I don’t think the admonition to “keep holy the Sabbath day” extends to working in the garden. Actually, I believe that a plot of earth is as holy as any huge cathedral… and that gardening is a prayerful, transforming and spiritual experience in and of itself.
It has been many moons since I did much “real” work in our Merida garden. We are blessed to have Don Irineo and Miguel who help us with the heavy chores. My contribution involves mostly watering, trimming and re-potting.
But in Kamloops it is NOT like this. And yesterday… I made my re-acquaintance with the shovel, rake and hoe. I sort-of channelled my mother, who was a dedicated gardener… and then got right into it!
I pruned, transplanted and turned sod. Yes I did. I could barely move once I had finished, but I felt most satisfied to see how I had transformed a dandelion-infested patch of earth into a place where veggies and flowers will soon grow. I trimmed back a shrub that had over-run the side wall and I moved a rose bush so it could keep the other one company.
Then it was time for a bath, some delicious left-overs and a relaxing read before climbing into bed. I slept like a baby… I should do this sort of heavy physical work more often!
Kamloops is a thriving small city with all the services and conveniences one needs… and it is a natural wonder. Yesterday I took a long walk along the river, and I could not help but think of the romantic title of a film directed by Robert Redford back in 1992 This is a sample of all I saw…
The North and South Thompson Rivers merge in Kamloops
This morning I scrolled through the posts I’ve written since arriving in Canada. Pickings are slim – there has been a lot going on, and I’ve not had a lot of time to blog.
Living in Kamloops and living in Merida are as different as you can imagine. Both places have their own beauty, and their own challenges.
Merida is hot and humid for much of the year, but the winter months are glorious. The city lies just 30 kilometers from the Gulf of Mexico and the topography is flat as a pancake. My garden is lush and tropical. Kamloops is cold and dry in the winter, but during the summer months, the days are long and lovely. It is far from the ocean, but a string of lakes are close by. Sage and Ponderosa pine cover the surrounding hills.
The ancestral people who settled in the Kamloops area, called it, T’kemlups, which means, “the meeting of the rivers”. Indeed, right alongside downtown Kamloops, two major rivers join – the South Thompson, flowing from the warm interior – and the North Thompson from the frigid high mountains. The merging causes the water to rise and spill over the banks to form Kamloops Lake. Later the lake narrows and becomes a river again. A few hundred miles further downstream, the Thompson River meets the Frazer River in a gorge called Hell’s Gate. After a series of deathly rapids and undertows, the mighty river calms and meanders its way west until it reaches the Pacific Ocean.
Oh the parallels I could draw from this tale of two rivers! I lived fulltime in Mexico for more than 40 years. Through my family life and my involvement in the community, I grew to feel at home there. Nonetheless, memories of my Canadian home and that identity never left me. Most of the time, the loyalties I feel to both Canada and Mexico harmoniously coexist. Nonetheless, there are occasions when my emotional equilibrium feels like “Hell’s Gate”.
A bicultural life has its share of turbulence – my decision to live in Canada for half the year created a good deal of inner conflict. But after three months here in Kamloops, I think my two “halves” are fusing again. I feel strong and peaceful.
And guess what? Even though my Canadian stay is not finished, I will be traveling to Merida for two weeks. I have some paperwork to look after and I long to see Jorge, Carlos and Maggie. I want to swim in my pool and see how my garden is growing.
Jorge will fly back to Vancouver with me, and before his return flight to Mexico, we’ll spend Thanksgiving, Halloween and Dia de Muertos with each other.
Changes in our Lives – Whew! You can say that again.
I only had time to post once while Jorge and I were in Mexico City, and I hope this first post from Canada finds you well – wherever you are. I’m waking up in Kamloops – it’s not even 5 am, and already fully light outside.
I know I’m going to enjoy this space that my sister and brother-in-law have lent to me. The steep flight of 18 worn, wooden steps up to the apartment brought back memories of Amsterdam! But after Barb and I lugged up my two 50 pound suitcases and several bags of groceries, I realized the climb was not at all difficult.
