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Lessons learned from summer garden tours

Gardens are all as unique as their creators.

There isn’t a correct type of garden or way to garden. What works for one garden or gardener might not work for another. This is very evident when one tours a number of gardens on the same day. READ

Learn to embrace the unexpected

I heard a story once about a young man named Dennis. As the story goes, Dennis had just wrapped up a job interview at the local coffee shop. The interviewer had left saying only applicants under serious consideration would be called for a second interview. READ

Little boy starting to grow up

Recently I’ve noticed a shift in mine and my son’s relationship. It seems that the days of couch cuddles and kissy monster attacks are fading fast while fist bumps and high fives are quickly on the rise. Justly so, this realization is getting me a bit down. I remember the first time Lars (at the time, age two) cut his arm on some debris he found on the deck. The bright red blood that trickled down his forearm was enough to give me a nervous breakdown. Like most kids, he didn’t feel the hurt until he saw that blood and then it somehow turned into complete and utter agony! I bandaged him while holding my own worry at bay. I hugged his little body close to mine, showing him I will always been there. And at the time, he embraced the gesture affectionately. Nowadays, when the kid gets a cut or scrape he screams bloody murder for about 10 seconds and when I go to hug him (the magical thing I used to do to take away the pain) he pushes me away and says, “I just need a Band-Aid Mom!” in a voice that makes me want to throw my own tantrum. I try not to take offence. “He is not my baby anymore, let him grow, let him be a kid.” This is the mantra I continue to tell myself but still have a difficult time coming to terms with. A small part of me wants to swaddle that five-year-old body into his Lego Movie duvet cover and rock him back and forth until I force the kid into submission. “Mama knows best Larsy” is the heinously creepy sing-song slogan that emerges in my head each time I think of this scenario. It then occurs to me that I am not a psychopath and should indeed just let my son mature. Regardless of how horribly speedy this seems to be happening. So like every other frenzied mother on the face of this Earth, I have bit my tongue and stood idly by while my baby boy transforms into a ... well ... boy, before my eyes. A few days ago, Jamie and I took the children to the water park. The main attraction was the enormous waves that filled the pool at designated times. Sophie being the freaky daredevil she is, hopped straight onto Daddy’s back and off they went into deeper waters to brave the surfs. Lars, on the other hand, has always been a bit more reserved when it comes to the unknown. So he and I hung back in the shallow waters, still enjoying the mammoth whitecaps that came upon us. At one point, I noticed that his adorable little feet were having a very hard time staying anchored to the pool’s floor so I stealthily made my way towards him and grabbed his hand. He must have not noticed at first because he allowed our embrace to stick for a few seconds before vehemently pulling away saying, “Mom! I can do it.” Again in the same voice that makes me want to curl up into the fetal position with a twitchy eye while bawling in a fit about it ‘just not being fair.’ Or something to the same extent. But instead, I held it together and let go of his sweet little hand (or ‘hany’ as I use to call it before he was too cool to care about what I called his appendages). Because as parents we all have to let go at some point or another. Even when we really really don’t want to. And although we may have to do this to appease our growing children, it does not mean we have to stop looking out for them. It was this thought that crossed my mind when I watched a huge wave come up on my five-year-old son and completely engulf his entire body, knocking him over beneath the water. Without thinking I reached my hand down to find his and pulled him up. The boy looked at me once he stopped sputtering out water and said, “Thanks Mama, I owe you one.” And I laughed and hugged him, and he hugged me back. Although it is inevitable that he will mature and grow, this is nothing to be sad about. It is something to rejoice! He is becoming a spectacular young man, with a brilliant personality. He is becoming his own person and isn’t that what this parenting thing is all about? Maybe it is time for me to change my focus. Instead of becoming overly nostalgic for moments past, I will look forward to the memories that have not yet been made. While resting easy knowing that no matter how old they get, every once in a while the kids may just need a helping hand from their loving mama. Lindsay Brown is a Sylvan Lake mother of two and freelance columnist. READ

