Cakewalk Chronicles – Passing down our knowledge with kindness

Esther Darlington MacDonald's monthly column of thoughts while living life in a small interior town.

Falls from grace

This seemed to be the month for those in high places to make the news in a pretty spectacular fashion.

Call it falls from grace. It is sad reading. Doubling disturbing because it involves public trust. The heroes of this world, it seems, have betrayed themselves. How does this happen and why? The answers are too complex. The South African runner who stunned the world with his achievements, charged with murder of his girlfriend. The young Canadian senator charged with sexual assault, domestic violence. The Coronation Street long time actor charged with a sex offence. The sense of betrayal world-wide is not only apparent in the media, but is a gut reactioån closer to home. O, yes, the reaction will pass. Just as the news in the  media passes into the ether after a comparatively short while. Still, the disappointment and the confusion will probably linger longer. Because we do not have all the answers.

Mentoring

Like a lot of people in towns around, the Big Brothers and Big Sisters brochures were in our mailboxes recently. I read the brochure carefully. Recalling how much I enjoyed mentoring 12 year old Annie Vallance who lived in Clinton some years back. Annie is now an educator in Victoria. She was a very clever little girl, curious and thoughtful. Part of our time  together was a mutual learning experience.  Annie and her brothers attended the Childrens’ Festival held in Lillooet that year. It was great for the kids to meet other kids and to learn about other cultures. And then there was that air balloon ride from the school grounds! Annie and I visited the wild plant garden in 100 Mile House, and spent an afternoon at Chasm overlooking that lava walled canyon. We went to the historic cemetery at Clinton with our sketch books, lingered over the tombstones, noting the history of lives long ago. Annie showed me a bed of fossils on the road to Kelly Lake. Plants, tombstones, fossils, geological sites, it was all part of that glorious year in the company of a bright, beautiful, curious little girl. I will never forget it. And I don’t think Annie will either.

And I recall my great fortune in meeting a group of established artists in Vancouver shortly after arriving in BC. They took me under their wings, encouraged me in every way, assuring that I had the talent. But I knew, looking at the fine quality of their work, that I would have to work pretty hard at my gifts. For the rest of my life. And they taught not by lecturing, but by example. When I suggested that I should go to art school, my mentor and close friend, Kathleen Hamilton, a noted painter and potter as well as an educator, replied, “You don’t have to go to art school. You have learned in five years what it took me 15 years to learn!”. And Kate had studied under Arthur Lismer, one of the Group of Seven artists and had all the “credentials” an artist could have. We traded paintings. The respect for each other’s work was mutual. But if Kate saw something I’d done that she did not think the best, she would not say anything. That silence was golden for me. It meant “back to the drawing board”.

When there are so many single moms and dads today who must work and raise their families, Big Brothers and Big Sisters offers something that has something of priceless value. Mentoring has got to be one of the finest ways to round out and help to bring a young person to fruition.

Planning a yardscape

Yes, spring is definitely in the air! And I have asked Al Drinkwater to design and create a yardscape around my wild flower garden. As soon as the earth thaws, the plan goes into motion. A flagstone walk, brown crusher chips, solders and sailors around the center garden, a border edge block around my beautiful lavendar colored iris, and a treated wood around the inside fence. I can hardly wait!

A web site, at last!

My daughter Nadine has been after me for years to have  a web site. So has my niece and assorted artist friends over the years. But I was reluctant. Wasn’t life complicated enough? But I’ve learned a few new things about computers, downloading, etc., and my confidence about going “digital” I guess, got buoyed up in some mysterious way. So Jan Schmitz, who did such a fine job of creating web sites for Semlin Golf Course and for our Winding Rivers Arts and Performing Society, designed a lovely, vibrant presentation of my work. Over 20 paintings, plus a blog and bio. It looks so good! You can see it at: www.estherdarlingtonart.ca  Another inch on the long learning curve of life for this old lady who will, I hope, never really grow old.

Speaking of which, what did you think of that 103 year old Kamloops resident, Steve Gittus, the oldest curler in the world? Yes, Steve is in the record books. He certainly doesn’t look like century old. Makes a mockery of all those silly folk who think that age has anything to do with anything.

Ways of beating the winter doldrums

When the skies glower day after day and the sun is only a fleeting reminder, there are ways and means of making the days less dark and dank. The following works for me – maybe they can work for you.  Or, maybe, more likely, they are already working for a lot of our readers.

(a) Plan a garden. (b) Read a good book. (c) Build a pot of soup. (d) Mentor a child. (e) Take a walk in the park. (f) Browse through the second hand racks. (g) Keep a journal.

Now keeping a journal is the easiest thing in the world to do. You just write about what you are doing, plan to do that day, and write about how you feel. Not only about yourself. But about the challenge of just making the day the best way you can. I had an aunt that could write the most interesting letters about her day at home. No kidding. She made even washing the dishes and making a stew an easy read. If it’s in you, believe me, it’ll come out. When the words begin to flow, you can look back on those journals and wonder at how far you’ve come. The things that bothered you then. The things that don’t seem so important anymore. And all it takes is a few minutes to jot something down. Try it. You won’t be sorry!

I haven’t mentioned our library. Libraries are the treasure troves of any community. You can teach yourself almost anything from books. About skills. Life in general. About science and the arts.  About other people, great and small. About other countries. When the winter doldrums overtake you.  Go to the Library. You’ll get a new lease on life.

Pauline Ogilvie’s lovely pen drawings

Take a long gander when you are downtown, at the Sidewalk Gallery across from Safety Mart. You will find a great exhibit of drawings by Pauline. Very modestly priced, too. They are scenes of our country, – the perspective uniquely her own. What a fine draftsman Pauline is! And that eye for composition!

That meteorite in Russia

That meteorite wasn’t that big really. About the size of a football field? But the damage it did makes you realize how vulnerable we are on planet earth. The capture of the progression of the meteorite was incredible. You can’t fault Russian media in capturing that outsized rock that made it through and landed with the force of an atomic bomb.  They say.

Well, that’s all I’ve got to write about this month. Visit my web site when you have a few moments. And have a very nice month in March. But you know what they say about March? Comes in like a lamb. Goes out like a lion.

Esther Darlington MacDonald

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