Changing Times

I started my last post by attempting to explain my recent prolonged absence from the blog and declaring I was finally back and ready to just jump back in where I left off!  Only a few short hours after posting that, things changed.

The Fall is all about change.  Its unquestionably my favorite time of the year because of its sheer beauty and the fact that its always signified great changes and new beginnings in my life over the years.  This year has been no exception.  My recent lack of blogging was a result of one of the biggest changes in my life - a move to a new province, a new house, a new lifestyle.

There are those changes in life that you initiate and changes in life you have no control over.  My decision to move away was completely my own but one that came with sacrifices.  It would be the first time in my life I was going to live away from my family and friends.  Sacrifices.  My Mom took this news the hardest as I'm her only daughter - I reassured her I would be returning to Toronto frequently and that she'd see me often.   So here I was, the moving truck just left and we were finally semi-settled in our temporary living arrangements ready to begin a renovation to our new old house.  Ahhh, a chance to breathe and catch up with the blog.

Shortly after publishing my last post I received one of those phone calls that you never want to get, a phone call that changes your life forever.   To receive that phone call, the news that my Mom had suddenly passed away, while being so so far away from my family was difficult to say the least.

I never expected my first trip back to Toronto to be so soon and for such an ocassion.  During this past week with my family I couldn't help but notice the overwhelming beauty of the changing season around me.  I couldn't imagine a more beautiful day for that final fall drive to her resting place beside my Dad.  If anything, it was a magical setting that she would have loved.

For the most part I prefer to write very little about my private life here but something like this has such a lasting effect on ones perspective that in order to understand me and my point of view going forward I feel its relevant to share as I know I will reflect on this and the events of last week often, particularly the relation of home and family.

This is the last photo I have of my Mom and I together, taken last April when I took her to see the cherry tree blossoms in bloom.  I remember how happy I was that I had taken her as she'd never seen the cherry blossoms before. : )

Once again I've just arrived back in Nova Scotia, this time with a heavy heart and wishing that the last time I sat down to write something here that I had picked up the phone and called my Mom instead.  Without a doubt its going to be difficult this time to just pick up where I left off in all aspects of my world.

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A lake side cottage, brilliant fall colours, clear blue skies and summer like temperatures.  An absolute picture perfect setting for celebrating a harvest style thanksgiving feast with family and friends.   Every fall at this time I declare that its my favorite time of year and this year was no exception, well, actually the weather, the setting, the company - it was all truly EXCEPTIONAL.   I was up north at my brother's cottage where we had invited a group of other family and friends on the lake to join us for a Thanksgiving dinner.  I was in charge of setting the table (actually nobody really had a choice, I called dibs on it weeks ago!!!) and I was thrilled to do it because often at my own home, this is the part of a holiday dinner that I usually run out of time to do.  But not this weekend, this was a leisurely day, dinner was pre-planned and well organized ahead of time so we were able to enjoy the company and the gorgeous warm summer like day. 

The sunlight illuminating the brilliant orange, red and gold leaves was the effect I wanted to create in a tablescape.

I had no idea how exactly I was going to set the table, I had no plan except that I would use whatever I could find on-hand both inside and outside the cottage.   We started by rearranging the furniture and setting up a long table down the centre of the cottage in front of the fireplace.   A mix of mismatched table cloths, runners, plates and stemware all seemed to work together with the fall colours.   Now the essentials were in place it was time to add some drama - my niece and I headed outside and collected a bundle of blazing red maple leaf branches and another bundle of golden yellow ones.  I placed three tall beaker style vases down the centre of the table and filled them with the long branches, we layered all the smaller off-cuts directly on the table itself scattering them down the middle from end to end. 

We gathered small pieces of birch bark and used them as place cards by writing names on them with an orange marker and setting one on each plate.  Lastly we scattered about a dozen votive candles down the table and set larger candle lanterns around the cottage.  The entire setting, including gathering the branches took less than an hour.

The effect was simply beautiful and dramatic, the tall branches created a brilliant canopy of leaves...

When seated at the table the colourful leaves glowed over our heads and all around the votive candles.  

We enjoyed the day outside, and had drinks and appy's on the deck overlooking the lake.  The sun was just setting as we headed inside.....from one spectacular showcase of colour...

To another.

Even though the weather was summer-like, we lit a fire in the fireplace, just for the ambience...

The drive home was full of breathtaking views likes this, we took the long scenic route home and soaked it all in.  In case I havn't said it enough times this weekend, its my favorite time of year!


All Photos:  Carol Reed