The Sun Hat

July hasn’t been the month I was looking forward to all winter.

It has had it’s highlights.

Sunny and Sky, our new preemie Grandbabies, came home from the hospital around the middle of July. Terra and Lares spent a few days enjoying having them at home before they let anyone know, because once we knew we were visiting, family members from all over. Sky apparently had to go back into hospital for a few days as he was having trouble keeping his body temperature up and became dehydrated, but he recovered quickly and returned home again within a few days. Both Sunny and Sky have “brain bleeds”, which Terra has been told are not unusual and do not seem to be a big concern. Terra tends not to provide details, so I “won’t worry”, but it has the opposite effect, my imagination is not kind, and it has learned that the worst is always possible, so details help to keep things in focus.

Yesterday Terra dropped by with Sunny and Sky, and Dash the dog in tow. Both babies seem very healthy, although still quite small. They have both almost doubled their birth weight, good for them! Terra is a natural mother, she is in her element. Both Terra and her older sister Luna wanted to be mothers, and they take the role very seriously.

Our first one week summer vacation in over twenty years began the weekend before Sunny and Sky came home from the hospital. We decided to camp at our Ancestral Camp, and were so glad that we did. It was a six hour drive to get there, and a six hour drive to get home again, so it was quite an undertaking.

The first few days we visited with family, and had some truly wonderful times. My sister-the-middle-girl had everyone to her cottage for a BBQ the first night, so we all got to visit. Also in the area vacationing were my sister-the-youngest-girl and her Beau Bob, my niece and her boyfriend, my first cousin S and her family, my first cousin C, all the way from Ottawa, a very long drive for her to make on her own.

A few days later another family gathering was hosted by my first cousin C at her rented cottage, and we enjoyed the company of my first cousin P and his family, my Uncle T who is approaching 90, and my Mom’s first cousin and her grown children (really grown, retired now).

It was fortuitous that we were in the area that week, because an article I had been interviewed for had just been published, it was about my Granny and Grandpa’s house and the community they lived in. We managed to get many copies of the publication, it was a real thrill to see the picture of my cherished Grandparents in the magazine.

We headed for home on the third day.

The day after we arrived home I received a message from my Mom that my brother had had a heart attack and was unconscious in the hospital. I feel very lucky that we were on vacation and so had the opportunity to be with him every day before he passed away on the Sunday at the end of that week. We will lay my brother to rest on August 6th, beside our Dad.

Life here at Mist Cottage is a bit surreal at the moment. Sometimes I burst into tears when my brother’s presence washes over me, the finality of our corporeal separation grips me. How very much Attila means to me reveals itself over and over again, disclosed by the simplest things, the smallest gestures. Other times I feel gratitude to the universe for my girls, and for Sunny and Sky and Imp, and Elf, and Tink. I think about how very precious is my Mom, my brothers and sisters, how lucky we are to have each other. I feel trepidation that things will not remain the same, as I know that not all change is welcome, although all must be borne.

Slowly the little day-to-day things, that work to balance the natural grief that humans experience, are coming back into focus.

A developer has purchased the property at the end of our dead end street and is building a housing development there. They started preparing the property this week, so that there is a steady stream of fully loaded dump trucks parading up and down the narrow street. This will go on for at least a year, and is not a welcome change in the neighbourhood.

The young couple next door are experiencing financial difficulties and are talking about selling and moving to more affordable rental accommodation. They have two little boys, who are quite delightful, and it seems very sad that a young man who works six days a week cannot earn enough to keep his family living in modest shelter.

This morning I took the opportunity to borrow my first library books from the local library. I had been there before, when we were living at the country house and commuting to Mist Cottage, but this time I actually borrowed some books. I prefer reading paper books to digital books. I don’t have an explanation for my preference, it could be because that is what I grew up with; it could be that the digital screen is hard on the eyes and is messy with recharging and updating programs and connecting to the internet; or it could be that the paper books on offer to be borrowed are much better than the variety of books that can be freely attained via digital media. Whatever it is, I like a good paper book that I can hold in my hand and turn the pages.

Hanging laundry out to dry has been a very practical option this past month, and continues to be so. It is hot, dry, and sunny; a load of laundry hung on the porch line takes about an hour to dry.

Attila and I are going to break down the large remaining pile of debris from the demolished garden shed, pack it into Tank, and cart it off to the land fill site. We will pay 31 cents per square foot to dispose of the material. The debris has been sitting on the lawn for over a month, so it will have killed all the grass beneath it; we will need to reseed the area with drought resistant grass, or perhaps the plantain seeds will have ripened and can be gathered and sown.

