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Dog Days of Summer


I received this email from my dear friend, Cindy Barka. When I read it, I could vividly picture the memories she shared and it brought a smile to my face. Some of her childhood experiences are also mine, like putting a blade of grass between my thumbs and learning to whistle. I can close my eyes and feel that surge of pride when I could successfully produce that whistling sound.
With her permission, I am sharing Cindy’s reminiscence with you in this week’s blog post. Maybe it will bring back some of your own fond childhood memories.
She also shares her current summertime adventures, wrestling with an old trunk and soaking up the tranquility of her backyard oasis. Enjoy the read...
The Past...
These hot summer days remind me so much of my childhood and how I looked forward to heading off to my uncle’s farm. It was a wonderful place to escape the city, run through the grass barefoot, pick raspberries, find snakes and frogs, eat toast cooked on the stove, and sleep huddled together in a big feather bed.
There was a general sense of well-being on the farm. We would get sent out, by an adult, to look for cows that had gotten out of one of the pastures and were wandering on the lane. That gated laneway seemed miles long. We would walk and pull up blades of grass, putting them between our thumbs and trying to learn to whistle.
On occasion, we would find a cow or two and herd them back to the correct pasture. That was pure excitement, our purpose coming to fruition. The memory brings a smile to my face. Good and much simpler times.
When we moved next to the Experimental Farm I could not have been happier. I spent most summer days there right into my mid-teens. The farmers got so fed up with us that they put us to work. I can hand milk a cow, feed a calf, muck out stalls, look after the tack and bridle a 2000 lbs horse. Not bad for a kid raised in the city!
The Present...
I’ve been painting smaller projects these days, and as usual trying to fill my life with colour in the garden.
Cindy's garden
Cindy's Garden
I have an ongoing project that has brought so much frustration with it. After completing more than half of a large wooden trunk, I realized that my paint had a problem and was not adhering properly to the surface wood. I’ve been dragging it outside and stripping it slowly on the days when it hasn’t been too hot and humid.
Cindy's current project, a trunk that has brought with it frustration
Cindy's trunk frustration
In the meantime, I stress because I’ve passed the due date several times. The client is patient but I feel the burden of completion and delivery deeply. That anxiety probably comes from a career where deadlines were critical and missed targets could have far reaching impacts on people’s lives. I’m breathing and staying calm as I write this, or should it be as I try to right this, lol.
To see more of Cindy’s creative work, check out Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer: Creativity and Purpose.
I’ve added a tiny water feature to my backyard and I’m enjoying the sound in the evening when I sit out there. The “wild flower shade mix” that I scattered in the spring has produced a smattering of blue, yellow, orange and red flowers. They are too dispersed and lost against the next plant’s leaves and stems to really stand out but if you look closely there are gems hidden amongst the greenery.
Hidden treasures of colour in Cindy's garden
Hidden treasures of colour in Cindy's garden
Hidden treasures of colour in Cindy's garden
I hope Cindy’s story brought a smile to your face too. I could not help but take notice of the contrast between the carefree summer days of childhood and the stress we learn to place upon ourselves in adulthood. Adulting is hard but Cindy does it with grace and a touch humour!
Cindy Barka, Photo by Melanie Mathieu
If you would like to read more about Cindy and her journey living with metastatic breast cancer, click on Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer.
Colleen Kanna is a breast cancer champion and creator of COKANNA Designs, a line of stylish bamboo Canadian-made clothing for women over 40. Five percent of sales are donated to the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre in support of their Head Start Program for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

2 comments


  • Colleen

    Lillian, your visits to your cousins in Farnham, Quebec must have been so much fun for you. Such great childhood memories. As for the whistling with two blade of grass between your thumbs, it was indeed a hard skill to master.


  • Lillian

    Good for you, I never did get to master making the whistling noise between
    two blades of grass. It brought back memories of my youth many years ago
    when I used to visit my cousins in Farnham, Quebec where my cousins used
    to live in the country.


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