Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury: Chapter 21

OH!  To have had an audio tape!  I used to make my own tapes.  I read aloud late at night, staying slightly ahead of the students.  Dandelion Wine is my favourite book.  Take a listen, if you have 9 hours to spend, just sitting still, or while you’re working in your studio, just listen.  You will learn to take pause, if you let this book’s lessons sink through the tough shell that has become your busy life and settle on your heart.

This post is about Chapter 21 and Douglas’s loss of his dear friend, John Huff.  I guess if you are the daughter of a military man, this might even mean more.

Taking your time and noticing is what this post is all about.  As one pours on the years, one realizes that in order to slow things down, one needs to start noticing.

I was hot and sweaty and cleaning out the paint buckets that I had used with grade ones, painting that day, when I heard my cell phone ding.

IMG_7742Painting Kites

My friend, Michael, had sent a text that he’d like to drop by.  I thought immediately that we might go to the pond, with Max, and enjoy what was left of the beautiful day.  I rushed, swirling the pink water out of brushes and buckets, returned my tools to the storage closet and was out and on my way.

Mike was sitting on the steps when I arrived and Max’s nose was lifted, sniffing against the window.

A quick change into play clothes and we were off to the pond!  Michael patiently observed the life and light of the water, the clouds and the life surrounding this special place.  It was so nice to have a witness to Frank’s Flats and the place that I know so well.

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Michael is always taking amazing photographs, but rarely appears in any of them.  I like that he looks out at the world!  No selfies for this guy!  So, on this outing, I would be witness to his life!

We enjoyed the explorations of baby coots. I took my photo of the bush. And then we were on our way for the next adventure.  Some time ago, I had seen one remarkable photograph on Michael’s social media archive.  He told me that it was taken at McKinnon’s Flats.  I asked if ever he went back, would I be able to join him?  This was the day.  Here’s the photograph that inspired the request!

Michael Collette Mackinnon's flats

Photo Credit: Michael Colette

I didn’t stay left on 22X and so we ended up going north on Stoney Trail.  That was okay!  Meant to be!  We began our slow enjoyable zig zag across the rural landscape, making our way, with ease, back south to McKinnon’s Flats.  I saw a bird I had never seen!  And the light and wonder of it all was very enjoyable.

The sandpiper…

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Michael’s photograph….from this location…truly captured the magic!

Michael Collette 2

Photo Credit: Michael Collette

The panorama view that opened up as we began our descent into the valley, at river’s edge, was spectacular.  Next time, I will document that.  It took my breath away.

Once at the river’s edge, Michael pulled out our picnic food.  A refreshing potato salad filled with the flavours of fresh veg and lovely dressing…and an icy cold hibiscus drink, so refreshing!  Max observed, but was hungry to be free of his leash and to explore the water’s edge.  It wasn’t long until I did just that.

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The stretch of walk we took, saw zillions of little moths lighting up the already-electric air.  We chatted about photography and light and the sky the entire way.  Out of nowhere about 75 striking white pelicans, hung on the air just above our heads.  I grabbed my camera and snapped this wee instant as a documentation of the memory, that in no way, captures the intensity of the moment.  We decided, standing still above the river, that this moment was meant just for the two of us…two good friends enjoying evening light.

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In order to really gather up my life, I need to do this.  Slow down.  Watch light.  Treasure friendship, my children, my family.  Listen to music.  Make art. Write.

I am grateful for the inspired invitation to go for a Sunday drive on Friday.  Everything that I had planned for the evening, went out the window.  And it was exactly as it should be.  My life is a blessed life.

Slow down

 

Life is a Feast

I was included into a circle of friendship some time in 2002 and I’ve relished every opportunity to share moments of laughter and conversation with this circle since. I’ve recently organized my photo albums and woven throughout the pages are amazing sights we’ve shared; early spring wildflower walking, hiking, hot tubs and teaching detox sessions of every sort.  I feel so grateful as I think about our journey.  This photo…an early scanned archive from 2003, hiking Elbow Lake and Rae Glacier.

Ya yas Rae Glacier

Copy of My Ya Yas Hiking Ya Yas 2007Because I recently enjoyed another remarkable feast with these friends, I wanted to plunk a post here, in recognition of time well-spent and good food shared.

P1080731 P1080721 P1080718Darren, Wendy’s husband, is the primary chef at these feasts, although Rebecca and Wendy get their fingers into the process where and when they can.  Here’s a sampling of the treats that have been served us…this dinner, in 2002.

Dinner With the Ya Yas

And most recently, on the menu!

