Leave It To The Wind

If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.” – Khalil Gibran

Winter is holding fast these days, clinging tight with icy fingers to its overdue reign – the trees still bare with just a hint of budding and snow falling like salt from a shaker on the local mountains.

With the new season waiting in the wings, I’m beginning to note some subtle changes, the air is soft and warm on my way to my morning yoga class now – the sweet pink of rhododendron blossoms peeking out from shiny green leaves and the tender spring green shoots piercing winter hardened soil warm my heart. This warm air brings with it a sense of hope, spring is sure to come once winter loosens its tight hold and slips away into the ether.

The winds of change are on the move, bringing with them new energy and growth. Some of these winds are buffeting me out of my comfort zones – a week or so ago, I jumped on the wrong shuttle bus on my way to dinner at my friend Yvonne’s, it shook me up and left me feeling disorientated. I was no longer on auto-pilot but luckily my inner compass kicked in and I made my way up some unfamiliar streets marveling at the architecture, experiencing the energy of this unknown corner of Vancouver (mere streets away from iconic Yaletown!). I was not far from a busy city street and found my way easily to another bus so I could be on my way, left with the thought, that I should do this more often and just leave it to the wind, allowing those gentle currents to blow away the winter weary cobwebs from my mind.

In short order, I found myself on the edges of Yaletown once again, this time meeting up with my Aussie friend Amanda at a new cafe (Trees Organic Cafe). Because it was new to both of us, I found myself arriving early to claim a spot and found a table by a big picture window with a brutal view of almost a city block of construction, reminding me that Vancouver is ever growing. This means more people will be moving into a city with little room left for expansion, another sign of more winds of change. Despite the urban view, the cafe turned out to be a warm and quiet oasis, a perfect place to enjoy a fragrant tea (I happily drank a lovely warming tea, Candied Ginger Peach Rooibos!). As I was waiting for my dear friend, I took a quiet moment to do some writing as Trees has a wonderful bookcase with a big tray of white paper on top with cups of pencils, markers and crayons nearby just calling out to the writer within. Without the wind of change, these two adventures would not have been conjured, leaving me adrift on winter’s barren ground forever waiting for spring.

Weddings and spring are in the air – a beautiful white horse drawn carriage near the pavilion in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

A closer look at the pavilion in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

Trees and shadows in the park (Stanley Park), what secrets do they know?

Journal Entry: January 06th, 2005 – Paloma del Mar Hotel, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

…today has been cloudy and sunny, also very humid! It hasn’t rained once since we’ve been here, just sunny day after sunny day…although our Vancouver neighbour who used to own the Roscoe’s restaurant on Robson St. told us that it rained at about midnight on the first night of our stay at the hotel for an hour or so. I remember peeking out our balcony door at about that time, it wasn’t raining but it smelled as if it had – the air smelled so fresh and earthy.

The sister sign (this one taken in the Vallarta Botanical Gardens in Mexico) to one that commemorates the beautiful rhododendrons found in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

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Deep Water

I find myself in deeper water lately

no longer on the shore, 

bare toes finding purchase upon cool sand,

instead I’m treading luminous blue

hoping with each breath that I don’t drown.

Drown among the slippery tendrils of seaweed

in colours of darkest green and brown,

eyes wide open,

adjusting to the undulating new world before me,

my last breath stretching to eternity.

But wait, I’ve been here before – 

floating in deep water, safe in my mother’s womb

the ebb and flow cradling me,

as I wait for light to cleave the water,

allowing me to surface to take that first breath again.

Deep water capture – a shot of Pacific Sea Nettles (jellyfish) taken at the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

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Peace & Plenty

The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach.” – Henry Beston

I wrote of early spring in my last post with over three weeks of winter still to go and as we made our way to catch the bus to beautiful Horseshoe Bay in late February to connect with the ferry to Vancouver Island, we did so amid softly falling snow. We were finally on our way back to our favourite retreat after a one year absence, having booked 5 nights at Tigh-Na-Mara Resort near the town of Parksville…

Sitting here at the ferry terminal while jotting down some notes (to Huguette & others!), I’m surrounded by gorgeous mountains with their peaks covered in freshly fallen snow and the deep green of the forest. Clinging to the many cliffs are one of my favourite trees, the arbutus with its bare rust coloured limbs, the bark in a constant state of peeling. As I look out onto the water, the wintering ducks are still here, lazily floating on the smooth surface.

We have left for this getaway with thoughts of my father’s health foremost in our minds but are heartened by family and friends who have offered to check in on him while we are away. We are only about 2 hours away and plan to call him daily. As we get ready to board the ferry, the weather is brightening with just the odd snowflake swirling down.

On board, after a delicious lunch, my companions as I sat to enjoy the passing view were Black Tusk mountain and random floating logs with various sea birds perched upon them. I settled in with my latest Harry Potter read, happy to be on the move again! After a relaxing ferry crossing, we were picked up by shuttle and within half an hour found ourselves checked in – shortly after that, we made our way down a beloved woodland trail in Rathtrevor Park to the wild ocean beyond. What drew us besides the sun was the sound of hundreds of Brant geese out on the water, taking a break from their long migration north. Overhead we could hear a raven of blackest night who looked far larger than the ravens in Stanley Park. It felt good to once again breathe in the sea air and hear nothing but the sound of waves.

Each day found us taking long walks on Rathtrevor Beach and through the forest just minutes from our woodland studio at Tigh-Na-Mara.

Our first few days on the resort were winter cold – looking up into the dark sky on that first night outside our woodland studio, the brightly shining stars looked like they were cascading down upon us. Breathing in the scent of wood smoke and cedar was intoxicating, reminding me to appreciate this peace and plenty in my life…

On one of our last nights, the winds came up with a roar bringing with them the gift of a kiss of sunlight for our daily walk by the ocean and through the peaceful green of the forest. It is our last full day here and we were able to make our way to our favourite wild spot (where bear have been spotted in the summer!) near a stand of crab apple trees (hence the bears!). Near the bench we sit upon to soak up the sun, we found a new trail to explore – a trail winding its way through spring green moss so bright it seemed to cast its own light with undulating carpets of primordial ferns all around. It skirts an old farmer’s field where deer are often found, we didn’t see any this trip but did see lots of evidence that we may have just missed them especially with the freshly dug grass kicked up by their hooves!

After a tasty lunch at the charming cafe and bistro “Taste”, the wind picked up again – as I looked out the window at our small table for two, I could see the tall fir and pine trees waving their feathery branches, as if saying goodbye to winter. The wind brought our first rainfall since our arrival and I find myself tucked up in our studio, a glass of dark red wine on the table, taking in this wonderful part of the world, savouring every moment and encounter!

Sitting on our favourite bench near the crab apple trees in Rathtrevor Park (Vancouver Island, B.C.).

This bridge led us to a new trail to explore in Rathtrevor Park (Vancouver Island, B.C.).

Winter pale trees wrapped in spring green moss look otherworldly on one of our daily walks through the forest of Rathtrevor Park (Vancouver Island, B.C.).


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Real Time

Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Warmer air amid the lingering light herald this early rush of spring, showing up in lush masses of white snowdrops, the royal purple and golden hue of crocuses as well as the odd patch of nodding canary yellow daffodils. Another welcome sign of the coming new season came in an email from my Mom, letting me know that the free vouchers for some of the upcoming spring concerts arrived on the bulletin board in the lobby of her building.

On a recent cloudy Sunday, Mom and I made our way downtown eagerly looking forward to the concert performance of “Symphonie Fantastique” at the iconic Orpheum Theatre just a short walk from her apartment. It was a lovely afternoon filled with the sounds of love, obsession and heartbreak layered in a veil of steampunk richly interpreted by the Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra. The pieces that transported us came from the works of Benton Roark (b. 1977), Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) and Hector Berlioz (1803-1869). The presence of 5 harps as well as 2 bell ringers added another musical dimension to the soaring sound of the many violins and cellos. This particular joy – finding ourselves among like-minded people seeking culture and exquisite music is a wonderful balm, smoothing out some rough edges that have crept into my world.

The topography of the land I usually walk upon has changed dramatically – for the last 6 weeks or so I have been traversing foreign soil, helping my father as he recovers from a hospital stay that has somehow left him fragile and unsure of himself. There is shopping to do, dishes to wash and phone calls to make – my father does not have the strength or interest at the moment in returning to his former life. He seems bewildered by this sudden change and frankly, so am I.

My days pass so quickly, I have to remind myself to breathe, drink water or have lunch among the extra tasks that have blossomed like giddy spring flowers in what was once a tidy garden. Thankfully, with love and support, we are making our way, drawing a new map with the help of his family physician, our local health unit, dear friends and of course, family. We are adjusting to the new equipment and medication that now shares his space with the hope that he can continue to live independently – happy among his books, moving confidently once again through his world. As his daughter, I’m aware that these moments are occurring in real time, meant to be held close and cherished.

This stunning angle makes one think they could be anywhere, perhaps even in the country but it is a favourite spot found in the middle of Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

This stunning angle makes one think they could be anywhere, perhaps even in the country but it is a favourite spot found in the middle of Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

This post is dedicated to a talented local musician, Bob White (late of the cool band, the Bobcats) who was here one moment and gone the next, he passed away suddenly on February 3rd, 2017, I will dearly miss his shy smile.

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The Fifth Turning

Words shimmer on the newsprint page,

a desert mirage promising lush green

amid the anarchy.

