Saturday, March 29, 2008

What if we stopped complaining about the weather?

Wherever I go in the city, people are complaining about the weather, the snow, the ice, the lateness of spring. They grumble about the wind, about the rain, about the slush, about the dirty snowbanks. They whine about the cold and the clouds. Strangers grouch to strangers, clerks to customers. It’s the endless elevator speech. Sure, spring is late, but what can you do?

The guy at the parking lot tollbooth by my office building is always cheery, no matter what the weather's doing. I bought him a gourmet hot chocolate with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon just to say, “Bless your smile”.

It’s always good to get back to my rural home again.

No matter what it seems, the earth is warming. About three weeks ago the tree wells showed up at the base of the birch and spruce trees on my property, making them look like they’d just been plunked down into the snow. It was the first harbinger of spring and with them, the birds began to sing again.

Then a series of rain and ice storms varnished the remaining snow into a sturdy sheen. High winds polished the surface until it gleamed like my mom’s boiled icing. We donned our ice walkers and travelled through the woods like mountain goats.

The deer, unable to dig through the hard crust, started hanging out in the village, where kind people fed them apples.

Last night, a gentle snow fell with flakes as big as wood shavings I went outside and sat on a snowbank to watch. In the dim light, the sky was filled with diamonds. Gradually, in the utter silence, I could hear the snowflakes landing on my eyebrow, cheek, chin, ear. They melted quickly and dripped down my face.

Today, the sun shone. Leaving my icewalkers at home, I tramped down our trail thinking the several inches of new snow would give me traction. One misstep on a slope sent me sliding into the wide three-foot deep treewell of a large fir tree. As my feet hit the trunk, it unleashed its coating of snow and covered me. I sat there, trapped in this hollow at the base of the tree, covered in snow, laughing. A curious pine siskin landed on a nearby alder branch with a husky tee-ee-ee. I twittered back and he cocked his head to peer in at me, no doubt wondering about this strange creature huddled under the branches making odd noises.

I wish I didn’t have to go back to work on Monday.

Friday, March 7, 2008

What if stories could fly?

This story has!

We were delighted on Thursday when three news crews and a newspaper reporter showed up to help us welcome Jay and Charlotte Allan to their new barrier-free home built by volunteers and financed by benefactors and businesses. Someone noted that we received more media interest for our Gifts from the Heart housewarming this week than at a recent government funding announcement for a new nursing home in our community.

On the left, my husband, Pat Carr, being interviewed by CBC TV. Below, everyone films Charlotte cutting the cake.

I feel so blessed to live in a rural area that can make something like this happen. I often hear our rural communities are dying, but I say only if we let them. If we stand together for what we believe in, we can turn the tide. This project is the perfect example of what can be accomplished. I hope we are putting Hillsborough, NB (pop. 1200) on the map!

The blitz started on Monday evening with a 9-minute interview with volunteer Norman Woodworth on CBC Radio’s Shift program, followed by a wonderful story narrative done by reporter Kate Letterick for Information Morning’s new series called Hometown Heroes ( She went to the hospital to interview Jay and Charlotte Allan, then to the house to speak with some of the volunteers.

Following our housewarming celebration yesterday, we had TV news spots last night on three channels - CBC, Global and ATV; more online articles today:

Spectators wiped their eyes as Norman Woodworth passed the house keys over to Charlotte, but the only truly sad part of yesterday’s celebration to welcome the Allans to their new home was that Jay couldn’t be with us. However, the enthusiastic media trooped up to the hospital to interview him there.

The response for this project has been overwhelming and we are just so grateful this story is being shared – perhaps it will give others the encouragement to jump right in when the opportunity arises.

So often, we feel like we can do nothing to help change our world, but in reality, to do nothing, is to change nothing.

As Charlotte said so eloquently, "Don't let it stop with me and Jay, if you see someone in need and you're capable of helping, just help."

Of course, it's not too late to help us out here...we still need about $4000 to pay the remaining amounts owing and to build a veranda with wheelchair ramp under that front overhang and do the landscaping in the spring...should someone feel so moved...they can contact Pat Carr at 506-734-2367.

Monday, March 3, 2008

What if a small act of kindness could change our world?

We believe it can.

We'll be moving Jay and Charlotte's possessions in this week. The house-building project will be finished.

But the community-building is just beginning.

We've seen the ripple effect the Gifts from the Heart project has created. Anyone who took part - if they choose to recognize this - knows their involvement has made a subtle (and for some, a profound) difference in their lives. From the original Dirty Dozen (shown below - minus two) to the folks who helped with their own brand of talent; from the organizations that fund raised to the individuals who contributed donations as the project progressed; each one can see themselves in a slightly different way because of their participation.

They were part of a greater story. There is something else going on here...something big is building in Albert County. We are drawing back to what makes rural life special. Dependence on one another. Demonstrations of caring. All over Albert County, people are experiencing Random Acts of Kindness.

Change is in the air. We've seen it in the eyes of the people who heard the story and chose to help. We've heard it in the comments from others.

And we're ready for it. Yes, this is just a beginning.