I was sorry to miss the Sharon Butala reading at McNally Robinson in April. Luckily my friend Esther shared her copy of Sharon’s new book Where I Live Now with me, so I have been savouring Sharon Butala’s wonderful writing this past week.
Where I Live Now describes how Sharon began a new chapter of her life after her husband died and she made the transition from her isolated farm on the Saskatchewan prairie to a condo in Calgary. Many of Sharon’s words really resonated with me.
Sharon writes……..”When I was a child we moved a lot, yet I don’t ever recall the sense of having lost a home, because wherever we went ……..”home” still went with us everywhere, as long as we were together. “
By the time I finished high school my family had called seven houses “home” but I too don’t remember feeling a sense of loss about leaving those places although experiences in each remain very vivid to me. As long as I was with my family I was home.
Outside our house on Beaverbrook Street in Winnipeg, ready to go to the lake with my Auntie Millie and her children. I was seven.
When Sharon moved to Calgary she thought…… “my connection with nature would be only in my strolls along asphalt paths through manicured parks with hundreds of other people.” Sharon was surprised to discover several wilderness areas close to her home where she could enjoy the beauty of the natural world.
We felt the same way when we moved to Hong Kong thinking it would just be a place of skyscrapers and pavement and hordes of people. We discovered to our delight great wilderness areas perfect for hiking within easy distance of our apartment and school.
Wilderness hiking with my students in Hong Kong.
Sharon also writes about a trip she and her husband made to Slovakia to discover the place her husband’s father had come from. She describes it “as the most fascinating of all our trips.”
Dave and I have traveled extensively but I would have to also say that “the most fascinating of all our trips” was the one we made to Ukraine to find the birthplaces of Dave’s parents and my grandparents.
I stand beside the tombstone of my great, great grandfather Daniel Peters in Nikolaipol Cemetery Ukraine
Where I Live Now helped me think about how my past experiences can inspire me to remain truly alive as I age.
Nature in the City
The Crazy Man
The Station of Tears