That's my grandmother, up there in the hills. You can't see her? I can.
Grand she was. Today is her birthday. If she were alive, she would be 105. She died when she was 93, but for me, years before. That makes the loss greater.
That's the Devon countryside in which she was born, but from which she wandered.
She sailed from Southampton on the Queen Mary when she was 22. Alone. A young woman who had never travelled far from her home in Paignton, set out for the new world, to meet her husband in Toronto.
The Queen docked in Montreal and she took the train from there. She told me that she looked out into that treed and sometimes watery landscape, terrified. The distance. The darkness. The forests. Fear of Indian attack.
I wonder, now, if she infected me with that fear. For a time when I was quite young, she lived next door to me, with Grandad and Uncle Tom, in the place by the Great Lake. When my mother ran out of any kind of food, I was sent next door to borrow it from Nana. I only remember the night trips. Dead of winter. The treed hill rose up behind the houses. I remember only the closeness of night. And the fear of an Indian raid. I always took those journeys on the run, loaves of bread squashed in my hands.
Ethel was the kindest person I ever knew. Have ever known.
I just realized how Margaret Atwood this all sounds.
Oh p.s. Nana, you also infected me with song.