Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day (and My Soldier)

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields, the poppies grow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below...

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields...

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands, we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields...

John Alexander McCrae

I love this poem. I love that McCrae was a Canadian soldier. I love that he was inspired to write this poem after his friend and student was killed. I love that he discarded the poem but another officer sent it to London and that it was published in Punch Magazine. I love that he lived to see the success of the poem.

When I looked for the Flanders Field poem to post, I was surprised that the poet and my soldier had a few things in common.

- family military background

- Canadian Army Medics

- first name John; Irish version of John is Shane

- second name is Alexander

- taught/tutored

- loves animals

- both scientific and artistic

Look at him, my little soldier, at three years old. Who knows how many G.I. Joe costumes I made over the years! It should have been no surprise to learn that his application to join the Canadian Forces was accepted. Still, it might have been a little less shocking had we been told he had applied. ;-)

My husband is a history and military buff; his father fought in WWII, his grandfather in WWI. Our home was filled with war stories; two of the children are especially keen on history and the military. The older one was an Army Cadet for years, the younger one joined the Army.

The day he told us that he had been accepted to the Army was the day the news was filled with stories that the Taliban was officially and specifically targeting Canadian troops. It was also the day soldiers killed by friendly fire were being repatriated.

I cried uncontrollably for two weeks.

Eventually I cried less frequently although I still had absolutely no control over it. That bottom lip would start to quiver and the flood gates would open. My son is an adrenaline junky. I had to remember he would be well trained, well supported and well advised. Mostly I wanted him to be safe. And I needed to stop crying.

A few months later Steve Irwin died in a tragic accident. He was only 44 years old. On TV they kept showing a loop of the Crocodile Hunter from Australia saying he would be gladly die in the jaws of his beloved crocs because he loved them and his work with equal passion.

Suddenly I realized that I should and could be happy for my son, happy that he found something for which he felt great passion. Isn’t that what any parent wants for their children, to be happy? Three years later I am a Very Proud Military Mom of a Medic in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bearly Visible

Most mornings, a pair of does come for breakfast along the fence line. They arrive and dine so quietly that often the dogs do not detect them. Of course, if I step outside with my camera, the dogs detect me instantly. Seven barking dogs racing to the fence line quickly scare off the deer. Even if I manage to creep outside with my camera, most likely I have the wrong lens on my camera--not so today. Before I even made coffee this morning I had captured a few good photos of the lone doe.

Soon after emptying the coffee pot, I washed it out at the kitchen sink by the window. I have scanned the hillside beyond this window since the house was built in 1988. There have been plenty of birds but very few mammals, and then most often a squirrel or chipmunk--never seen are deer or bears, and certainly nothing as exciting such as a cougar or bobcat.

Today I realized that there was something out of place--certainly that burnt black stump was not between those fir trees yesterday. Then the stump stood up and took a step. It was a bear!

Not quite drying my sudsy hands, I ran to carefully grab my camera, quietly opened the door, crept to the edge of the deck and scanned the hillside for the bear. It was not to be found; as with most wildlife, it was gone in a flash. No picture today.

No matter, I have been happy to see nearly a dozen bears this season although I have only managed to take a photo of one bear cub. Can you see him, popping his curious little head up from behind the log? Look at those cute little ears. This first bear sighting of the year was special because a sow usually has one or two cubs; this little one was a triplet.

Within a few minutes, at the third of three lakes in our valley, I saw another bear. He was a larger male, less curious and more anxious to escape my gaze and therefore my camera.

At home the dogs have been barking their heads off the last couple of days, the kind of barking that usually means a larger animal such as a bear. I will keep my camera at the ready with a fully charged battery and long lens.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


My first experience with blogging was not really blogging, it was journaling, with LiveJournal, which was more suited to me but complicated to use. Blogger was very user friendly but very limited and inflexible which was frustrating; I stuck with LJ. I don't like to hold a grudge or close my mind so I thought it was time to see how Blogger had changed and voila! Better. Still not LJ, but much nicer than it was.