Light at the End of the Day

Busy is more than a state of being, it is an oft' used excuse to not do anything. A bit of a conundrum whereby we can't get to it to do it, and so we often don't get it done. Like me. Writing this blog! The picture taking part is easy, and I carry my camera with me at all times. As well as my phone, which has a camera, and my iPad which also has a camera. So lots of pictures get taken. Almost every day in fact. They even get downloaded, sorted, and filed into a generic sorting system I've developed based on seasons, and then within the seasons, special events or  trips or whatever strikes my fancy. I'm pretty good at doing that much.
Where the whole system begins to drive me absolutely insane deteriorate is when I then have to go through all the photos I've taken on a whim and whisper of some wonderful idea, and I actually have to then crop, manipulate, resize, name, discard -all the tedious shit  time consuming, but important, background work that is crucial, before actually sharing any of the shots I've taken in order to illustrate a thought, rant, or point of view!
I have started writing for Bird Canada (http://www.birdcanada.com/) on  the 16th day of every month, not just to help shine a light on birds of the Ottawa Valley in eastern Ontario. It's  also an exercise in stick-to-it-tive-ness, it's a way for me to keep writing, even though I have been too busy to do so lately. (See opening statement.)
ALL THAT BEING SAID!! as I sorted through a whole bunch more shots  today, I thought that I should do something with them...and remembered (insert winking smiley face here) that I have this blog I've been neglecting lately.This one. The one that you, Gentle Patient Kindly Reader, are now reading.
As the light here at home on the shores of the Ottawa River begins to fade, let me show you some of the pictures I've taken over the last little while. Pictures that I HAD to take, because the light was incredible -and unbearable, with apologies to Milan Kundara. He wrote that "when the mind speaks, the heart finds it indecent to object" in his book The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I agree. And here are the photos I just had to take to someday share with you. In each of these shots it was the light that commanded my attention.

I have dozens, no, tens of dozens more photos. But, I think that's enough shedding of the light for one night.
I am a lover of light. My home has no curtains. And to quote Leonard Cohen, 
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."


Windy, Wet, and Worth It.

The temperature is hovering around 5C+ and there's a stiff breeze off the Ottawa River. My hands are numb, and my feet are wet, as I completely forgot to pack gloves and rubber boots for this annual field trip. Clearly wasn't thinking clearly! We've trampled around the public marina, and seen a few birds, but because Spring has been late this year, there aren't many about this morning. In fact, there's more people than birds! 
But, the people are happy. Everyone is smiling, chatting cheerfully, and there's a low thrum of anticipation. Because you just never know what might appear out of the blue, and take your breath away. We are the watchers and the waiters, and  after a long, cold Canadian winter, the wait is almost over!

The Pembroke and Area Field Naturalists  club hosts a number of guided field trips throughout the year, and each one is unique in that there is always something thrilling that sets the tone for the event, whether it be a record number of owls spotted at the Owl Prowl in March, or spotting a Kingfisher during a recent Christmas Bird Count, or, as was the case yesterday, coming upon two Sandhill Cranes engaged in their courtship dance!

(forgive the quality of these two shots, my 20x optical zoom wasn't quite enough to capture the magic! )

We stood and watched from the top of a small knoll, looking down at the two cranes, as they swooped and pirouetted  displaying their feathers to one another oblivious to their captive audience of 20 people! This is a memory that will last for many who were there to witness it. You can't buy an event like this, you can't create it at will, you just have to show up and be hopeful that your persistence will pay off. 

The wait is over. 

Spring has arrived, and every morning for the past week, I've watched a feathered flotilla drift by my kitchen window. It make me perpetually late for just about everything, but gives me renewed strength, calm and sense of purpose. This year, the parade has been awesome!

And the best part? It's not over yet...still waiting for warblers, and the thrill they bring to a simple walk in the woods. I don't  know of any other activity that can engage all of my senses so quickly and so completely than a simple scan of the yard, binoculars ready, camera too. 

My collection of bird books, bird apps, binoculars, and bird art continues to expand and so does my curiosity. And perhaps that's why I'm a birder. It feeds my soul.


Bin There. Done That.

The holiday season is approaching, and unless you live totally off the grid in Upper Lower Vacantville, you know that plans are afoot. People are walking the "I have a purpose" walk, carrying lists, checking them twice, looking slightly distracted, and not sure whether  they're actually enjoying themselves but finding that, more often than not, they are.

Christmas is nigh, near a store near you, and no matter what your Faith, you know that if ever there was a time to be nice to one another, this is most likely it. And so you smile at strangers, hold doors open for parcel laden people, and stand patiently in line behind the lady at the ATM who is updating her account book for the first time in a decade..and you smile at her too. The hype, the syrupy music, the moments brought to you by Hallmark, the Griswolds, and the Grinches have become a winter rite of passage that few in the western world can avoid.

I, for one, don't wish to. Because over the years, Christmas has become the one time of the year that I can unabashedly wear my heart on my sleeve. Be sentimental, openly thankful for all that is good in my life, and give to others less, or more, fortunate simply because I want to. I know that I could do this any day of the year, but having Christmas ensures that it happens at least once.

And then there's the boxes in the basement. Every year I swear to edit and delete the growing Bin Nation in the storage room. But I don't. Because each time I open a bin a memory flies out, captures my heart, and suddenly transports me to a moment I hadn't thought about in years.

The years of Christmas past are held in those bins. The year I fell in love with wire ribbon. Apple year. Pink year. Berry year. And every year's a bird year. And it is all there in the bins.
This year, the pieces that are drawing me in are red. So that's the starting point.

