Moving Forward

A note written by my Aunt Betty when she gifted my husband and me with a Henry Bergeson scope on the occasion of our wedding 22 years ago.

So, I have a job. All of my education and decades of volunteering has been geared towards chaplaincy and teaching English, but today I, ahem, walk dogs. Not just any dogs, mind you. I walk two beautiful (and very large) Bernese Mountain dogs for two hours every day on their owner’s property which happens to include their home nestled in 200 acres of woods. To say I love my new pastime would be an understatement.

Although I grew up accustomed to cottages, woods and water, I was never really a ‘mountain’ girl, so to speak. Ticks, black flies, mosquitos; Lyme disease? West Nile? No, thank you. We also have our share of bears up here in Canada, even in Southern Ontario, so I’ve never been one to venture into back fortys too often. I really like it that the dogs I walk are huge, one being 150 lbs. I’m 5′ 11″ and when he goes on his back legs, his front paws are on my shoulders and we are eye to eye with each other. The dogs are also very protective of me which is helpful, of course. Hawks, bald eagles, coons, fox, coyotes, white-tailed deer and wild turkeys are all found in the woods where I walk. Thankfully no bears, so far. 

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Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

While hiking through Cheyenne Mountain with my husband a few years ago, I decided that I could easily become a mountain girl. That was new for me as I’ve always insisted that wherever we live, it must be on or overlooking water. But our trip to Colorado had a profound affect on my life in many ways. Hiking along trails surrounded by mountain ranges (a different kind of nature than what’s found on the waterways back home) overwhelmed me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And yet, I knew I’d want more of that in my life moving forward.

Walking dogs (I bring my own dog along too, so there are four of us) on a beautiful wooded estate is nothing I ever expected to do. Far from it, actually. I always thought counselling and teaching, writing and creating would be my life. I suppose it is and always has been, but it’s never been a means to earn a living. I suppose the saying, “never do for money what you would do for love” rings true for me. Regardless, with the money I’m now earning, getting new pieces of art work on our walls could finally be within reach. 

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An image from one of my scopes, deconstructed.

Bio

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My Smooth-coated Collie, Laddie.
As in, about myself, and not the study of life sciences.
Carla Groen, a 40-something wife and mother from the Great White North. A total misnomer, by the way, the whole Great White North thing. Where I live is on the same latitude as northern California to the west, and Milan, Italy to the east. While it is -35 degrees celcius for several weeks in the winter, it is also 35+ degrees celcius for all of the summer which, if we’re unfortunate enough to skip spring and fall, can last from the end of May until mid-October. And it’s humid. Very, very humid. Hamilton is on the western-most tip of Lake Ontario. It’s a 45 minute drive east to Toronto (pronounced Trona north of the border), a 45 minute drive south to Niagara Falls, and a 2 hour drive westward to the Michigan border at either Port Huron or Detroit. 
There are three things about Hamilton I like: The bay, the steel, and the “mountain”. For those who view the Rockies out their front window, I apologize, as the mountain in Hamilton is actually an escarpment with an elevation of 300 feet. (Can you say, “fault line”?) Really, we just call it a mountain to more easily determine where one is located in the city.

 

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A photo I took from the east Hamilton mountain looking down towards the bay and Stelco Steel.

As the daughter of a Dutchman, living by water and sailing boats of all shapes and sizes is as normal as planting tulips and eating droppies (salted licorice, eaten kilos at a time). I have enjoyed sailing on the bay for the whole of my life. As for the steel, Hamilton is a steel town. My only employment before we started a family was in metal fabrication, so I’ll always have a place in my heart for all things iron and ore. I grew up in the factory, starting on the floor when I was 12, only stopping when I was 5 months pregnant at 23. Needless to say, I had a much different life experience growing up than the kids I went to school with.

Hamilton is the home of famous funny men Martin Short and Eugene Levy, both from west Hamilton (but not the mountain). Justin Bieber’s hometown is an hour away in Mennonite country, for those who care.

After my life of steel came a degree in Psychology, a Certificate of Teaching English as a Second Language, and many (many) years of volunteering in the areas of Palliative care and teaching ESL.

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In front of a real mountain, Pikes Peak, in Colorado Springs.

Everything I’ve laid out about myself in this post means nothing to me when compared to what means everything to me: faith and family. My faith defines who I am (or more accurately, Whose I am). And being a homemaker, surrounded by my husband and children, as well as my parents and siblings throughout the week over koffie en lekkers, fills my heart with so much joy. But every once in a while I find time to slip into my studio and take a hundred photos. (I must say, the digital camera is efficacious in this regard.) It’s all part of a day in the life of me.