Sunday, January 27, 2008

Into the wild

There’s a big wild, world just outside our backyard.



There are trees and woodland animals and hollow logs inside which captivating creatures surely lurk. There are bird’s nests and raccoon dens and a tiny creek where ethereal minnows flash and dart to escape the grasp of chubby fingers.

There is magic out there.

Even if I didn’t always see it.

I was not born a city girl. I was born in a small town and I had to fight to win the cloak of urban style that for years I wrapped around myself.

I was living in downtown Toronto when I fell in love with a sweet and serious man who suggested we buy a house in Don Mills where he grew up. I balked. Don Mills was only 15 minutes from the epicenter of a metropolis of several million people, but it seemed worlds away from the hip, downtown world into which I finally, finally, fit.

Moving out of downtown, I feared, would be a regression.

And I guess in a way it has been, but in the best possible sense.

I had a charmed childhood. I grew up, steeped in rural traditions and familial love, on the outskirts of a tiny village surrounded by lakes and endless woods.

Across the fields I sailed on my trusty bike, legs pumping furiously, my heart swollen with conviction that just an ounce more effort would surely launch girl and bike into the sky and towards the heavens.

Through murky creeks I sloshed, chasing frogs and swampy creatures I imagined had just emerged from primordial ooze and held the secrets of the universe within their dirt and slime.

And while a woman may need a room of own, a girl does not. A girl needs only a tall tree that she can scramble up and sit and contemplate the world below in perfect contentment.


But contentment has a way of turning into yearning and as I grew I did begin to yearn. A walking cliché, I yearned for the bright lights of the big city, imaging that I would conquer it and bring it to heel with my vigor and enthusiasm.

And I did, in my way

I landed a good job with glamorous overtones and collected witty, urbane friends. I enjoyed exotic travel and buzzing parties and strange and unusual things my childhood self had not even the capacity to dream about

And it was all very good but once again contentment turned to yearning and I finally did leave my sexy little place downtown to move here to a house with a door in the backyard which seemed to lead right back to where I came from

I have walked for miles outside this back door. I consulted the trees as I planned my marriage and prayed to the birds and the squirrels for a child. When I finally carried one in my stomach, every night I marched purposely alongside our creek, sending up each step as a tiny, separate prayer for his safe arrival.

And as I walked I began to see that this place, these woods, filled a need in me that I had long denied existed. I began to see that this place, Don Mills was the place where my childhood memories and my adult reality could co-exist.

It’s a place where a boy may climb a tree and survey his private kingdom, where scientific wonders may be captured in muddy bottles and a forest path might possibly lead straight to heaven’s gate.

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47 comments:

Laura said...

Wonderful and magical adventures are waiting for Graham just outside your backyard. How wonderful!

Yet another wonderful post - thank you for sharing.

Kyla said...

It sounds perfect. A good balance for you all. And Graham is so cute.

Gabriella said...

It sounds so beautiful...what a great place for Graham to grow up.
You've got such a way with words, I love reading your posts!

ewe are here said...

Wonderful balance in life ... wonderful post.

Melissa said...

It's great for your little one to have a place to hang out!!

OHmommy said...

How cute is he?

Follow him. I love the adventures and the world according to preschoolers.

You have such a nice balance, my Diva!

Holly said...

Awesome post! A perfect place for a little boy to grow up.

ALF said...

It sounds wonderful there! So well written, it makes me want to go outside and run around!

Jenifer said...

You make me want to hop into the van and head to Underhill Dr.! We have been doing some major cleaning out and organizing in the basement. I consolidating some of my baby stuff and came across a tiny shoe box with my first pair of Stride Right walking boots. My Mom bought them across the street at the shoe store called Barnes and paid $7.50 for them - I am sure a fortune 36 odd years ago.

You have made a wonderful choice for your family, where wild and tame can peacefully coexist.

Life As I Know It said...

What a great post. Sounds like you are in exactly the right place for you and your family.

Becky L said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog.
The pictures are so cute.

Are You Serious! said...

What a beautiful area!

Karen MEG said...

Perfect spot for Graham to grow up, it's a great area, so close to downtown and yet so far in a lot of ways. I love the trees and the woods in your photos.
You made such a great choice in settling there with your family.
Beautifully written as always, DMD.

Oh, The Joys said...

Well done, my friend!

jennwa said...

Wow, that was a well written post. I loved how you described everything.
And those pictures go along perfectly.

Amy said...

