Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Peace, Silence, Solitude


"Peace, silence, solitude. The world and its noise are out of sight and far away. Forest and field, sun and wind and sky, earth and water, all speak the same language."
Thomas Merton

Our view for a few days - the Nanaimo River Estuary with the Strait of Georgia beyond and further back, the snow-capped Coast Mountains of the mainland. 

We kayaked up the river until the current grew so strong that as fast and as hard as I paddled, I stayed in the very same spot in the river. Then, the delight of turning around and drifting downriver, idling watching the early signs of spring on shore.

Mr. Canada Goose was extremely leery of this camera-wielding human who drifted rather close to his feeding mate. I paddled away after taking the photo so as not to disturb. Seeing life from the perspective of a kayak at water level is very different than being on land. It's more "up close and personal". 

On our first afternoon, the sun shone so warmly and we sat outdoors watching bald and golden eagles drift and soar. It was an airshow of the natural kind. One eagle did a number of barrel rolls, effortlessly turning wing over wing in the air. A flock of either Trumpeter Swans or Snow Geese flew over, long necks stretched northwards, before landing on the mudflats in the estuary to rest for awhile. The Golden Eagle in the tree, seen above, is so well camouflaged. 

Another hike took us on a six-kilometre loop around Westwood Lake, created when a small hydro project was built many years ago. Tall, denuded trees stand perfectly reflected by the clear water below.

A turtle suns himself on a mossy log, unaware of the world at large, concerned only with his own little environment. We're finding the peace and silence of the natural world calming to our own minds and souls amid the chaos of the world. Our days are simple and easy, filled with nature's beauty, books, and each other's company. 

Wishing you peace amidst the storms.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Flowers, Family, and Ferries


We planted a camellia bush last spring and this year we are enjoying plentiful pink blooms. The bush has one very tall stalk, but after it flowers, I think it needs to be pruned into shape. I always hate cutting plants back, but I've learned that they flourish when I do. 

I had a lot of fun with Iris and Cora this week. They stayed with us overnight while their parents enjoyed some time on their own. These girls love, love, love being outdoors - we took a number of walks, and they ran around the back yard. Cora loves muscari. I think it's the texture of the little balls on the flowers that she liked, because she gently squished every one she could get her hands on. And then she tried eating them! I did check and they are not toxic. 

We spent some time on the ferry this weekend, going to Abbotsford to visit my parents. Skies were cloudy and there was a bit of rain. I love all the layers of sea and islands, mountains, and clouds that characterize this landscape. 

A little walk with my parents. 

While driving through Abbotsford, sometimes called Abby, I got a giggle at a sign that read "Downtown Abby." It's a firm of lawyers. Such a clever take on the popularity of Downton Abbey, don't you think?

More cherry blossoms, as promised. Some trees are greening up while others are barely budding. I'm glad there are so many varieties that bloom early and late to extend the season. 

One more week of spring break, and Tim's taking a week of vacation, too. There will be some hiking involved, and a little trip, and a birthday celebration for Tim. 

Wishing you a week filled with lovely moments. They are there to be found even in the midst of troubled times. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Blossom Time


From my sofa this past week, I've watched the plum tree on the street become fuller with white blossoms. I'm feeling much better and thank you all for your kind thoughts. And, I've been getting out a bit, even to taking some photos of the blossoms. 

Across the street from the plum tree are a couple of cherry trees, and they, too, are filled with frothy blossoms. Their anthers look as though they are tipped with gold, even in these rather glum cloudy and drizzly days. 

How delicate they are, true harbingers of springtime. Beauty like this reaches deep inside my heart and hugs it with gentle warmth. An anonymous writer says, "It always pays to dwell slowly on the beautiful things, and the more beautiful, the more slowly." 
When my heart is heavy, beauty consoles and gives hope. A Ukrainian woman I follow on Facebook writes every day about her situation. She has a daughter, who, just last week, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. In the midst of the horror and anguish of war, this family chooses to focus on the lovely miracle and hope of a new little life, born into such inauspicious times. 
Beauty doesn't negate the war, or any tragedy, but I believe it does help me to step away mentally or physically and give myself a bit of breathing space.

Food is also a comfort. After several days of soothing soups, I saw this recipe from Love and Lemons, and knew it was just what I wanted. Citrus, crunch, avocado, roasted fennel, and parmesan cheese combined for a fresh salad that really tasted good. 
The everyday routines of cleaning, cooking, and gardening provide structure for days when my mind is scattered by troubles near and far. 

One last photo of the cherry blossoms. I pray that you will find beauty in your world, beauty to let soak into your soul, and give you comfort. 

Friday, March 18, 2022

Friday Favourites


I was looking through my recipes for something last night and came across a much-creased and stained handwritten recipe from Tim's mother for Rice Pudding. Suddenly I had a craving for a bowl of not-too-sweet, creamy and comforting rice pudding. So I made some this morning. It was lovely. Just what I needed, as you'll see from the other "favourites" this week.

I have the worst cold I've had in many years. It's been quite wretched, but I think I'm on the upswing. I've been clutching my heated rice bag to my aching body and am so thankful for Kleenex with lotion for my poor nose. 

There is always a cup of tea with honey and sometimes lemon beside me. Not being able to sleep because of coughing and a sore throat was the worst, but last night I awoke just twice. Ah, how blissful sleep is! 

I taught Monday, but after that I've stayed home. I've tested negative twice for Covid. The first couple of days I managed to come up with lesson plans for my Spanish classes to keep them on track, but for these last two days, it's been movies. Encanto for the Grade 10s and Coco for the Grade 11s. At least they are Latin American focused, so perhaps the students will have absorbed a bit of culture. 

