fathers and daughters

Persephone ~ goddess of Spring

Image by ihave3kids via Flickr

Today is the literal if not the figurative first day of Spring. A glance out our back door, and at the weather forecast for the next few days, would hardly be reassuring, but it is spring. The post-nuclear apocalyptic looking jack rabbits that roam the fields are flecked with the warm brown of summer as they shed their white camo, and the chickadees can be heard on the mornings that are frosted over.

And the pavement is peeking out from under a mix of ice and chemically laden slush.

Today is a day of equal standing. Light and dark is perfectly balanced and the march to Summer Solstice begins.

Many traditions and myths have been fashioned around the Vernal Equinox. Resurrection mythology abounds, and I don’t blame Christians one bit for ignoring or trying to suppress because they pre-date Jesus by a lot and call his reality into question. A fascinating example?

In ancient Rome, the 10-day rite in honor of Attis, son of the great goddess Cybele, began on March 15th. A pine tree, which represented Attis, was chopped down, wrapped in a linen shroud, decorated with violets and placed in a sepulchre in the temple. On the Day of Blood or Black Friday, the priests of the cult gashed themselves with knives as they danced ecstatically, sympathizing with Cybele in her grief and helping to restore Attis to life. Two days later, a priest opened the sepulchre at dawn, revealing that it was empty and announcing that the god was saved. This day was known as Hilaria or the Day of Joy, a time of feasting and merriment.

We will celebrate spring with the continued dogged pursuit of renovation. It’s resurrection-ish, wouldn’t you say?

Silver and Edie will be over to help with the drywall again as I am still forbidden to lift and the walls need to be up before Spring Break week. That’s when the new kitchen cabinets and countertop are scheduled for installation.

They were here yesterday as well along with Mick and her friend Dare. He goes back to her high school days, and though they are just friends, I couldn’t help noticing the obvious Rob traits in him. I am fascinated by the way the women in Rob’s life look for him in they men they admit into their lives. Silver, the new FIL and now Dare. It’s uncanny.

Rob is a taskmaster though and his Virgoian need for perfection and having his eyes and imprint on all he surveys within the boundaries of his kingdom needs to totally be reckoned with by all.

“Try not to be too hard on them,” I remarked on Friday evening.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“You know,” I said. “The heavy sigh, the eye-roll and then walking away in telling silence.”

“I don’t do that,” he protested.

“Totally you do,” I said. “Maybe you should practice toning it down tonight so it won’t be so harsh.”

Yesterday that became a running joke, and as we were discussing it, the older girls chimed in with tales of their own which provoked Silver to pipe up,

“So that’s where Edie gets it.”

“I don’t!” she protested.

And Dare replied,

“You do.”

Apples and trees.

It was a good pre-spring day Saturday though not as stunning as the near 10C temps of Friday when the whole of the Fort seemed dressed for summer. This coming week will be chilly with snow but the following promises sun and warmth, and I fully expect to see the little high school girls running about in shorts and sandals soon. Dee is chomping to be rid of her snow pants and the battle of the inappropriate for school summer footwear is soon to recommence.

We’ve called off our trip to the South this month to accommodate the reno, but I am determined that this will be the last major deconstruction this year. Our summer will be that of any self-respecting Albertan and include a weeks long sojourn with the holiday trailer and then taking it out to camp every weekend. Living at a breakneck frenzy in the great outdoors for as many hours as one can stomach and beyond in is the Western Canadian way after all.

We have been promising Katy a hike and a picnic lunch in the nearby Elk Island Park for some time, but until this week, it has been far too cold. Friday the weather turned and though not as warm as some of you in the southern 48 might think it should be to hearld the coming of spring, it has felt mighty good up here. Today we decided to skip our usually Sunday afternoon skating at the Moyer Ice Arena here in Josephburg and head over to Elk Island for a short hike and lunch. We fortified well with tuna wraps, grapes and baby carrots not to mention a thermos of Earl Grey and another with water for hot chocolate. Bundled and with Katy’s little green toboggan packed in the back of the Equinox, we felt ready to tackle the snow-covered trails.We made one stop on the way and that was in the tiny town of Lamont which is just north of the Fort. We needed to pick up the Edmonton Journal because even if it is light on news beyond its own borders – we are newspaper addicts and have to have at least one paper coming into the house daily and well, the Globe doesn’t run a Sunday edition. In fact neither paper runs its big edition on Sunday. The biggest paper of the week is the Saturday edition for both. Lamont though is not much of a town. Rob remembers the ice rink there as being a vandalism target for the bored teens trapped by a lack of transportation, probably, and somewhere to go, likely. There is a grain elevator and railway tracks. A main street with a donut shop, a bank and a grocery. Very small. Not picturesque. It bills itself as the “Gateway to Elk Island Park”. And with that, enough has been said.The park is a forested preserve for elk and bison herds. It’s mainly Aspen as this area is the transition land between Aspen parkland and boreal forest. There are plains and woodland bison here and they are kept in separate areas. They have flourished here to the point that this park has repatriated some of both herds to other areas that are trying to reestablish them. It’s part of the national park system and so there is a toll station at the entrance/exit areas. Trails are maintained and some of them are groomed specifically for cross country skiing. It’s snow up here a fair amount in the last few weeks so the snow we encountered was too deep for Katy to walk and we’d suspected she wouldn’t do much hiking anyway – thus her green toboggan. Rob is always teaching Katy about something whether it is about drywalling or painting or the fact that there was a squirrel living in the area we were hiking through. He pointed out the food leavings and the collapsed tunnel the squirrel had been using to travel.We picnicked at a spot that would overlook the lake in warmer weather but right now unless you knew it was out there, you’d have a hard time picturing it at all. It was a quick lunch. Just the wraps and hot drinks and grapes, and then back to the vehicle to tour the rest of the park from the warmth of the car. Katy and I are not quite so Canadian as we need to be for winter hikes yet.As we trudged back to the main trail and then to the parking lot, a story came to me. It amazes me how this happens. How I can be doing something completely normal, like pulling Katy in a toboggan, and suddenly a story comes. Like a gift. A gift with a lot of work attached to it, but still a present from the universe just the same. I think it will be a creepy story. I just finished Stephen King’s The Mist. A very quick read – day and a half at most as it is only a bit over 200 pages. Sadly it is something I could have started and finished in an afternoon or evening back in the day but I don’t have the stamina – or the time – for such a quick turnaround these days. Anyway, I think some of the inspiration came from my reading too. I have always loved apocalyptic survival stories. Mine is not an end of days thing, but it is about survival and I hope it will be a little suspenseful anyway.On the way back to the car, Rob stopped us to show Katy a picture of a bison and then a moose. There are stations on the trail in that give the history of Alberta and pioneers and some of the wildlife in the area. Katy really loves moments like these although Rob doesn’t think she is always paying attention to him, she is. She is becoming quite a daddy’s girl. Recently she has been telling Rob that she loves him. Spontaneously and not merely as a response. They say it takes several years to blend families. I wonder what they mean by that because I know so few “real” families that are “blended”. Perhaps what they mean is that it takes time for people to get to know how everyone reacts in situations – what they are likely to do or say. Still, even though I can predict my siblings and parents, I wouldn’t say that I knew any one of them very well, except maybe my mother, and I know they don’t know or understand me at all.As we were driving out of the park, we stopped to watch a moose grazing. Katy was quite fascinated and equally horrified when she was told that she’d had moose for supper the other night. The drive home was quick. We don’t live far from the park. It was another splendid day.