Falling from the lips of

wily wizards and sharp eyed visionaries,

they weave a tale that rivals the books out of time

that we covet and collect.

A tale, once legend

now wrapped in prophecy

foretelling the unavoidable – 

there will be war

after four turnings

as nations traverse a span of eighty years.

Instead, we can lay our weapons down

choose transcendence over war

and usher in a new age.

The imposing Brock monument at the Queenston Height National Historical Site (Niagara-On-The-Lake) in Ontario, Canada.

The imposing Brock monument at the Queenston Height National Historical Site (Niagara-On-The-Lake) in Ontario, Canada.

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Like some winter animal the moon licks the salt of your hand, yet still your hair foams violet as a lilac tree, from which a small wood-owl calls.” – Johannes Bobrowski

I want my words to conjure spring instead of this rare winter whose cool countenance blankets our usual lush green landscape. There are icicles on the balcony railing and a small drift of snow holds the tiny prints of the juncos who have come to forage. Nearby, a large tree outside my window fills with the sound of excited blackbirds who have taken to roosting there during the daylight hours, sometimes 80 at a time! The falling snow does not seem to bother them and when I look outside again into the snow globe swirl, I can still see their dark shapes.

The weather soon brings some respite, freezing rain arrives and I find my world more navigable – I can walk long distances again without worry of black ice catching me by surprise. The sidewalks are clear though there is still some snow clinging to the branches of trees I pass as well as covering the once grassy boulevards. Out of nowhere, it seems, fat robins have appeared, taking full advantage of the lull between winter and spring. Their high-spirited antics lighten my heart, reminding me that the dark edges of winter are fading fast.

It’s time to shake off this grief and worry – to find the girl who walked the country roads of Germany with a gaggle of local kids from the village we lived in, to go swimming at the big city pool, cooling off on a hot summer’s day and feeling like a mermaid with her long hair floating in the turquoise water. Tonight there will be a lunar eclipse heralding a sense of celebration and new beginnings, perhaps we can harness the winds of change that have been let loose upon the world and reminiscent of that girl of long ago, float upon calmer waters, forever boundless.

A winter capture of the limitless Vancouver skyline as seen from Lost Lagoon (Vancouver, B.C.).

A winter capture of the limitless Vancouver skyline as seen from Lost Lagoon (Vancouver, B.C.).

Journal Entry: February 12, 2000 – Vancouver, B.C.

We left Mexico on Feb.06th and I’m still recalling the great dinner we had at Roberto’s on Basillio Badillo and the sad part that came after, at Viva Cafe – saying goodbye to Sonny (the charismatic owner of the cafe) and his family. During the day, we had a good visit at the cafe with him, his wife and lovely daughter. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and there was a perfect breeze, it reminded me of a warm spring wind. We played and laughed, it almost felt like we weren’t going away. But we were and here we are, back in Vancouver! It’s been a rough week for us, Terry & I miss seeing signs written in Spanish, even our Canadian money doesn’t look familiar – we want the colours, scents and heat of Puerto Vallarta. I especially miss the energy and faces of my neighbourhood. It’s sunny and warm out today, this helps a lot! Since we’ve come back, we’ve had some dark and rainy days, making us want to jump on a plane to fly back home. But when the sun shines here in Vancouver, I find I’m beginning to feel that I’m back in my former home – a northern home that is also very beautiful.

This is my inspiration, a winter sunset reflecting off the mountains and dark forest of Stanley Park as seen from our windows (Vancouver, B.C.).

This is my inspiration, a winter sunset reflecting off the mountains and dark forest of Stanley Park as seen from our windows (Vancouver, B.C.).

Eight snow events since the beginning of December 2016 resulting in this winter wonderland outside my 9th floor apartment windows (Vancouver, B.C.). More inspiration!

Eight snow events since the beginning of December 2016 resulting in this winter wonderland outside my 9th floor apartment windows (Vancouver, B.C.). More inspiration!

A most magical spot on the seawall; rain, shine or frost, it doesn't matter (Vancouver, B.C.)!

A most magical spot on the seawall; rain, shine or frost, it doesn’t matter (Vancouver, B.C.)!

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There’s a collective storm brewing

the likes of which we’ve never seen.

Words that whispered through our minds

are on news feeds for all the world to hear.

The cacophony cuts like a knife,

interrupting peaceful dreams

and guiltless sleep,

driving us from sylvan glens

to roam among the brambles,

life’s blood dripping scarlet

upon the thirsty ground.

Hope is all we have left,

a refuge, burning bright,

the eternal flame of a single candle

chasing away shadows

in the eye of the storm.

A glorious winter sunset over English Bay (Vancouver, B.C.) representing hope and light.

A glorious winter sunset over English Bay (Vancouver, B.C.) representing hope and light.

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