Butternut squash soup with a parmesan crostini with sage leaf.
Roasted peppers and fennel with balsamic vinegar and goat cheese.
Roast pork loin with pork gravy and raspberry reduction.
Potatoes poached in cream and dill.
All followed with coconut cream pie
Kath's Canon, September 27, 2015 Wendy and Darren Dinner, Eclips 001 Kath's Canon, September 27, 2015 Wendy and Darren Dinner, Eclips 002 Kath's Canon, September 27, 2015 Wendy and Darren Dinner, Eclips 004 Kath's Canon, September 27, 2015 Wendy and Darren Dinner, Eclips 005 Kath's Canon, September 27, 2015 Wendy and Darren Dinner, Eclips 006 Kath's Canon, September 27, 2015 Wendy and Darren Dinner, Eclips 008

Delish! With gratitude always, to friends who are in our lives through all sorts of times and all sorts of food!

Although the clouds were close to the horizon for the blood moon and the eclipse, I caught the last minutes out my own window once I arrived home. A beautiful night, shared with people I love.

Kath's Canon, September 27, 2015 Wendy and Darren Dinner, Eclips 019

Shifts in Perspective

One gets used to multiple horizon lines, gazing out to that distant line to the west, where the sky reaches down behind the mountains like a silken blanket.  There are the foothills, layers of cityscape, residential sprawls, the river and everything else that seems to tuck up close.  Autumn’s landscape often seems endless and forever-deep.

All of that can change. With the change of weather and atmosphere, perspective shifts. This morning when Max and I headed out for Frank’s Flats, it seemed the world was two-dimensional.  White crystals in the air, mixed with foggy patches and a sky that was a warm white…all of this spilled over and covered those horizon lines that define and create depth.  Driving, I became mostly captivated by a sense of texture and acutely aware of how close everything was to me.  As I moved into the landscape, it seemed as though I was being swallowed up.

Out on the slopes, my perspective of things opened up again.  While very small, in comparison to the larger landscape, this part of the world was like coming home and my breathing opened up. Max bounded down to the frozen pond with the same enthusiasm that I felt.  Above us, flock after flock of geese called out to the cold air, arriving and then disappearing to the west and to the south.  I was reminded again of Stanley Kunitz’s poem, End of Summer.  It has been, for years, my September poem in the classroom.  I miss some things about having my own classes.

I relished the time with Max in this earthy, frozen, sleeping landscape.  I felt inspired to write a children’s story about how every winter, somehow the pond becomes spotted with heavy round rocks.  I created a character who systematically places them there on the ice. Each spring the pond becomes more and more shallow until all at once, there is no pond water left, but a huge field of rounded stones.

When perspectives shift, we create and think creatively.

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Cell November Bronwyn, Trea, Cold Landscapes, Remembrance D 080I returned home to hot coffee, Turkey a la King (add pimento, celery and onion to this recipe) on puffed pastry, and a dish of chocolate ice cream and suited myself up for my teaching duties.

I arrived to teach social studies a full hour early this afternoon, so I signed in and then headed for Fish Creek Park to the east.  It was interesting being on the west side of the Bow River.  My perspective and experience of the river is typically from the east side.  While the air was biting by this time, I was in heaven.  I felt alone.  But, it wasn’t so.

There at the base of the ancient river elms, were three men, filming hair brushes.  Yes.  You read that correctly.

I carried on walking north along the river, for quite some time and then thought it best to head back.

Returning to my waiting car, I had opportunity to speak with one of the three men, a crew member for Bruce McCullock’s new work, Young Drunk Punk. I deliberately took time to look at his props. We spoke, as we walked along, about our own father’s hair brushes and the lasting scent of Brylcreem.  We talked about black pocket combs and all of the nostalgia associated with these objects.  I explained that from a distance I had imagined that the three of them were releasing a beaver and photographing the event.  When we parted, one of us said, “Go home and check your hair brushes.”  The other said, “Beware of the beaver.”  How fun was that?  What perspective we gain by putting ourselves into the world and making observations.  One never knows.

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Losing Elma Flaherty

Elma slipped away without my knowing.  Within our family circle, she had been a forever-friend and I can not remember life without her.  And then, after my knock at her door and my entry into her home, I discovered her chair was gone.  Her things were gone. Elma was gone. And no words were left behind.

Elma passed on April 8 of 2013.  I was sitting next to my beautiful Mom in Belleville General Hospital the day that Elma passed away.

At Thanksgiving, I remember Elma because for most of twenty-five Thanksgivings, maybe thirty, Elma was sitting at my feast table, with my children and our friends.  I will remember her again this year.  I love you, Elma, and may you rest in peace.

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Elma Repairing my toilet seat. IMG_5677 Thanksgiving Dinner 2008 035 Elma in Barons July 2 2010 IMG_5565 P1040853 P1050042 P1050049

 

Taking Notice

So, I had left the Jarvis Hall Fine Art Gallery and was walking back to my van parked some distance away.  The walk took me along some side streets.  That’s when I landed myself into the middle of one of those amazing moments…the kind when you say to yourself…”Wow…am I ever blessed!”  Autumn leaves were crunching under my feet.  Arms of giant trees reached up to a blue sky.  The air was filled up with the season.  I paused and took this picture.

