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nostalgic in Ottawa

On the road – in Ottawa, visiting my mother and aunt. Toronto was hot and sunny; Ottawa is cold and grey, a different climate altogether. But it’s good to be able to check up on the ladies. Last night Auntie Do, who will be 92 in April, brought over a bundle buggy filled with our dinner – a beef stew and hot fresh bread she’d just made, and a fruit salad. All delicious. After supper, we watched, first, some of the family videos I’d brought, including one of the three Leadbeater sisters, Margaret, Dorothy and Sylvia, together in my home during a family reunion in 1996. I’m filming them and asking questions, and at the end, they sing in three part harmony a song they learned in their father’s choir. So beautiful.

And then we watched the British series “Larkrise to Candleford,” about rural England in times gone by – an idealized picture of their own background. In the video interview, I asked them what their favourite memory of their childhood was, and for both Mum and her sister Mar, it was picking bluebells, violets and primroses in the fields in spring, and blackberries in summer. I wonder what my dad, who grew up in Manhattan, would have answered.

Earlier, I’d played one of the old tapes I’d just had transferred to CD, of my mother and me in 1950-51, starting in New York when I was 2 months old and later in Halifax at 10 months. And there, listening, were the two of us still, more than 60 years later. And now my own daughter is pregnant. I’d say something about the circle of life, but Elton John has already said it and it’s a cliche anyway. But still, this bond is very moving. Exhausting, though – I’m trying to organize Mum, and though she says she wants to be organized, she really doesn’t.

Important article in the “Globe” today, headline “Chilling with nostalgia.”

“Previous research has shown that a trip down memory land can boost self-esteem and decrease feelings of loneliness – but a new study found it may even help you withstand physical discomfort, too,” Prevention magazine reports. “Researchers exposed volunteers to uncomfortably cold temperatures, then asked them to engage in a little nostalgia – by listening to love songs, say, or reminiscing about past events. When they did, they were better able to withstand cold climes. In other words, conjuring up a past event in your mind might make it easier to handle other uncomfortable situations.”

So – the fact that I spend my time immersed in nostalgia in Ottawa is how I can bear the absolutely dreadful climate here. Good to know.

Home tomorrow, depart for Europe Sunday. Time flies, and so do I.

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2 Responses to “nostalgic in Ottawa”

  1. theresa says:

    What good news, that we can withstand cold by indulging in nostalgia, given that it seems to be my refuge of choice these years. Enjoy Europe! I'm just back from a month in the Czech Republic, bracketed by some time in London — arrived in blizzards, left in a haze of daffodils…
    tk

  2. beth says:

    Me too, Theresa – beam me back, Scotty. Thanks for your good wishes. I'm looking forward to some daffodils myself. I will read about your Czech visit on your blog.
    best, b.

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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.

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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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