I am coming to the end of my visit, and have already said my good-byes to most of my family. Today, my last full day in Alberta, I am in a neighbouring town, where my sister Judy lives, for a walk in the woods.
Her house overlooks the beautiful North Saskatchewan River valley, and in the summer it is a green paradise of tall pines, birch and poplars, with the rush of the river far below creating sweet music in counterpoint to the singing of the birds. Now, in the middle of winter, the snow is still thick in most spots, the river is mostly frozen, and there is a soft silence wrapping us in stillness as we walk the well-packed path.
Judy and I, and her yellow lab Hawkeye, wander the woods, enjoying the peace, the clean chilly air, and the enthusiastic romping of the dog. We chat about inconsequentials, enjoying the view and pausing often so I can take a few photos. A dormant hornet's nest hangs like a great grey fruit, waiting for spring to resume its busy life.
It seems we are there only a few minutes, but it's almost an hour before we are back at the house for a cup of tea. We drink, we talk, we laugh, as sisters do, picking up where we left off at my last visit so long ago. I am glad we'll have a few minutes longer tomorrow, when she gives me a lift to the airport.
There never seems to be enough time to say all I want to say to my family. I wish I could visit more often, and stay longer, but I miss my own family and my home when I am away. Really, no matter how long I am here, will I ever have the right words to say? To tell my parents how grateful I am for the sacrifices they made for me and my brothers and sisters? To tell my sisters how much I admire them, am inspired by them? To tell my brothers how I count on their strength and friendship? Words are not enough. I can only hug each one, and tell them I love them.