There are two types of people in this world. The sentimentalists and those who have no trouble letting go of the past as they gaze expectantly into the future.
Put me into the first category. Joni Mitchell was thinking of me when she wrote – with one small change,
“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Til it’s (almost) gone”
My boss recently offered me her recently deceased father’s chair which had an motor in it to help elevate the sitter into a standing position. I thought that it would help my own father, who was having difficulty standing up, following a mild stroke. On arriving at the office the next day she immediately apologized. “My mother made a face when I mentioned lending you the chair. She’s not ready to give up any of dad’s stuff yet.”
While I don’t have trouble throwing out things which I don’t really care for – I’m not that much of a saver, I do have emotional upheavals when I get close to throwing things away which connect me to the past in a happy way.
For example, we are going to move – hopefully soon – from our house of 13 years. Now, more than ever, I find myself walking around with a heavy heart. How I love it so! Meals eaten in the dining room are coloured by the thought that a year from now we most probably will not be eating there. Moments spent in front of the wood stove, on the rug, chatting about nothing and everything, are bittersweet knowing that at the new house things won’t be quite the same.
My wife Corrine believes that my sentimentality is a sign of weakness. But I put it down to the differences between a Taurus which I am, and an Aries, which she is. One becomes quite attached to the material, the other to the plans and projects of the future.
Today, while helping our son collect two giant light tables, my wife offered him an old blanket, used in the past as a bed for one or more of our dogs, to help protect the florescent light bulbs that go with the tables. “We used this for the dogs?” I asked, tears almost welling up, as I cradled and smoothed the blanket in my arms. My beautiful dogs slept on this? Hmm, how lovely it was to hold it before I reluctantly handed it over.
You wouldn’t think that the aforementioned light tables would ignite sadness but they do. For about five years, my wife and I operated a CSA project – Community Supported Agriculture – from our home in Dunham, where we delivered organic vegetable baskets once a week during the summer and fall to our clients in Montreal and Knowlton. Even after we stopped the project we continued to grow vegetables in a fairly ambitiously every summer.
This was no small garden plot. Just let me say that we had zucchinis, tomatoes, green beans and broccolis coming out of our ears, to name a few. To accomplish this, we started many of our own seedlings come April. This is where the light tables comes in.
How to describe the experience…
First of all, it was hard work, the watering and draining, the fertilizing the thinning and, first and foremost, the sowing. Lots of work. But some very special feeling developed once those seeds germinated and the little seedlings started growing higher and higher, towards the light.
These light tables were not commercial but had been built specially for us by a carpenter friend. They had three levels of lights and built-in shelves that could be slipped in or out depending on the size of the sprouts. There is something very special arriving in a room filled with happy, healthy and obviously thriving little baby vegetable seedlings.
All these memories and feelings flowed over me as I watched Jonah cleaning the shelves as he prepared to wheel the tables to the waiting van. My feelings would temporarily vanish each time it came to heaving them, not actually light in weight, into the van, but they remain with me now.
A part of me wants to put my foot down, take them back, and make some sort of plan for germinating something, anything, just a few weeks down the road. But this is patently unrealistic considering the tiny size of garden that Corrine is planning this summer. Anyway, where these tables are headed good things are going to happen. One is destined for a high school in Montreal where young people will most certainly experience for themselves the joy of germinating seeds and seeing for themselves as life pokes its head from the dark soil to eventually blossom and grow to a thousand times its original size (our cherry tomato plants were often well over six feet tall).
Therefore, faced with no choice, I must reluctantly put my sadness away.