Archive for December, 2020

bowie & bing

Posted: December 20, 2020 in Uncategorized

Beyond Christmas and Bing C. bringing to mind that iconic tune: I’m dreaming of a…. it’s a seemingly unrelated list of what?

Maybe my mother would have known. She was good at word games, which always surprised my siblings and me. I could see her writing “Christmas. Bowie & Bing C. Black Eyes. Spanish. line Dance,” though it’s unlikely she’d have left off the capital L on “line” because she was a good speller, which seems odd given her inability to remember facts, figures or names. To compensate, she kept endless notes, much like this one, scrawled on tiny pieces of paper that she’d wedge into her purse. Had she been born in the 1970s rather than the 1920s, she would have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.

“Black Eyes” might be a clue to a joke she was getting ready to tell her tennis friends. For years, she played once a week with a group at The Badminton & Racquet Club in Toronto. To make it on time, she had to leave our sprawling farm house in the small village of Belfountain by 6am. But hard as she tried, Mum never got the joke right. Not that it mattered since, as my brother wrote in her obituary in 2017, her attempts at remembering the punch line were far funnier than the joke would ever have been. Mum was that kind of kook. The good kind. The cartwheel-on-the-lawn kind of mother. A mum who couldn’t get angry with me when we were skipping double Dutch in the dining room and I put my arm through a plate glass window because, after all, she was at one end turning the ropes.

Spanish, hmm. My brother speaks Spanish. Could this be some reference to him? We would joke, my three sisters and I, about Mum and our brother. She was old fashioned in the way she thought about men. Jokingly, well he was joking, well I think he was joking, my brother suggested to Mum that it would be best if she left her modest riches to him and, upon her death, let him distribute the wealth among the five of us. I think she took him seriously, believing that because he was a man and her son and because she knew it would bug her daughters that it was a good idea.

Mum loved to dance… not line Dance and not with my dad. With Clayton Leigh. I don’t know that she cared for Clayton otherwise and she certainly wasn’t fond of his pretty young wife Jane, but he was smooth and had rhythm and while the music played and they were gliding across the dance floor, he was the most romantic man alive. I’m pretty sure he liked dancing with her too.


It’s just not the same anymore.

Nicola Ross is a writer, hiker, and workshop leader. She can be found at


Up Next:

“… a new garden to stutter and start in”

Candy can be a reward and a curse for Indigenous children.

At a Pow Wow, there is a Candy Dance. 

Children dressed in regalia dance in a sacred circle to the beat of the drums, the heartbeat of Mother Earth. 

At the end of the dance, candies are flung into the circle for the children to gather.

I have been witness to this dance many times.

One year, the Pow Wow MC announced there would be no throwing candies for the children to collect at the end of the Candy Dance. 

Elders, survivors of residential schools, watching were re-traumatized.

The MC said that an Elder had approached him after a Dance.

The elder explained that their captors threw candies to lure indigenous children.

The children were snatched and captured. 

The residential schools gobbled up the children like a hungry wolf.

The black brick monster spit out their broken spirit, those who survived years of abuses and torture.

Many didn’t survive.

An Eagle is sacred to the Indigenous Peoples.

It climbs higher to the Creator than any living creature.

An Eagle circled and soared above the Pow Wow.

The sacred Eagle collected the trauma of the residential school survivors.

It soared higher and higher.

It disappeared out of sight. 

The story of the Candy Dance is locked in the marrow of my bones. 

The healing continues.

Stella Shepard’s work appears in anthologies, newspapers and magazines. Her novel, Ashes of My Dreams (Acorn Press, 2016), is a thinly disguised fiction of her own life, giving voice to unwed mothers who were once silenced and shamed, and has been used by the University of Prince Edward Island in an adult development course. She is a member of the Native Council of Prince Edward Island where she lives on an organic farm.



Up Next:

“A mum who couldn’t get angry with me when we were skipping double Dutch in the dining room and I put my arm through a plate glass window because, after all, she was at one end turning the ropes.”