Thursday, January 12, 2012

Laurita Miller - Letter from a Friend

Laurita Miller - bundled up because baby, it's cold outside.


I was having a bad day. In the throes of getting a chest cold, exhausted from a four hour car ride and a weekend of winter camping, emotional because I was picking on that lovely husband of mine, for absolutely no reason, I wasn't in the best of shape, to be sure. Then I opened up my laptop and saw I had a letter from a friend.



I opened it eagerly and didn't even read it all the way through before I started sobbing like an idjit. The idea of Laurita Miller, visiting her beloved homestead, was so beautiful, so simple and yet so vivid, that I was overcome.

Maybe it helps to know how ingrained rural Newfoundland is to someone like Laurita; maybe it helps to know Laurita a little bit. Because, to me, she is a poster child for everything that is warm and wonderful about 'The Rock.' We met in the fall of 2010. Dave and I were on our honeymoon. He'd barely been out of Ontario before. I'd never been to Newfoundland. We wanted to go somewhere neither of us had ever been, and we wanted to explore more of Canada. We also wanted to meet two of my favourite blogging buddies, Alan W. Davidson and Laurita Miller.

We had the best day imaginable. Alan and Laurita are truly good people. The best – and I don't say that lightly. You just don't meet up with folks like them often. When you do, you realize what treasures they are, and how lucky you are to have come across them.

Laurita is thoughtfully intelligent, funny and sassy, warm and generous. She shaved her head to raise money to fight cancer. She is deeply involved in her children's lives. She loves her husband fiercely, like she married him yesterday. Family, I think, is more than just a word to Laurita. It's everything, as important to her as breathing. I'm just guessing, when I say that – I know, pretty presumptuous. But I do believe it's true.

Laurita lives in a suburban environment near St. John's, the capital of Newfoundland, but she was raised in the countryside, next to the ocean, and salt and honest Newfoundland spirit runs thick in her veins.

My father was a railroad engineer and we moved several times in my young life, to the point that I don't really know where my hometown is. I don't feel any kinship to any particular place. Laurita knows exactly where she's from. And when she writes about it, my heart sings.

Laurita Miller is one of the finest writers I know. Her blog, Calling Shotgun, is one of my favourite haunts. Some day, mark my words, she will be famous. I can hardly wait to say I knew her when.

I am so honoured to share her letter with you.


Dear Cathy:

I hope this letter finds you well and making fantastic progress on that novel of yours. I can’t wait to read what you’ve done.

Things are quieting down here after the holidays. The kids are back to school and I think I’ve finally managed to eradicate all the glitter from the house. That stuff gets everywhere.

I hopped in my car today, taking advantage of the lull, to go check on my old homestead. After all the craziness, I needed the break. I love the drive, though it takes over an hour to get here. It’s relaxing to travel a road that’s so familiar.  

The first thing I did was take a walk around the house, through the garden and the woods, checked the barn and filled all the birdfeeders. The pond was well frozen and, once I made sure no one was watching, I had a little slide around. I ended up on my behind more than once, so I’m glad there was no one to see.

It was one of those damp days, where the cold just seeps into your bones, so I lit the fireplace as soon as I went inside. The wind was up by then, and from the window I could see the whitecaps on the water. White horses on the harbour, my grandfather would call them. I always loved that saying. Newfoundland is a bleak place in the winter, but I think it might just be my favourite time. Sitting there, warm in my old home, looking out at the wind and water – can you think of a better way to spend some quiet time?

There’s also something very comforting about sleeping in my old room. I loved waking up in that room, to the sound of the birds in the trees outside, the boats in the harbour, and that stupid, clumsy seagull who would land on the roof – whump – and then run the whole length of the house – thump, thump, thump, thump.

Tonight I’ll walk down the harbour and visit my aunt and my grandfather, sit in that nice warm kitchen for a cup of tea and a chat. Then tomorrow I’ll head back over that familiar road to my house in Chaos Town. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I start to miss the madness after a bit.

I hope you come visit me again someday. I would love to take you to all these places, but maybe in the summer when the temperatures and landscape are a little more friendly.

Take care, my friend. I look forward to chatting again soon. Give my best to all your boys.

Laurita

35 comments:

  1. OHHHHHHH, that is so BEAUTIFUL!
    Heading over to follow her blog now!
    Thank you for sharing that letter!

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed Laurita's letter. You will love following her blog, I know it! Thanks so much for dropping by, Rachel!

