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Summer Harvest

Quan Yin
Quan Yin (Photo credit: Robbi Baba)

It makes me nostalgic to  know we are at the waxing of our summertime. Already I am mourning the late 9pm sunsets and my walks around the lake.

With some home reno’s complete, I’m feeling the urge to nest, to put up my home preserves, and tuck in for a long, cozy winter.

There is something entirely instinctual about the way that I feel, preparing my home for the winter months and looking forward to the crackling of the fireplace.

My old cat is stretched out on the new hardwood floors, chin flat and legs splayed, a lazy intent toward the door, and who may or may not be at the threshold.

My neighbours, Pakistani Muslims who arrived via a four year stay in Singapore have collected our cast off television and glass-doored cabinet, in preparation for their  first ‘Canadian’ winter.

How they came to collect my furniture is an odd story. I was reading David Shields’,  “How Literature Saved My Life”, when the two new neighbor girls came out to play.

Frolicking in their lemon-drop yellow and candy-floss pink dresses, I smiled behind the pages, thinking how lovely it is watch the innocent freedom through which young children experience the world.

After a few rounds in the evergreen and dogwood mini-forest, the girls disappeared back inside their home to return in a few seconds, plastic golf-clubs waving in the air, madly chasing a squirrel that appeared out of nowhere.  My attention completely left the book, which expounds quite broadly on the topic of mortality, survival and the meaning of life, to follow these pastel angels waving their Fischer Price weapons in the air.

The squirrel skittered through the underbrush, and scampered up a tree. I could almost feel his little heart pounding as he raced to escape death by pretend-five-iron. “We must throw something at him,” the young candy-floss enrobed huntress said to her older lemon-drop sister, “Can you find a big rock?”.

My stare must have put a wrinkle in their aura because they both turned around and saw me staring at them. I got their cold shoulder, and they wandered back to their patio where I could no longer witness their attack.

Cookies make everything better, so, I slid open my patio doors, and padded to the kitchen in my bare feet. I placed two of my freshly baked, half-cookie-half-brownie delights on a beautiful plate, and carried them over. Thus are all great neighbours made, are they not?

I introduced myself to Mom, to make sure the cookies were ok, and we began a conversation out on the grass about how they are settling in, where the girls will go to school, and whether or not they needed the cabinet and television I wished to give away.

I can’t help but reflect on the play-psychology of those young girls, out for blood with their toy golf clubs. Our survival instinct is intricately tangled up in our genetics like our hair colour  and the contour of our noses.

As I prepare for winter, preserving the harvest and deciding on committing to a relationship so I have someone with whom I can hibernate  during the cold  months, I will wonder at how deeply instinctual and evolutionary is our need to love and to fight.

Yesterday I was the recipient of a Quan Yin statue at my temple. An omen for sure. The goddess of compassion, the image of whom I’ve kept in my office as I carry out the truly earthy  work of caring for the dying, the dead and bereaved.

Tonight she sits as the guest of honour on my buffet, reminding me of the cycle of life; spring, summer, autumn and winter, reminding me that we are all, indeed, in this together.

Tonight I wonder at the immensity and the simplicity of it all; candy-floss and lemon-drop dresses, little girls with golf clubs, squirrels readying for winter, a Buddhist and Muslim living side by side as neighbours, and my open heart.

 

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