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A Taste of Spring
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here's this week's!

Spring makes you want to flee your computer screens and television sets and breathe in the great outdoors. We revel in it, from the first promise of the crocuses peeking up through the snow to the glorious tulips and soon my favourite—the strawberries—which to me taste like sunshine. Even men who don’t consider themselves gardeners still must experience a heady rush driving when the sun is shining and colours dot the landscape, such a welcome contrast to the brown and grey that blanketed our land for months.

Lately my husband and I have been taking Sunday morning bike rides by the waterfront, before church. The waterfront trail in Belleville is an amazing place at 7:30 on a Sunday morning. A wood duck mom has eight babies, whom I have named Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack, in celebration of my favourite childhood book, Make Way for Ducklings. I love staring at their fluffy bodies as they turn upside down to scope out food, flanks in the air.


Further down the trail is the mother swan, who is caring for five fluffy cygnets of her own. She’s never hard to pinpoint, because at least half a dozen people are crowded around the shore wherever she is, cameras in hand, capturing these moments. I wised up after two rides of my own and now bring my camera, too, so I can keep track of their progress. Their initial days, I am told by these waterfront regulars, was rather sad, since three baby swans were eaten by snapping turtles. But considering we enjoy watching the snapping turtles, too, I guess we have to give them a break. Nature may be beautiful, but she isn’t always peaceful.

Swans 2

We usually stand still for a moment to watch the three heron we have found catch some fish, too. The fish are plentiful right now by the shore, since it’s mating season, and carp seem to like splashing around and making a fuss about it nearly as much as males of the human species do.

Belleville heron

I am not sure why I find ducklings and cygnets and herons and carp so fascinating, but perhaps it’s the promise they give—that every year, they’ll be back, with more babies, calmly carrying on what they were made to do. They don’t care about a possible Middle East war, or the unemployment crisis south of the border which may spill over here, or a coalition government, or the war in Afghanistan. I have two friends heading to Afghanistan this week, trying to do their part to set things right in a land where carnage has been all too common for generations. A walk down to the waterfront makes you feel that at least in some elements, the world is still spinning in the right direction.

Waterfront Look Out

And it’s not just the animals; it’s the people, too. For even on a Sunday morning at 7:30 you’ll see a mom roller blading, with her six-year-old son trying to master his two-wheeler beside her. Newlywed lovers sit entangled on a bench. But more than any other group, you see older couples, walking hand in hand, soaking in the beauty.

Older people seem to appreciate the simple things in life more, perhaps because they realize that enjoying the moment is a gift. And so they walk, talking quietly, breathing in the softly lapping shore as if their Sunday worship service has already begun. And they point out the beauty to each other. But I don’t look where they are pointing. I like just looking at them. To me, they are part of the beauty of this springtime, with its sunshine, and new life. They are the story of love which has come back, year after year, steadfast and true. I hope their spring story will be mine, too.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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