Fish stocking policy lacks direction

I once served on a provincial board with a high-ranking government official who was fond of saying “policy is a cage to confine monkeys.” That saying came back to me when I got my first look at Alberta’s draft Fish Stocking Policy, which not only cages simians, but makes monkeys of every angler in Alberta. READ

The importance of pollination

Most people look at flowers and admire them for their colour, shape, size and or smell, unless the plants were planted to produce seeds or fruit (and then how the flowers look is secondary to what they produce). Flowers are either complete or incomplete. READ

Goldenrod for strength

Everywhere I walk these days, I see the yellow plumes of golden rod heralding the last days of summer. It is time to harvest goldenrod and make medicine with its abundant flowers and leaves. READ

Listen with the intent to understand other person

“I explained this to you already,” she said. “Weren’t you listening?” Years ago, I started a new job and the manager was not the best trainer. She had little patience with new staff. I remember her showing me something once then asking, “Go it?” When I asked for clarity, I got the above response. I was listening but wasn’t being heard. READ

‘Fat-shaming’ hurtful and unnecessary

“Oh my god, if I ever look like that, just put me out of my misery and shoot me.” “It’s a rare land whale, seldom seen in such parts.” “It is just disgusting, how can they even let themselves get to that point?” This is the conversation I half listened to as I watched my children play joyfully at the beach park. READ

No progress, without water

Atar, South Sudan. Land of the Paweny people in the state of Jonglei. For Red Deer’s Monybany Dau, it will always be home. “I am a part of the history of South Sudan and I want it to get better,” said Dau, 39, a former child soldier who fled the region in the 1980s amidst the brutality of civil war. “And I’ve been fighting ever since I was a child to try to change the lives of people of my village and really my entire country.” READ

Letting your freak flags fly

It used to be long hair that caused the kerfuffle. Specifically, long hair on the male gender of the species in particular. There was a time when a long-haired hippie type guy would be refused service in restaurants, sneered, snorted and spit at, and even physically pushed around, on account of his hair was over his ears, or even — heaven forbid! — touching his shoulders. READ

North Raven issue stirs passion

The recent two-part column on the threat to Alberta’s top trout stream, the North Raven River, from a proposed gravel pit operation adjacent to the springs that are its sole source has sprung a gusher of reader comment. READ

The final parade

In a few days, the future leadership of our country will suit up for the last time at the Royal Canadian Air Cadet camp at Springbrook. But it isn’t just a matter of rising early on that final parade morning. For the youth who chose to spend part of their summer acquiring new skills, knowledge and life experience, the final parade at the camp is the culmination of their efforts throughout the training year. READ

Daylily business blooms

In 2004, Jeff and Carolyn Brody came back to live on the farm where Carolyn grew up in the Kuusamo District south of Sylvan Lake. The property had been rented out for 30 years and was not in good shape. It took them three years and many hours of labour to get the property back to what they considered a livable condition. READ

A chariot into nature

When Krista Thiessen of Red Deer hit the ground for the first time in the TrailRider, she couldn’t stop smiling. “It’s something like you’ll never experience at all,” said Thiessen, 30. “Just the greatest opportunity to get out there, see some nature.” READ

Grateful people

“Are you up for a good challenge,” she asked. “Lay it on me,” I replied and we both laughed. READ

Finding good health, inside and out

As the stark white stucco ceiling stares down at me this morning, I feel somehow changed. READ

The happiest anniversary on Earth!

In just a few short days, it will be August and I don’t know about you, but I’m already wondering where most of July went. READ

Stories about the Jekyll-Hyde Fly

I was not aware that my fishing “stuff” in Old Farmer’s Almanac, Canadian Edition, also appears in the American Edition, and thus was unprepared for the inquiries about my heresy against always dead drifting artificial flies and in favour the “slow draw,” the “sudden inch,” ”the fast strip” and other moving fly fishing ploys. READ

Garderners can conserve water

Each time the temperatures soar, the employees in municipal water departments cringe as water consumption increases. READ

At ease on top of a galloping horse

Not everyone can do a handstand. Fewer yet atop a cantering horse. But for sisters Jeanine and Angelique van der Sluijs of Olds, it’s as natural as walking. READ

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