Discarded Wings

She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible. She walked with the Universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings.” – Ariana Dancu

Against faded brick, the cardboard wings lay abandoned, no longer gracing unknown shoulders, the feathers in colours of stop-sign red and navy blue wilting underneath the still smoky sky.

The days of unrelenting smoke and August deep heat number in the double digits now with only one night of rain on the way to wash the taste of woodsmoke from our mouths. I’m still seeking fresher air at our local library where I can find the A/C on and just next to it, disappear into the cool sanctuary of my weekly yoga class, small respites against the ever growing reality of climate change. Even the tourists are struggling to find the spectacular postcard views promised them, their cameras capturing only stagnant, grey haze.

Thankfully, the rain did fall that night, breaking up a stretch of dry days fuelling all those fires up country – the sound of heavy raindrops hitting our bedroom window as I read my book soothing my parched soul and I knew come morning there would be fresh air to breathe, mountains to gaze upon and a cobalt sea to marvel at once again, a reminder  to not take the “super natural” vibes of our beautiful city for granted.

There is still a threat of more smoke to come and I find myself drawn to the leafy green spaces that cross my path on my daily travels, the coolness welcoming me into a sylvan embrace. Despite this, it cannot shut out the image of those wayward wings, a symbol of how eager we are to discard our light as feather appendages and accept the status quo, abandoning our authentic selves for the face of a stranger, no longer recognizing ourselves in the mirror – making me realize it’s time to pick up those battered wings, shake off the dust and wear them upon my shoulders vowing to never abandon them again.

A stunning feathered headdress on display at the Museum of Anthropology (Vancouver, B.C.).

A group of colourful Indigenous carvings depicting winged creatures from nature at the Museum of Anthropology (Vancouver, B.C.).

Another beautiful feathered piece on display at the Museum of Anthropology (Vancouver, B.C.).

A beautiful carving depicting an eagle and man by the late artist, Bill Reid on display at the Museum of Anthropology (Vancouver, B.C.).

The subject of this post (being authentic and unafraid to wear our wings) came as a request from my Mom, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

 

 

 

 

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Passenger

Among summer flowers and dark earth

I spied a red velvet starfish,

an exotic bloom plucked from its ocean home

dropped by a careless hand or mother gull

upon an unknown world.

A world saturated in golden light

and still air,

the memory of cold depths and moon tossed waves

fading fast – 

a passenger riding on the flotsam of chance

here today, gone tomorrow

intersecting realms to dazzle these human eyes.

A gorgeous bloom captured near the lawn bowling greens in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

 

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Cafe San Angel Notes

I’m reblogging this post in celebration of my 2nd anniversary here on WordPress, it captures the many moments that lead to that leap of faith! I’m forever blessed by everyone who took the time to read my posts and I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

anotetohuguette

The genesis of my Mexico writing life began at a local cafe down the road from our studio at the “Janitzio”. I had started a small journal when we stayed in those 2 rooms on Lazaro Cardenas, writing mostly on a battered kitchen table, but I had not taken the journal to a cafe. When we discovered “Cafe San Angel”, it changed the way we lived our days – we would rise and have our simple breakfast of granola, fruit and yogurt on our balcony with coffee for Terry and tea for me. If it was a writing day (as opposed to a shopping day), we would grab our notebooks and pens and head down to the cafe. How liberating to sit by the side of Olas Altas street (Calle) and be able to watch all the comings and goings of our Mexican neighbourhood. What I remember most was the…

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Soar

Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci

The beginning of this post starts high above a sea of pillow-like clouds floating above Lake Superior (one of the famous Great Lakes that straddle the Canadian and US border) – we are once again flying at 37,000 feet winging towards Toronto after receiving a surprise phone call from Ontario. Terry’s nephew Sean called inviting us out to celebrate his Mom’s birthday (a birthday of note!) with the hope that all six siblings might be present to wish her well – we are filled with excitement with this unexpected summer vacation and with the thought that we are flying clear across Canada to wish Karen a very happy birthday. She does not know that we are coming – with only four days to organize our Vancouver life, it’s been a whirlwind week, it’s hard to believe we are almost there!

After a fairly smooth flight with just a few bumps along the way, we landed after 10 pm (Toronto time) into the humid air of summer in a Toronto that is experiencing weather that is reminiscent of the West Coast, the cloudy skies and rain showers reminding us of home. Luckily the weather cleared the next day for a lovely gathering of loved ones to celebrate Karen’s special day, there was a happy mix of fragrant flowers, sparkling wine and delicious food reminding us of the legendary holiday celebrations of the past when the whole family came together!

Before we flew home, we were happy to find ourselves heading out on a day trip to Port Perry with Karen and Terry’s brother Garth (about 40 minutes by car from Karen’s home in Ajax) to explore the historic downtown with its many Victorian buildings painted in heritage colours of mulberry and dark teal, as well as explore the Lake Scugog waterfront. As we made our way down to the water we could see some local people fishing off the pier overlooking the same moody visage that inspired Tom Thomson (1877-1917), the Canadian landscape painter who belonged to the Group of Seven. It was quite humid and the threat of rain imminent, the already dark sky looked like it might birth a tornado, its colour deepening to smudged graphite with every passing moment – despite this threat we continued to stroll beside a lake that apparently can take anyone, anywhere in the world, admiring the tall yellow lilies as we made our way. We ended up at a local store to buy some picnic food to eat outside in a quiet green park (the Reflective Park) beside a small running creek. We found seats upon an outcropping of low rock and enjoyed our sandwiches, iced tea and crisp potato chips. Just as we were all finishing our last bites, the rain began to fall from that very full sky – perfect timing to pack up and hit the grocery store to pick up some food items for supper, there were kids to feed who had spent the day at Wonderland Park scaring themselves on rides like the Leviathan and the Behemoth!.

It’s been a nice languorous string of days with movies to catch up on, crisp white wine to drink and more delicious food (enjoying Terry’s grandniece Madison’s very tasty Tex-Mex layered dip, her scrumptious birthday cake pops covered in vibrant orange and blue frosting (yum!) and a guacamole dip that we inhaled with each tortilla chip scoop). As I sit here outside at Karen’s listening to various bird species settling among the many trees, I’m appreciating the cooler air and bright sunshine – there are large dandelion puffs lazily moving through the summer breeze and my thoughts are far away from the bustle of the West Coast city I left behind a few days ago.

I’m back home now and I’m startled each time I come across what once was lush green lawn now just patches of withered straw – that red sun of long ago has once again appeared against a sky bruised by the smoke from the still raging fires up country, I heard that ash is falling not far from Vancouver and I wonder if it will fall here sometime soon. The strong scent of woodsmoke has chased me from our warm apartment to the cool confines of our local library, it’s eerie to be sitting here on this padded pale green bench with the sun shining its alien auburn light through the large windows behind me onto the bare floor. It’s been days since we’ve seen blue sky and mountains, our sparkling city under siege from the worst fire season in 60 years, making me dream of soaring once again high above the smoke and ruin.

Lake Scugog underneath a stormy sky in Port Perry, Ontario looking more like Vancouver, B.C.

The moody inspiration for the famous Canadian landscape artist, Tom Thomson (1877-1917) part of the Group of Seven at Lake Scugog in Ontario.

A cool shot showcasing the elegant Victorian buildings lining the main street of Port Perry in Ontario.

A shot of the red sun against the smoky sky (due to the fires burning up country) taken from our window here in the West End (Vancouver, B.C.).

 

 

 

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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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