Monday Morning Musings

Posted on October 14, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with 2 comments

 

Generous, gentleman Joe.

The community lost a good one last week. Joe Arsenault was one of those truly decent human beings. He was incredibly talented with his hands, turning stone into works of art. He was a fine musician who loved a good jam session. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and brother. He was warm and he was very witty. I can’t ever remember seeing Joe out of sorts.

Joe was also a generous soul. Back in the mid- 1990s, much to the chagrin of our neighbours in town, we harbored a small collection of farm animals including a rooster named Archie. Archie had attitude problems but was nonetheless, the pride and joy of one of our children. Early one morning, I went out to the fenced in area behind our house to check on the flock. Some predator had gotten in during the night and wiped out the entire crew. The children were quite upset.

To this day, I don’t know how Joe found out but one day a few weeks later, he arrived at our home with a small memorial stone for Archie. He refused payment. I know he did this for several other people.

I had the privilege of spending some time with him in the small workshop behind his house where his creative genius flourished. He could do anything with those hands.

On this Thanksgiving Day, while we enjoy food, family and friends, let us be thankful that people like Joe come into our lives. He made our community better. His memory is etched in the many stone carvations he created. He was one of the good guys.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on October 10, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

MacCormick’s trees

 

“Together we’ve climbed hills and trees,

Learned of love and ABC’s,

Skinned our hearts and skinned our knees.”

Seasons in the Sun. Terry Jacks

Trees are in the news a lot these days. Trees use the energy of sunlight and take carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and water.  Climate experts figure that if we planted billions of new trees, this might arrest the proliferation of greenhouse gases, at least in part. Sometimes we take trees for granted and scarcely notice them.

Maybe all of us retirees should volunteer one day a year to plant trees. I’m sure there’s a device we could use so that we didn’t have to get so low to the ground that we might not be able to return to the upright position.

Yes. We skinned our hearts, knees, elbows and every other part of our body when we spent our childhood climbing and playing in trees. Our neighbors, the MacCormick’s, had a stand of trees on their property that became a magnet for kids in the neighborhood. There was a huge rope tied to the top of one of them. We became the incarnation of Tarzan and Jane.

We took turns on the swing, one of the early lessons in democracy and sharing. Anyone who hogged the rope would quickly be excluded from this activity. In order to play the rope game, one first had to climb the tree. From high up, you grabbed the rope and swung into the great unknown. It created butterflies in your stomach as you soared through space. A line was marked on the ground and the objective was to swing with enough speed to let go of the rope and jump across the line in mid- flight. If you managed to get across the line, that became the new target. Sounds pretty mundane but that rope kept a whole generation of kids highly entertained for hours on end.

Speaking of trees, Cape Breton has monopolized on the majesty of the fall colors by creating a two week music festival with trees as the backdrop. People come from all over the world to attend Celtic Colors. They get to witness a dazzling display of colors as the fall leaves put on a show. They are equally dazzled by world class musicians. I am wondering if the trees receive a royalty for being the supporting cast?!

Since you asked. Why anyone would want my autograph remains a great mystery to me. A few people have contacted me because they want my new book. These are people who don’t live in this part of the world. True. They can get the book from Amazon but I don’t have the technology to autograph these purchases. If you want to get a signed copy of my Camino book, just send me an e-mail at lenpdmacdonald@gmail.com along with your mailing address. I will sign the book and take it to the post office for delivery. Once I know the shipping cost, I’ll send this information to you and you can e-transfer the payment.

Show of hands. How many of you listen to podcasts? I’m thinking of starting a weekly podcast where I will feature some of my favourite stories along with my usual ramblings and insights into the mysteries of life. Just think, you could listen to me drone on while you’re making pies or doing the laundry. Let me know if you’d listen in.

Have a happy Thanksgiving weekend.

If you’re healthy and reasonably happy, count your blessings.

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on October 7, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

Luke’s Tree

 

I don’t know much about chestnut trees. I climbed the big one in the back yard of our house near the old CJFX radio station building many, many times in my youth. Every year around this time, the chestnuts would mature and the prickly objects would fall to the ground. But like an angry dog whose bark is often worse than its bite, the prickly outer covering, once removed, reveals a smooth, warm object with a pleasant aroma. With a nail or some other sharp object, holes were made in the chestnuts and once a piece of string was passed through the holes, you had a homemade necklace. Simple pleasures. Simpler times.

And why this fit of nostalgia? Well, most of you know that it takes very little to get me rambling on about the good old days. The other day I received a picture of a bunch of ripened chestnuts. Along with the picture was this message: “Hi Len. The chestnut tree grew chestnuts for the first time this year.” Now, most times, a declaration like this would hardly make my heart flutter but on this occasion, I had a lump in my throat.

Seventeen years ago, we lived in the country in “Upper Cloverville”. We had chickens, tried our hand at gardening, and heated our house with wood that I joyfully split near our shed. We had four teenagers at the time and the constant driving to far flung areas of the county for dates and the like, convinced us that we should move back to town. We sold our house to a young couple. Before the closing date, a tragic accident took place not far from our home. A young 13 year old boy died in a car accident. We knew the family.

We decided to plant a small seedling on our property in memory of this young boy. One of the unwritten parts of the sales agreement was that the new owners would nurture this tree. Seventeen years later, Luke’s tree bore fruit and produced its first crop of chestnuts.

From all accounts, Luke Berthiaume was an amazing young boy. Shortly before his death he wrote the following in his journal: “Always remember to have a good day.” Loved ones are never forgotten. The chestnut tree stands in his honour.

My Camino book officially left the pier on Friday with the launch of “Eat, Sleep and Walk: Stories from the Camino”. I had a great turnout at the Arts House last Friday evening. On Saturday, I sat outside the Campus Bookstore at St.F.X. University and sold some books to visiting alumni, back in Antigonish for Homecoming 2019. I had several wonderful conversations with old friends. The conversation starter was my grad photo which I had brought along as a prop. I had considerably more hair then than I do now!

Many thanks to my brother Gerard and friend, Kathy who helped me transport books on the weekend. And a super big shout out to my friends at the Arts House for providing their space for my launch. I almost forgot to mention Diana who worked with me at the launch Friday and on Saturday, when I had a technology snag. She dropped what she was doing and made her way to campus. Thank you, Diana!

Always remember to have a good day.

 

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