The Sweetest Sound in the World

geese in flight

They’re back. It’s been a long, brutally cold winter and spring is playing hard to get here in Quebec. But this week, finally, I heard the sweetest sound in the world: the sound of geese calling to each other as they migrate back to our area.

In six months, that same sound will become the saddest one in the world as they head south again. But I won’t think about that. For now, I’ll enjoy watching and listening to these beautiful creatures.

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Week 7 – Jeannine “Witchy Woman”

Raven hair & ruby lips
Sparks fly from her fingertips
Echoed voices in the night
She’s a restless spirit on an endless flight

(Lyrics from Witchy Woman by The Eagles)

Jeannine

That song came out in 1972, the same year that Jeannine “bewitched” and stole my boyfriend. Oh, did I mention that she had beautiful, long, jet-black hair? So, naturally, every time I heard the song, my blood boiled. (There’s so much high drama in life when you’re 15.)

To be fair, we went to the same school, but didn’t know each other at the time. He was her family’s paperboy and she thought he was cute, so she set out to win him, and she did. It wasn’t just that she replaced me in his affections; it was that she also claimed a place in our tightly-knit circle of friends. Anywhere I went, there she was

Jeannine around the time we met.

Jeannine (@ 1973)

with her black hair, hazel eyes and her hand tucked into the crook of his arm. Being rejected for someone else at 15 is painful; the thought of losing your friends to that person too is unthinkable. (Again, drama is everywhere when you’re 15.) I had no choice but to put on a good face and just keep showing up. And then a strange thing happened. I discovered she wasn’t all bad. In fact, there was nothing “witchy” about her – either in the evil or in the enigmatic sense. She was actually a little quirky and fun – a good balance to my shy, introspective nature – and a friendship was born.

Fast forward a few years and I’m a bridesmaid at her wedding (and no, said boyfriend is not the groom, although he remains to this day a very good friend to us both) and a year later godmother to her firstborn child.

More recently, Jeannine and I went out for dinner with our husbands. At the restaurant, a lady at a near-by table asked if one of us could take a photo of their little group. It was a girls’ night out for two adult sisters and their elderly mother and they wanted to capture it for posterity. Jeannine jumped up right away and offered to take the shot.  A few minutes later, I looked over and saw her standing behind one of the women’s chairs. She was talking to the group and, as she talked, she was gently rubbing the woman’s back in little circular motions.

“Do you know them?” I asked when she came back to our table. “No, but they’re really nice,” she answered. Always one to state the obvious, I said, “OK, but you know you were rubbing a perfect stranger’s back, right?” She just shrugged and smiled. She’s like that. A touchy-feely person who’s genuinely interested in others and appears to be an open book herself. It’s only when you know her well that you understand that the last part is an illusion, smoke and mirrors.

She’s easy to approach, has no problem starting a conversation with just about anyone and can be very vocal on certain topics. She engages others easily and is a good listener. But if you’re paying attention, you’ll realize that you have to probe to find out what’s going on in her head and in her heart. You know you’re getting close when her voice gets soft and quiet, almost inaudible. And you don’t dare ask her to speak up for fear of breaking the spell and sending her scurrying back to her inner self.  There may not be anything “witchy” about her, but there’s probably some truth to the  restless spirit part of the song.

She’s many things including a mother, wife, naturopath, artist and friend. She’s uber-sensitive in a way that sometimes leaves me confused because it causes her anguish.

Jeannine & I (@ 1999)

Jeannine & I (@ 1999)

But regardless of her internal dialogue, her desire to help others is real. I’m sure it has a lot to do with why she became a naturopath. She’s passionate about not messing with the natural order of things when it comes to the human body and to our beautiful planet. That’s why that jet-black hair is now generously streaked with gray. Keeping it black with the help of hair dye products would go against everything she stands for. But to paraphrase a line from Seinfeld, “It’s real and it’s spectacular.”

 ABOUT JEANNINE

Cause that’s close to her heart:
Natural health is something I have been working hard at for many years….and at times well, you know, I feel that I am not always doing what I preach: exercise (not enough!!), drinking water (not as often as I should!!), am taking meds for my BP which I am not proud of and that  bugs me like crazy!!!!

Biggest Fear:
Probably of dying……..to know that our bodies are finite scars me….but I am confident that our spirit lives on….only: where?????

