My granddaughter and I did embroidery today. It was her idea! Now that I’ve astonished you all, I will admit that I owe her art teacher a big thank you. I think I’m going to take a good box of chocolates to that school before the Christmas holidays and leave it there for him. Yes, him. What art teacher gives a sewing project to a mixed class of 14 year olds?
She practiced her stitches, actually completed a bath mitt for herself, complete with monogram and came up with an idea for her dad’s birthday present. Oh, the book? I got it when I guided the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibit years ago.
There was no music playing, no phones, no TV, just the two of us talking about the role of hand sewing in fashion, the good news out of Iran today thanks to women’ courage, and how wonderful it is to create things. I even pulled out a neglected project and started working on it again.
Out of the drawer I took a tablecloth my mother embroidered decades ago. It featured cut-work or “ drawn threads” as she called it and it is jaw dropping in its detail and complexity. I’m sure I’ll never manage anything that wonderful. However, it’s good to know some skills are not completely lost. It was such a happy few hours. Thank you to that teacher, to my granddaughter, to every woman who ever plied a needle.
of a magical creature. Out on my daily walk yesterday I was astonished to see a typically sparse nest, close to a deserted parking lot in a city park, fully exposed to the elements and to the curious gaze of passers-by.
On the verge of a path in brush, perfect for adequate cover but with access to easy prey such as toddlers or old ladies with flimsy walking poles.
This bold mother, however had chosen to flaunt her brood. I noticed most walkers gave her a wide berth and rightly so! Mother dragons are famous for their ferocity. I wondered if those walking sticks were all that was left of rash pedestrians who had irritated her. I kept a respectful distance and cooed admiringly at her one hatched dragonette who was perched safely up on mother’s back.
As mother dragon warned me off with a baleful hiss of steam, I bowed in respect and continued on my laps around the lake. What else lurks at the bottom of the lake I wonder and what will emerge before winters end?
Today I went for a long walk down by the river with a dear friend. It becomes harder and harder to meet up as all sort of stubborn viruses, colds and our old friend COVID infiltrate our lives. So, what a joy it is to finally spend time and enjoy a lovely walk with what might be called a “ kindred spirit” . The sun was so low and dazzling that I didn’t even get pictures of my beloved St Lawrence River but here is maybe a different take on the usual cement barriers
Our shadows are so distinct due to the strong sunlight. We also stopped for a great lunch in what had become “ trendy” Verdun! When did Verdun become trendy? It was called St-Lu and was full of young kids. Great food and a nice atmosphere.
After we parted I went downtown and ….. bought Euros! Just to make the Spring trip seem closer. Also, the Euro is a bit low these days so maybe it will prove advantageous to me. This evening I’m watching You Tube videos on the Camino. A long winter ahead, friends!
Was the first snowfall once cause for excitement? Was it a reason to gaze out of the window, entranced by magical dreams of winter beauty? Face it, gurl, you live in a country where this stuff will haunt you for about six months every year. First times for anything can be magical, mysterious, memorable, or miserable. Snow or not, a walk outside always does me good. Here are a few surprises from yesterdays slog through the slush
These creatures emerge in my local park. Never see them in summer!
Of course tamer creatures show up too. This chubby bird might have a hard time with lift off.
By the time I met my goal of 10k steps evening was making its early appearance. Fruit, snow and streetlight – quite the combination
Of course one can always opt for the basics. This one is a classic, a witness to wet mitts and calls for hot chocolate!
And if anybody asks me the reason why I’m wearing it
It’s all for my true love who is far far away
That song was running in my head as I walked in the drizzle and the rain on my daily walk. If you want to hear this wonderful song go on You tube and hear Louise Morrissay or … my favorite version by Steeleye Span with the great Maddy Price. The sprig from the willow, a magic tree was worn as a decoration around the hat of mourners. This song is more one of exasperation at the lover who got transported to Australia for stealing!
If you want more about magic willows see my flash fiction in the July edition of The Wild Word, an online literary magazine. The piece is entitled They Told Secrets in the Dark
Where does time go? Where does this reflection go at night? All the leaves that have fallen and will fall year after year simply disappear into …. the earth? And all the dead birds and animals? Do you ever see any? So few that when we do it is a special and sad event. Death is all around us and yet he is hidden, unspoken.
