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The Architecture & Culture of Nature

I’ve been thinking about silence and nature and art lately.

The Narrows  Late Fall 2012 087

About how it started with cancelling my television subscription more than a year ago and though I miss easily getting live news and I do still watch lots of DVDs, I love that there is often no background noise in my life.

I remember climbing the walls that first weekend of going cold turkey without TV. It surprised me! So many summers throughout my life, when I headed north or to where ever it was that I was going to be canoe guiding for a few months of the year, I never missed TV once. Never thought about it the second I got outside, but here in my home that first weekend with no distractions … it was physically uncomfortable.

Squirrely

But then I adapted. I’ve spent more time listening to music and searching out new music. I’m sure I spend my time better and I’m positive my psyche is better for not being inundated with ads and violence and “reality.”

Then, two days ago I read a blog post by Irish travel writer Pol O’Conghaile about Fogo Island that is here in Canada. I’d read about Fogo before and been quite enamoured by the landscape and the architecture of the artists residences and his article inspired me to look some of it up again. Stunning!

Then I read an article yesterday about depression and children with ADHD and how those things can be alleviated by spending more time in nature. It spoke about the theory that humans are hardwired to be in natural environments and if we are deprived of that opportunity we suffer mentally for it, which I also believe.

December 15 085

So as someone who lives essentially in the woods and in a remote location, where between September 15 and May 15 of each year I can go for days without seeing more than a handful of people and spend countless hours out of doors, I should be the healthiest woman on earth.

CurlyQ

Yet, I am beginning to desperately miss culture and cool architecture and art and theatre and dance and beautiful fashion (not because I know how to wear it but simply because it’s another form of art work to appreciate).

I left those ideas to settle inside my head and work their way around each other as I walk and snowshoe and stargaze. While walking home yesterday in a freezing wind chill, the sun on my face and deer and elk about, it dawned on me that humankind would not have ever been able to conceive and construct beautiful works of art in any medium if they didn’t first have Nature as their mentor and model.

Sunset 2013-05-23  Endless

How could anyone imagine constructing a safe skyscraper or an appealing, innovative building if they’d never appreciated geography- layered cliffs, sand dunes, fjords, mountains, rushing rivers, meandering rivers, grasslands, tree roots, icebergs – to begin with?

Ice  Birch in Autumn February Melt

How could a symphony, with all of its delicate and intricately woven layers and sounds, be written if the composer had not first trained their ear so well in the “silence” of Nature that they could pick up the lyrical uncurling of a flower bloom or the light flutter of a butterfly landing beside them even as the wind was creating drama in the branches all around them?

Boreal Chorus Frog Compressed 2013  Phyllis Diller Flower  A Sunday Drive 023   Dragonfly Beaver Pond Trail

How could a designer ever fathom intricate stitch work and appreciate textures if humans had not first hunted and trapped for furs and learned to work with hides and dye grasses or use quills and the patterns in the night sky to adorn their clothing with geometric shapes?

Lynx Edited Elk Island National Park 2014-01-15 Coyote Little Reds  Elk Youngster Head Shot 2014  Bull Elk Late Autumn

Where did dance come from but First Peoples who used their bodies to imitate and understand the world they perceived around them; connecting emotion and memory with their surroundings and then expressing those ideas and desires through movement? First story tellers of our communities through the ages.

 Amisk Wuche Trail   Lakeshore GrassGrass in the wind   

Movement before language.

Melody before lyrics.

We were tactile, sensory beings before concept and visionary thought evolved.

Elk Island Bison Rutt 2013 052   Elk Island Bison Rutt 2013 050 Leaves of a colour

It dawned on me yesterday that I am bestowed with the great gift of being able to live, work and play surrounded by the very foundational elements from which creativity likely evolved. And this gives me great hope that I am not turning into a “backwoods” weirdo and that perhaps I have not fully discovered the depth of my own creative well. And, when I do get to visit big urban centres, I will have a deeper appreciation for the thought and care, whimsy and abandon that artists have bravely invested in their work.

