Climate Strike

My feet are still cold.  But, now I’m dry and in a minute, I’m going to pour a glass of wine.

I started my day by posting a whole number of paintings I’ve done over the last years, some of them exhibited in a beautiful little gallery in Lethbridge by my cousin, Jo, and her then-partner.  I threw images out to Bookface Land (coined by my friend, Doug M) in order to cause people to think…not about the art, but about our planet and I sort of hoped they would think about the planet in terms of the subjects being vulnerable pieces of that planet.

I called this work, A Covenant Series, and for those of you who are not ‘into’ religion, I think it is obvious by that title, that I am.  At the very least, I’d have to say that my life is rooted in scripture.  The painting, above, is titled Genesis and at the base of all of the pieces in this body of work, I have submerged actual passages from scripture.  You see, I’m not afraid to admit that I am religious.  In today’s world, religious people can even be a little refreshing. It’s way more acceptable, however, today, to say that you are spiritual.  In that way, a lot of hard stuff can be avoided, like the horrific actions of people on other people, often in the name of religion.  Let’s start with residential schools!

Back to the subject of this post…

Human beings, as a species, have a responsibility to be stewards of the earth, water and air, as well as every living creature on/in them, and that includes caring for one another.  If you’re NOT religious, I think that this makes sense as well.  Don’t you think?

Long story/short, I have, along the way, painted some of my own fears down onto panels…fears of losing beautiful parts of our world.  Sometimes these paintings expressed themselves as landscapes. Sometimes, particular species were investigated.  Most recently, I’ve been focused on a single bush through a year.

And as several readers know, I have been very caught up in the life of a family of Bald Eagles at the edge of the Bow River.  We are so very blessed.

In the novel, The Diviners by Margaret Laurence, Morag, the protagonist is sitting and conversing with her young daughter, Piquette.  Piquette, a Metis, turns to her writer-mother and asks what a buffalo is.  The conversation between the two of them has always impacted me, as has the connection that Morag has with her river.  The fact that this child had lost connection with such an iconic animal and that she looked to her mother to describe it, caused me to think that I must begin documenting…the landscape…the river…animals.  I became a crazy lady, visiting places like Maycroft Crossing in order to see the Old Man River before the dam.  It seemed I needed to be able to collect and document life as it was for the sake of my children.

Curtis Running Rabbit-Lefthand delivered a powerful Land Acknowledgement and then offered a very few words.  His words created the one point in the afternoon of speeches that made me cry.  No, there was one other young female University student who also caused me to cry, speaking of the things that make her afraid.  Curtis talked about us being Treaty people.  In the context of this entire day, for me, it was exceptional.

Treaty and Covenant.  The one thing I know for sure anymore is that I am hell bent on protecting my grandson.   And, as I explore what this means, I feel like I can’t make very many promises.  I can’t promise him that he will have a beautiful world full of the magic of so many species of animals and birds and insects once he is a man, the age of his father.  I can’t make promises because the world isn’t sustainable.  Destructive fires are burning. Children, the world over, are starving. Traumatic climate events are more frequent. Consumption is unreasonable. And human beings are in a denial stew (something that I believe rises up out of fear).

What I am empowered to do, however, is to have my grandson see me as a Treaty person.  I want him to know that I will do everything in my power to care for the planet and the people in it.  I will be an exemplar for him.  I will stand up to injustice.  I will speak the truth.

I’m proud of those Calgarians who showed up today.  I’m proud of those participants in our great nation, Canada, who are listening to young people as they demand action. I am grateful to people the world over who have a concern for the health of our world.

The weather today in Calgary was crappy.  And tonight we get snow.  But, my heart is warm and I am determined in my walk, more so tonight than any other time on my journey.

 

A Novel Idea

Marc Chagall: Time is a River Without Banks 1930-1939

The Diviners by Margaret Laurence…my favourite book of all time!  I read it once every five years or so.  Recently, while reading, I began to add its content to my clothing. (my father, at this point in reading, will articulate, in some fashion, as will my close friends…”What the hell are you doing, wasting your time??  Why aren’t you painting?  To which, I might respond with something from Chagall’s titled work…”Time is a river without banks!”  Or more likely, “I Don’t Know.”)  I’m getting ready to have my portrait taken by Jen Hall.

As I explore the first chapter again, The River of Now and Then, I experience a huge affinity with the character that Laurence writes, Morag Gunn. Her’s is a search for identity.  A very ‘Canadian’ read, I strongly recommend this book.

Excerpt


The river flowed both ways. The current moved from north to south, but the wind usually came from the south, rippling the bronze-green water in the opposite direction. This apparently impossible contradiction, made apparent and possible, still fascinated Morag, even after the years of river-watching.

The dawn mist had lifted, and the morning air was filled with swallows, darting so low over the river that their wings sometimes brushed the water, then spiralling and pirouetting upward again. Morag watched, trying to avoid thought, but this ploy was not successful.

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. Gustave Flaubert

The Nuisance Grounds

If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend one of my favourite novels, The Diviners by Margaret Laurence.  As I pick up other people’s garbage during this Changing-the-Landscape-project, I easily remember/reflect upon Laurence’s chapter, The Nuisance Grounds.  A poignant chapter…we meet ‘the scavenger’ and we learn about the stories/myths created by Christie Logan when he comes upon the cast away remnants from another person’s life.  Some of what is tossed into the nuisance grounds is precious…and never does Christie divulge the secrets.  He keeps them in his heart. I suppose with the threat of identity theft these days, people are more cautious of what they discard, but the truth is, there remain more stories about the community and their carelessness, than the stories of individuals.  I am sharing with my readers, four pages from Margaret Laurence’s Diviners, Pages 30 to 33, The Canadian Publishers, McClelland and Stewart Limited 1974 Current isbn  978-0-7710-3490-9 (0-7710-3490-3)  It is a very powerful thing to read the complete chapter, but these bits give the gist of what I am thinking about as it relates to my current project.