Certainly not here! It will be ten years in December since she died. And yet around me are pictures of her, things she created, her voice in my own head, comforting or mocking me in that tone that perhaps only I can properly remember. Where is she? And my father, my grandparents? Death, the trickster never reveals his secrets and we fear to probe too much.
Here in Montreal we commemorate the sudden death of a cyclist with a memorial like this. This one I found on Mount Royal and Park Avenue as I was going up to the top of the mountain to visit my mother’s grave. A young person was suddenly killed in an accident. Why? How? Even more mysterious than my mother asking me on the last day of a long full life, “ Is this it then, Isobel?”
I was going to put the grave to sleep for the winter, but it doesn’t need me for that. My father’s ashes were cast into the cold waters of the Bay of Fundy supposedly at his request, although I never heard him ask for such an arrangement. Whenever I am close to moving water I talk to him.
It is almost sunset on Halloween so you must forgive me writing like this about the mysterious, ever- present companion. Today, tonight, the veil between earth and spirit is it at its thinnest. Today, all the portraits of my uncles and aunts, my grandparents and parents look down on me from the shelf with a special look, a compassion in their gaze. Soon you will know, they say, soon you will understand.
On an ordinary street between the banal tedium of the shopping centre and the struggling miracle of the big park all I had to do was look up. A row of modest trees that only a week ago were crowned with brilliant yellow leaves are bare now. On the other side of the wide walkway that leads to my house a tree of another sort still blazes against the brilliant sky, decorated with beloved clouds. I only had to look up.
I only had to look up to escape the parking lot. The eternal sky, the vast sky is always there, always waiting to offer its distant, constant comfort.
After a month on the West Coast it’s time to get back into my routine of walking… and training for my next Camino. This afternoon the temperature was a little cooler than what I experienced on Vancouver Island. The angle of the sun was lower and it was clear that we are in full- on fall mode. The colors are spectacular and I am sincerely grateful to live one hundred paces from this spectacular park. However, I miss the “ wild” feel of the semi-rural community where my daughter lives. I miss the rooster crowing every waking hour and the baa of the sheep next door. From certain spots on my walk I don’t see just this beautiful pond, but a six -lane boulevard, its roar mercifully muffled by the trees in the park. There’s no mistaking the city vibe here.
I took this picture a few days ago. That bank of stones on the far side of the river would normally be submerged. The big adult salmon working their way upstream are barely covered with water. Already in other parts of BC there have been huge die-offs of salmon that never made it to the spawning sites. Will the salmon I saw this week make it? After a 40-day drought with no rain in the forecast, I doubt it. Vancouver Island is a designated Pacific rain forest area. During the first two weeks of my stay there, my daughter and I enjoyed the sun and high temperatures. As time passed, we became more and more uneasy.
After unpacking my suitcase and after a good night’s sleep, I made a decision. I’m going to fight for this beautiful world and the creatures that live here. I owe myself and my grandchildren that. I have already written my MP ( the Federal one anyway) and Extinction Revolution to see what I can do. Next on my list … Greenpeace and, how do you buy carbon credits anyway? Even though I don’t drive a car I’m flying around quite a bit lately. Why am I putting this idea out on my blog? Accountability, folks! Nag me about this, ok?
After a wonderful month with my daughter, Elizabeth, I am back at home in Montreal. It was fun to share the cooking and shopping, to go on expeditions together and to sit reading or watching a movie in the evenings.
The fall moon was spectacular and the days full of sights I can never find here. We went whale watching on a perfectly calm sea and we’re privileged to see hump-backed whales, sea lions and harbour seals.
Yes, the grass is very dry and the salmon may not make it upstream. There is a drought on the Island. For the thirty days I was there, it only rained a little once in the night and for an hour or so on a morning when I took the bus into town. This in an area designated a northern rain forest. Time to put on my activist hat and to gird my sword on my thigh. Time to bother my MP again. Time to fight for nature!