This weekend, Alberta had its first real taste of spring and like many other Albertans I went out for long periods of time just walking along or jogging. Since the weather was pretty good today even though the sun wasn’t doing a good job I decided to take the kids out for a bit around the lake that is close to our house. As we stepped out onto our street the kids immediately recognized our neighbour from up the street and they took off after her, waving, and screaming hoping to catch up with her and her dog. They did catch up with her and I caught up with them. During our walk which took about an hour, I found our neighbour to be; pleasant to talk to, knowledgeable about her surroundings and above all she was a trend setter, and that’s when I realized that when you plant a seed it will grow.
I would see her often walking her dog Sammy along the lake and would we would often exchange hellos and small chit chats about the weather, living in Alberta, Canada, the weather proves to be a great ice breaker. The kids knew her not just as a neighbour but also as a tutor as she had helped them the year before teaching them English as a second language. Today, however, the kids wanted to show her how big they were by always making sure she was watching as they did their kid’s stuff. Suzy Q was chatting away and Spiderman was showing off his biking skills to her. As I walked besides her she introduced herself as Marlene even though the kids called her by her married name “by the way I have yet to meet a Marlene that isn’t a good hearted person” and we began our long talk on our long walk. She was a very pleasant and soft spoken person and spoke with a sort of sing song voice, the type that connected with nature. She smiled a lot and was very observant. Right after we started speaking I found a lot of qualities about her that I admired and her demeanor made it at the top of the list. She did not seem to be in a rush or in a hurry, just took her time enjoying the conversation and being a good listener. During our conversation I realized that she was not just a lover of nature but that she was very knowledgeable about it.
As we continued to walk around the lake she made sure to point out certain things to the kids. She told them about all the different birds that lived on the lake, about the two geese that had found their way back and about a type of plant that grew on trees turning the tree almost to an orange colour and yes the kids listened. They seemed fascinated by all that she was saying. Halfway through, Suzy Q, got tired and so we decided to take a rest on one of the big logs. While we were resting Marlene decided to play “I spy” with the kids and everyone got in on the action. After we rested, we came upon a tree that I had often passed but paid little attention to. It was a pussywillow tree. Marlene broke off a piece and allowed the kids to feel its softness, then I felt it. She then told us that if we broke of a piece, took it home and placed it in a jar that it would actually continue to live. We were all excited and wondered if ours would grow. The kids were so excited that they wanted to take turns holding the little branch as if it was a gem. When we started our walk we noticed that Marlene would pick up garbage as we went along but when she picked up her Sammy’s droppings after her that’s when she really got the kids’ attention
They wanted to know why she was picking up the garbage and picking up “dog poop”. “Well,” she explained, we all have to do our part to keep the lake clean don’t we?” “It looks so much better, doesn’t it? “ she asked. She also told them that if everyone who went for a walk picked up three pieces of garbage that the lake would always be kept clean. Then she went on further to explain that if she didn’t pick up the droppings left by her dog that she could face a fine. The kids told her that no one was looking and that she didn’t have to do it but she told them that it’s better when we do good things. Suzy Q, then decided that when she next took her dog Norco out for a walk that she would pick up after him.
As we came to the end of our walk the kids took off in all directions looking for three pieces of garbage to put in the trash cans. Even I picked up a can or two. As we came closer home I looked at the piece of pussywillow that I was holding with my hand and realized that I wanted to be like Marlene. She had just planted seeds that was not only started to grow in me but also in little Suzy Q and the little spiderman on his bike. She planted the seed teaching us that even though sometimes we are not the ones who make the mess that it’s okay to clean it up, she planted the seed of teaching us about nature and how to respect the birds and their homes but most of all she planted the seed of being a pleasant person to talk to. As I keep an eye on my pussywillow watching it grow, it will remind me of the seeds that Marlene planted that I need to help grow.
Thanl you Marlene.