Birds Art Life by Kyo Maclear

I was down at Shelf Life books, listening to a wonderful double book launch by  German Rodrigues and J. Pablo Ortiz.  It was a very unique evening of spanish language literature, celebrating the launch of German Rodriguez’s The Time Between His Eyes (El tiempo entre sus ojos) and J. Pablo Ortiz’s Open Sea (De mar abierto). It was an excellent event and I was happy to reconnect with Pablo and to hang with his partner and my longtime friend, Brian. After the reading, I set about looking for the book, Birds Art Life because I had heard an interview about it and knew that it would affirm my experience of the pond, the discovery of birds and the resulting experience of art-making.

It was a bit of a search, but before I left, a copy of the book fell into my hands.

Very linear in my approach to books, I finished the McCullers title, before snapping up this beautiful object of my obsession.

I rushed through my earlier two reviews, books I’ve read in the past month, so that I could get to this recommendation, Birds Art Life by Kyo Maclear.  In this book, I found something kindred to everything I have become in retirement and in the past six years of loving a single ecosystem, a pond environment within the boundaries of the City of Calgary.

I kept putting the book down, and lifting off of the sofa or my bed or the bench out in the back yard, in order to pace and whoot and say, out loud, “YES!”  Since reading The Diviners so many years ago, I have not had such physical reactions to what I am reading.

Here is an extract from the book that speaks of my philosophy and experience, very clearly.

I discovered, through the book, that my ‘SPARK’ bird, was a sparrow, more precise, Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow, some eight years ago.  Hardly romantic or colourful, strange that my true attraction to birds was discovered looking out from my kitchen window, across at the open vent of my neighbour’s kitchen…several nesting seasons…widowing…lost youngsters…and determination through all sorts of weather conditions.  I began to watch. I took out the camera, for the first time, to take photographs of sparrows.

Kath's Canon Male Sparrow Emptying Nest July 7 2015 006

From that kitchen place, my exploring began at a pond environment that I call Frank’s Flats, named after a homeless man who most evenings, watched me gather up litter into a bag a day for several years.  He drank six beer in the time it took me to fill a bag with plastics, straws, newspaper flyers and other human garbage.  He chatted with me, thanked me and visited at the end of most evenings, as I put my collection into the bin, near his viewing spot.

I think that the first time I really noticed the birds, I was drawn to the red winged black birds because of their determined mating calls.

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My experience of the pond has, since discovering birds, coyotes and little field mice, become magical.  The lessons I have learned about compassion, care, art and writing, have been many and profound.  I am so grateful for the number of stories and discoveries that come my way because I am always looking for the little miracles.

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If you are looking for a way to deepen your experience of life and living, pick up this book.  It is a treasure and my new favourite!  It contains countless references to other writers, thinkers and artists…book titles…and the author’s connections with her own story.  I hope that my readers will discover urban nature and hold on to the power of that experience.

Today at the pond…

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Carli’s Classroom: An Inspiring Day

There was such soft light flowing in the classroom, when I arrived.  The students and I didn’t end up closing the blinds until the sun started pouring into the classroom, during late morning.  When I arrived, I knew it was going to be a great day.

I am passionate about teaching in the role of guest teacher.  I have only a short while with the children and I want to be the very best that I can be to influence empathy, peace and learning.  I was excited to be working in Carli’s Grade three classroom and she’s given me permission to share this post with you, in the case that you want to extend off of any of these ideas and explore some alternatives.  It’s funny that we run to Pinterest for ideas when right across the hall from us, are a whole number of masters who can mentor us and inspire us with new ‘ideas’.

To begin my morning, I read over, for myself, the posted Pedagogy for teaching.  I remembered this from another visit, but wanted to remind myself.

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The community group tables allow for easy access to materials and tools that might be needed.  There is shared responsibility for their organization and upkeep.

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Student notebooks/workbooks are stored in those little white bins on the shelves…they are stored throughout the classroom in order to avoid traffic jams.  The students know where each of their items is located.

