1. Mary Lou van Schaik

    At the feeder

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    2
    Morning mist sifts through the hills, veils the snow-laden fields. The sky is a soft, quiet grey. From a south window, the scene is calm. But when I turn west to where the bird feeder hangs from the clothesline post, my eyes fall on a flurry of feathered movement. Chickadees,...
  2. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Ripening with age

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    2
    Another glorious fall; watching the golden leaves twist in the sun, then drop in the rain, my thoughts range over the arc of my nearly 70 years on this planet. Scenes from various jobs flit through my mind: labelling socks in a musty factory; clerking in a tiny bookstore; writing...
  3. Mary Lou van Schaik

    The last of a family

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    4
    My last blood uncle has died. Uncle John left this world on Sunday, August 23rd. He was 95, frail with Alzheimer’s, and as so often the case, had suffered a debilitating fall from which he did not recover. By blessed grace, his two sons managed to return to Holland from...
  4. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Risking delight

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    3
    Midsummer. Mid-afternoon. Lounging outside under the trees. After several days of sweltering heat and humidity, cooler air fans deliciously across my skin. Cicadas zing, blue jay nestlings wheeze like an infant’s toy cushion, a squirrel slithers and leaps from branch to branch. Above, fairy tale cumulus sail across the smooth...
  5. Mary Lou van Schaik

    An examination of conscience

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    2
    “I saw color (theirs). I just didn’t see mine.” So wrote my friend Wendy in White Girl, her searingly honest blog post on being white. More than a year ago, when she and I first began talking about race, I assumed that we in Canada didn’t have the same degree...
  6. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Praise the loaf

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    8
    Six weeks into the COVID-19 lockdown and we’re all baking sourdough bread. What’s with this? I realize that bread is the ultimate comfort food, that it engages all the senses, that there’s nothing like the smell and taste of homemade bread just out of the oven. But why sourdough? Why...
  7. Mary Lou van Schaik

    All together in a sudden strangeness

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    3
    For some time now, I’ve been easing into a slower pace, nourishing “my hermit soul” through contemplation and solitude. I never imagined that hermiting would suddenly become the norm: millions upon millions around the world hunkered down, sheltering in place. In this extraordinary moment in human history, we are finally...
  8. Mary Lou van Schaik

    The peace of snow

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    3
    Time for a walk! So urged my body. Hauling myself off the couch, I donned coat, boots, hat and mitts, and stepped outside into the cold fresh air. Pellet-like rain was falling, undecided whether or not to turn to snow. Impulse led me to walk up an old tarred trail...
  9. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Content to be human and to shine

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    4
    In my small village, I am known as the local Poetry Troubadour, the person who speaks poems by heart. A curious thing happens when I speak poems, whether to one person or 100. All performance nerves vanish, and the poems flow through me without effort or self-consciousness. Even mistakes –...