Timbit friendly…

Winter is here.  It has arrived a month earlier than usual…then again, it’s Canada, so no…not really.  However, there is something that happens at this particular time of year which seems to affect the whole country.  Nope, not snowfall, although that does happen.  Lack of sleep?  Oh yes, with the time change “Spring Forward, Fall Back” (we are in the “fall back” an hour stage), it gets expectedly unexpectedly dark early.  (Ok, that was a weird way of phrasing that we know it’s gonna be dark earlier but we are still surprised when it happens.  Read it again.  It makes sense.)  All I’m saying is that it gets dark earlier and it actually seems to be dark all the time so we all seem super tired and sleepy.   Yes, it is a widespread epidemic, but that’s not the epidemic I am referring to.  When the biting winds of winter arrive it seems that everyone has a need to fill their bellies with:  TIMBITS!

Ok, this is definitely a Canadian illness.  It’s a wanton desire.  It’s inescapable.  It’s contagious.  You can go the whole summer without noshing on fried dough, but come the chill of winter your body flips on some invisible switch that makes you desire, nay, voraciously crave something yeasty and luxuriously covered in sugar.  Oh sure, donuts have their appeal, but there is something special about a small dough ball that you can pop into your mouth and devour in mere seconds.  It’s instant gratification!  It’s immediate satisfaction!  It’s a bite-sized piece of heaven.

Other areas of the world have their two-bite confectionary creations.  France is known for their petit fours and their macarons.  How about the Danish aebleskiver?  Then there are chocolatey two-bite brownies and flavourful mini cupcakes. Ok, I’m getting all snack-craving crazy.  You get the idea.  Little treats are good and yummy, but when the Canadian winter hits, we need fried food for sustenance.  Sweet is nice, but you need that deep-fried goodness to help you feel fuller, and happier, longer.

Ok, I am prejudiced about these little balls of deep fried joy.  Sometimes you don’t want to eat a WHOLE donut.  Sure, I love an apple fritter as much as the next person, but sometimes, your tastebuds crave a plethora of distinct flavours.  Sometimes you desire a gooey strawberry donut covered in sneeze-worthy icing (powdered) sugar.  Want chocolate?  Well there is Timbit made especially for you.  It’s your birthday!  Then there is the birthday Timbit covered in rainbow sprinkles.  There is a bite of heaven for everyone!  

If I really want to take this to next level, I really think Timbits could lead to world peace.  They come in a variety of colours and flavours so they are obviously not racist.  When people see Timbits they smile and are happy.  They don’t talk about suicide bombing or making war.  Timbits are all about making people happy.  There is always enough so no one feels left out.  They are affordable so there are no economic discrepancies between rich and poor as all can afford to purchase them.  Timbits bring out the philanthropist in all of us. 

Picture this scenario.  It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon.  The day has been laborious and monotonous.  People are cranky and hangry.  It’s dark outside (yeah, it’s Canada).  Suddenly, the wind whistles and howls inside the office as the front door blows open.  A colleague has entered, slightly disheveled due to the high winds, and with a precocious smile lifts a small box into the air.  The person magnanimously states (almost with a god-like booming voice) “I have brought Timbits.”  The carton is delivered into the lunchroom, and placed ceremoniously onto the counter.  And with an accompanying smirk of self-importance gleaming upon their face they have completed their glorious endeavour.  There is no one quite as special as The Deliverer of the Timbits.  Life has meaning again.

Around the office there are whispers of, “Timbits in the lunchroom.”  The Good News spreads to the far reaches.  Exhausted employees slowly get up and slink off quietly to the lunchroom to grab some little fried balls of sweet energy and euphoric happiness.  Words of thanks are heaped upon The Deliverer.  The outdoor darkness of the afternoon has been metamorphosised into a kaleidoscope of rainbow Timbit ecstasy.  The sugar-hit makes the group cheerful and friendly.  Another afternoon of dread has been avoided.  All hail the Timbit!

