Monday, May 14, 2012


View from the Villa

My daughter once described the area along the Mediterranean as blissful, and I found myself wondering what it would be like to be there. What would blissful entail; how would it be defined for me? So I began by looking up the word blissful in the English dictionary and found several descriptors, some of which just simply didn’t apply. The one that seemed to fit the bill for me was the one every soul would long for - extreme happiness; ecstasy. Could being on the Mediterranean offer this type of experience? It remained to be seen.

As with most decisions in my life, they come quickly and I rarely veer from the path once defined. Selecting Estepona, Spain as my Mediterranean destination, I prepared myself to be “bliss-tified” and didn’t look back.

The villa I rented rests thirty meters from the beach that stretches for miles in either direction. A view of the town of Estepona beckons in the distance both day and night, and Gibraltar and Africa grace the horizon. The glassed-in veranda overlooking the beach opens to the invitation of gentle breezes and the songs of birds. Flowers abound, and the scent of orange blossoms and jasmine fill the air. Spanish music drifts through the window, and the sound of voices mingle with the sound of the waves. All is well in my world, wrapped within the walls of this wonderful getaway.

So let me define “my blissful” from a Spanish perspective. It is a meteor flashing across the night sky and the moonlight reflected on the water. It is the warmth of the sun that greets me every morning just like a cup of coffee, and the wind that cools my face when the sun gets hot. It is tapas shared at my favorite cafe with a vino rosada or pitcher of sangria, as the birds perch on the chairs and boats drift quietly into the marina. A cafe con leche and a friendly hola from a passerby warm my soul in the cool of the evening. As I struggle with my limited Spanish, the locals smile and show infinite patience. A siesta in the afternoon draws everything into a quite peace, and I long to embrace the culture here. Can heaven be so blissful? Job said “these are just the edges of his ways”, and I say hallelujah!

As I ponder “blissful” here on the shores of the Mediterranean, I must ultimately recognize that it is a state of mind, and therefore is not anchored by ones surroundings as much as by ones outlook on life.  For me it is leaving the baggage behind and embracing new experiences; allowing new occurrences to outshine the old, if only for a season.

As I work on my assignment for writer’s group here on the southern coast of Spain, my husband wanders around the villa, a little restless as he waits to make our way downtown for a warm hello and a cold drink. I tell him I brought him along simply to drive the standard - smile. But truth be known, it wouldn’t be a blissful paradise without him.

I think I have successfully embraced blissful: I have found my nirvana. So what’s next? Simply book this wonderful haven for even longer next year. Done!

I would like to be able to say that I miss my life in Nova Scotia, but in all honesty I could simple leave it behind and begin again, as I have done for most of my life. I love new beginnings; new experiences. I believe they are the essence of youthfulness, and I hope to embrace them for many years to come. Here’s to following your dreams and finding your blissful.  May you carry it with you wherever you go.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

There is nothing more contented than a cat with a full belly .....

Isn't this just the perfect St. Patrick's Day Photo. I found it at a blog called Greetings, Air
and just had to share. Although I don't celebrate the day, I do like all things green, especially Kermit and Shrek.

It's All About the Hat

I didn’t have to wear my favorite hat once this winter. Where did winter go? Was it whisked away because somehow I didn’t deserve it, or because someone somewhere needed it more than me? Not everyone loves winter, but when you grow up in a country with four seasons, you learn to embrace each, or hate each. Hate has never been a feeling I enjoyed, so I tend to go with the flow, and embrace those things that I can’t change. So I love winter.

Now the days are longer and I am enjoying warmer than normal temperatures. I’m not complaining. I packed my favorite hat away with a promise of next winter.

But as I look back, I missed this year’s Sunday walk with Stuart and friends from the church trekking up the mountain in the newly fallen snow. I missed the annual winter carnival and the great time spent outside with friends from the community. And I especially missed the “true” snow-days when everyone was sequestered in their homes after a significant snow. Not the snow-days when freezing rain forced school closure, or snow fell briefly, followed by a dirge of rain, and ice flourished. There were no stunning frozen scenes along the brook this year, and the bay rarely steamed.

I know many would argue that it was a good winter; the roads great for travel. If there has to be a blessing in a non-winter year I guess that would be it. But I for one missed the high snow banks and the crisp, winter days perfect for outdoor activities. If we must live in this northern country, than it stands to reason that winter should be our friend. But the robins are here, and any snow we get now will be named for them. Daffodils are peeking their heads above ground, the maple trees are in bud, and I’ve heard rumors of crocuses in bloom. Time moves on, and so must I.

© 2012 by Maureen Newman. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fond Memories

Gerald was unlike any other man I know. His spirit was gentle and his laugh was contagious. I wanted to spend every hour I could with him, and as a child of twelve I found myself following him everywhere. He had worked many jobs in the time I knew him, excelling equally at each. But the one I remember most was his position as mixer for the local Coca Cola dealership. I would spend long hours after school setting atop the towering bags of sugar, watching him carefully measure each ingredient into the large, luminous vats. He would describe each step to me in detail, and at the end of the day, I would be rewarded by a cold bottle of the elixir, or so I thought it to be.

I loved to listen to Gerald’s stories about interesting people in his life. There was Cousin Weekeye, a negro, or at least that was what they called them when I was twelve, who worked at the vinegar mill; and Dempsie Burns, who never worked a day in his life. There was Scissors, whose freshly picked blueberries you had to buy if you wanted to save face in the small town, and there was Dan Tips, who frequented the divorcee over the road. Gerald told stories as he laughed, but I knew from his delivery that each person held a special place in his heart. He never judged them; he just liked a good story.

I can still see Gerald standing, one leg resting on a rock, cigarette in hand, and deep in conversation with his friends. I can feel his strong hand in mine as he guided me safely around the pond on my new skates. I fill with emotion when I remember the clown nose he wore the day he got a crew cut, and his shout of “a happy birthday cake” every time my mom placed one on the table. I weep when I remember his tears when I was all ‘growed’ up and ready to leave home.

You see, Gerald was my dad, and he was and ever will be my soul mate. I thank God for his life, and give thanks that today I am just like him.

© 2012 by Maureen Newman. All rights reserved.