The dining / living room, a kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom (with a claw-foot tub) take up the whole top floor of a 1930s vintage house – so I have quite a bit of space to ramble around. The peaked ceilings and irregularly-shaped rooms are charming. My two tall bedroom windows face north-west, so I have a view that fans over the town’s rooftops, and out towards the sage-colored hills. There is a lot of bird song. The temperature is cool and dry.
I live right in town so I have easy access to the shops, library, and community center. Just down the hill, there’s a beautiful river path, and a bit later on today, I plan to go for my first walk there.
Writing and painting will be a focus for me over the next few months, and of course, I’ll have lots of sister time with Barb. We will both love this.
My Merida cell phone seems to be working well, and so I am able to talk with everyone back home. Skype, Whatsap and Facetime are other good options for staying in touch.
I must say, I feel a bit like a fish out of water. I have lived in Yucatan for most of my adult life, so this is a huge change. But as my good friend Jose says – We move slowly.
The only constant is change. Over the years, I’ve quoted this apparent oxymoron over and over again. In fact, the first paragraph of Magic Made in Mexico – my book for international residents in Mexico – emphasizes this very point:
I’ve often wondered what would happen if we could recognize pivotal times in our personal journeys – the forks in the road that present themselves – do we see them coming? Does a vague premonition warn us that certain decisions are destined to truly change our path? If we could anticipate those critical junctions, would we have the nerve to follow through?
I certainly did “follow through” – but for the past several years, I have sensed more than a “vague premonition” – I’ve known that changes are not far off. In fact the Universe has been banging me over the head with a cast iron frying pan. Yet, I have resisted. I’ve tried to divert my thoughts and actions.
Part of me doesn’t want to make any changes. For a whole gamut of reasons, I want to continue ambling along just as I’ve done up until now. And yet, another part of me feels like a diver poised with her toes curled around the no-slip tip of the highest platform – waiting for the whistle to shrill – the signal that it’s her turn to leap.
Forty-one years ago I moved to Merida. I was young – incredibly young. I did not comprehend how radically different my new world would be, but at twenty-three, I thrived on adventure. I craved it like chocolate. Now, I am almost triple that age. The life I charged into has been amazing, enriching, challenging, and wonderful – mostly because Lady Luck introduced me to Jorge – the man who has shared the roller coaster ride. Now retired, I guess we should be settling into our dotage, resting on our laurels – taking it easy.
But gale force winds are blowing again – I feel the need to regroup, refocus and repurpose my life.
For a mishmash of practical, sensible, prudent reasons, and for some emotional, familial, climate-related, and age-induced ones – I’ve decided to move back to Canada for the “warmer” half of each year. I will continue to live in Merida for the “cooler” half.
Those readers who know me will immediately wonder – what does “the man who has shared the roller coaster ride” have to say about all this? To be honest, Jorge is less than thrilled. This is my doing, but he is willing to give it a go. After all, if we don’t adjust, we can always change our minds and pick up where we left off. Potential for un-change is also limitless, isn’t it?
Jorge and I will probably not be able to leave Merida until June, which means we’ll be away until December. We plan to settle in Kamloops, a city of approximately 90,000 people in the interior of British Columbia. The place has much to offer– lots of sunshine, a small university, cultural venues, and a good library located two blocks from our 2 bedroom apartment. There are paths along the river for pleasant walks, and lakes for swimming – cold swimming. The shopping is plentiful – in both farmers’ markets and malls. Local wineries and pick-your-own-veggie fields will make for some vastly-different-from-Yucatan day trips. But the best feature in Kamloops is the close proximity to my sister, Barb, and other family and friends.
And to mark this milestone, what does an earnest blogger do? Why, she starts a new blog, what else? After nearly a decade, it feels bitter-sweet to be leaving Writing From Merida. But it’s all about change, right?
After today, I do not plan on writing any new posts for Writing from Merida. From now on, you will find all my new content and some of the posts from my former blog at: