Illusion

I knew the scar was coming

and after three opinions, the surgeon was chosen with care,

this one less cavalier,

instilling a quiet hope that I might still recognize

the face in the mirror.

As the shiny scalpel cut away flesh

and the unruly cells that would not heal no matter what,

there was no going back,

words like beautiful and pretty,

falling away like a handful of coins,

no longer viable currency in this world.

Only afterwards did I realize,

I still held more valuable currency,

the words, light and love,

the illusion of losing my true self,  irrevocably shattered.

A beautiful “Tree of Faces” found in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

A lovely nymph captured dancing in a wild wood in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

 

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Taste the Sun

 The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet.” – Rebecca Harding Davis

There are delicate dragonflies dancing among the summery air currents on my afternoon walk to taste the sun. After a sheltered stroll through the dark green forest, I’ve come across a three piece band (@JamesStuartFerguson) playing some pretty cool music at the edge of the sea, the sparkling water keeping time with the sublime beats. Two faraway jets are painting white contrails across the pale blue sky, the pilots unknown artists to our earthly eyes. It’s a busy corner down here by Second Beach but I’ve found a seat on a low stone wall and with the music flowing all around creating a sense of peace, the chattering voices of the crowd slowly fade away…

The news has been filled lately with updates on the terrible fires (over 200 burning as I write these words) that have sprung up due to lightning strikes and human activity as well as the higher than normal temperatures our province is experiencing this summer, I was drawn to the ocean, hoping to drown out the fiery images broadcast on our television. I can still remember the red sun that shone for days a year or two ago when fire broke out on Vancouver Island, up country (where the fires are burning now at the time of this writing) and also in the state of Washington across the border, our city was plunged into a yellow haze and the innocence of summer seemed forever lost. My thoughts and prayers go out to the many who have been evacuated with some having lost their homes and to the wildlife that has been displaced ahead of the flames… I’ll never forget the haunting image of a group of horses running hard away from the encroaching smoke, their eyes big as they tried to gallop to safety.

When the music ended, I made my way to a shady bench to write down a few notes, not knowing that a recent poem I read from the always inspiring blog, https://amitavchowdhury.wordpress.com, called, “If it’s a desire” would manifest so quickly in real time! I became aware almost as soon as I sat down of a presence beside me and I turned to see who was sitting so close to me, it was a gentle Muslim woman from Saudi Arabia. I said “hello” and turned back to my writing, thinking that we would share this cool shade together for a few moments and that would be it, but instead she began to weave some rare magic which started with a soft nudge, she had a piece of chocolate to share as well as a shy smile and I couldn’t resist such generosity. Soon a young boy joined us with liquid eyes and dark hair, he laughed as he took his own piece of chocolate and the woman beside me began to ask some questions, did I live here in this beautiful place, was I American and did I go swimming?, eventually her daughter came over to help with translation and I learned more about Halima. She is here on holiday for one month and finds this small part of the world a good place, she wanted to know about the seaplanes that come and go as well as where was a playground for the children so I happily answered all her questions amid more nudges to share a handful of roasted peanuts and they laughed when I said,”Once you start to eat these it’s hard to stop!”. Eventually I had to head for home and as I waved to her family, I was struck by how loving she was towards me, how easy it was for us to sit together on that bench, outside of each other’s perceptions of the other and feel love. When I arrived home, I Googled the meaning of her name and could not believe how this Arabic name suited her, her name means: gentle, sweet or patient. As I write this, the memory of that afternoon still leaves me smiling and ever so grateful, when one goes on a walk to taste the sun, you never know, there might be a gift or two waiting…

Lately, some of our beautiful sunsets over English Bay remind me of Mexico, this one was stunning!

As well as the glorious sunsets in the west, we have the beautiful moonrise above the West End in the east. This is a shot of the recent full moon from our balcony!

As well as sunsets and moonlight, there must be roses! These beauties are found at the Rose Garden in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

This post is dedicated to Dr. Zelick Perler (March 01, 1935 – July 06, 2017), a lovely gentleman who loved art, hockey and always looked forward to the next Wilbur Smith novel, it was a joy to work for you and your memory will forever be in mine.

 

 

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Infinity

A tired stretch of asphalt, outside of time

finds itself peppered with glossy machines,

sleek, moving fast, 

their owner’s hearts turned to stone.

The needle strewn forest path, outside of time

bears witness to the solitary soul

seeking solace and pure oxygen

as the embers of a lost world fall all around.

An ancient wave cleaved by fin and tail, outside of time

blesses the ion shore,

where a young woman clad in dark denim

determinedly walks deeper into frigid waters,

as we safe on land start the long chain of phone calls,

saving one life and in turn, our own.

The blue sky above eternally watches over a billion worlds,

worlds that never stop spinning and are forever changing,

waiting patiently for us to return home, outside of time.

