I wrote this at the beginning of spring. It’s a pleasure revisiting this in the middle of fall when the leaves have said their good-byes and the birds are busy migrating to warmer skies.

Who said things have come to a standstill?

The daffodils opened a few weeks ago

‘Fluttering and dancing in the breeze’, 

They whisper tales of hope

When I went out for a walk in the woods,

I spotted a yellow and white bedecked carpet

And felt my heart leap

As the wildflowers hummed cheerful tunes from forest beds

The birds have laid eggs

In the exhaust vent from my kitchen hood

Their constant chirrups punctuate the quiet of my kitchen

As dishes sauté and simmer on my warm stove

Bird nest in my kitchen vent -drawing by Mariann Joseph

Last evening, I spotted a little bunny

Camouflaged by sage stubble

Nibbling tender grass in my backyard,

The kit hopped around with measured caution

A tiny squirrel appeared on the fence

Watching and thinking-

‘This little fella on the ground looks like me,

He may have bigger ears, but for sure my tail’s bushier’

Little Squirrel – drawing by Mariann Joseph

Thinking such thoughts, it lingered for a minute

And, jumped onto the pine tree

Thinking more thoughts –

‘More things to do, more cones to nibble…’

Who said things have come to a standstill?

The grandchild in me

I was walking back home, after more than an hour of being in the woods. It was October, and the day was warm for fall standards.

For me, the woods are always dark and deep. Quiet and still, except for the birds that chirp and dart from one tree to another. Sometimes, they just choose to perch on a branch and stay comfortably there for what feels like ever.

Sugar Maple Park

As I came out of the woods and entered a paved road, I noticed a little battalion walking towards the woods. A grandpa with a bunch of grandchildren, it looked like. The boys were jumping around, two of them holding grandpa’s hands. I couldn’t take my eyes off this group. I could feel the love and warmth they exuded. I continued to do what I do when I encounter such scenes. Keep looking and fill up my heart with their happy emotions.

The grandpa looked content. One of the boys sported a mischievous grin. So mischievous that I couldn’t but pay him more attention than the others. As soon as he understood that I was paying attention, his grin turned to a near laugh though I couldn’t hear the sound of it. ‘Maybe he chuckled’, I thought.

Sixteen Mile Creek, Oakville

I told my husband, who was walking alongside, that the little one was up to something. “The grandpa probably knew it, but he was playing along”, I suggested.

That’s when I noticed the boy with the mischievous grin stick something behind the grandpa’s t-shirt. Within seconds, we passed them and I turned to see what it was. Dried thistle flowers or Burdock burrs, as they are called, not just one or two, but a handful of them neatly stuck behind grandpa’s t-shirt!

I stole a glance at the grandpa who greeted us as we passed them. His smile was beautiful and he seemed blissful in the company of the little ones. I turned to look at them disappear into the woods and caught the little boy turn and look at me. More grinning and more mischief in his eyes!

The moment and the discovery brought alive the granddaughter in me. I suddenly thought about my grandpa who left us two years ago. I am almost 43 and I had my grandpa till I was 41. He was 100 when he left for the light. I have 41 years of memories with him, or a few years less, considering I don’t remember the first few years. Does one feel enough about the love of grandparents? I surely don’t.

I am grateful for all the beautiful times I have had with my grandparents, but I wonder what it would be to have them for a few more years. Would it make me feel younger?

My maternal grandpa was the last of my grandparents to leave. When he left, I felt the grandchild in me become less important. I felt that the grandchild in me started fading away, slowly.

One of the happiest moments that I would recall is a particular situation in which my grandpa had to introduce me to a third person. A neighbor, or someone visiting. He would proudly introduce me by saying, “She is my granddaughter.” After I became a mother, and after the responsibilities of being a parent weighed me down, ‘she is my granddaughter’ made me feel lighter and younger.

Now, years after he left me, it’s moments like the one in the woods, unexpected encounters with other grandfathers that would bring back memories of time spent with my own.

Burrs – image from ardentfootsteps.com

Empty Nests


“Look at that big tree by the side of the road. See, it has no leaves, no flowers and no buds. But it has bird nests. It has two of them.”

“Look closely- do you sense emptiness in and around the nests? The birds have flown away, and it must have been at least a few weeks, isn’t it?”

“Look how windy it is today, but see, the tree holds them dearly, even as the winds pull its brittle branches along. When it snows, with its thin branches, it’d try to cover the nests. But to shelter whom; does it even know? To shelter this painful vacuum?”

“The only knowledge the tree has is that it gave the birds a home once upon a time, shielded it from rain and shine, and from the cold autumn winds…and that, today, the birds aren’t there, they have gone far…The tree pointlessly hopes that one day, the birds may come back…”

“You talk only from the trees’ point of view? Don’t the birds have their story to tell as well?”

“Tell me, what is their story? Won’t you? Are you one of the birds yourself?”