvia D. Hamilton’s acclaimed poetry collection, And I Alone Escaped to Tell You, which was a finalist for the 2015 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for Poetry. Sylvia D. Hamilton is a powerhouse filmmaker and writer whose awards include a Gemini and the Portia White Prize. She was a contributor to, and co-editor of, We’re Rooted Here and They Can’t Pull Us Up: Essays In African Canadian Women’s History. She lives in Grand Pre, Nova Scotia. Read more about Sylvia Hamilton here.

I Alone Escaped to Tell You by Sylvia D. Hamilton Gaspereau Press, 2014

And you can make a donation to Black Lives Matter Solidarity Fund NS. Money can be very tight but even a $5 donation makes a difference, if that’s all you can manage.

I also recommend this deeply moving piece in Slate, The Talk: It’s time for White parents to take over the grim ritual that Black families have performed for decades, a personal essay by Autumn McDonald, full of useful links and information for parents of children of all ages.

The biggest influence we have is with our families, our children, with friends and in our communities. Discussing anti Black racism starts at home and moves out from there. If you are anything like me as a parent, you are reflecting back to your childhood, how you were raised, remembering childhood summers and winters and springs, all those seasons blending into each other, the seasons of life. This is a new season. Make it count.