A billion worlds, every one unique – this colourful sculpture (made up of broken ceramic and other small items) is on display at the Museum of Anthropology located on the grounds of the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, B.C.).

 

 

 

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Summer in the City

 Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.” – Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

It feels like Mexico during this mini heatwave that has descended upon the city, after chasing the sun these past few months, shady spots have become prime real-estate and I’ve found some respite myself underneath a large maple tree on a well worn bench. English Bay and the quirky patch of sand lovingly named Bikini Beach by the locals are dotted with sunbathers. Two beautiful Vancouver Police horses have just cantered by, their dark chocolate coats well brushed and shiny, the riders upon their broad backs friendly ambassadors as Moms rush towards them with their small children.

As much as I love the park, walking by the ocean or exploring the cool depths of the forest, summer brings it’s own special cachet to our small corner of the world. As summer approaches, the weekends come alive with free festivals starting with the many car-free days throughout the city – our local main street (Denman) is closed from iconic Robson St. all the way down to Davie St. ending at English Bay. It was a treat to walk its length greeting old friends, collecting small tokens (magnets, buttons and pens) from vendors along the way as well as enjoying some delicious samples (hello white peach lemon soda!). I even jumped on a vintage transit bus and had a wander through time as the crowd ebbed and flowed beyond the dusty windows. Afterwards, I bought a yummy blackberry cheesecake popsicle from a tiny cart and happily lost myself while watching a talented breakdance demonstration – all in all, it was a perfect start to the festival season!

Around this time, I received a phone call from my local public library informing me that after an almost 3 year wait, I would finally be able to pick up an Inspiration Pass – a pass that allows library patrons free access to museums, art galleries, gardens, etc. What a lovely gift to behold, I could enjoy it over a two week period and right in the middle of festival season! It was hard to choose but we picked three favourites (there wasn’t enough time to see or do it all!), our first visit was to the Vancouver Art Gallery where we immersed ourselves in the exhibit, Pictures From Here ( comprised of a wide variety of photographs and video by Vancouver based artists). A lot of the work made me feel that I had seen these images before and with Vancouver being the backdrop, it made sense, certain streets or graffiti captured on film caught my eye over and over again. The hour we spent there went by much too fast…

Our second outing found us at the Museum of Anthropology located on a wild cliff nestled on the sprawling campus of the University of British Columbia. The glass, concrete and steel structure houses some incredible indigenous art, when one walks into the exhibit area, there is a hush in the air that reminds me of being in a sacred space, as if I’ve entered nature’s own heart. I have been here before to this exhibit but missed some small printed signs allowing us to touch some of the special pieces – I found myself drawn to a large cedar carving of a bear who is also a man, when I gently stroked his forehead and held my palm above his large head, I could still feel a subtle energy emanating from it even after many years of captivity inside these glass walls. I touched many other pieces and the energy present in those wood carvings seemed muted, the strongest by far, was the beautiful bear.

After an hour or two of exploring, we found ourselves at our third choice (steps away from the museum), in the lush green of the Nitobe Memorial Garden – what a wonderful respite from the glass and concrete, here was another sacred space, the silence here more profound as we walked and breathed in the visual beauty all around us. Even if summer in the city calls to me with its festivals and culture, it is nature that always brings me home to my sacred self. Here’s hoping you have a wonderful summer in your part of the world!

The stunning Museum of Anthropology located on the campus of the University of British Columbia nestled in the forest by the sea!

A sampling of totem poles standing watch in this sacred space.

A close up of the beautiful cedar bear carving that dominates this glass corner of the museum.

A different angle of this beautiful cedar carving depicting both man and bear, it was thrilling to be able to touch this piece of art!

There is so much cultural beauty to explore, the hours flew by!

 

 

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The Beautiful Work

 In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explodes, and every sunset is different.” – John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

On this last day of spring, the promise of summer is found on the sun dappled sidewalks, in the scent of tanning lotion wafting through the air and in the excited voices of a group of kids playing baseball, the long lazy days of summer so close they are positively vibrating with anticipation.

It’s time to shed some layers, live more lightly upon the Earth and throw ourselves ardently into some beautiful work – perhaps to send those handwritten letters we meant to write as our friend Jacqueline is doing, to pick up that unread book and take it to a park or down by the sea, to declutter our corners once again and simply be.

The winter teas of chai and ginger have been put away (the hot chocolate stays put for those summer storms that surge in after a glorious sunset!) making room for the herbal teas that will find their way into the mason jar as ice tea, the scent of hibiscus, pomegranate and raspberry enveloping the senses. These warmer days have already enticed me outside – a trio of weathered picnic tables located just down our street nestled under several towering leafy trees have already hosted a picnic or two. To sit on a bench with our legs stretched out munching on a nourish bowl of salad (lovingly made up of shredded purple cabbage, dark red beets, green onions and radishes from the Farmer’s Market, a variety of beans, and black olives for Terry) is divine. We get to breathe in fresh air, watch the tiny brown Douglas pine squirrels forage for food and people watch (so many clutching maps as they explore the outstanding natural beauty of this park).

I first heard the phrase, “beautiful work” at my weekly yoga class and it struck me as a profound way of being – how after an hour devoid of to-do’s, worries and forever ringing phones enables us to step back into our busy worlds to perform the beautiful work that colour our days whether that finds us looking after family or friends, hoofing it to our jobs or moving amongst the world. This sacred time in union with others wipes our slates clean, fills those empty cups to the brim with quiet happiness, restoring our energy so we can rejoin the fray, painting the day in whatever colours we choose, allowing the flowing ribbon of beautiful work to unfold where it may.

The peaceful Nitobe Memorial Garden (a Shinto-style stroll garden) located on two acres of native BC forest at the University of British Columbia. We spent a lovely afternoon here recently and hope to again soon!

Walking through the Nitobe Memorial Garden (UBC) yielded so many tranquil spots, I could not believe how beautifully green it was!

I can never pass by a door or gate, I find them so intriguing – this beautiful bamboo gate caught my eye near the end of our stroll at the Nitobe Memorial Garden (UBC)!

The beauty of this sculptural tree amongst the mosses spoke to me – “A Japanese garden is not only a place of beauty, but a place where the soul can find nourishment.”, this is a quote taken from the handout for the Nitobe Memorial Garden (UBC).

 

 

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Seven Directions

I find myself in quiet corners

capturing wayward lines on discarded napkins

or random library slips, realizing

there is magic to corral and wrestle upon the blank space –

the image of a modern day Pan

playing his flute upon the damp sand

of a log strewn beach,

gently swaying and twirling underneath the morning sun,

the silver of his otherworldly instrument

flashing upon every turn, hypnotizing the unaware.

There is enchantment sowing its undulating spells

across the land in seven directions,

enveloping those who take the time to really see,

who can seek a truth and watch the lies that some men tell

with their black hearts still beating,

burn to ash and fall away.

A peaceful spot in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.) near Lost Lagoon.

 

 

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Unsettled

 The outside is the only place we can truly be inside the world.” – Daniel J. Rice

The shrill call of a woodpecker to her babies in the cavity prone dead tree breaks the slumbering silence of a late spring day that feels more like the first blush of summer. These warm days strung like bright round beads invite one to spend as much time outside as possible and it’s here in the middle of the newly lush forest that I find myself, writing at an old battered picnic table by the baseball diamond where I volunteered as a scorekeeper so many years ago. The large open space with its freshly mown grass soften the distant concrete edges of the city. In between words, I’m watching several crows forage for grubs to feed their young calling from the safety of tall, fragrant cedars. All around me echo the haunting calls of various birds, nature’s own amphitheatre providing the leafy acoustics for the robin, chickadee and warblers.

This soul has been feeling unsettled lately, often tuned into the staccato voices on the news, whispers of worry threatening to morph into a rushing waterfall, washing away those careful wish lists reminding one to practice good self care and have the best summer ever! Hungering to snip the frayed edges and pulled threads of my world, I’m drawn again to the green in the mysterious depths of the forest or near a tangled patch of  garden to seek that elusive peace that somehow slipped away without my notice.

I’ve begun to take early morning walks in the park, breathing in the beautiful fresh air has a way of lightening my soul and I often end up at a local market to buy the odd vegetable for that night’s supper, the scent of the produce taking me back to Mexico in a heartbeat. On sunny afternoons, lunch is taken outside wherever there is an empty picnic table or bench, we often end up at the Railway Cafe sitting at the picnic tables there while waiting patiently for our favourite trail to open again mid-month! As we walk afterwards, we are often rewarded with glimpses of nature’s beauty – recently we found ourselves competing with a tiny brown Douglas pine squirrel as well as the ever present black squirrels for the juiciest salmonberries (the first of the season!) in hues of ruby red and pale apricot while strolling down the road to the wooden bridge near the trail to Beaver Lake (and yes, there is a large beaver lodge out on the small lake!). On another walk near Lost Lagoon we were surprised to come upon the rare Common snipe with her very small downy black feathered chick feeding among the marshy grasses seemingly unaware as we watched them underneath the warm sun.

We must take time to head outside amid the green, to allow the unfolding season to bring us back to our wild selves and settle our restless souls…I’m so glad I heeded the call, I’m inside the world once again and my summer looks endless!

Writing near the towering cedars and baseball diamond at Brocton Oval in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

A shot of the cavity prone dead tree where the woodpecker family is nesting near Brocton Oval in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

We often picnic above this small waterfall near the Railway Cafe in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.). It’s a peaceful, lush setting for an outdoor feast!

A beautiful moon sculpture discovered on our favourite trail near the Railway Cafe in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

The title for this post caught my eye, winking out from a colourful brochure about an upcoming play and when it caught the eye of my dear neighbour Huguette, I knew it was meant to be.

 

 

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