I love love love the books and really enjoyed looking at the book, Where Children Sleep by James Mollison.  I need to get myself a copy of this.  Instead of circulating and having the children read aloud to me during our individual reading time, I had several students come to me and read from this book as I sat in a comfy chair.  It wasn’t long before one of the children came to me with a student-made book on the same topic, created last year, by the Grade twos.  I think this is a beautiful idea.

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Books can be a discovered throughout the classroom, linking up visions with concepts and making learning real and rooted in literacy.

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Students created, in science, their own Rock Museum.  They enjoy using their vocabulary.

They had done lots of research and study!

 

When students have a guest teacher, they get to wear the mantle of the expert and spill over with conversations about the things they have learned.  Our birthday girl brought in crystals and minerals for her sharing from the comfy chair.  The kids were overcome with excitement by the ‘rare’ stones.

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I appreciated the student-made posters illustrating the Rights of Every Child.  Those are three D models of the structure of the ear done in partner work…made out of modelling clay.  The students have left rocks and minerals and have begun their study of sound, hearing and the ear.  I have to say, as an adult, I had forgotten the various physiological components, but these guys could give it to me rote.  I LOVE THESE MODELS!

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I felt this cold coming on and felt a bit of a headache.  I asked the students, if later, I could try out their Peace tent.  They enthusiastically told me, YES!  I have to confess, when they went out for recess, I climbed in and just chilled, exploring their posters, their sayings and their origami paper folding.

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Math centers were tons of fun, with the kids, getting up and rotating through the four stations every 15 minutes.  This gives the students opportunity to move and to shift focus.  Awesome.  I discovered that I’m not very good with Tangrams.

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For those of my readers who follow me, you know that I enjoy engaging nature where and when I can…getting out daily, with my border collie, Max.  Well, if you can’t get out there, then try to bring bits of it inside!

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And never ever forget that you are always learning…and that it’s a treasure to others that you share what you learn.  Thank you, Carli Molnar!  Thank you, Grade Threes!

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More on Carli’s classroom HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Great Day For Wild Flowers

We’ve made it a part of our late spring rituals to share in a wild flower walk out at Many Springs Trail in the Bow Valley Parkway.  My dear Ya Yas and I shared a delicious pot-luck picnic after enjoying the beautiful blooms along the trail.  The water wasn’t as high along the boardwalk as I had expected and it was a day of extraordinary beauty.  Summer is here.

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The Master

I have not yet attended The Master, but have listened to this interview on CBC Radio and was intrigued by it.

The line that most made an impression with me during this interview was “The sceptics and the believers are all great.”  This is well-worth a listen.  While my own beliefs don’t align with the apparent concepts of this film, I am always interested in listening to the  views of others.  Roles and relationships such as that of a master and his/her dog, the father and the son, the teacher and the student are included in those associations that interest me. Notions of control and co-dependency are also intriguing.

Another thought-provoking segment in this interview is where Paul Thomas Anderson discusses how desperation causes the human heart to rely on the divine in more cases than not.  Is there a deep well of fear in people when they are faced with their mortality?

Sceptics of faith and religion typically profess their views with confidence …just as faithful and religious people profess their views with confidence.  It’s all very interesting.  He mentions that it has to be a difficult thing when people naysay ones views regarding faith because it is so personal…but, I disagree.  I think our views do not need to be divisive.  I think it’s important to have respect for both sceptics and believers.

Max’s Day at the Beach

Beautiful Everything!

My boy sniffed anything on the beach that appeared to bear any possibility of sustenance.  It was apparent that out of all the dogs on the beach, mine was the dog from the city!  It was his efforts to paw and get to move, a jelly-fish that had me most afraid! I also  wondered what the side effects of lapping salt water.  It was a dream to see his streamlined form zipping full throttle the length of the beach and then back again.  Unfortunately, his object obsession continues to hold and he hoped that I might play the throw-the-stick game and I refused.

Miles of Smooth Red Beach to Explore

Ahhhhhh!