Saturday, 23 August 2014

In Praise of Back Sides

I’m sitting here in the trailer, looking out at the ocean on the last day of our camping sojourn at Seaview. It seems like yesterday that we were setting up camp. The view was to the future. Now, these four weeks belong to the past.

And so I’m thinking of back sides. Let me reassure you I’m not thinking of anatomical back sides, although we did do plenty of sitting on them – it’s one of the benefits of vacations. What I’m ruminating on is the fact that sometimes, when one is in the middle of a busy, eventful time, it is hard to really appreciate the good stuff as it is happening. That’s what back sides are for.

In the middle of the  hubbubzzlam of our recent family campout, I was carried along on a rushing current, moving from outing to outing, crisis to crisis, decision to decision, mealtime to mealtime. It was great, but phew! I was sad/happy when it was over: sad because I knew I’d miss the family, happy because this tumbling whirlpool of activity had finally spit me out the back side, and I was once again in calm water. In the quietness, I could say with heartfelt honesty, “That was good, very, very good.”

After everyone had left, and I’d gotten accustomed to the stillness, I pulled out my unfinished “Flowers of my Summer Garden” piece and puttered about with it, adding something called a flange (a narrow inner border) and a border. It was done!

The flowers are hanging on the design wall in my studio. The piece still needs to layered and quilted.

But it needed a back side. I joked to the resident sweetie that this might be an excuse for another fabric shopping trip. He sniffed but he knows enough by now to not say a whole lot about that. Then I realized I had a lot of leftovers from the front side –  perhaps I could create something with those bits and pieces: a designer back side. (Stop giggling and get that image out of your mind. I’m serious.) The picnic table became my work table once again, and off I went into creativity mode. Oh, it was fun! This was turning out to be another arty piece. When I was finished, this is what it looked like:

This experience has given me a new appreciation for back sides. Back sides come in many shapes (really – my tongue is not in my cheek): a back side could be the bookend to the main event, the reverse side of the coin or the quilt, the afterglow of a great get-together, the debriefing after a finished project, the memoir writing of a life. The back side can be as good and as interesting as the view from up front.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago, when I wrote a piece about my dad for the writing group I belong to. My dad and I had long period in our lives when we did not see eye-to-eye. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to write about that. And besides, my dad had written his own memoir, giving his version of his life. But when I began writing about him, as I remembered him, it didn’t look a lot like his memoir at all. I had a different perspective. The pieces were there, but I rearranged them, and in so doing I caught a new glimpse of my dad. Looking through the back side of our relationship gave me a new appreciation of what a good father he’d been to us.

Back sides give us a new view – turn it over, turn it around,  look through the wrong end of the binoculars, and you will see something different than what you saw before.  And as I discovered with “Flowers of the Summer Garden”, you really don’t need new fabric to create a back side. What you have in your life already is great raw material for your needs. The back side has bits and pieces of the experience, rearranged for a new enriched viewing pleasure.

And there's one more thing about back sides: they are already present in the seeds and raw material of the here and now that you are living through. We were more than reminded of that when we got back home and saw the state of our garden. All those little seeds we planted in the bare earth last spring have grown up and are giving us a totally different view in the yard. We had to do a bunch of chopping, pruning, and harvesting before we could see the beauty, but it was there. It's something to think about as we live our lives, planting seeds of joy or anger, love or indifference, care or thoughtlessness in our daily relationships. When we reach the back side of our life, what picture will we see?

I’ve come to the back side of the blog. When I told the resident sweetie  I was writing about  “In praise of back sides,” he observed,  “Well, as we get older, there’s a lot more to praise.” (Okay, now you can laugh!)


  1. This blog is delightful but contemplative and serious at the same time. I love it.....and your summer flowers piece. It sounds like you had quite a wonderful summer.

  2. Patricia MacEachern15 August 2019 at 14:18