Snowshoeing at Kingsmere 040

The Sound of Silence Weekly Writing Challenge

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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Moe & Joe: Leave Your Shoes at the Door

Leave Your Shoes at the Door weekly writing challenge is set on an acreage near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and is based on the tail end (pun intended) of a scene I watched unfold yesterday as I drove by on the highway.

Moe and Joe

Moe: Squirrel Squirrel SQUIRREL SQUIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREL!!!!! (doing the running man in his sleep)

Joe: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz snort (fart stretch) Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Moe: Hmmmm good dream. (downward dogggggggggggggg stretch) Hey Joe. The sun’s getting low.

Joe: (Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwn) You’re right Moe. We should get ready.

Moe and Joe walk to the water bowl: schlop schlop schlop schlop …

Joe and Moe: (Shake my head … shake my ears … shake… shake … shakeshakeshakeshake, wiggle my ass wiggle my ass wiggle my ass, shimmyshimmyshimmy my tail and look pleased)

Moe: Is the sun in the right spot yet Joe? Is it? Is it?

Joe: Nope. Gotta wait. Go sniff something. I’m gonna take a pee over there.

Moe: (sniffing the ground sniffing the ground sniffing the ground – stop – inhalllllllllllllllllllllle dust particles, snow mold and a pine needle) SNZOPAZZZZFZST! (sneeze – sniffing the ground sniffing the ground sniffing the LOOK UP at the sky, watch a bird fly by, look at Joe)

Joe and Moe: (lie down side by side on the edge of the house deck and stare off into the distance)

Joe: (ears perk up. He sniffs the air) It’s time.

Moe: Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I knew it I knew it I knew it. Oh boy oh boy oh boy

Joe: Settle down kid. Grrrrrr.

Moe: (scamper scamper in circles behind Joe)

Joe and Moe walk down the deck stairs, canter across the snow-covered yard and to the lane, Joe stopping to sniff here and there, Moe stopping to sniff what Joe sniffed and then running to catch up to him. They round the bend in the lane …

Moe: SHE’S HERE!! OMG SHE’S HERE!! WOOT WOOT! JOE SHE’S HERE!!

Joe: C’mon kid, you’re embarrassing your – THERE SHE IS!! SHE’S HOME!!! OMG SHE’S HOME!!

Moe and Joe sprint the remaining 50 metres to the school bus where their little girl has just stepped down from the open folding door. She sees them and throws her arms wide.

Joe and Moe: sprint, riggle, wiggle, bum wiggle, bum wiggle, run, skip in a circle, hop up and down

Moe: (a mass of riggling joy bouncing against her body) I missed you so friggin much OMG you’ve been gone all day AGAIN where do you go I was so worried about where you were and why did you leave me at home I could have gone with you I’m a good boy Do you love me do you love me do you love me?! do you do you do you YOU dooooooo.

Joe: (waits for Moe to calm down and then pushes his way into her arms) I told him you’d be back just like you always tell us. (tail wagging so hard his paws come off the ground) I missed you. (he touches his cold, wet nose to her cheek) Am I still your good boy? Let’s go home. I’ve been waiting to play ball with you all day.

The three of them dash back up the lane towards home.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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Lunch Post Challenge: Men

Four of the guys asked me to join them for coffee break. I was happy to be a part of this different group of co-workers and interested to hear how they’d spend their break compared to how I spend my usual breaks with the gals at the other building talking gossip and kids and clothes. I imagined talking engines … talking cattle and crop prices… talking ice fishing and snowmobiling… New territory!

First, one said he couldn’t find shirts long enough in the sleeve for his frame and another said he couldn’t find dress shirts that weren’t huge in the body if he could find the right sleeve length but then a third said the trick was to look for the “long L” because it’s a specific fit but his difficulty was finding the right shirt neck size and the first guy said exasperated, “Do you know how rare those long Ls are?! You can’t hardly find them,” and another fellow showed up and asked what we were talking about …

And I sat there thinking, “It feels like I’m having coffee with my group of women co-workers. What the hell!”