Ok, mayhap there is a wee bit of an exaggeration on my part.  Honestly, it’s not that far from the truth.  If you don’t believe me, walk into any office, any classroom, any study group, any hospital, any house of prayer, basically any room where there are a group of people milling about and present them with a lovely box of the Tim Hortons Party Pack containing 50 Timbits…various flavours, naturally.  Just the sight of the box will have their eyes begin to twinkle, their mouths begin to salivate, and their heart begin to race.  No, they aren’t rabid.  They are Timbit friendly.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it…STOP ALREADY!

I am Canadian.  I was born in York (now renamed Toronto), Ontario, Canada.  I have lived in Canada all my life.  Culturally speaking, I am a cross-breed.  Heritage-wise, my upbringing was full on “small village” Croatian.  This encompassed types of food eaten to language spoken in the childhood home; all pure village-Croatian.  There are however, very strong parts of my upbringing that are 100% Canadian and shall always remain as such.  The one major part is what most people think when they hear about Canada or think about Canada:  snow.

Snow…that wonderful white blanket that covers the green grass.  Those little flakes that fall from the sky gently and quietly.  You might hear a whisper of snow as it lands upon your puffy coat.  Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes”, as song by Maria VonTrapp (a.k.a. Julie Andrews) in The Sound of Music.  As children we were disappointed if we didn’t have a white Christmas.  I recall actually being at midnight mass and praying for snow.  Imagine my elation when I, prayers granted, left church to see the ground covered in 2 inches of snow and more falling down.  Yay!  Snow!  That wonderful, magical, wintery, fairy dust from the sky.  Well, not so much anymore.  Why?  I am now the designated shoveler of said wonderful fluffy stuff.  Happy?  Heck no!

Snow is one of those interesting things that people yearn for if they are excited tobogganers or avid skiers.  If you are the “driving-around-town” type, then snow becomes a disaster.  There are those who do not recall how to drive in snow, making it a precarious game of pass or fail:  pass the crazy driver who seems to keep fish-tailing, or fail and get hit by said crazy driver.  Ahhhhh…snow.

I bring you back now to the snow-filled back and front yards of my youth.  We had, what was called “packing snow”.  This snow had some wetness to it.  This was vital for creating the most formidable fortresses to hide in.  This fortress was also the place where you stored the snowballs you made with this same mouldable snow.

Snowmen?  Pshaw….best around!  You might need three people to roll the snow in order to make large boulders, but it was worth it!  That three-ball tiered snowman was a work of art!

Snow angels were also on the play menu.  You dropped down in the snow on your back and waved your arms up and down like a bird, and moved your legs out and in.  Once completed, you could stand up and leave behind a beautiful “angel” in the snow.  Yes, the miracles created by using the white, fluffy stuff.

The hardest part of childhood winters was the dress up.  Most of us did not have snow pants so we had two pairs of pants that were tucked into snow boots.  Your coat had a hood with a drawstring that was tied tightly under your neck.  The pièce de résistance  was the scarf.

IMG_2651That magical impediment to play freedom.  That scarf started around your neck, covered your chin and nose (which led to frost forming on the scarf when you breathed).  Then, it was wrapped around your forehead leaving your eyes open.  No peripheral vision and your hood usually slipped down making the scarf slip down so you usually walked with your head up high as your eyeballs tried to focus on what you were working on.  I do recall waddling into the backyard and slipping INTO the snow.  Yes, my body was submerged, but my scarfed-face was breathing air.  My siblings did not rescue me.  I was trapped…immovable (to their delight).  Ahh…the good ol’ days.  Then suddenly, it all changed.

Childhood is full of so many things that are fun and then we become adults and we are no longer permitted to enjoy the trivialities of life.  Ponder this…jumping into a pile a leaves in the fall.  Not fun when you are an adult because you are the one raking the leaves, not jumping into them.  Snow?  Again, if you are a skier then snow is great, but if you are not, then snow becomes something that needs to be removed.  It is work.  It is sweat.  It’s not fun.

Lately, our Canadian winters have been a bit off-kilter.  They have been cold (-20 degrees celsius) or super cold (-45 degrees celsius) and not as much snow.  Initially I was happy to hear that.  Three years ago all I did was shovel the stuff.  I started feeling bad for little children because they would not be able to build snowmen or make snow angels.  Please understand, I was NOT wishing for snow and yet…well…it seems like this new torrential snow onslaught is kind of my fault.

