I love pumpkin. It’s my favourite vegetable. I love the colour and shape of them. I love the fact that they are all so different. If there were ever a type of vegetable that embraced individuality, the gourds and squashes would be it.
When I visited Canada, I loved seeing them decorating shops, gardens, front porches, letterboxes, streetscapes… they were everywhere. What really surprised me is how little pumpkin they actually seemed to eat, unless it was in a pie.
Speaking of which, I need some pumpkin pie. I adore pumpkin pie, but it’s really hard to get here in Australia.
While I’m daydreaming about that most delectable of desserts, please enjoy this rumination on ‘pumpkin’ via Sesquiotica.
As an Australian, I get very mixed responses when I tell people I enjoy Halloween.
Some see it as an opportunity for the community to share in something fun. In my town, the local Scout group organises the trick or treating so that the kids are supervised. Anyone wanting the kids to visit them for treats must be registered and checked out first. One of the local cafes sets up a House of Horror for everyone to enjoy, free of charge, and various other businesses run promotions.
Most Aussies, however, respond with something like “Ugh, It’s so American!” or “It’s just more commercialism!”
While it’s true that Halloween hasn’t historically been a big part of our culture in Australia, most are surprised to discover it’s not an American thing at all. It actually originated as a Celtic celebration of Samhain in Ireland, and from there spread to Scotland, Wales, England and France. In a strange coincidence, the British who landed in Australia in 1788 thinking they owned the place also originated in those places, so there’s that.
My first real experience of celebrating and embracing Halloween was in Canada, where it was all about community and celebrating the season, rather than commercial opportunism. It was wonderful. People decorated their homes and yards as a sign to kids that they were welcome to visit on their trick or treating routes. People in the streets wished each other a happy Halloween. We visited an apple orchard that offered hayrides and a corn maze, in addition to picking your own apples and enjoying the fare of the kitchen. October was a time of festivity and community amidst the changing of the season and the anticipation of winter’s arrival, made all the more cheerful by the brightness of pumpkins decorating shops, streets, gateposts, homes, and anywhere else people chose to put them.
Sure, the shops sold more chocolates and toys designed to give to kids who came knocking. But why can’t that be seen as a boost to the economy, rather than soulless exploitation of shoppers? If people don’t want to join in the celebration, they are not obligated to do or buy anything at all.
It is fair to say, though, that the growing popularity of Halloween in Australia is the result of the predominance of American TV and movies on Australian screens. People can complain about Halloween all they like, but until they’re willing to stop watching all the American shows and films they tune into religiously each week, or binge watch on weekends, it’s quite a hypocritical objection to raise. You can’t complain about your neighbour’s kids dressing up to go trick or treating if you can’t pause the latest episode of ’The Haunting of Hill House’ or ‘Riverdale’ to answer the door.
Ultimately, people can make their own choices. There’s no obligation to join in, but there’s also no need to be supercilious about it.
I’ll be celebrating Spooky Season all month, and joining in the Halloween festivities in my town again this year. And I’ll be loving every moment of it.
July 1 is Canada Day – the celebration of the nationhood of one of the two best countries on earth.
I find it hard to believe it’s almost four years since I was there. That was five musicals and two theatre restaurant shows ago. I’ve started my own business, established several blogs and had thirteen books published since then!
It’s certainly not dissatisfaction with my own life or what I have achieved that makes me want to go back.
To say that I love Canada would be an understatement. Part of me has a strong sensation of belonging there as much as I do here in Australia. I have been adopted by my Canadian family and take my role as an honorary Canadian very seriously.
I’m longing to get back there but circumstances are currently prevailing against me making that happen anytime soon.
I have people and places there that I love and miss and wish I could hug. I have decided not to name those people here, as the post got very soppy, very quickly when I started to do so. Trust me when I tell you it’s a good thing I backspaced that part.
I long to see Niagara Falls, and to feel its music and thunder resonate with my soul again. Every time I have been there, I have experienced a profound awareness that I was always meant to be there, and each time I left, I felt a little more in tune with my spirit than I had been before.
Niagara is also special because it is where Sean and I had our adoption ceremony, by which we became brother and sister. That night is etched indelibly into my heart and memory, as I know it is in his.
I would love to go back to PrInce Edward Island and spend more time exploring. PEI is such a beautiful place – whichever way you look, it’s just pretty – and my friends there have welcomed me into their homes and their lives in the most generous ways.
My heart absolutely aches for the lakes and rolling hills of south-eastern Quebec, and to walk along my favorite part of the the road that follows the shore of Lake Champlain. There, too, I have people very dear to my heart.
I would love to revisit Montreal and Ottawa, because those places hold such happy memories.
Of course, there are still many places and things I have yet to see. My brother Sean and I have started compiling another list, and it’s looking like I may need to make several more trips if we are going to achieve them all:
- visit Churchill in Manitoba to see the polar bears. We did see polar bears at Toronto Zoo, but that’s not really the same thing.
- do the train trip over the Rockies, and to see Banff and Jasper. see more of see more of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick than we did last time. There’s so much more history and beautiful scenery to explore.
- visit Newfoundland and Labrador. Who doesn’t want to see icebergs and fjords and Viking settlements?
Oh, Canada. You beautiful thing. You’re wonderful and you have so much to offer. I hope you have a sensational day, and many, many more wonderful years ahead.
I am coming back. I promise. Wait for me. xx
Another of my favorite women in history is Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of ‘Anne of Green Gables’.
That book, and those that follow it in the series, have been lifelong favorites of mine.