P1130870I hope that when I look at this photograph, I will remember the magic of that moment of realization.

This morning, still dressed in my flannel nightgown, I looked out the windows and had the same experience, but over entirely different weather and situation.  I had slept in.  My head was filled with thoughts of what I ‘should’ be doing. Everything seemed to have been transformed over night.

I was profoundly touched, remembering the hours of pleasure I’ve enjoyed, watching the birds filling up ravenously at the feeder these past weeks.  Now, to see my little friends out in the snow, I wondered just how they manage to get through the winters.  I saw their beauty, as though for the first time.

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Some time later, Max and I headed out into the weather.  Remembering that I am living with a herding dog, I got him over to the pond for a good bit of exercise.  We were all alone. Everything was beautiful.  The ducks, dark boats on dark water…the sky white…the vegetation white…the wind, biting…the only sound, crunch of my feet on the stones and snow.  Max ran hard, playing and eating snow as we went.  I caught myself laughing out loud.

After circling the pond and heading back, I gave one big throw of his Frisbee and watched as the wind carried the thing up high, down past the tall ant hills and into the cat tails by the pond’s edge.  “Max!  Max!  No, boy…LEAVE IT!”  I saw the bull rushes moving and knew that my determined pooch was going to go into the pond, come hell or high water!  Sure enough, a very wet border collie came bounding toward me, proud as punch that he had retrieved the old and mucky toy.

We headed back to the van at lightening speed, Max carrying the muddied toy; both were icicles upon our arrival to the parking lot.  Into the kennel he flew, whining and whimpering.  I thought to myself…these are the daily occurrences that my readers rarely encounter on my blog…

I take pause and make note of that particular moment of realization.  Recently, what I’ve discovered, more than anything, is the blessing in the ordinary experiences of my days.  I am a blessed lady.

Beef Barley Soup...Always good for a wintry day.

Beef Barley Soup…Always good for a wintry day.

The Rain Pours and the Wind Whips

Nothing like taking a border collie out into the hills on a day when the rain is coming down in sheets.  I look at him and he seems to be in his glory, bounding in and out of the tall grass, stopping every once and awhile to shake himself off.  Over a short ten minutes, his fur is wrapped around his body, wet.  Cold water drips from my rain jacket and into my gum boots.  It sounds like it is a completely harsh experience, but, NO, it’s ‘magical’!  We go on and on, following the ridge that overlooks the irrigation canal.  It seems as though we go for miles and then, we turn back.  I know that a warm home is waiting for me and that I have leftovers to heat up for dinner.  I am one of the fortunate ones who doesn’t worry about having basic needs….I am blessed!  The kettle goes on for some afternoon tea and I look out at the birds huddled on tree branches.

Stand in Awe
(Carabine/Walther/Mike Roth)

I stand in awe, as the sun goes down
And I see my days turn to gold
And the moon and I, we are all alone
And she haunts the sky like a ghost

And I stand in awe of the love I’ve lost
Will you be the one that got away?
I build my house where you’ll never go
And I stand in awe of all that could have been.

Well the trees know first when the summer’s gone
But they’re not afraid to let her go
And I can’t hide on this empty beach
You should be here, but I’m alone

And I stand in awe of the love I’ve lost
Will you be the one that got away?
I build my house where you’ll never go
And I stand in awe of all that could have been.

Tuesday’s Collage:Thinking about Priests

Tree of Life

I’m giving myself ten minutes on the internet.  It’s 4:55.  It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’ve just returned home from making Sun Prints at the Public Library with scads of young folk and adults alike…a partnership between the Calgary Public Library and the Art Gallery of Calgary and several other arts organizations for their Celebration of the Arts Event.  It was a challenging activity at times as the sun decided to hide behind thick cloud every so often, but generally, everyone was happy with the result.  I think it’s great when parents bring their young ones out for such celebration and was really impressed by the number of Dads who patiently participated in the project we set out for them, along side their children. 

Sun Prints

Since arriving home and stopping to check my mail box, I found this blog! I want to post the Swords of Truth link for a couple of reasons.  First, the messages contained on this blog are inspiring and faith-filled.  Second, the content is provided by our associate pastor of St. Albert the Great Parish and to this point, I have really felt encouraged in my faith through his words.  I feel such gratitude.  We are blessed to have, as our priests, Father Kevin Tumback and Father Jerome Lavigne.

One of the priests who hugely influenced me in my life was Oblate priest, Father Jim Carroll.  An Irish priest, he was humble and full of generosity.  He was instrumental in bringing me to a life of wholeness and faith. Basilian priest, Father Clair Watrin, and Father Len Hagel inspired tremendous freedom in the demonstration of my faith.  Through these people, I was given support, guidance and kindness.  The knowledge that they shared with me remains with me and influences who I am today.