Love Yourself. Then Forget It. Then Love The World. – Mary Oliver, Devotions
The Canada Geese are doing it – I laughed out loud as the adults and growing goslings walked single file across the wide expanse of beach towards the ocean that recently hosted three transient Orca whales, launching themselves into the salt water as if on holiday. I wonder what the tourists and the kids, their school year having just ended, think about sharing this summer ritual with not just one or two geese but a whole flotilla!
Summer is so fleeting up here in the North (now known as Raptor country!) that it behooves us to do what moves us, to make sure we don’t miss a thing underneath the lingering light. But it seems, this wondrous season makes sure we don’t – on any given day filled with errands, visiting loved ones or a dear friend, the exotic fragrance of the Catalpa trees will tickle the nose or the creamy petals of the peonies catch one’s eye.
As I’ve mentioned before, a plethora of events, exhibits, and festivals spring up at this warmer time of year, enticing us to be more present in our world. When our local newspapers hit the stands each week, I read through each carefully, cutting out every announcement that makes my heart sing.
One exhibit that called to me is currently on at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art downtown. This hidden jewel came to my attention during an open house last year to celebrate the gallery’s tenth anniversary, as I wandered through the two floors among the wood carvings and sparkling jewels, I knew I would be back to once again enjoy the sense of sacredness amid the curated quiet. This summer’s exhibit (Womxn and Waterways – water honours us) is a haunting collection of photographs taken by or created by a group of Indigenous women artists celebrating the precious element, water. Some of the women portrayed can be seen crouched on dark rocks immersed in a pristine river, scuffed workman’s boots in stark contrast to the bejewelled necks and wrists while others embraced by waters elsewhere raise a gleaming copper bowl to the sky. There are traditional language words threaded throughout the two floors with powerful black and white images, as well as a painted and beaded canvas with silky black thread pooling down to the floor like a wild horse’s tail but actually represents a potential oil spill from the many tankers entering our coastal waters, it hangs in mute protest, a reminder to stand watch and protect the waters that honour us. There is also a small memorial to the artist, Audrey Siegl, who passed away this year – upon a small stand, two crossed cedar fronds in front of faded photographs mark a dynamic presence now lost to the world, her striking visage rendered in black and white just to the left, warrior eyes challenging us to continue the fight.
Summer has left us for the moment, riding on the jet stream to warm our eastern provinces and it’s under cloudy skies that I find myself attending lectures and the opening of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s latest offering, the magnificent bronzes of Giacometti (Alberto Giacometti – A Line Through Time). Despite the change in the weather, I’ll continue to do what moves me, show up, and love the world.