This post is one I wrote when my brother Sean and I visited Prince Edward Island and stayed with my wonderful friend Audrey, who lives on the island and was a very willing tour guide for us.
We visited a number of places related to Lucy Maud, experiences which only deepened my love and admiration for this most excellent and inspirational writer.
Lucy Maud Montgomery is famous as the author of “Anne of Green Gables” and many other books. She was also a poet – something I did not know until today!
In addition to visiting Green Gables, I also visited he site of the home in which Montgomery lived with her grandparents at Cavendish and her birthplace at New London, on Prince Edward Island.
Both of these experiences were lovely. The home of Montgomery’s grandparents is no longer standing, but the site is commemorated by a rustic bookstore which specialises in book by, and about, Montgomery.
Walking through the house in which Montgomery was born was both fascinating and quite moving.
To see letters handwritten by her, clothes and shoes that she wore, and to walk on the very same floorboards and stairs that she walked on as a child had a very profound effect on me. I have always felt…
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Originally posted on An Aussie Maple Leaf, adrift on the wind…:
Laura Secord was an incredibly gutsy woman.? When she overheard plans by the Americans to attack the British soldiers defending Canada in the War of 1812, she walked almost 20 miles from her home in Queenston to warn them. She was determined to get…
One of my favourite Canadian women in history is Laura Secord.
I’m sure that when you read this post, reblogged from my Maple Leaf Aussie Adrift On The Wind blog, you’ll understand why I think so much of her.
This is a post I wrote about her on the day that my brother and I visited her monument at Queenston Heights and, later in the day, her home.
Laura Secord was an incredibly gutsy woman.
When she overheard plans by the Americans to attack the British soldiers defending Canada in the War of 1812, she walked almost 20 miles from her home in Queenston to warn them. She was determined to get the message to the British soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant FitzGibbon, at Beaver Dams, where the Americans planned to attack.
This was no walk in the park. It was over varied terrain in 19th century ladies’ shoes and clothing which, it may safely be assumed, were not designed for much other than drinking tea in parlours and visiting a shop or two on the odd occasion. She didn’t go by the main road, because she didn’t want to be stopped by more American soldiers. Even though she was afraid when she came upon a camp of Iroquois, she asked for directions and was pleased to…
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My Year 10 English class studied John McCrae’s WWI poem “In Flanders Fields” yesterday. In our discussion, we contrasted it with some of the more brutal poetry about the war that we’ve been studying, such as Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce Et Decorum Est”.
When I asked them what we could learn from the contrasts in the poetry.
one student answered, “Canadians are awesome and generally more polite about things than the English!”
Sorry, English people. He’s getting an A+.
Tonight I did a terrible thing.
A friend and I were discussing a relationship breakup and, in response to a question, the first thing that came to mind was a lyric from a Mariah Carey song. The fact that I initially thought it might have been Whitney Houston doesn’t absolve me from quoting it to her.
My brainPod is generally rather genius at pulling up lyrics from songs in response to random words and actions, but even I was shocked at the cruelty of my memory in dredging that up. I felt kind of bad for inflicting the video clip on her, too.
Some kind of friend I am. Thankfully, we were both able to laugh about it.
Karma had the last laugh, though.
Knowing I have to get up early for work, Karma waited until I was about to drift off and then she made Tony Delroy, host of the radio program I always listen to, play the theme song from Titanic.
Freakin‘ Celine Dion.
I cannot stand her. As much as I love Canada, and as much as I don’t want to offend anyone who loves her, I think she’s bloody dreadful.
I heard the first few notes of the flute and groaned, “Kill me now!” I turned the volume right down but it was too late. The damage was done.
And here I am, wide awKe and blogging about it instead of sleeping.
Karma is, indeed, a bitch, but at least she has a sense of humour.
It’s day 21 of my 28 day holiday in Canada and the US. It has been an absolute blast.
Right now we are on our way north to meet with a friend from Missouri who is driving to a small town in Illinois to meet us there. I’m looking forward to seeing her again after several years. Even so, my day is still flavoured with more sadness than I care for.
I love some of the places we have left behind but it runs much deeper and stronger than that.
I miss the very special people I have left behind. I am missing them terribly, to the point where the tears won’t stop.
I guess part of keeping a schedule is that you do have to move on and keep going, but I don’t want to.
I want to go back and spend more time. I want to drink coffee together, talk, hug, share meals, see places, and to show them how much I love and value them. I want to hold hands and hug and touch faces and talk and listen. We just didn’t have enough time together.
I don’t want to say goodbye. I don’t want to be gone.
Sometimes parting really is more sorrow than sweetness, and I don’t think I can ever be quite the same again. As much as I love Australia, it won’t ever fully be home now, because it’s true: home is where the heart is, and I have a very powerful sense of having left several large chunks of mine behind.
One sleep. Just one sleep. That’s all.
The countdown started at 187.
This time tomorrow I will be doing final checks and preparations before I get on the plane and fly away.
This trip has been four years in the dreaming, then hoping, then planning, then organising.
It’s so close – I can almost taste it.
I’m going to the US and then to Canada.
I’m going to hug people that I have never met, but speak with every day.
I’m going to meet family that I’ve never met before.
I’m going to see places and animals that I’ve only ever dreamed I’d see.
I’m going to spend four weeks on the other side of the world.
And yet it still doesn’t really seem real, because I’m sitting at my desk like I do every other night.
I’ve spent the day at school. I went to the staff meeting, then came home, graded essays and planned lessons.
The washing machine is still going.
My dog is sleeping beside me.
Life seems remarkably normal tonight for someone who is going to experience the beginning of the trip of a lifetime tomorrow.