I love children and want them to be able to enjoy the same things I revelled in as a child.  These days it seems that children have to be supervised 24/7 which gives them no time for freedom of exploration like we had.  I recalled one day in seventh grade when I became friends with a new student from Florida.  I recalled how thrilled he was when he saw snow.  He had heard about it, seen pictures of it, but couldn’t imagine ever feeling it.  His leaned his head back, stuck out his tongue, and waited for the flakes so that he could taste it and feel it.  His exuberance led to a snowball fight (which I started so that he could get the full effect of the snowstorm).  I guess that passion for life is what made me think about children and their lack of our Canadian birthright to snow.

So…I apologize.  My “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” wish, which is usually reserved for Christmas, became my wish for Canadian children.  I hope that schools are closed tomorrow so that kiddies can play with vim and vigor!  I hope that I see snowmen all up and down my street and other neighbouring streets.  I hope I get to hear the squeals of laughter and joy as they make snowballs and snow angels.

However, if I do not hear peels of laughter, then my “let it snow, let it snow, let it…” will become “STOP ALREADY!”

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P.S. For some added fun, please read one of my favourite December-time reads.  It is about a newcomer to Canada and their supreme desire to see and revel in the joys of snow.  Diary of a Snow Shoveler.  

P.P.S.  Heading back out now…4 more inches have fallen…STOP ALREADY!!!

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Spring is here and the flowers are blooming…

After the longest winter ever (which is the exact same thing I thought after the winter before this winter), the snow is gone, the windows are open and our pale bodies are getting solar shock waves.  Yes, spring is here!  Spring, poetically, a time of new beginnings.  After many months of dormancy, we creep out from under the dark skies to see bright sunlight, blue skies filled with puffy clouds, blossoming buds on trees, green grass, and…most naturally…weeds.  Oh yes…the wonderful crab grass, “creeping Charlie”, and most wonderful of all…the enormous fields of dandelions.  Those yellow-headed tormenters of every human pining for that perfect, blue-green grass yard.  Dandelions (apparently from the French for “dente de lion” (translation:  lion’s teeth).  Those ugly, pesky, weeds with those teeth-like leaves, milky sticky stems.  They sway in the wind, laughing at us as we take to spade and shovel…digging up their roots…hours on end.  Those awful…wait a minute.  I just had a change of heart.  Don’t those yellow, sunshiney weeds…ahem…flowers, make the most beautiful bouquet?

After looking at my yellow-punctuated lawn, I decided that I was too tired to deal with weed pulling.  I could do it tomorrow right?  (Dandelions, like rabbits, multiply at an incredible speed.)  What was one more day?  Once done cleaning out my lawn, I am sure the seeds from neighbouring lawns will immigrate over to my place.  Why not? Grass is always greener on the other side…especially if you’ve dug out your weeds.  I entered my home and saw a glass sitting on the counter.  It was full of dandelions.  Oh yes.  The outdoor came  indoor just to taunt me.  Little Kennie came running out of her room, “Look at the beautiful flowers I picked for mommy!”  she exclaimed proudly.  Suddenly, those weeds became a bouquet of roses.  If I could somehow copy the view of a child and transform it into glasses for adults, I believe I could achieve world peace.

That exuberant comment from a five-year old brought me back to when I was a youngin’ (a few years ago).  I recalled how my brother and I went picking EVERY dandelion in our yard.  Knowing what I know now, I’m sure my mother was initially fuming as all the roots were still in the ground meaning she would have to go out another day, after they rebloomed, to dig out the roots of those weeds.  But on that day, a miracle happened.  My mother gave us both big huge hugs and thanked us for the beautiful flowers.  We were ecstatic at her happiness and we were thrilled that we had thought of something so wonderful to make her happy.  (I know it sounds weird that we found a beautiful vase to put them in… an old stubby beer bottle… but if you grew up European, it wouldn’t really surprise you.)

