Tanning a Hide (Apr 1995)

Once again, I sit down to tell my story. I am thankful for the pictures that my Mom took, for they help me to get started. I keep thinking I will run out of stories to tell but for some reason, once I make the time, the thoughts appear and another Musing column is written.

The front cover shows the rear end our old Pontiac covered with a moose hide. I believe this is the moose that walked through our back yard shortly after we moved to Rosswood. Maybe next month I'll show the photos of us cutting it up and putting it into tin cans, that were pressure cooked. I love moose meat that was canned as it was ever so tender.

This time of the year reminds me of Easter. I was not much on tradition or ritual, so I made conscious choices on how to celebrate so that the kids would enjoy the occasion without getting caught up in the commercialism of it. We tried dying Easter Eggs one year but none of us seemed that creative, so I decided to continue hiding the eggs all over the house, just as my parents had done it for us: as a child I can remember finding them months later! I never liked the coloured sugary eggs, so I decided to buy for my family the chocolate ones that were covered with coloured tin foil. I would hide them in the front room, and my husband Rae and the boys spent the morning finding them. I always enjoyed hiding the eggs, but once the boys became teenagers, it was time to test their skills. The rules became clearer with the years. I hid only in the front room so that the whole house wasn't ripped apart, and if they wished to clean it up the night before, they could. For many years I gave them hints on where to find the last few eggs so that they could win. In our last year together, with the oldest in grade twelve, I decided to get serious. Just who was the best anyhow? I spent two hours hiding one hundred small foil wrapped chocolate eggs. I sewed them in the curtains, I took apart the tables and hid them in the hollow legs, I balanced them in light sockets and hid them deep in the crevices of the chairs. It was quite an experience just watching the boys divide themselves into teams and pull all the furniture into the middle of the room, to be searched before each piece was put back. After about an hour they had 97 eggs. They counted and recounted, and then quizzed me in case I wasn't playing fair, because they were sure they had scoured the room. I wasn't giving any hints. At last they admitted defeat, but wanted proof that the eggs were in the room. With great smugness, I walked over to the couch and reached down to pick up the pair of dirty socks that lay crumpled on the floor. As I did, the eggs rolled out and we all had a good laugh. For in the midst of all their careful planning and strategies, they missed the most obvious... dirty socks that no one would touch. I was high for days over my victory for I knew by now the boys could handle the loss, and it made up for the many times I had let them win so that they would develop the self-confidence to give anything a try.

The great hunt that is happening for me these days is to find lost parts of myself and reclaim them. I think victory is at hand, but I am told life is like an onion ... there is layer after layer to peel back. I feel a need to understand my motives for doing things. Why am I the way I am? After being told by a few professionals that we all have buried anger, I am finally starting to believe them. The clues are there, hidden among the obvious, just like the Easter Eggs...

Most recently, I have had the opportunity to explore dream analysis with Sarah Wellington, a Jungian dream therapist. After dabbling for many years, I find it wonderful to be guided in my search. The technique is very simple... the therapist asks, "What does this mean to you?" Then she takes my words and puts them into a sentence to see if they resonate with me. Symbolically, everyone and everything in the dream represents a part of myself, so interpreting a dream is complex and enlightening. I would like to share a recent dream with you to show you how it works.

In my dream, it is dark and I feel as if I am in a wine cellar, under a table, patting the dirt so that no one will know that food had been dropped here. As I look closely at the earth, it changes to brown earthen coloured tiles. I know this is a movie for how else could I see in the dark? It's a scary movie: a body is probably buried under those tiles. A young man around 23-25 years old stands up to look at his work, making sure that the grout is the right colour so that once it dries, no one will notice the patch job. As he backs up to get a better look, his back touches the wall. Instantly a portion of the wall does a 180 degree turn and flips him into a dungeon. He calmly examines the walls now sealed and knows that there is no way out. He looks upwards and says he is willing to die but this is the deal, "I am going to lie down and go to sleep, but I do not want to be woken up gasping for my last breath."

Analysing this dream took about an hour and a half. The earth represents primal forces and the dark cellar is the subconscious, probably before the age of memory. The whole setting represented a part of me that I buried very early in life and then reburied again later. That was the easy part: the next question was, "Can you remember anything that felt like a 180 degree turn at age 23-25?" I figured out that that would be 1975-1977 and one of my 'one-second snapshots' appeared in my mind: Rae and I are in the middle of the front room of our house having a heavy-duty discussion, and Rae has offered to leave the marriage. Gordon, our oldest boy, is five or six years old; he walks in and sits in the easy chair. I feel a cold wave come over me as I say "No, we can work it out." It is important to me that the boys have a full-time Dad. I've made the choice... this marriage is going to work, and I am going to enjoy it. A month or two later, I am re-reading one of my journals. I am appalled at the anger I find in my writings, and burn them. Now I wish I had saved them so I could examine my anger, but that was my 180 degree flip and part of me was buried for a second time.

Happy Hunting, enjoy Easter, and I hope to see many of you at the Spring Festival of Awareness.