“All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.” Leonardo da Vinci
My cousin and I started smudging together in the 1990s. Aunt Pat gave us our first sage and abalone shell bowls. We learned about ceremony. We learned about the value of sacred time together.
Last summer I bought a beautiful smudging feather with a pink quartz handle that stands proudly in an oak base. It was created by First Nations artist LinDaLou. The staff told us that the artist visits the Centre, setting up a table by the fire for a few days to assemble them. We loved that it was created in a space that means so much to us.
Georgian Bay: July, 1988. The clouds feather high in the cobalt sky. When Evergreen floats near the shore, I climb out the nose and jump to the rock holding the rope. My feet splash into the water. I stumble. My cousin Michael laughs.
Some people might call it the woods, but our family has always called it the bush. Rolling granite, moss, and long grasses topped with juniper bushes, birches, maples, and pines extend for many kilometres from my parents’ place across Crown land.
I remember going blueberry picking in the bush near the cottage in Britt when I was eight or nine. Mom carries baskets. Dad carries peanuts in shells. We always bring Princess with us, my great-Aunt Irene’s German Shepherd. Princess leads the way over the granite and moss, into the desolate, dense back bushes on the coast of Georgian Bay, guarding us from the possibility of walking into sleeping black bears or sunning massasauga rattlers.
Why it’s important to me…
My upcoming play “Once Upon a Rocking Chair” is 90% fiction. The 10% of truth is inspired by my mom, aunts, and cousins. For years we had the annual tradition of going to the cottage together for a week: Girls’ Week. It started when my cousins and I were kids as a getaway for the moms (my mom and her two sisters). When my cousins and I were in our 20s we slowly infiltrated the tradition, starting by coming at the end for the weekend. Then our stay got longer and longer until we were all there. It continued for years. I think our last official Girls’ Week at the cottage was in 2008 or 2009, with three generations of Lamondins.
Learning Big Lessons
We all learn from our parents. For many of us, parents are our first teachers and our most influential teachers. I’ve worked with so many families over the years and whatever the family story, whether the parents are very present or very absent, children learn big lessons. And we learn from every experience and encounter with our parents, things that can hurt us and things that can heal us, things that take us backward and things that move us forward.