I took it in quietly. I wasn’t planning on saying anything today anyhow. I wanted to get my bearings with this new group of buddies because I’m hoping we’ll have many more coffee breaks together and one day I’ll have something of merit to contribute.

Soon enough we were off and chatting about fire and safety and resources and landowners and tractors and ploughs and I finally had to leave them to their heated discussions and get back to work but I still love that they spent the first half of the coffee break concerned with fashion.

“Dark colours (for the new uniform) might look good on everybody else but I’m so pale I just end up looking sick all the time!”

DPchallenge

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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Lunch Post Challenge: Rattled & Hummed

One of my oldest friends has been informed that her breast cancer is back and now in her bones and lymph nodes. It’s not an immediate death sentence and she’s one hell of a fighter but it’s definitely not good news.

She has four children younger than 12, three of them daughters.

She is 41, four days younger than me.

We have been friends since we were 14.

We met on a 2-week canoe trip and went on a 6-week canoe trip and worked at a YM/YWCA camp for years. I can’t explain it to those who have never been on wilderness trips like that but those canoe trips cement friendships for life. Even if you don’t see each other for long periods of time… it doesn’t matter. We’re sisters.

I’ve been busting into heaves and sobs on and off since I found out yesterday. Cancer looked at two women the same age and chose to afflict the one with four babies but not the one with five pets? It’s just so messed up.

So I fell asleep all stuffed up and puffy-faced and sad and wouldn’t you know who rescued me?

Love rescued me

Came forth and spoke to me

Raised me up and didn’t let me fall…

U2. My favourite band of all time visited me in my dreams and gave the concert of their life to 37 fortunate fans in an old run down curling rink in Calgary complete with a canteen, and at one point, someone walked in with a box of Tim Horton’s doughnuts.

It doesn’t get much better or more Canadian than that people! I woke up laughing.

DPchallenge

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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Lunch Post Challenge: Snowshoeing

I was snowshoeing

Snowshoeing at Kingsmere 040

And it was spectacular, a mild -28C with no wind. I could hear my heart beating, a few song birds singing, the river running

Snowshoeing at Kingsmere 036

and then a few too many twigs and small branches breaking close by.

My imagination got the better of me. I tried to be calm and face down my fears, so alone in the woods and far from any assistance. I tried to stop imagining sighting a cougar camouflaged in the trees and how it would feel to be ripped to pieces by one; my blood turning the pristine snow drifts red.

Snowshoeing at Kingsmere 038

I really need to stop watching Planet Earth right before bed.

DPchallenge

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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Lunch Post Challenge: Snow Men

He emerged from the house with a smoke at the ready just as the squall came blowing in sideways. We hadn’t seen each other to say hello since before he went north, before the first snow had fallen. We turned our hardened Canadian backs to the gale and got caught up; clipped conversation and laughter creating a cross-draft through surging walls of snow.

DPchallenge

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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Lunch Posts Challenge: Pee Break

I live an hour out of town and while in town doing errands today, I really had to pee.

I stopped at the mall. The toilets there are gross but sufficed. Another woman exited the other stall at the same time as me and we shared brief eye contact. I smiled and she laughed a bit embarrassed. We all pee. Why is that embarrassing?

Then we both saw that the soap dispenser was ripped half off the wall and had no soap and we gaped a moment before rinsing in cold water side by side and air drying one after the other in silence.

As I headed back outside, ducking my head in anticipation of the driving winter wind, I noticed an elderly man holding the arm of an elderly, disabled woman and trying to get her through the first set of mall doors. I held the inside door open for them to pass through and he said thank you. I smiled and said, “No worries.” As they passed by me I noticed that she had soiled herself, the wet pee stain the size of a small dinner plate on her gray sweatpants and I thought,

I wonder who will lovingly care for me when I am that old and infirm?

DPchallenge

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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