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Michael Ondaatje buys fennel and wins my heart

Okay, right now, full on Christmas spirit. Just stood in the kitchen making the stuffing so I can get the bird in early tomorrow, listening to Michael Enright’s program on CBC. He played Martin Luther King delivering a sermon in 1967, and I wept salty tears into the breadcrumbs, adding a touch more flavour. The most inspiring, magnificent speaker I have ever heard, bar none. “We are bound by an inescapable network of mutuality,” he said, telling his audience that by the time they’d had breakfast, they had used the services of countless people around the world. He spoke about justice, liberty, brotherhood and peace. 3 weeks later, he was gone.

Then Enright played Alan Maitland doing readings as Fireside Al – that marvellous, so familiar voice. He read Samuel Pepys, keeping track of his Christmasses, enjoying his roast beef and the company of his poor wife, who didn’t have nearly as much fun. When the program ended, the stuffing was made. The CBC has changed a lot, but I’m grateful for the times when it is just as much the dear, fascinating companion it always was.
My excursion this morning took me to Mark the butcher, where I ran into a neighbour who has been fighting cancer but, happily, looked healthy and well, and then into another neighbour, one of the handsomest and most talented men in all of Canada. Michael Ondaatje, who lives nearby, came into Mark’s looking for fennel, among other things. I greeted him cheerily and he back to me – we’ve met several times though I’m sure he has no idea who I am. But I know who he is – a literary rock star and major crush. Mark loaded up my backpack with the 20 pound turkey and 2 pounds of sausage meat for stuffing, and Mr. Ondaatje, he of the god-like beard and deep smouldering eyes, helped me put it on and, wobbling, stand up. If that didn’t make my day – my entire Christmas – I don’t know what would.
Except running into Stephen on the way home. Stephen has taken over the running of the Christmas pageant at Riverdale Farm. Oh, the blissful calm of Christmas Eve for me, now that I don’t have to run around checking on the health of the baby, the whereabouts of the wise men, the frozen paths and risers at the Farm! Stephen was out looking for something for a new shepherd to wear. Would I have something? I unearthed a long, very shepherd-y coat. Costumes are my middle name.
And then going into Doubletake where the ladies were getting ready to close and enjoy their Xmas party, including the goodies I brought in yesterday. “God bless you,” one of them said, and I was reminded, again, that giving gives the most enormous pleasure.
As we speak, my daughter is flying home from visiting her father and new baby sister in Florida; I think Sam’s face has healed enough that he is at work. Soon, I’ll go to the Farm to be in the audience of the pageant, this year, just to follow and sing. And then to Mary’s for the best party of the year, beside the fire. I could not be more grateful for this moment, my life this very moment, for the voice of Martin Luther King, the smell of sage, the importance of neighbours, the squabbling of sparrows at the bird-feeder, Michael Ondaatje’s smile. And though Eckhard Tolle might disapprove, I look forward to the moments shortly to come, tonight and tomorrow.
The link below is to a beautiful worldwide musical moment. Let’s forget that Starbucks’ name is on it. More tears. Beatles forever. The greatest good joy, this moment, to you all.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


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