One beautiful Valentine’s Day a few years back, I was out and about in our neighbourhood walking to a wonderful nearby neighbourhood pâtisserie. I was on my way to pick up a few heart-shaped cookies for my sweet man. It felt like spring—the sky was a clear azure blue, the sun gently warmed my face, birds chirped away in the trees and my heart sang right along with them, overflowing with affection for my sweetie. I felt expansive, head-over-heels in love with my man; indeed, in love with all of life itself.
“One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A Time to Gather Strawberries
Strawberry Moon is the name the Algonquin North American Native tribes so aptly gave to June’s full moon because they knew it as the time to gather ripening strawberries. Although neither the wild mountain strawberries nor the plump green berries growing in my strawberry pot have yet ripened, our locally grown field-ripened strawberries are starting to flood the farmers markets. Each year, with my very first bite of that first red strawberry of the season, I am instantly transported back in space and time to a visit to my grandmother’s house as a little girl.
“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly,
“one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”
~Hans Christian Anderson
Bumping into a Good Friend
Several summers ago, as I stepped out onto my balcony garden, I literally bumped into my good friend, the Clouded Sulphur Butterfly. It was a beautiful, hot summer’s day and the vertical blinds of our sliding glass doors leading out to the balcony garden were closed to keep out the heat of the late summer sun. I was working in the kitchen when I heard some commotion on the street below. Curious as to the cause of the sound, I decided to step out onto the balcony to have a look-see. But, rather than open the vertical blinds so I could step out unimpeded, I lazily threaded one arm between two of the vertical panels, parted them, and gingerly placed one foot out onto the balcony. Half out, with one foot and one arm through to the other side and my other arm and leg still inside, laced between the vertical panels of the blinds, I bumped smack into a little Clouded Sulphur Butterfly.
Death is not extinguishing the light;
it is putting out the lamp because the Dawn has come.
~ Rabindranath Tagore
Life and More Life
My father, whom I adored, died two years ago today. Interestingly, he chose November 11th, Remembrance Day, to move on to the next phase of life. He enjoyed a long, happy life knowing that he was deeply loved by his family. And although he is no longer physically with us, I must assure you that I am not saddened by his passing because—and this may sound strange—he does not feel lost to me.
I understand that there will never be agreement as to what does or does not transpire after we die—some believe that there is something more after we leave this body and some do not. And, while I have no desire to alter anyone’s beliefs, I admit that I fall into the camp that believes life is eternal—that our consciousness continues on in some fashion after we depart these bodies. Though I can’t say I understand how it plays out, I have an unshakeable knowing in my gut that death is simply a natural part of the continuation of life.
I was very close to my father, so when he died I wondered if I’d experience any signs that he was still around me in spirit—whether I would feel his presence around me in some way. And, yes, I can happily say that I immediately noticed many small signs, all very playful and humorous (my Dad loved few things more than a good joke). But the most powerful and beautiful experience came a few weeks after his death when my partner and I made the long trek to my small prairie hometown to visit my mother.