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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Morning Thunder

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” – Frederick Douglass

A rumble reverberating through the air woke me from a light slumber, the apartment awash in a fiery peach glow – as spring deepens into summer, the light creeps in earlier through the windows and I knew it was 6 am. Behind my closed eyes as I tried to fall back into dreamless sleep, bright white gold flashes signaled the presence of lightning now hovering against the cloud soaked mountains, the peach coloured sunrise smothered by the fast moving storm.

I eventually leapt out of bed to have a peek through the ivory slats of our blinds, drawn to this rare natural firework show so early in the morning, the large forked lightning painting the sky before crackling thunder tore the delicate tracery apart. Seagulls and dark crows could be seen flying rapidly through the tropical downpour, their cries mixing with the rolling crescendo as the newly risen lemon sun settled among the grey clouds. Only days ago it felt like summer was just around this moody corner!

In fact, there is nothing like walking by the roar of the ocean on a sunny spring afternoon with the scent of salt and cherry blossoms in the air. Walking the seawall underneath this rare sun I found myself taking in the sight of dazzling yellow dandelions and tiny white daisies carpeting lush green grass. A cool breeze from the west northwest reminds one that winter has only recently left his realm leaving spring to hurriedly decorate her new domain – I can see her delicate touch in the exuberant leafing of the still bare trees, in the fragile filigree of the chestnut flowers daubed in  hues of dark rose and pale cream as well as in the luxurious blooming of the many newly emerging rhododendrons, camellias and azalea bushes all around.

My nose finds itself tickled by the aroma of all the sylvan and woody spaces, summer’s subtle invitation just out of reach…there are tulips in all their colourful glory and every so often the scent of hyacinths wafts through the air, on days like these it’s easy to change a frown into a smile or leap from one’s cozy bed to greet the day.

It is moments like these that colour my world as I put to rest a busy May – a May that found me picking up some temporary paid work, enjoying a visit with family out from Ontario, celebrating my birthday and still keeping a daily close watch on my father. I did not realize a storm was brewing for my Mom and shortly after my birthday received a shocking phone call from an up country hospital (where Mom was on a short holiday in Merritt, B.C.) informing me she was undergoing emergency surgery for a significant fracture of her right femur after a freak car accident. After a whirlwind week or so, she is back in her own apartment and is slowly making her way…in the midst of life knocking on my door, I took some time to go on a park walk, to sit down on a wooden bench and just breathe. With the light spring wind raining thousands of chestnut flower heads and seeds from other trees (a first for me!) upon my head, these first summer-like days made our long winter seem like a dream, may my mother’s recovery do the same for her.

An early morning walk through the Rhododendron Garden in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

At the end of our street at the edge of Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.) one might be lucky to stumble upon this peaceful stand of bamboo.

Our favourite forest trail will be opening daily in a few weeks! It can be found near the Railway Cafe in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.). Right now, it’s only open on the weekends!

Warm air and shadows, found on a favourite trail in the Rhododendron Garden in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

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Writing Haikus

Beautiful writing for a writer’s soul – please drop by ‘midlifemaniacalme’ for more inspirational words/poetry and lovely images!

Midlife, Maniacal & Me

1A

Writing is a gift

Your words convey true feelings

Inspire everyone

1C

Your stories bring hope

Share them with everyone now

Invigorate dreams

1B

Writing’s a journey

Embrace the path everyday

Always love your craft

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Cultivating the Opposite

The dream of living by the sea

near a wild forest and ancient mountain range,

rose unbidden, colouring the day to day

of my long ago high school world.

Time has passed unbound,

leaving its inevitable brushstrokes

and bruised shadows behind,

it’s here amid the trifecta of water, wood and earth

that I make my stand – 

Resisting the lure of the lemming mind

at every red light I come across,

shaking off the eagle-eyed glance of the developer

as they sharpen their hungry tooth.

With shredded grace barely covering me

I awake each day to stake my claim,

that dream of long ago, a tainted paradise.

A perfect spot for ‘cultivating the opposite’ at the edge of Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

 

 

 

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Singular Joys

I hope you enjoy this May post from last year! I will post a new piece next week as I’m currently in the ‘eye of the storm’ gearing up for some temporary work over the next few days…wish me luck!

anotetohuguette

 The lights became stars, which became streaks in the grayspace and then networks of fading shimmers.” – Ashim Shanker

Recently this week, after another spring day turned into summer, with the windows left open long after sunset, I experienced something very primal, so close, I thought I might be able to reach out and touch it.

It was lightning in the sky above the mountains that first caught my eye, the bright flashes of forked power reminding me that there is more going on just outside the open balcony door than in the reading of a cool magazine or the evening news in the background with its often heartbreaking or fearful stories. As I became more engaged in watching nature’s fireworks display, I noticed a large flat-looking cloud just above that was moving slowly across the dark sky. To my surprise, I could see lightning activity periodically flashing in…

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