First up is to put Frosty on the porch.
I love him because he was my smoking buddy for several years, when I still smoked. We've had many long discussions about this or that, and he is forever cheerful, no matter what I  tell him. He was very happy when I quit smoking, but I  don't see him as often as I used to, as I don't have to hang about on the porch in -40 weather, puffing away. But it is a Christmas essential that he be there in the porch, greeting me, and friends with a welcome smile.

Then there's the old ornaments that I inherited from my parents.
Fragile glass that over the years has not withstood the test of time. The few that remain are treasures. Bussie's Bell, a blue little bell given to my Mom by her bridge club in the 1950's. Not all that special really, except that she loved it, held it, and treated it with care. And now I do so for her.

There's the china angel given to me by Clare and Peggy Ross, long gone friends of my parents. The  little cupie doll faced angel says "Obey Your Mother and Father" and I always felt like I was being admonished.
It's like Peggy knew I wasn't all that obedient a child, and thought I should be reminded. It made me feel guilty,  but I have cherished it since the day I received it when I was  7 years old. It broke once, and now there's a glue stain where I fixed it. Oddly, I like it more now that it's less perfect!

Other ornaments are more whimsical. The Three Blind Mice
 are just plain cute and the birds? Well,  they're here year round, and this Christmas, they get  the red berry treatment.

As I unpack the bins, a process of elimination begins...what to take out, what to leave in. It becomes a mood indicator, a barometer measuring how the past year has gone. Some years, barely anything has made it out of the bins. Big, bold, in a hurry, don't think a lot, just do, years. Other years, it's a far more thoughtful, subtle unpacking. Finding little gifts from friends who have slipped beyond, and wanting to put them in places where I can see them, and remember their smiles.

This year is more like that. A good year, so there will be lots of red, to celebrate my family, my kids, their successes. And a quiet year, to remember good friends gone, but not forgotten.
Another trip around the sun. Another reason to unpack the bins that are filled with love.


A Few Words

The time has come in my life when I no longer think the thoughts I used to think. Driving along the road to and from work,
The bridge I cross every day.  And sometimes I stop.
 I have slowly slipped away from the tepid questions: “Who am I meeting with today? How best to handle the meeting? How to deal with the political fallout? What to do for lunch?  Strike the last one, I still think about that.

And I now I think about more burning questions.
Like how the meaning of a word changes with the addition of a simple preposition. This is far more interesting than the meeting agenda.
Today’s rumination came when I watched a Cooper’s Hawk settle on a branch. Not in. On.
Sandhill Crane Settles in the Meadow

And so it began. I settled in to think about that. How one time I settled for less than I should have.  When I settled up my tab at the restaurant at noon, I knew I needed to let my food settle.  Walking into the mall, I heard a mom telling her brattish brood to settle down.
This is a shot of Tasty Crab Bites. On the other hand, what we taste when we bite is a crab. 
Last night, to pass the time at a Committee meeting while waiting my turn at the table, I leafed through a book on the settlement of our area. There was a list of the first fifty settlers, and dry commentary about  the fact that many of the scribes never learned to spell properly.  Thus we have  settled on assumed spellings by  the semi-literate to shape our past.

When "they" dig up all our stuff several centuries from now, they will unearth in the  casual diner dregs one of my pet peeves that I still haven't figured out how to amend. The almost always misspelled restaurant item: Caesar Salad. I now check every restaurant's menu for the way they spell this overrated, watery, salty, sad version of a potentially exceptional dish. If it's Ceasar, or Ceaser, or Caeser I know that the Chef has no connection with the menu, and I prepare to be disappointed. Sadly, I usually am.

THAT is another big thought.  Think about how literate the scribes of yore were, (or conversely, your scribes were) who ultimately have become the arbiters of our collective pasts, based on their interpretation of the spoken words of leaders with great authority, pomp, pump and sir-come-stance.
Any dummy can play music. What constitutes great? eh?

My second choice of a major, when selecting such things eons ago at university, was Linguistics. The fact that I settled on Sociology and Fine Art for my first degree is not being questioned, but it may be time to settle a score or two  with my inner artist, and tell her to mind her words


Fifty Shades of Green

Of course, by now, if you haven't heard about Fifty Shades of Grey, you either:

 a) live under a rock,
 b) are deaf and blind, or
 c) vacationing on Mars.

I am none of the above, however, I haven't read it, and in all likelihood won't bother anytime soon.  I did read one review of the series by a gynecologist who bemoaned the possibility of contracting genital herpes just from reading it, and another review by a 50-something woman who said she had dislocated her jaw while yawning through all  rolling, repetitive orgasms.

But, wanting to be both timely and topical, this post is about shades too. Please enjoy the organic, rollicking, pastoral nature of the colour green. It can define what's lost, or locate what is found. It can be soft and subtle, or loud and aggressive. It can overtake, it can help to relocate. It's a colour that by nature is calming. but by nature, can signify alarming circumstance. It can invoke moans and groans, laughter, and tears. It is the sum of many, or all, or none. It is envy, greed, and jealousy, brought on by a lack of love, lust or lore. It is the banner of environmentalists, and the signature of caring. Could it possibly be better than sex?
It is the flag of opportunity for if the light is green, you know what to do!
In each of these images, green defines the story...hunger, death, pain, life, love...whatever is unfolding between the lines or the sheets...green is there.

Green stands out in a crowd, and it can be the life of the party. 
It is also the most common colour used in hospitals. 
It is the colour of containment, contentment, and calm.
Fifty shades? 
More like millions.

Please note that all images are copyrighted.