I am from…

I am from a worn yard sale coffee table strewn with books,
art course items, and a wrought iron candelabra;
from a burgeoning Christmas cactus
that has been passed from generation to generation
and a crystalline bay window which frames the fall’s paintbrush
sweeping color in the trees outside.

I come from copius bookshelves piled high with miscellaneous treasure,
picture frames recollecting past friendships, Starbucks coffee cups and Piglet mementos
from an antique dresser covered in jewelry, artistic remnants and strewn vestement
and an adult trundle bed, Ikea formed and yet not fully assembled

I am from a single-wide in a trailer park
rough-hewn roads in muskeg, part of the mission property
moose out the backdoor and 50 below school days
from listening to my father’s voice on the radio
and ‘digging to China’ in the red mud, while crafting clay ‘pots’

I’m from a rental house with tiny gardens
the landlord wasn’t willing to compromise
but the neighborhood grew up around us, literally
from setting up a childhood lemonade stand on the driveway
large and friendly construction workers holding daity cups carefully

I am from a fifty year old suburban back-split
with bright blue doors etched with prismatic stained-glass
cozy blankets covering sofa and armchairs,
cuddled in during fall nights with a hot cup of cocoa and a good book

I am from the land of maple leaf
changing from green to brilliant red
The sugar maple, whose long gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.
whose life blood runs sap strength into glorious amber syrup
falls feast celebrating with sausage and pancakes

I’m from Christmas stories read at the breakfast table, candle lit
as we sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the Christ child
from talking politics and culture in the living room after dinner, coffee in hand
from long trips up to cottage country 10 years running, refreshment in nature

I am from the families Andrews and Shauf
one settled centuries ago, New England freedom tasted
the other hard working German immigrants leaving Dakota
for promise of Canada’s farmland, land ownership.

I am from Mac and Doris, Herb and Isabel,
from listening to my Grandpa praise God with piano anthems,
from serving alongside Grandma at her Lenton lunches
From cuddling with Grandma despite her arthritic pain
from tasting warm, sun-ripened raspberry’s in Grandpa’s garden

I am from losing the car keys at least once a year
I am from bbq chicken every night for dinner,
except when salmon makes a delightful appearance
I am from shopping for groceries at midday on Saturday
I am from driving around town with barely a drop of gas in the tank

I am from birthday songs sang boisterously on birthday mornings,
I am from ‘Janel needs to socialize less,
she would get a lot more schoolwork done’
and ‘Janel you are like Barnabus…such an encourager!’
I am from ‘Trust in the Lord with all you strength’
and ‘This little light of mine’

I am from the nativity scene making an appearance every Christmas morning
dawn breaking and the Christ child appears to remind of the glory of the day
I am from discussions over who won the War of 1812, and how to spell ‘honour’ 
I am from the land of the midnight sun, the state barely bought from Russia,
I am from the Stripes and Stars, but claim the Red and White

I am from creamy beef stroganoff served with steaming egg noodles;
spiced chicken curry piled high with sweet raisins and tangy coconut,
I am from fish sticks with ceasar dressing for dipping, 
from sweet potato fries with dip, and Hawaiian pizza with extra pineapple.
I am from chocolate cherry pie piled high with cool whip, 
I am from warm rice pudding, a little bit of sweetness and cinnamon spice.

I am from a grandfather whose father helped wire the Waldorf Astoria; who encouraged my love of the written word  and challenged me to love the Lord in all things.
I am from a grandmother whose younger sister died in a freak accident; whose rice casseroles were my comfort food of Saturday afternoons.
I am from a grandfather who was the oldest of 9 children; who had a soft way about him and a green thumb.
I am from a grandmother whose body betrayed her early in life; a grandmother who let me sneak cheese slices all day long

Memories, moments; both preserved in my mind and in picture form
scrapbooks yet to be started, file folders full of remembrance
and pictures flit across the screen
Running out of room for frames, feel like I’m building a shrine
every horizontal space covered with memories framed

I am from the Golden Horseshoe, I am from the frozen Tundra,
 from the land of button blanket dancing, the land of canned music from stereos
I am from bad drivers and taking your life in your hands,  from dogsled racing at the speed of light

I am..from and I am…going to.




8 thoughts on “I am from…

  1. Janel, I love this and am so glad you wrote it…filled with great imagery and Canadian spirit. 🙂 What a beautiful gift to know you better. Did you enjoy it? Seems like a wonderful way to spend part of a birthday. And Barnabas — wow, I see that one!

  2. Oh my goodness, Janel. I completely agree with Ashley – this is so vivid and rich and spirited. All these images, they help me see more of who you are (and of course where you come from), and so this read was so enjoyable. Happy belated birthday, too!

  3. I love this, Janel! These ‘I’m from’ posts are a revelation, aren’t they? Your vividly rich outpouring helps us to know you and your history in ways that we wouldn’t have done before. And we emerge all the wiser and grateful for all you have shared of yourself and your life. Thank you! 🙂 xx

  4. I loved your blog. Had I not known it was you – I would have guessed !! The grandfather with the Rasberries, the grandmother who cuddled in spite of arthritis were my parents !! Will definitely check our your blogs. You write SO well.

  5. Thank you for sharing this again on Facebook! What gorgeous imagery and now I feel like I know you just a bit better 🙂 So many wonderful memories all rolled into one post. Love you, friend! 🙂

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