Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Untangling the labyrinth

This labyrinth in the forest provided a wonderful place for untangling some thoughts about a group of poems I have been working on for too long.

But then, that's one of the purposes of walking a labyrinth -- it's a meditative experience where one may seek answers to questions. As the sign near the entry point of this labyrinth puts it, "The labyrinth is a metaphor for our journey through life."

This one, located in the Oregon forest at Bandon Dunes, was silent and empty, the perfect spot for clearing my mind and finding a focus for going forward. Patterned after the famous labyrinth at Chartres, walking its patterned arcs made me think of the convoluted lines of the brain.

The gift I left at its centre? Two pine cones
that looked as though they wanted to be friends.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Foresty yin and yang

Spring. The vernal equinox. Ostara. The death of winter, the beginnings of things that grow.

I suppose some will find the image on this post not to their liking. It certainly presented me with something I'd never seen before -- a slug waltzing past the still-fresh corpse of a bird, The odd pairing seemed fitting to the cycle of change this day represents.

And really, when could a slug ever hope to pass that near a bird? A reminder that it's time to reach for dreams.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Kreativ spelling

When I saw this sign, I had to think for a minute, as I didn't think a garden centre would have much to do with Seder, a practice that's observed as part of Judaism.

I'm pretty sure they meant that they had cedar trees for sale.

I almost wish I'd spotted this and taken the photo sooner, as I might have entered it in "Signs" a show currently on exhibit at one of our local community galleries. Not that the image would have made the cut, but it might have given the judges a laugh.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Pruning time

Yet again, it's time for the first of the haircuts I give to my blackberries. This round of pruning, first of the season, is always the most drastic. It's the one where I cut away all the frizzy brown clumps of dried-out berries and get rid of branches that have died. It's also where I get to chop out all the straggly bits that wouldn't produce much in the way of fruit anyway.

Strange, I suppose, that a job like this -- which involves avoiding some very nasty thorns -- could be one that brings me such pleasure. Even though this year's prune took three separate afternoons, I know that it was worth it. After all, who doesn't like blackberry pie or jam?

Yesterday (when I finished this job) was not only International Women's Day, but also the day we had to set our clocks for Daylight Saving Time, My son, liberated soul that he is, pointed out that once again, women were getting the short end of the stick -- that even the day dedicated to celebrating us had been pruned by an hour -- sort of the way our wages still don't measure up to those of men.

But, you might be wondering, what's with the chain? No symbolism around women and their roles, I promise. It's just there (along with what looks like a dancer's barre) to keep those prickly branches in line later in the season when their branches are weighted down with all that luscious fruit.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Poem bears

Turns out that yesterday was International Polar Bear Day. If it weren't for those video news blats the Internet providers love to insert, I'd never have even known it. And I somehow doubt that many others would have either.

My observation of the day ranges from the silly set-up photo above (who says it doesn't pay to not defrost in a timely manner?) to the poem below, expressing some of my concerns about this mysterious creature.

Last day of February, and no doubt things are beginning to melt everywhere.

Night of the Bears 

While we sleep this wintry night away, you’re saving bears
dreaming metal islands for an ocean with no ice:
floating metal platforms for polar bears to walk on
artificial stepping stones so they won’t have to drown.

I see water dense with bears, nose to tip to nose,
like pieces in some Escher tessellation
swarming in a sea gone soupy warm.

Their whitish fur, slicked back so smooth,
makes them look like fish, thick as schools of salmon
used to be, spawning in some woodland stream, dense
so we might walk, carefully, on tiptoe cross their backs. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Free to read...for now

Today marks the beginning of Freedom to Read Week in Canada. It's a celebration I've been participating in for quite a few years. Being a writer, I also consider this a time to be grateful that we still have the freedom to write what we believe.

I'm somewhat concerned that may not remain the case. There's the matter of Bill C-51, currently on the Parliamentary agenda. While it's supposed to protect us, there are aspects of it that seem downright scary -- especially for those of us who may occasionally express contrarian positions.

When I was in my local bookstore today, I was glad to see that they have a display of books that have been challenged in the past. If you're interested in the range of materials that have been questioned, here's a list of thirty-three such titles.

A title I'm worried about is When Everything Feels Like the Movies. It's currently a finalist on this year's Canada Reads and it won the Governor General's Award last year. But now there's a contingent of frantics (my name for them) who are challenging the book's content, claiming it shouldn't have been allowed to win the GG and that the award should be rescinded.

All I can suggest is that you read it for yourself. Quick. While you still have the freedom to.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fifty years and counting

The maple leaf. Hard to imagine us having anything else as a flag. Even when only half the design shows, it's totally recognizable.

But that maple leaf wasn't always on Canada's flag. Until fifty years ago today, we had several over the years including the Red Ensign which turned out to be just a little too British for some. Since then, that red maple leaf has proudly adorned backpacks, hats and even Olympic mitts.

Still, I worry now and then that the next fifty years may see this no longer be the case.

So many changes have taken place over the past decade, it's getting harder and harder to recognize our country. Peacekeeping is no longer a priority. Now we seem keen to be leading the pack into combat in Iraq. Safe haven is also no longer the case. Witness those seeking asylum who've been refused.

Exactly one month ago today, I jotted this in my notebook:
Today is the day I stopped feeling special for being Canadian.
Target closed.
Cuba opened.
We're done.
Nonetheless, it's far too beautiful a day to not get out into the Canadian landscape -- quick, while it's still something to call our own.