Sunday, September 24, 2006


The power is out for some 90,000 hydro customers across central Ontario. It's cloudy, with sunny periods, with strong winds, gusting from 30 to 60 km an hour. The garage door, although latched, keeps getting tugged open by the wind and there it is, open again! It has jumped off the track in the past, assisted by the wind, so I'll have to lock that door, I think! But I have to get ready to go off to the city soon, to my paying job, so, I'll do that just before I leave.

I slept in later than usual. I'm not an early riser anyway, being accustomed to going to bed late. But this morning, I think the sound of the wind had me exhausted before I even got out of bed! The house is old and rather run down, but if the windows weren't open a bit, I would not have heard or felt the wind at all. For an old house, it's pretty snug against the wind. No, maybe there is the restless current of energy about, agitated by the wind, and I feel it through the soles of my feet right into my bones.

I thought when I did finally get out of bed, the leaves would all be gone off the trees. Enough of them are still green enough to be clinging to the trees however, so that there is only a little lightening of the space overhead.

I caught the tail end of something on CBC Radio about children learning through play. Then on the Vinyl Cafe, a story about daredevil kids building a ski jump...Aren't the best stories about play always the ones where we remember an little daring in the face of danger? And I've heard from more than one source that many school playgrounds now sport signs such as "no running"!

It seems that there is always this tension in our societies: the urge to keep everybody "safe" fighting against the urge to break loose, have an adventure, do something new, think a new thought!

As my son and I prepare for our trip to Ethiopia, I am getting anxious emails and letters from my parents about their own scary experiences when they lived in Ethiopia, almost 50 years ago now. The stories are wild: traveling with an armed guide/translator for fear of siftas, hospitals and homes looted and burned in the rioting during the troubles...On the other hand, I have friends and acquaintances who have traveled to Ethiopia much more recently and who claim it's very easy and safe these days (I understand this is a relative concept; when in my parents' day, there were no roads...).

I suspect that my mother never really liked living in Ethiopia. Although she was raised on a farm in Finland, this was too remote and rough even for her. She loves traveling, but "the country" was what she aspired to leave in her youth. For years after we left Africa, my father dreamed of returning. My mother's emails are frankly afraid for us and she can't understand why we want to go. Her memories are of constant heat and dirt, or endless rain and mud during rainy season, insects, and disease. Of course, her perspective would be different because she was at home, trying to keep a brood of little children healthy, clean, clothed and fed. My father's stories are funny, self-deprecating. He had to travel to remote places in the way of his work, often on foot, so actually had some dangerous experiences. However, my father's only suggestions are ways to be better informed and prepared before we go off to have our own adventures in Ethiopia.

I was musing about the differences of their experiences during the War as well.(WWII) My mother was 14 years old when refugees started arriving from Karelia. She did not have to attend school. She remembers a time of fun and music because she was young and enjoyed the arrival of the refugees. There was a cloud of suspicion and mistrust too. Strangers were on the roads. She remembers sleeping in an outbuilding in the summertime, the summer night still bright, her imagination conjuring up all sorts of dangerous, nefarious types skulking about...My father on the other hand, saw and heard too much: weapons, dying, dirt, bugs, deafening noise, tense waiting, winter misery in the trenches, corpses swelling in the summer heat...

How do our experiences shape us? I guess we can't predict that. Only hindsight might give us one or two clues.

In the meantime, I'm restless, anxious to finalize the plans and get on our way to Ethiopia.


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