Ginkgo, not Gingko.

It’s another snow day today, not sure why. The snow stopped early and it’s just another beautiful day. The grade nine student in my house has a ton of homework while the grade eleven student does not which may or may not irritate the grade nine student at times. We are eating leftover cake I made yesterday and looking forward to a long weekend. The older student and I have already done Wordle, as we do every morning. I have argued with children that cake is fine at 9:30 am but candy, perhaps, is not.

I bought myself a ginkgo leaf necklace this week from a local artist on etsy and I love it. Ginkgo trees (or gingko as I just realized I’ve been spelling it as) are old, the oldest tree in existence, dating back as far as the dinosaurs. After the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, six ginkgo trees survived close to the blast site. They turn a gorgeous bright yellow in the fall and drop fruit that smell like vomit. They are far to old to care what people think of them. The are strong and resilient and just before March 2020, a group of them were planted in the small yard outside my Nana’s window at her retirement home. She watched them all throughout the lock down, telling me how they were almost every day. I have a lot of her jewellery now but I haven’t felt right wearing any just yet. This necklace is perfect, not only is it about her, but by getting something new I feel it’s a step for me, not necessarily forward – I’ve learned grief isn’t linear – but it’s motion for sure.

Ginkgo biloba is sometimes described as a living fossil because it is the sole survivor of an ancient group of trees older that the dinosaurs. It is the only member of its genus, which is the only genus in its family, which is the only family in its order, which is the only order in its subclass. That’s pretty lonely, which is why I think they should be forgiven the fact that its seeds smell like vomit.

Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane



About a month ago or more ago I got an idea for what I want to write, really write. I stop and start so many times, I have great trouble with that, but this is good! It’s a mystery, that’s all I’m going to say, maybe. I’m also going to say that since getting this idea, I may not exactly call them signs, but I do seem to be getting encouraged to start from many different places.

First, there were the Connie Willis books, chalk full of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers references. I need to read these. I am reading the last of Willis’ Time Travelling Historians series and it’s perfection and maybe while reading To Say Nothing of the Dog is when I got my idea.

Second, I was thinking about mysteries and how of course I need to start reading more. There is an English series by Richard Osman about the Thursday Murder Club, a group of octogenarians in a retirement home who solve mysteries. The library had a million holds on the first book and it was during a week when I’d pre-ordered and bought my own million books from Wordsworth so I added myself to the hold list and forgot about it until my jaw was locked shut with pain one night, so badly I was in tears and had to go to the dentist to pick up a temporary night guard. What is outside the dentist? A lending library with Osman’s first book inside. I didn’t take it, I didn’t have another one to swap for it and I think I got a bit spooked. I drove away with a painful jaw and empty hands.

But! I did realize how crazy this was and luckily the lending library is around the corner from my kids’ high school and I went back for it the next day, spontaneously and still without a book to replace it with but I plan to add a bunch next week when we go back to the dentist because William needs braces.

Third, I heard about this book, The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections about a librarian in Toronto who solves a mystery! And not only does it sound beyond wonderful, but Kerry Clare interviewed author Eva Jurczyk and they talked about how to write a mystery and so many wonderful bookish things! I’ve ordered my copy and can’t wait to pick it up next week.

This of course is also connected to my absolute LOVE of Lane Winslow mysteries written by the Iona Whishaw. My Nana adored Lane also and bingeing the entire series was one of her greatest pleasures during lockdown. The newest Lane comes out this April and it’s going to hard to read without Nana. The cover was revealed and I showed it to her the week before she died, and we talked about them again. I’ve pre-ordered it and have decided reading it won’t be sad, it’ll make me feel close to her.

Just like writing my mystery will! Yes, it’s about an adult granddaughter and her Nana solving mysteries in a retirement home! Of course it is, and hopefully so much more.

Please, push me to keep going, check in on me if you can. I’m deciding to be brave by putting this out there. This would mean so much to me and know I’m cheering you all on at all times as well! Depression does get in my way – my own and my childrens’ if I’m honest, as does life which is the same as for everyone. But I was obviously looking for signs of encouragement and I hope they will keep on coming now that I going to get to work.


I’ve been using the Forest app for years to give myself time off my phone to get shit done. Yesterday I was playing with it and noticed a link to another app and followed it and it led me to a tree personality test. They’re fun, meaningless and I did it while sitting on my rug and petting my dog. It took five minutes. The above image was the result and it nearly took my breath away.

I’ve written here about my Nana’s love of the sparrows at the feeder she had suctioned to her window. But just a few feet past that window, were about six baby ginkgo trees that the retirement home planted before Covid. She told me about them when I was reading Rules for Visiting, a novel I love by Jessica Francis Kane. The novel is about a young women who works as a botanist for a university while grieving the death of her mother. Chapters have simple sketches of trees and one is of the ginkgo and I remember having just read that chapter when Nana told me about her new baby trees.

She loved those trees. They were planted in the fall of 2019 I’m guessing and she was so excited to wait until the next spring and see their growth. Only one didn’t make it through the winter and had to be replaced. She talked about those trees so often over the next two years. She missed them when she went to live with family in Orillia in 2020 for a few months. I wish I had a picture of them.

I bought Kane’s book for Nana and I think she read about half of it, never got to the Ginkgo chapter which is near the end because, like so many of us, she went through times when it was just too hard to concentrate. She did love what she read and like so many other books, it gave us so much to talk about. So yesterday, when the Ginkgo tree came up as my personality tree…what can I say? That it’s one of those beautiful, unexpected gifts and connections.