what I need

sunset river, St. Martins

I am looking at this wide openness, my eyes drinking in the clear light, the bright ribbon of liquid gold winding to the far horizon. And for a moment, a brief instant, this is all I need.

* * *

My cousin recently returned from a two-week medical mission to Mali. Her photos show a loving community that by North American standards has less than nothing. When she returned, her mother asked her what she wants for Christmas. She said she’s realized she doesn’t really need anything.

* * *

At a Christmas party I attended last night, I was not the only who who ate more than I needed, then joked about eating too much. I heard someone telling a story about the frustration of parking at the shopping “maul”. The question “Are you ready for Christmas?” prompted conversations about family expectations, travel plans, food and gifts.

* * *

I already have so much more than I need. I am barnacled with stuff, it has stuck to me over the years like an extra layer of fat. I am holding onto unfulfilled dreams, books half-read, sweaters half-knit, materials gathered and gathering dust. I don’t need more, I need less. I need space and open air. I need to free myself for what lies ahead, to be open to the promise of a new year.

Photograph taken on November 28, 2010

between seasons

Hammond River, late afternoon

The days are getting so short. It’s still dark when I get up in the morning, and the sun has set by suppertime. Autumn’s spectacular display of colour has been swept away by the November storms, and now the trees stand bare and waiting.

Autumn is over, and winter has not yet begun. We have feasted in celebration of Thanksgiving (except for our friends in the States), the ritual of Hallowe’en has passed in a shower of candy, and the season of Advent will soon begin. Before the last-minute Christmas panic sets in, before the cold weather arrives to stay, there are a few precious days. This is the time for looking back and planning ahead, reflection and preparation, as we anticipate the miracle of Christmas and the gift of light.

Photo taken on November 13, 2010

taking the ferry on a fall morning

 

When I was young, a car ferry crossed the river at the bottom of the road a few minutes walk from home. I don’t remember taking the ferry much, but I remember the ferry store, where they had penny candy (mmm… pixie sticks) and chocolate bars and chips. The ferry landing has since moved farther down the road, but you can still take the ferry across the river, and travel almost instantly from a city suburb to the rolling countryside. It always feels like an adventure to take the ferry.

On Saturday morning we took the ferry to go to a local farmers’ market. It was cold and windy — a classic fall day — with a bright blue sky and rich oranges and reds decorating the hills. When we returned (with fresh garlic, apple cider, red cabbage and eggs), the line-up for the ferry was a kilometre long. I looked at all the people bundled up in their cars as we drove by. I hope it still feels like an adventure to them as well!

Taken on October 9, 2010

crossing Reversing Falls

The fog is so thick you can barely see across the river. This narrow rocky gorge is where the St. John River rushes and foams into the harbour mouth. These rapids are extremely dangerous, featuring whirlpools, strong currents and sharp rocks… that is, when the river is running downstream. At high tide, the river is overcome by the the sea, which pushes the water back upriver — this is the local phenomenon known as Reversing Falls. You can see how the current runs from left to right, instead of the other way around. The fierce force of river and rapids has been tamed by the tide, but only for a short time.

Taken on August 20, 2010

ferries in mid-river

From the air, New Brunswick is green and blue. Lots of forests, and lots of water — rivers, lakes, wetlands and the sea. The river ferries are part of the road network here. There’s no charge to drive your car onto this cable ferry that crosses from Gondola Point to the Kingston Peninsula. Sometimes you have to wait to get on the ferry, but it’s always a treat to ride across the water, a fun cruise, especially on a day like this. Enjoy the ride!

Taken on August 7, 2010

Tucker Park

This small sandy cove along the Kennebecasis River used to be a busy beach in the summertime. I remember we used to take our bikes, or sometimes we’d walk, taking the path that cut across the field and through the woods. The water is not too cold — not nearly as cold as the Bay of Fundy. It used to be a full service park, with a raft out on the water, and an ice-cream truck. I even took swimming lessons there one summer. Now there’s not even a privy or a garbage can, but people still go there. It felt good to see a few people there the other day, spending a warm afternoon at the beach, just like I remember.

Taken on April 6, 2010

waiting for the sun

This small beach is at the end of Ragged Point Road. The point to the right is Boar’s Head, where the Kennebecasis River flows into the St. John River. From the comfort of your beach chair, you can look out across the river to the communities of South Bay and Grand Bay. In the winter, there is no beach here at all. I remember visiting this cove in the spring when the ice was breaking up. Even though it was many years ago, I can remember seeing the sheets of ice pushed high up to the edge of the road, and hearing the boom of the ice as it cracked and collided with other ice sheets. When I recall the bitter cold of winter, I can better appreciate our less-than-tropical summers. Now all we need is some sunshine!

Taken on June 4, 2010