The other day I went for a long walk with my neighbour, and we stumbled upon some freshly cut trees… not by the developers who are tearing down the greenery around the neighbourhood (as my parents remind me, don’t be so angry, at one point the trees were cut so we could live here), but by little clever creatures that I haven’t seen in a very long time – beavers!! The angle at which the tree was cut and the tooth marks were unmistakable. My friend Ben told me awhile ago that there was a family of four beavers that you could see from certain vantage points in our neighbourhood, but I have yet to spot them.

When I was growing up, I used to see beavers all the time at the aptly named Beaver Pond near my house. I found a history of the pond online, and the ridiculous proposal by a construction company to rename it “Lake Kanata”. What were they thinking??!!! It’s not a lake, first of all, and it’s probably because the company knew that it would be destroying all the beavers with its construction, and wanted to create a more sophisticated name devoid of animals (and of soul).

From the archives (1990): A new sign recently appeared identifying the pond as the Lake
Kanata Recreation Site
. New name unacceptable: residents want Beaver Pond. Genstar Development Company’s decision to rename the Beaver Pond Lake Kanata has left a bad taste in some resident’s mouths.

I really hope that with the new houses, there are paths and valleys that connect the pond to the other bridges and waterfalls and trails nearby. I have to say that it is quite devastating to see the forests surrounding it destroyed. Maybe I’m getting old, but I find myself thinking of things “the way they used to be”, and while many often think of the present to be better than the past, there is so much from the past that was better. Bookstores galore, actual books in people’s hands rather than devices, phone calls instead of texts, playing hookie, skipping class, flirting and making inappropriate jokes at work, oh yes I am definitely getting older…

Nineteenth century British poet Christina Rossetti once wrote “Besides, those days were golden days / Whilst these are days of dross.”

Besides, those days were golden days… whilst these are days of dross.

Christina Rosetti

This week’s book club was a blast. Zahra Al-Harazi, the author of What It Takes: To Live and Lead with Purpose, Laughter, and Strength, joined us from Calagary! I had messaged her on Instagram a few days before, thinking it was worth a try and wished I had thought of it sooner in case she was already booked, and she responded a few days later saying that she’d be happy to join. She looked fresh and gorgeous, saying she’d ran 12 km with her friend and taken a nap in the afternoon, which she never does. We asked her lots of questions, about her upbringing in Yemen, work-life balance (“It doesn’t exist,” she said. “Some days we would have pizza four days in a row… but my kids still knew I loved them.”).

The man she describes near the end of the book who she falls madly in love with is now her husband, she tells us with a glowing smile. They got married – pandemic-style – just the two of them in her backyard, with a minister and the minister’s wife (since they needed one witness). She tells us about her company Skillet, which offers hands-on skills to people – not online, but in person. It was ready to launch when Covid hit so now it’s on hold and they’re testing and strategizing. She says that for every skill purchased, one skill will go to a person in need. We also shared with her a bit about us – the ladies said that they have known one another for 15-20 years!

I mentioned to her that I related to her struggles with depression, and she said that she now uses a mental concept that she calls Pandora’s box – anything that she can’t do anything about, and has no control over, she puts it into the box and lets it go. It’s a powerful concept, based on the idea of not giving those thoughts energy – and the ones that are rooted in reality, to actually take constructive steps to resolve them. I find distraction also works! Move onto the next thing and some of your problems will go away on their own.

It snowed yesterday in Ottawa…. and today it’s bright and sunshiny. I’m still in my robe so think I’m going to put on some clothes and wander around and see what’s happening outside. My heart aches for the world right now, and at the same I am inspired by children and how they find joy and magic in the smallest of things. Like squirrels and mangoes and books… you can never have too much of the good things. :-)

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