City boy, country boy.
Both upbringing offer so much. I grew up in the country. Some days I wish my children could experience that adventure.
BTW..Couldn't your "wild boar’s head with a freakish smile" hang out on one of the trees back there? Might be interesting...or not.

Family Adventure said...

Beautiful post...you are lucky you are able to offer Graham a bit of both worlds!

Heidi :)

Tot's Mom said...

If only I could have a small garden and a backyard too. Here in Hong Kong, almost everyone live in apartments. A backyard would be a luxury.

Beth said...

"...with a door in the backyard which seemed to lead right back to where I came from..."

I love that line! Great post!

GoMommy said...

Lovely! The woods were always a magical place for us as kids. It's nice to watch our children discover that as well, isn't it?
I have also struggled to leave my "small town ways" far behind me, but I think it's not something you ever really escape. It shapes you more than you know!

Victoria said...

Cute pics! And a wonderfully written post. We love to explore the woods near our house - we live in suburbia of medium-sized city, but get to the woods/parks/trails every weekend. It's soo good for the soul, right?

Amy said...

such a sweet post. you have a beautiful little boy there!

Damselfly said...

Wonderfully written! It's so great to have the best of both worlds, eh?

mamatulip said...

Such a cool post, so well written.

shay said...

This is exactly how I feel about my journey to our new home. From small town to big city back to the country...to a place of magic where our kids can discover "forts" and secret climbing trees all around them!

Jer said...

Nice backyard exploration! It's like an "adventure" right outside your door...

wheelsonthebus said...

You are an absurdly good writer. I've just added you to my reader!

Emily

MamaGeek said...

I love your backyard and your post (and even more so your writing style). : )

Dawn said...

Your writing is beautiful! This was a wonderful post. Don Mills sounds like a fabulous place for your son to grow up in.

kittenpie said...

It's funny, I grew up a city girl, but I often spent chucnks of time in rural Ontario or Iowa, creating a balance of my own. and my husband, too, grew up in Don Mills. Me, I don't drive, so it was a change I just couldn't make, but I see much of the same magic in the tree-lined streets and wide, expansive parks of my own neighbourhood. I think just loving where you are makes a magic special to you, and I see that you have found it.

The Boyds Family said...

What a wonderful post and an adorable little boy you have!

I am a city girl and have often thought how nice it would be to live in the country, with acres full of God's beautiful creations. What an awesome place for a kids imagination.

MommyTime said...

This is beautiful -- the writing and the sentiment. It is hard, isn't it, to find the balance between the city girl dreams and the mama dreams... what we dream for our kids is so antithetical to the city in some ways (at least for me). You sound so balanced and happy, though, which is fabulous.

tommie said...

very well written....looks like he is loving this magical adventure!

Val Cox said...

what a fantastic place to grow up!

slouching mom said...

Loved the last line of this post. Beautiful.

Barrie said...

Oh, you're making me homesick for my Don-Mills childhood! (I wonder if I went to the same high school as Rob?)

secret agent mama said...

Your descriptions are wonderful! He's going to have a wonderful childhood with you as his Mama.. Blessed, the both of you!

Kellan said...

You have found a balance and such a wonderful place to raise your sweet son - you are very lucky Kelly! It's not always easy for people to find contentment - it sounds like you have.

Have a good Tuesday. See you soon. Kellan

painted maypole said...

this is wonderful. sounds like you are home.

Nap Warden said...

What a great place...for many adventures to come!

Tracey said...

Exactly. You have more wilderness readily available than I, but I truly love having nature close at hand. How lucky for your little guy!

Queen of My Domain said...

It's funny how we can come full circle like that isn't it. Sounds like Graham is going to have as much fun growing up as you did.

caramama said...

That's just beautiful. I'm glad that you found a place to fill the yearning and that will be great for your kid. :)

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

So beautifully written. Sounds like an amazing place to raise a child and to wander and dream.

La La said...

I, too, grew up in a rural area, with ponds and tree houses and such. I'm a city girl at heart, though, and I couldn't wait to leave go to Los Angeles!

If I had children, though, I'd have to reconsider!!!

We did have fun!

Beautiful writing. Wonderful photos.

Jennifer said...

How magical. Isn't it amazing how, even as adults who have moved on to "bigger and better" things, the call of our childhood is so powerful -- whether we know it or not. Home still feels like home, once we're ready for it.

Cecily R said...

Oh, you write beautifully. It makes me want to come to Don Mills tomorrow and take a walk with you. Or if my words came out like yours, maybe to consult those trees myself.

The pictures are adorable.