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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Boundless

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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Maelstrom

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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Threshold

What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.” – Hagrid, from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Mid-winter is revealing more of its beauty these days, the clear blue sky often awash in layered brushstrokes of rose as the sun moves from east to west. January has now passed into February in a flurry of stunning vistas – the mountains still retaining their snow-capped ice cream white, with the forest burnished hazel by the golden sun and the sea shining ice blue. There have been days where long johns and tights are de rigueur reminding me of childhood winters but thankfully winter’s kink has uncovered sunny spots of daffodils and delicate white snowdrops, whetting one’s appetite for spring.

The air is filled with the scent of sea and winter cold as I make my way down to the seawall – the damp sand of the beaches peppered with scattered prints of canine and human alike. Crashing waves accompany me and I’m greeted with a larger than life dandelion shaped cloud in the sky spreading ever outwards as if connecting the land to sea.

Drifting tendrils of the dandelion shaped cloud against the winter sky at Second Beach (Vancouver, B.C.).

Drifting tendrils of the dandelion shaped cloud against the winter sky at Second Beach (Vancouver, B.C.).

Another facet of winter’s beauty are sunset walks on the seawall – bathed in light that seems to intensify each step, casting the landscape in shadow while leaving a smoky haze of vermilion in the sky. The modern skyline calls to mind a cluster of medieval castles, their ancient dark shapes rising from the cold, green forest. Above the seawall, a large bush of impossibly vibrant holly berries glow a fiery scarlet leaving their dull orange colour behind. I find myself sitting on a bench with kaleidoscope eyes trying to capture images on scraps of paper to be wrestled with later into a line or two.

Nature’s subtle magic has captured my imagination yet again, a soothing balm bringing hope to a weary heart – there is fear and ugliness to behold if we choose to pay them any mind, it’s far better to cross the threshold and walk a different path. We don’t have to ask the man who walks barefoot no matter the weather, his white grin says it all! So I will continue to walk the liminal plane no matter the terrain because what will come, will come.

A winter shot of the wooden bridge near Lost Lagoon (Vancouver, B.C.). There is a lot of beaver activity in the area resulting in flooding!

A winter shot of the wooden bridge near Lost Lagoon (Vancouver, B.C.). There is a lot of beaver activity in the area resulting in flooding!

Overlooking Third Beach at Ferguson Point in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.) with the mountains in the background.

Overlooking Third Beach at Ferguson Point in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.) with the mountains in the background.

A winter shot of English Bay showing tree, sky and ocean (Vancouver, B.C.).

A winter shot of English Bay showing tree, sky and ocean (Vancouver, B.C.).

 

 

 

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A Love Letter to Vinyl…

I could not resist re-blogging this beautiful piece of writing that reminds us to create some sacred space to simply be…jamesradcliffe.com…a blog I return to again and again!

JamesRadcliffe.com

For Christmas this year I received a turntable, some speakers, and a few hand-picked records – I’d been thinking of starting a vinyl collection for a while and had decided to take the plunge.

There was something exciting about opening that first record; about feeling the transparent wrap tearing back beneath my fingers, flexing the cover, sliding out the white paper sleeve, and tipping the solid black disc onto my palm.  It had a surprising weight to it.  It smelled new.  It felt fragile.  It felt precious.  Music as a real and tangible artifact.

I’d like to say it was the first needle drop that brought the quiet revelation, but that came later.  In the moment there was just the pop and hiss of blank space and then, of course, the music.

But something was different.

After I put the first record on, I sat back on my sofa and…

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Janus

Dark poetry and longing

traverse the unbound heart,

igniting flames of winter blue

and summer gold in their wake.

Scents of forbidden fruit

waft through the forest of words

luring the unwary from the known path,

encasing them like insects in liquid amber.

Revel’s wild music is in the air,

beware of the one who wears two faces.

Winter sky and part of the city's skyline reflected in the waters of Lost Lagoon near the edge of the forest, (Vancouver, B.C.).

Winter sky and part of the city’s skyline reflected in the waters of Lost Lagoon near the edge of the forest, (Vancouver, B.C.).

This poem is a continuation of the December thread started by my dear neighbours, Huguette and Jacqueline, to write a poem each month celebrating the months of the year.

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