Memoir Writing Contest: Reflections on Green, Memories of Life Observed

by Matilda Butler on March 21, 2011

catnav-scrapmoir-active-3Post #77 – Women’s Memoir Writing, ScrapMoir – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

Memoir Writing Contest: Memories of Life Observed

Earlier today we published the first place winners of our Reflections on Green memoir contest in the categories of Wonderful Memories and Difficult Memories. And now we are pleased to publish the first-place winning entry in our Memories of Life Observed category. Janet Caplan’s memory is sure to evoke your own memories of spring walks.


Janet Caplan
Saturday, February 12.
memoir-writing, memoir writing contest, memoir, journalingLate morning and my husband and I are out for a long walk with our dogs. The sun is shining, the air is warming and the gravel on the trail crunches beneath our feet. The dogs scamper back and forth, joy and smiles on their cocker spaniel faces. They know, just as we do, that spring has arrived here on Vancouver Island. All that remains green throughout the year is greener still after our season of rains.
I unbutton my jacket and feel the warm air on my skin. I jam my leather gloves into my pockets and my husband removes his blue woolen hat. It’s too warm for all that. On either side of the trail I see new grass sprouting. The bright green shoots of the fawn lilies are beginning to spread. I try to unfurl them, searching for their white flower buds. Nothing yet, but soon, I tell my husband.
memoir-writing, memoir, memoir writing contest, journalingWe kick along the trail for awhile, sending sand and pebbles in various directions. We’re both silent, taking in fresh spring smells and sights. The sharp, unmistakable aroma of cedar trees fills our nostrils. I miss that scent during our long wet, almost sunless winters. Now that things are drying out a bit, the cedar smell is, once again, becoming noticeable. The odor of a couple of horses, just ahead of us on the trail, lingers in the air. And above our heads a trio of squawking ravens chases each other from treetop to treetop. As we move on we can hear a woodpecker tapping busily somewhere in the forest.  Steller’s jays, robins and an assortment of sparrows dart in and out of the bushes and trees; Wally, our young spaniel lunges helplessly after them.  Through the trees and across a farmer’s field we notice a flock of sheep grazing in the spring sunshine. Their baaing barely reaches our ears.
The dogs rush back and forth excitedly. The fresh smells must be stimulating at their level. We move on and as the trail crosses over a ravine, we hear the gurgling of the stream that runs through it. At this time of year the water is fast and high as it spills out of the hills around us. It splashes hard against the many rocks on its course.
The last portion of the trail runs parallel to a quiet residential street. Through the trees we glimpse people in their yards cleaning up winter’s debris, bagging sopping wet leaves and readying their gardens for planting in the upcoming weeks. My husband and I remind each other that we should do the same. But this is Saturday so we’ll “play” first and finish our hike.
memoir-writing, journaling, memoir, memoir writing contest, autobiographyAs we approach our turnaround point we see scattered amongst the new green shoots of grass, the first wildflowers of the season: tiny blue violets gathered close to the edges of the culverts on either side of our path. They are simply beautiful in their shades of pale blue to violet and their very existence in mid-February brings smiles to our faces. My husband and I look at each other with great satisfaction as I’m certain we’ve done each spring since moving to Canada’s west coast just over five years ago. Should we rush home and let friends and family back east know about our sightings? It may not be nice to gloat but it’s sure tempting.
The dogs circle the post marking the end of this section of the trail and we begin to retrace our steps. This time, the wind is behind us, carrying some of the saltiness off of the ocean waters not too distant from where we walk. As we move into early afternoon the trail has become more populated with cyclists, runners, hikers and dogs. I notice jackets removed and tied around waists. The sun feels practically hot.
Days such as today raise spirits and the mood on the trail is high. People stop and talk about the day, the dogs, the upcoming garden season. Nobody wants to leave or do those inevitable Saturday errands and chores. And so the way back is more of a meander than a hike. That’s just fine.
Descriptions of days such as this fill my journal. I am truly in awe of the wonders of this west coast: the trees, the flowers, the birds and the rains. I grew up in Canada, land of ice and snow….except for where I now make my home. Every day here is a memory worth keeping and so I write about them and I carry a camera on my walks to record the beauty that I see.

Congratulations Janet. You have captured the many ways that your senses remember your walk. And to our readers: We hope you’ve enjoyed the three stories we published today. If you missed the first two winner published earlier today, we hope you’ll read them as well.

Here is the link to the first-place winning story in the Wonderful Memories category.

Here is the link to the first-place winning story in the Difficult Memories category.

And congratulations to all of our Honorable Mention winners. Their stories will be published later, beginning in July.

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