It’s funny, but I remember that day so clearly.  We didn’t have money to buy nice stuff for mom.  We took time, we picked carefully, we displayed them lovingly, and that hug was incredibly memorable because there are lots of memory gaps about my childhood (probably a good thing).  Having Kennie beam about her beautiful bouquet,  brought me back to my memories of trying to please my mother and those dandelions actually did the trick.  That also got me thinking…who deemed them weeds?

Nowadays, you hear about dandelion salads.  So, the lion’s teeth are actually good for you.  Wine is made from dandelions as well.  So, it must be a good thing right?

My other funny thought as I write this, is my nephew reading an article about angels reporting to God about people killing his beautiful flowers and trying to have strips of green grass.  Funniest part was how they fertilize their lawn and then complain about how they have to cut the grass all the time.  Yeah…that’s crazy.  God asks what’s wrong with his flowers?  “They are weeds,” say the angels.  Well, LOL…I think it’s an amusing story. It kind of makes me want to find out what company decided that green grass was better than beautiful golden flowers.  Not only are those flowers bright and happy, they transform into toys as well.  Once the dandelion is done being a happy royal yellow, they dry out and become little puffy white clouds that, as children, we loved blowing off the stem to see how far they would fly…like bubbles.  Again I ask myself…why do we hate dandelions?

For the record, I find the thoughts and views of children very refreshing, invigorating, and absolutely honest.  I love asking children questions and I love challenging their ideas to see what new idea they will come up with.  They are smart, creative, naïve, brilliant.  I lost my rose coloured glasses awhile ago.  Growing up and dealing with belittlement, sarcasm, sabotage, and many other wonderful adult traits, I keep myself fresh and young and happy by listening to those who know the way the world really works.  Youth, who have not yet been tainted by overbearing adults, have wisdom that we adults do not have.  Don’t get me wrong.  Children need rules and guidelines, but creativity should be encouraged.  We adults forget that we need time for fun.  Work is there to pay bills.  Don’t live for work.  Work to live.

I, the regular adult me, is writing my “To Do” list for tomorrow.  It includes, grocery shopping, vacuuming, cleaning, dusting, paying some bills…you know..regular adult stuff.  After my Big Girl chores are done, I believe Kennie and La-la and I will wander around the yard and pick a beautiful bouquet of bright yellow flowers for mommy.  Flowers mean love.  Beautiful, golden, hand picked flowers are the most wonderful gift a mother can receive.  Roses, though beautiful in a vase, cannot replace happily, hand-picked, chosen, golden yellow dandelions in a glass.  That is true love.

Today’s Innocence Wish:  May you look at your golf green lawn and appreciate the uniqueness, hardiness, and beauty of the hearty dandelion.  It will NEVER leave you.  It will always gleam happily yellow daily and once it’s done its daily duty, you can kick it happily and watch the grey wispy puffs float high and joyously into the sky.  Hmmmm, kind of like life.  When you’re young, you are loud and proud…bright and yellow and glowing with life.  As you age, you weaken.  The brightness  fades.  You begin to soften.  Those who appreciate you see that you still have the wisdom and wings to fly.  A light blow of encouragement.  You leave your regular residency and move to a new adventure, unknown as you blow away in the wind.  Child’s game?  Wisdom of youth?  Freedom of age?

Yes, deep thoughts about a simple scourge on society or am I being very dramatic about something so simple.  Hmmm, drama makes life interesting and being a grandma of four, life is definitely going to be interesting.  Not only interesting, but educational.  Oh yes.  I believe strongly in education.   Those youngin’s are going to teach ME a lot about weeds and flowers and, I am sure, many other things.  I will teach them, and/or challenge them, but I will also include lots of hugs and kisses because that’s what grandma’s do.   (As they get older, it becomes kryptonite so use it often in their younger years).

I will sign off with this piece of advice:  None.  One thing I learned; never offer advice to parents.  I will only say this:  Remember where you came from.

P.S. (oh…by the way…Kennie has a younger sister and her nickname is La-la thanks to her same age cousin…another new cast member a.k.a. St. Luke)

P.P.S.  Woo hoo!  As I finish this article, I would like to introduce yet another contributor.  He is a little young, two day’s old, but I know he will become as prominent as the others.  Welcome newbie GTH.