What a treat it was to open my email this morning and find a lovely bouquet of primroses from Barbara over in Cornwall. I had mentioned in her blog that I never thought of picking primroses to bring indoors, so she sent me these. How thoughtful. They made my morning!

I'm looking forward to a slow weekend, but hope to do a few things around the house. Then...two weeks of spring break! Hooray!

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Hello, Spring


Outside my window this morning the bright sun is climbing up the sky. Streaks of pink have given way to blue. Guests joined us for dinner on Saturday night and I made an unbaked cheesecake. It's such an easy recipe from my mother. 

When I was growing up, Sunday dinner was eaten after we arrived home from morning church. The table was set with my mother's china, and a pretty tablecloth. Frequently, friends were invited over to share the meal. Before church, my mother browned a cut of roast beef, or chicken pieces, and they were put into the oven to cook slowly while we were at church. The most delicious fragrance greeted us when we walked in the door. My father often peeled potatoes and they waited in a pot, covered with water, until we arrived home. Dessert was usually made the day before, and this cheesecake was a favourite. 

Did your family enjoy a big Sunday dinner?

Tim and I went downtown on Sunday afternoon. Some prunus trees are done blooming while others are just beginning. Such pretty little flowers.

We joined the rally for Ukraine in front of the Legislature Building, and listened to poetry, a violinist, and songs sung by Ukrainian Canadians. They urged us not to forget the current situation. 

More prunus trees bloom throughout the downtown core. I saw a photo of cherry trees in Paris, and this photo, taken in front of the Belmont Building in Victoria, reminded me of it, with the white stone building. 

Are there signs of spring in your corner of the world?

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

These Aching and Beautiful Days


Sunshine pours through the windows this morning, casting strong shadows of fern leaves and window blinds. It's a most welcome sight and belies the chill wind curling down from the north. 
The crocus above is in a sheltered spot and opened beautifully this morning. I love the way they open and close in response to light and warmth. 

On a recent walk I spied this house sparrow singing away in a tangle of dry blackberry bushes. He was very close, and didn't seem at all frightened of me and my camera. Soon the bushes will be green and he won't blend in quite so well. 

Saturday was sunny and warm, and we spent all day in the garden, spreading a load of topsoil, moving plants (here's hoping they survive), and cleaning up. Spring bulbs are beginning to flower - muscari and tete-a-tete daffodils are such a pretty combination.

More daffodils in a shadier corner. Life is quite normal here. We go to work, we see our families, we walk with friends. We are thankful. 

These early flowers that come one by one are so very welcome at this time of year. Soon more blooms will appear, crowding in one after the other in a great rush of colour and texture and scent. 

Meanwhile, across the world chaos takes hold. I feel so helpless. We pray, and we give to charitable organizations that provide relief. Someone came up with a great idea for helping individuals. I purchased the above embroidery pattern on Etsy this morning. It's an instant download, meaning nothing is physically mailed. It is created by Svetlana, who lives in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. It's been devastated by Russian bombardments. Svetlana put up a message on Etsy this morning, so she is okay so far. Sew What Alicia has created a list of Ukrainian Etsy shops with beautiful cross stitch and embroidery designs. It's a small way to support individuals, whether they are in Ukraine or fleeing to safety. 

How are you doing? I pray that you will find a measure of joy in the emergence of spring even as your heart aches. 

Thursday, March 03, 2022

From My Mazy Mind on Friday (or Thursday Night)


It's been difficult to concentrate this week. Yet daily life continues. There are lessons to prepare, classes to teach, meals to make and eat, along with all the ordinary tasks of everyday life. 

One morning, while walking, I heard a choked honk above me. It didn't sound like Canada Geese, and I looked up to see a straggly skein of Trumpeter Swans fly over me. Two led, seven followed in a V, and one lagged behind. Long necks stretched forward as their white wings beat against a soft grey sky. I didn't have a camera, but it's a sight that has stayed with me this week, reminding me of the beauty in this world.

Then there is this naturalized lawn I walk by, awash with purple crocuses, dark pink cyclamen, and just a few blue scilla flowers beginning to open. 

I walked around the bog with a friend on another grey morning. Muted tones of grey and brown. 

I found my way to a blog - Transactions with Beauty, written by Shawna Lemay. Brenda of It's a Beautiful Life has mentioned her writing several times. I poked around on Shawna's site, reading here and there. I copied some words down into my journal:

"Do your own work first." (Molly Spencer)

"Take the time to write. You can do your life's work in a half-hour a day." (Robert Hass)

I am working on a writing project that has been seriously stalled for several months. For the past two weeks, I've taken their advice, and first thing in the morning, after Tim leaves for work, I set the timer for 30 minutes and write. I do it before my lesson prep - taking to heart Molly's advice to do my own work first. 

That 30 minutes could be applied to whatever it is I'm procrastinating - a sewing project, cleaning out a closet, gardening, or ???

I was out admiring the burgeoning growth in the garden and noticed the juxtaposition of the blue grape hyacinths and the yellow tete-a-tete daffodils, and I was reminded, once again, of Ukraine and her people. They are never far from my mind. 

I read a poem this week by Ann Weems, a Presbyterian poet who died in 2016. Her poem "I No Longer Pray for Peace" seems very apt for today. I'm quoting just a few lines - it's available on multiple sites, if you do a search using the title. 

"On the edge of war, one foot already in,
I no longer pray for peace:
I pray for miracles.
I pray that stone hearts will turn 
to tenderness,
and evil intentions will turn
to mercifulness,
and all the soldiers already deployed
will be snatched out of harm's way,
and the whole world will be 
astounded onto its knees.

Of Spare Rooms and House Guests

  If you've ever read L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables , you'll remember the importance of the spare room. It was a long-...