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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

 

The Zen of Dog Sledding



This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago on our family trip to Alaska. On my knee sits Adam, laughing hysterically. In the back rides Henry, wearing the pink gloves I bought last minute because we learned it was going to be cold up there. As the dogs mushed, the jerk of the sled sudden by these mighty little dogs, Adam was thrilled.

"We could hear him all the way back at base camp," said a young woman wrapped in winter clothes in the middle of August. She is young and decides to give me two photos taken of us instead of one, "because he is so adorable," she says.

Should I mention that Adam took a helicopter to a glacier, had to wear earphones (he has always hated wearing those), and did not flinch at the hundreds of dogs barking, yelping and leaping even more frenetically as we approached because they knew they were about to go for a run, we were told by Molly, our dog-sled guide.

"I live alone further North," she said. "Just me and my dogs and no electricity." She says this just after we meet all ten dogs who will pull us along, each with their own distinct personality -- the one closest to my view who keeps looking back to check with Molly, as if trying to please her.

"Being up here all summer with twenty-five others is claustrophobic," she says to us as if she is confiding. "In can get a little crowded up here," she chuckles heartily, I think, knowing that to city folk like us, twenty five people is probably a kafe klatch. Yet I suppose being with twenty-five people stuck high up on a glacier, anything can happen. I guess I too feel a little confined when my home door is revolving -- maintenance workers, people for Adam, our large family, the events we have at our home, our friends. I wouldn't trade it in, mind you, but it makes me feel, well, anti-social -- striving for moments when I can be alone, writing like this. When a book is in progress, when there's much work to be done as with The Autism Acceptance Project, I want to find those long stretches of time to think, to work. The rhythm of my life is fast, and the moments with Adam, like dog sledding, are suspended in time. I relish them as much as I do the moments alone to write meandering posts like this. I relish the moments as I watch Adam's almond eyes struggle to remain open at bedtime, and he finally surrenders to sleep, his soft breath warm against my face. I savour the memories of each trip, each sleep, each ordinary day by recounting them as I do here. If all this is a homage, a memory of Adam's great impact on my life, then so be it. If it's about autism and thinking about it a little differently, then that's fine too.

I love this photograph. I love its joy. I love how Adam seems to drink in life, his precious and ordinary moments.

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