One thing I have enjoyed about the drought is the return of native plant life. People, with very rare exceptions, are not watering their lawns. The grass is brown, much of it has died. Growing in these brown patches are lush looking Birdsfoot Trefoil, healthy flowering Wild Chicory, beautiful swaying Queen Anne’s Lace, lovely tall Milkweed. All of these plants, plus various native grasses, lined the highways and byways of my youth, and now they are popping up everywhere on urban lawns. It is a sight for sore eyes as far as I am concerned.

Today a knock on the door proved to be the delivery of my new sun hat. My old sun hat, a straw hat purchased in the 80s, or it might have been in the 70s, is coming apart, and it blows off my head in the slightest of breezes, requiring me to keep one hand firmly planted on the top of my head. I’ve been looking for a good sun hat for quite a while now. I found pretty ones, made out of paper, what good would that be when you sweat, or it rains! I found straw hats that kept the sun off, but had no chin strap and would blow off my head the way my old straw hat does. I found beautiful hats that cost over $100, nope! I finally decided on a Columbia Bora Bora Booney II, the light coloured version.

After unpacking the hat I immediately tried it on, and I liked the way it fit, comfortable and not too tight. The headband size adjusts easily, for a better fit. The chin strap works well, and the brim keeps the sun off my face and out of my eyes. And of great importance to me, the hot head, the venting works really well to release heat, while keeping the beating sun from heating up my head. So far I love this hat.

Today, when the tears find me, I will put on my new hat, wander in my sunny garden, and remember how lucky I have been in love.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 2:00 PM EDT Friday 29 July 2016
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 26.7°C
Dewpoint: 13.7°C
Humidity: 44%
Wind: NE 9 km/h
Humidex: 30


“This is my answer to the gap between ideas and action – I will write it out.”
Hortense Calisher
1911 – 2009

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Bex Crowell

I love real books better, too.
I love your sun-hat. Paul used to have a similar one but it didn’t have the mesh in it. He lost his.
Sorry you have construction down the street. Ugh. At least it’s a dead-end. But a busier dead-end than before.
It’s dry here too, grass is browning over. The leaves on our crab-apple tree are turning already… as if it were mid September!

TopsyTurvy (Teri)

It’s good to read your touches of everyday life, again.

I was wondering if Sunny and Sky were home yet. (I had previously thought Sunny was the boy’s name but apparently not.) The brain bleeds sound discomfitting but the doctors have let them go home so they must be doing pretty well.

Sorry to hear about the construction. At first I thought this was at the Rideau camp but now I realize this is near Mist cottage. I hope this is just the construction entrance and that owners in the new development won’t be travelling through your neighborhood constantly.

When we lived out in the country we had similar construction come in and the change in the area was dramatic and unwelcome. To our dismay, the lovely forested nature walk beside the abandoned railroad tracks was completely removed and replaced by housing.

A garden is a wonderful spot to go when life’s sorrows touch you. It’s my favorite place to go to regain my connection with life, too.

Joan Lansberry

I’m glad to see you’ve updated. I too have a hat I wouldn’t be without. Curiously enough, it is made in Canada! I think these are “unisex”, and the 7 1/8 fits well. Your hat has a wide brim, and that is what is most important. The first hat I bought didn’t, and it didn’t do what it needs to in the hideous hot sun here.

I agree, paper books are the best.


Funny how something simple like a good new sun hat can be a comfort when one is grieving. I hope you get to wear it in good health for many, many years.


Hi Maggie,
A late congratulations on the birth of Sky and Sunny. I have been out of the loop for awhile. Glad to hear that brain bleeds are not unusual and the babies have gained weight and are healthy.

The family gatherings sounded very special and memorable. Most of my family are gone or so far away I never see them. My immediate family is just with my two sisters now. So much changes.

I do miss family gatherings. We used to all go up to Rochester, NY every summer for a month and stay at my uncle’s. He had forty acres to explore and I think I did every inch. But now that is gone and I have the memories to embrace.

Also, a congratulations on the article published. Yay!

The housing development came as a shock to me though that is all they are doing around here. It’s actually appalling and people are not to happy with it as this part of NC is already built to the max. We are trying to relocate away from it all. Not easy.

I like holding books too. I never use m y Kindlewhite. It was a mistake to get it. Just another ‘thing’ to have to keep charged. I can’t read with it anyway. Have not been able to get a pair of glasses with the right prescription in three years. So, I do little book reading and that is depressing. Getting older has its rough spots.

Your new hat is helping chase the blues away. It looks nice and I am sure you wear it well.