Showing posts from November, 2016

The Story and its Context

I keep listening more these days. I may have some skills and know some things, but other people have different skills and know other things. Hearing their experiences is interesting. And people are always more likely to share if they have an audience. So I'm listening. I know I've mentioned favorite podcasts before. I'm still enjoying NPR's Code Switch , maybe more than ever since the election. And north of the border, here's a series I can't recommend highly enough: CBC's Missing and Murdered: Who Killed Alberta Williams?  By Connie Walker and Marni Luke, this podcast looks into the disappearance and murder of a young woman decades ago. Nuanced and layered, it tells a heart-wrenching story of one person, but it also gives the context for so much of the pain that lingers in Canadian culture around missing and murdered indigenous women. The residual fear and hurt of Alberta's relatives is palpable, but never exploited. Connie confesses and considers h

Pattern or Particular

So I've been dispirited recently. Yes, because of the election, but not only because of the election--this stew of feelings is pretty complicated, and the world seems to include a lot of people yelling at each other while others are stunned or cowering. I recently teased out one feeling as being a problem for me: familiarity. So much today feels so familiar, in a bad way. Especially the loud messages of "you're not good enough" and "you're fundamentally flawed" and "stop taking it seriously" and "you're not important" and "you have nothing of value to offer." They're very destructive messages in a pattern I remember too well. They sap my energy. Coincidentally, the lingering warm weather vanished, and we've been deluged with winter weather. See? Hello, snow! Yes, it's pretty. But winter weather brings with it a new pattern of living. So many elements of living in the country are different in the w

Futility and Preparation

Over the weekend, I put on my boots and went for a walk. My idea was to follow the deer paths through the bush to get a different perspective on the beautiful place I live. Fairly quickly, I recognized that my legs are not like deer legs. My legs are shorter and, uh, stubbier. Where deer can step elegantly among fallen tree trunks, I crash around without grace, shoving branches aside (and perhaps swearing). (Perhaps.) Not only that, the ground is mushier than it normally is at this time of the year. Holes in the dirt underfoot--openings to nut caches and muskrat tunnels--dotted the area, and I could feel spaces collapse with every step. Sorry, squirrels--I think I made it impossible for you to find those nuts. And sorry, muskrats; I think I messed up your tunnel system. I didn't mean to, but I recognize that my thundering around on your turf destroyed your careful preparations for winter. My inadvertent cruelty doesn't render their work futile. First, they needed to do

The Eagle

One morning last April, an eagle was out hunting, harassed by the usual complement of gulls. Birds harass each other a lot in general, and eagles come in for some special attention. I get that. Eagles are predators and scavengers. Young birds of all kinds are vulnerable--we had a front-row seat one June morning to an eagle grabbing a duckling--so I understand why gulls and crows try to drive eagles away. But you know what? Eagles play a vital role in the ecosystem. Eagles have families, and their families have to eat. In any case, I tweeted about that morning; it's in the fuzzy picture below. In case you can't read it: "With graceful elegance, a bald eagle plucked a fish from the lake, silencing the gulls." Not necessarily my best tweet, but one that caught the attention of Creative Nonfiction magazine. To the left, it appears in print in Creative Nonfiction #61, Learning from Nature, in the compilation of Tiny Truths. Lots of interesting reading in that


This morning, I couldn't resist playing outdoors. I produced this. Decades ago, my husband transplanted a small maple tree from a yard in southern Ontario to the side yard here in northwestern Ontario. For some reason, it's almost always among the last of our trees to change colo(u)rs. And although the leaves on the trees in the same yard in southern Ontario turned red, the leaves of our tree up here turn shades of gold and orange. This autumn, the greys of November came to stay about halfway through October, but today provided a bit of a respite--a warm, mostly golden-sun day, full of peace and happiness. For this element of play I was inspired by others who create art in nature. Andy Goldsworthy is the first I was introduced to, and his work is well worth looking at. Here's some work he did with Common Ground. I don't consider what I do to be capital-A Art, although it is creative for me. I do it for the same reasons I noodle on the the piano and I draw--bec