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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Macfarlane

Morning in the Okanagan

Good morning beautiful world! So, I woke up early enough to start my day my favourite way - at the lake.

I thought I'd come for a swim, but I'm not quite warm enough for that, so I'm lying on a towel listening to waves lapping at the shore, enjoying the twin sensations of the sun warming the skin between my shoulder blades while the wind teases my hair against my cheek. It's a good feeling. For me, a female feeling. Something about my long hair in the breeze makes me feel like a woman.

Recently, a friend of mine told me what makes him feel like a man... and that got me questioning... what makes me feel like a woman? My answer, I just do. I guess I'm fortunate that way - my gender identity is firm and welcome in my mind. But it does beg the question... what makes a woman or a man? I suppose that answer is likely cultural and definitely individually internalized.

So, I've been thinking some deep thoughts this morning. Thoughts about identity, thoughts about change, thoughts about continuity.

Yesterday, my favourite neighbour told me she has sold her house. It's good news for her, but sad for me. I have almost two decades of memories wrapped around her side of the street. Change is inevitable, but it isn't necessarily easy.

So, this morning I came to my favourite spot on the lake. It's not a proper beach, just a path. I've only ever brought one person here with me before -- this spot is MINE. Over the years of my life, I've started many summer mornings with a swim at this stretch of Okanagan Lake.

This morning I stripped down to my bikini, lay on my belly on my towel and thought about how no matter how much changes, this is me, the real, consistent me, This was me last year, it's me now, it will no doubt be me next year. My love for starting my day with the peace of the lake is one part of my personality that is pretty much consistent.

As I was thinking these things, I randomly started sifting through the pebbles near my head. I searched out the pretty ones. It's another thing I do, find the colourful rocks or the interestingly shaped rocks and arrange them in piles that make sense to me. I've always done this. It's mindless and soothing somehow, and my own version of Tetris. To my surprise, I came across a perfectly shaped heart rock. Dark - basalt, I think - and it instantly transported me back to a younger year and Karson.

Karson was my daughter's bestie from the age of two. I used to babysit him and take them to the actual beach not too far from this spot. One day, he found a heart-shaped rock not too much different than the one I discovered today - and he gave it to me.

"I love you, Leigh," his four-year-old self said and melted my heart.

And I loved him, too. I kept that rock long after he'd outgrown the need for a babysitter, long after he and Sheena had outgrown their friendship.

It made me think of all the people I've loved and "lost." Everything changes. That's part of life. But that love doesn't end just because geography or need changes. Those memories of living a life of giving and receiving love in its many forms live just as strong as ever. Because once I let myself love a little boy who in complete innocence, loved me, too.

Today, maybe because I kind of needed it this morning, I found a second heart-shaped rock. And then I found a third. As I was packing up and about to step over the log I'd been resting next to, I found a fourth.

Everything changes. But I know who I am, and I carry a lifetime of love with me for people who have come and gone.

A chapter in life is ending. Chapters always do. But I have so many warm memories and no regrets. And I wish you all the best where the next chapter of your life takes you.

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