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  2. I just closed my eyes and saw it all. As someone who has a strong tie to her childhood home (which exists no more) I can understand her feeling for the property.

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    1. Laurita is so adept at painting pictures with few words. Where was your childhood home?

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    2. I spent a decade in Markham, back in the 1970s, and I hear what you're saying about Newmarket - the places we knew are gone. They were villages back then, very small country towns. My house has since been torn down to be replaced with a monster home. My grandparents' farm was taken over by an industrial plaza. Even the cottage I used to visit as a kid has been torn down and replaced with some huge mansion-like thing. Sad, isn't it? I envy people like Laurita who can go back and spend time in the homes they were raised in. So very, very lucky.

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  3. Thanks for letting us 'nosey' through your mail, Cathy! :-)
    I love Laurita's blog - you are both worlds away from my existence (metaphorically speaking), here in the UK. It is a delight to imagine your surroundings compared to our crowded little island! Ah, well - one can dream....!

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    1. Or you can visit! We have a spare bed with your name on it and I know Laurita would welcome you with open arms.

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  4. This letter business is a fine idea, Cathy. I loved Laurita's story about her visit to the family homestead 'up the shore'. Her face may be hidden by her scarf, but her impish eyes tell it all.

    Well done, ladies!

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    1. She does have impish eyes, doesn't she??? Cute as a bug, that Laurita! Almost as cute as you in your fez!

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  5. Just fabulous. The world would be a better place with more Laurita's!

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    1. It would, wouldn't it Sean! Thanks so much for dropping by!

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  6. You had me welling up there'n'all. Boo-tiful.

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  7. What a fabulous idea! Thanks for letting us read over your shoulder. ;)

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    1. As long as you're not copying my homework, Laura!

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  8. Wow! She indeed has a magical way with words. I was spellbound by the descriptions in her letter. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I know! She's wonderful. Really. Thanks so much, Susan!

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  9. Cathy, thank you so much for asking me to be a part of this beautiful series. I cannot wait to read what everyone writes to you in their letters. I love the Canadian stamps too. :)

    Thanks to everyone for the kid words, especially your introduction Cathy. I think I have something in my eye...

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  10. Get yer finger outta your eyeball, Miller! Geez, didn't your mother tell you that's how you get pink eye?????

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  11. I long for this kind of simplicity in my life. My husband and I are heading off in an RV for the next ... however long we decide. I look forward to living simply and enjoying the scenery. Your friend's writing - and yours - are beautiful. I want to read more, so I'm following

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    1. Oh, lucky you Melissa Ann! I am a huge fan of camping and the idea of disappearing into the wild blue yonder in an RV sounds like the best kind of bliss! Happy camping and do keep in touch. Thanks so much for the follow!

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    2. My pleasure! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello.

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  12. What a sweet thing to receive on a particularly unpleasant day. Of course it had its effect. I'm glad you two have such a fast friendship.

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    1. The internet is a weird and wonderful thing, John. Someday I'm going to show up at your door and ask to borrow the bathroom.

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  13. Hi Cathy, hi Laurita! I remember you blogging about your awesome trip and meeting Alan and Laurita. What a lovely idea your Letter from a friend is. I so enjoyed this one. I find it hard to imagine a place that cold but I admit I love reading books set in Newfoundland. Brrrrr...To an Aussie, so exotic.

    Keep 'em coming!

    Denise

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    1. That's so funny, Denise, because to me Australia is one of the most exotic places on earth!

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  14. Wonderful letter. Wonderful picture (such an imp!). Wonderful introduction. I cannot think of a better way to end my very long day than reading this post. Thank you both, ladies. I'm going to bed on a very high note. Peace...

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  15. What a fabulous letter. It makes me so miss getting letters.

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    1. I know, Helen. These days the mailbox is nothing but a bill depository.

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  16. What a lovely letter, she paints a vivid picture of her old homestead, makes me wanna visit too! ^_^

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  17. I've known Laurita since the 3rd grade and to see her so aptly described (by more than one commentor) as "impish" is delightful.. I can tell you that she hasn't changed much since our childhood days - crazy imagination, sharp wit and a warm smile always at the ready!

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    1. Lucky you for knowing Laurita as long as you have! So jealous! And I bet your accent and your spirit is just as impish and warm and lovely as hers!

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