Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Rainbow

In June, my daughter and I traveled with the Little Traverse Youth Choir on its first international concert tour. The choir sang in Kitchener, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City and Elmira, N.Y.. Just months before leaving, Lyme and Ehrlichia symptoms flared, making the trip uncertain for either of us. Even a few days before we left, I was uneasy. When you're with people a few hours, you can hide a lot, but ten days is a long time to keep symptoms hidden. There was bound to be "rough water" along the way. Was it worth the risk?

Now that we're home and in recovery mode, I would say absolutely. This was a life-changing experience and I am so grateful we were able to be a part of it! It was not without "rapids", but we survived, with a little (or a lot of) help from our friends. There were times I was caught in mid-fall or offered an arm of support when I needed help walking. Several of the guys helped my daughter carry her suitcase up flights of stairs and one even carried her to the bus in Quebec City, when it was too painful for her to walk. Just when it seemed we were both hitting the wall, we reached Silver Bay and Seneca Lake, a perfect time to recuperate. My daughter slept  nearly 24 hours and was able to physically finish the trip. 

We reached Niagra Falls, with the sun shining and the finest of mists falling on us from the water crashing over the falls, and were treated to a glorious rainbow across the falls. As I was taking pictures, I noticed my daughter crying. One word as she looked up at me, "Grampy."

When Grampy learned he had leukemia, a double rainbow appeared over the Mackinaw Bridge. He grabbed his camera and life went on. When Grampy died just weeks before he was to teach a photography mini-course, my husband and I were asked to teach in his absence. It was an incredibly heart-wrenching week, but each day we were treated to amazing sights: a flock of sandhill cranes, blue-tailed skinks hatching in the warm sand, an eagle flying in front of our van, leading us to our picnic spot. As we made our way back to the cabin on the last day, a rainbow appeared. 

Whenever someone in our family sees a rainbow, we're reminded of Grampy. This rainbow made me laugh. Of course he was there! We had just spent nine days sharing beautiful music, making beautiful new friends and photographs. He loved to travel. He loved beautiful people. He loved nature. He loved photography. I am the photographer I am today because of him. He would not have missed this trip for the world and fortunately, neither did we.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Soup for the Soul

It started when  Northern Michigan Recipes: Six Soups for Comfort from MyNorth appeared in my e-mail with an accompanying message from my husband, "Yummmmmm!"

He's right. Soup is perfect in January, yet because I'm healing from consecutive knee surgeries, I still think twice before venturing out. Winter and crutches are a tricky mix, but  a bright blue sky and sunshine on glittering snow were the boost I needed to head to our local food co-op.

I love our co-op. It's perfect for me; small with just four aisles, great organic produce and kind employees. I run into friends and never find myself at the back of the store, zapped of energy, wondering who hid the kryptonite and how in the world I will make it back home?

In the first aisle, a young man noticed a grocery list by the spices and asked if it might belong to me? Two small miracles;  I had brought a list and I still had it. As I was checking out, a cashier came over to ask if I might have dropped my list? Surely a special place for this was the second time I had been asked if the list was mine? After declining a kind offer to carry my groceries to the car, I left the store warmed by these simple acts of kindness.

I carefully made my way along the sidewalk, still smiling, passing an elderly man who smiled back. He stopped and asked , "May I help you with your bags?"

I hesitated, unsure if it was any safer for him to attempt the task, but there was something special in the way he asked and I accepted. Blessings would come with my acceptance.

He helped me to my car and my small bag of fingerling potatoes triggered a summer memory. He told of a visit with a friend who sent him home with fresh garden vegetables. Tucked among the corn and zucchinis were fingerlings. He marveled at those delicate potatoes and for a moment we shared an appreciation for life's simple pleasures.

We said good by.

He surprised me yet again when he began pushing my cart into the store.

"Thank you for your kindness!" I called.

He waved, smiled, and with a twinkle in his eye, left me with these words, "We're supposed to love one another."

On Saturday, January 19, 2013 the U.S. celebrates the National Day of Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. I suspect my new friend celebrates it every day.

In gratitude.