Guilty Pleasure:
Chocolate…I looooooooooooove chocolate….and reading books!

What makes her laugh:
Babies and children. I love to watch them and play with them. I get right down on the floor and play with them…any child, I love them all.

Pet Peeve:
This is a hard one. As I get older and am wishing to be more Zen, I realize that I do have pet peeves not just one! I have a hard time with people always criticizing others! I hope I don’t do it…omg! do I?? Another pet peeve: Wishing people would accept me as I am….

Other:
My good life-long friends are very important to me as is my family of course! Actually my friends are my family.

WEEK 6: THANK YOU, DONNA C., WHEREVER YOU ARE

Hippy girl clip art

There’s one in almost every woman’s memory. You know who I mean. The girl who came back to school after summer vacation one year with curves and hips while you were still in that awkward stage. For me, it was Donna C. I sometimes wonder about her. Is she still pretty? Is she a good person? I have no idea, but it once felt like she’d been put on my path for the sole purpose of making me feel like a dork.

In grade school, Donna and I were in the same circle of friends and everything was fine – until seventh grade. When we returned to school that September, I’d grown a few inches and gone from pudgy to beanpole. Donna, though, was almost unrecognizable.

Somehow that girl got herself a shapely derrière that she showed off in hip hugger jeans so tight that I wondered how she got into them.  (This was before jeans had any stretch fabric in them.) She later explained the technique learned from her two older sisters.   1) Lie down with jeans still wet from washing; 2) Wiggle into them while lying on your back; 3) Suck stomach in; 4) Zip and wear.

Donna also suddenly had funky belts, ribbed turtleneck sweaters that showed off her new curves and neat jewellery – all courtesy of her sisters’ closets. I envied her those “cool” older sisters because when it came to clothes and music, they gave her an edge.  I had two younger brothers and, really, what good are they?

But the worst insult of all was the swell in just the right place under those great new sweaters she wore. “Don’t worry,” my mother told me. “You’ll be glad you’re tall, slim and small-chested when you get older. Women put on weight as they age and girls like you carry it much better.” Really?  When you’re 12, who cares?  I wanted boobs and I wanted them now!

I’m pretty sure Donna’s sisters were single-handedly responsible for ruining Wendy K.’s 14th birthday party for all the girls. The party was in Wendy’s basement on a Saturday afternoon in January.  Chips and pop were laid out, the lights were dim, and “Hey Jude” was in the line-up of tunes to be played. Because it was seven+ minutes long, every girl hoped the boy she liked would ask her to dance when it came on. There we were in our party dresses and feeling pretty good about ourselves until Donna made her entrance.

The doorbell rang and we heard Wendy’s parents greet the newcomer. A few minutes later, Donna came down the basement stairs and instantly became every boy’s fantasy. She wore a tight-fitting black mini-dress, nylons and heels. She had rouge on her cheekbones, a thin line of expertly applied black eyeliner around her eyes and shiny pink gloss on her lips. This had to be the work of her sisters!

I went from feeling exhilarated about the party and my pastel dress to being completely miserable. What was I thinking? I looked like a kid, for God’s sakes! A look at the other girls told me they felt the same way. A glance at the boys’ faces told me that no matter who asked me to dance to “Hey Jude”, I’d be second-choice.

The following year Donna changed schools and we lost touch. I didn’t harbor any hard feelings; it wasn’t her fault the way she looked made the rest of us feel less than worthy. On the contrary, I should thank her for starting me on the road to accepting something that most girls, even Donna, have to.  There’s always someone slimmer, prettier, better-looking or with better clothes out there and so what? Beauty’s only skin deep and first impressions are fleeting. The lasting impressions are the ones that count.

It’s not always an easy thing to accept and I bet it’s even harder for girls growing up today. We had television, magazines and the occasional movie to tell us what was fashionable. Today, girls are bombarded by television, Facebook, Youtube, MuchMusic and more with images of pop princesses with toned bodies in skimpy clothes, so that’s what they aspire to.

Even now, as a “mature” woman, there are times when I walk into a room, see someone who looks dazzling and feel momentarily off-balance.  But then it passes. For the most part, I’m grateful for the healthy body that’s gotten me through life so far and hopefully has a lot more good years left.

BLOGGER’S NOTE:  While Donna C. can’t be considered a “woman” in my life I want to get to know better, she clearly left her mark and deserves a place in the 52-Week project.