Hodgepodge by Charlie Hodge – Finding ‘Smile-able’ Survival Tactics until Spring

Hodgepodge by Charlie Hodge

Finding ‘Smile-able’ Survival Tactics until Spring

Not sure about you but I am definitely ready for spring.

For the past few days I have been optimistically poking my head out my basement window in hopes of spotting a brave, early sign of spring poking through the frozen earth – yet alas – so far nothing but frozen tundra, frost, or squirrel altered landscape.

Spring has not yet sprung as dear old Mom use to natter on about.

“Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the birdies is?” she use to jokingly prattle on – mocking the limerick. I learned all my love and lore regarding growing things from dear old Mom. She was the  epitome example of someone with a green thumb. If Mom couldn’t grow it or salvage it no one could.

A farm girl all her young life Mom wound up spending more than a dozen years as well working with Ernie Burnett and family (including my bud Don). Her specialty was dealing with perennials, pets, and people. In that order.

Mom loved people and certainly loved to talk, but her real passion was anything with four feet or roots. Apparently it was a mutual admiration scenario. Animals melted around mom and flowers flourished.

I’m not far from the tree. I love dogs and cats and while I enjoy people I am very much a hermit as well. As Lord Byron wrote in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage – “I love not Man the less, but Nature more”.

Give me a quiet garden, a rambling forest, or solo canoe trip and I am in my glory. Regardless – it was Mom that first taught me to look forward to spring.

Over the years I have been wise or lucky enough to pick partners that share a love of flora and four legged friends. It’s Tez that’s inspired my current ‘Can’t wait for Spring’ excitement. She spent the weekend head buried in the Vesey bulb and seed catalogues or online designing our gardens and yard. The catalogue is loaded with so many sticky markers it looks like a pin cushion. I digress.

I am stoked about getting out into my greenhouse and starting some seeds. If nothing else all our planning, dreaming, wish list creating and actual ordering of seeds helps lift the spirits.

It has been a long, difficult time for many of us battling potential depression, boredom from routine, and cabin fever. Being shut off or limited in seeing friends, family, co-workers… is not something many of us were prepared or trained for. It’s been a case of adapting. For some the adjustment or inability to adapt has actually proven fatal. Certainly for most of us it has pushed our anxiety and frustration to levels rarely (if ever) experienced before.

You are not alone. Look around.

Sadly some have chosen to take their anger or frustration to the street putting other’s lives at risk. Fortunately the majority have reacted with ‘big picture’ thinking and patience.

At the Hodge House we’ve learned to stay on top of the overwhelming wave of aggravation in a variety of ways. Foremost has been our ongoing effort of attempting to find a positive spin to our day to day adaptations. Rather than treat online shopping, ordering of groceries or household needs as a chore we attempt to do them together. That way we can grumble together at the prices or lack of products which is better than grumbling alone. (That was an effort at humour).

In addition we have adapted to using Facebook messenger, Zoom and or Teams as a way of visually visiting with family and friends. It’s meant a bit of learning of new tricks for this old dog, but I’m catching on.

Tez and I have also spent a fair bit of time attempting to do ‘different’ things together than in the past. We have rediscovered the joy of working on a good puzzle. I bought three at Christmas (featuring cats) with two relatively easy ones I thought we would warm up on. Tez, naturally, chose the tough one to start with. It’s still remains ‘in progress’.

I have actually convinced Tez to join me in playing a board game or two. Santa brought us a rare game of ‘Kelowna-opoly’ which has proven to be great fun unless you hit the Traffic Jam squares, Parking Ticket squares or try to buy City Park or Downtown.

Admittedly the return of hockey and purchasing Netflix has taken the edge off isolation. Tez has been working with crafts including paint pours while I have started to work on my own personal writings that I have talked about for 30 years but never got around to.

As well I have taken all of this forced ‘home time’ to sort through boxes and boxes of old memorabilia and junk I have carried around for years. It is amazing the amount of junk one can keep for decades. However, with the mounds of ‘missables’ are the occasional pearl, gem, inspiration or memory.

And so, while we eagerly await that first Johnny Jump Up, Hyacinth, or Daffodil Tez and I continue to try and find the high road to happiness and what I call Smile-able Survival tactics.

Spring can’t be far away. I know it…

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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