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Picking Apples

I went apple picking a couple of weeks ago, dragged my bum out to the orchards on a sunny, warm September afternoon. It is a bittersweet affair…marking the end of long summer days, knowing that the apples we pick will largely be used to make apple sauce and apple butter, their once red-autumn glory soon tucked away on the pantry shelves for an appearance some cold winter morning in January, February, March.

This year as I steadied the ladder for my son, I remembered my family’s yearly trips to Jones’s orchard and eating too many Winesaps. I loved the way the fruit’s tart crisp flesh puckered my cheeks. In the past few years I have taken it upon myself to keep the tradition alive, not just for the handful of pleasant memories the experience gives, but to show the Universe that I will never give up.

It was the day after an apple picking trip five years ago that I was in a car accident. As I was driving to work with my son sitting next to me, another car sped out from a side street and plowed into us. (Yes, it really did feel like I was watching the entire event happen in slow motion.) My son was unscathed, but the rearview mirror had broken off when the windshield shattered. It met with the right side of my face, leaving glass lodged in my eye and cuts and bruises all over my body. For the next few months I wondered if I would ever fully regain the sight in my right eye.

That accident showed me what it’s like to have everything change in an instant, to not know what’s going to happen tomorrow, or in a month of tomorrows, to not know if what you thought was your life yesterday will ever be the same again. For me, life wasn’t the same and I have a few nice scars to remind me of that. Sometimes I re-live that moment in my dreams, this time avoiding the oncoming car only to glide gracefully into a waiting telephone pole on the opposite side of the street. I guess someone out there is telling me that this terrible thing that happened to me was unavoidable. That’s fine. It forced me to change, to stop and look at my life and decide what was really important. It showed me who was willing to come to my door and help me through the wreckage, and who wasn’t.

The most important lesson I learned was that there is great clarity in destruction. It’s not evident when you are surrounded by chaos and debris, but it’s there, waiting on the other side of it all.

To the people of Halifax, central Nova Scotia and P.E.I., my heart and thoughts are with you as you begin to resurrect your lives from Sunday night’s hurricane.

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