The package was the first piece of mail I'd received in my new canadian home. I brought it upstairs and put it on the counter. I'd wait until I had a quiet moment to open it because I knew it would be delightful. It was from my friend Keri Smith, an intensely talented artist, intellectual and, really, a just beautiful person (her blog has been my little dose of inspiration for over two years now). It was one of those mornings where I couldn't seem to finish any single task I started: the laundry was half-folded, I'd boiled water for tea and never made the tea, I had a half-formed email response on my computer screen for two hours, invitations I was making for an event that were in bits and pieces on the desk. Needless to say, I felt scattered. So I finally made my cup of tea, plopped Milo on the kitchen floor next to me with a symphony of spatulas and mixing bowls and opened up our package from Keri. And, amid a small sea of book treasures, out popped this jolly little fellow:

Cute, eh? His name is Stanley Greenbottom and he speaks a little French. Milo thought this gift was just delicious, especially the cardboard sign that came attached around his neck.

But what most struck me was that he matched perfectly with the baptism invitations I was making. I was so drawn to those two colours (teal blue and paprika) because they seem so cheery and on a day when I was feeling scattered and a little down on myself for not getting anything done, Stanley showed up in our lives just radiating cheeriness and comfort.

I couldn't help myself. After Milo went to bed, I borrowed Stanley and put him on the shelf next to a completed (finally!) invitation to keep me company for the night as I moved through some of my to-do list. Sometimes, it takes these little serendipitous moments to shake the tree a little and get you moving. Thanks Stanley!


Apple picking

"On that perfect day, when everything was ripening, and not only the grape was turning brown, the sun cast a glance on my life: I looked back, I looked forward, and never had I seen so many good things at once" - Friederich Nietzche


Reality hits you in the face

Major life changes just about kill me.

There was the move to Davis, CA in 1999 that resulted in one almost severed pinky finger and one car crash. My partner in that highway mambo on Interstate 5 just looked at the remains of his car and said, “Well, it’s a good thing I have 4 other cars back home.” I roller-skated to work for a month.

Our move to Madison, WI in 2001 faired little better. There, I bit it when my bike slid on the wet railroad tracks criss-crossing a busy intersection. The next day, I fell down our stairs with a glass of water in hand.

So it was with a fair amount of trepidation that I stepped into our new apartment in Montreal last Saturday. I’ve tried to be conscious of how my anxiety about change can manifest itself in strange and physical ways. I thought I had already dealt with it before I even left Madison, via a series of very odd and unreasonably painful random bodily inflammations including a boil on my nose that gave me a three-day headache.

I though I was on top of it this time. I thought I was home-free.

Then reality hit me in the face.

With the corner of the kitchen cabinet, to be more precise. And, yes, it hurt just as much as it looks like it did. Yet, when the flurry and the panic subsided, relief washed over me. I could stop worrying about whether something terrible would happen. It just had. A friend recently shared a quote by Wendell Berry: "that little nagging of dread is your first bonding with the unknown wilderness you are about to enter into." I guess I have been bonding with the unknown for a while but it took almost braining myself to finally start making peace with this new phase in our life.


What's in a name.

J: "Isn't calling it the winged samara kind of like calling it the Department of Redundancy Department?"

Me: "It implies a samara in motion, not just any old samara, lying around, doing nothing useful with itself, slowly decaying and wrecking the lawn."

J: "Um, whatever."

The samara is the winged seed of the maple leaf and as an expatriate Canadian, living in the U.S. and currently on sabbatical in Canada, the blog title reflects the cyclical nature of our family's existence. plus it sounds poetic and we can all use a little more poetry in our daily lives, no?

The title touches on a lot of things I hope to write about: travels, nature, our little seed, Milo, and our nine month journey leaving the place I now call home, Madison Wisconsin, for the place I was born and raised, Montreal.

When I was in university at McGill, I took a wonderful botany class and learned how to make botanical specimens. We'd collect the plants, dry them in a press and carefully mount and label them on archival paper for posterity. While an online journal is a much more dynamic, live endeavour, I see it as a similar exercise in slowing down, in really seeing what is going on around me and reflecting on it. With work, baby, travel, I find myself racing through the days. Sometimes I can't remember what I did the day before. How sad.

So goes my brief introduction of this site. I hope you enjoy the fruits of this labour. I know I am going to enjoy writing it!