A Mostly Full Moon

The past week at Frank’s Flats,  Max and I have encountered winter…the biting cold of it, but also the slushy warmth of winter’s low sun on the horizon.  It’s difficult to hold on to just how beautiful it is and how different from the lazy late evenings of summer.

Long shadows cast over the sea of white, where even blades of dried grass become giants stretched out on blue violet snow.  Each evening, the colours of things are subject to the sorts of clouds that celebrate the last rays of day and then melt into a pool of cerulean, ultramarine and lavender.

I dawdled at the beginning of our hike last night, snapping photographs of animal prints mostly.  Max kept running ahead and then bounding back, trying to distract me from the wonder of the light on the expanse of the pond.

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DSC_1547We set out on our hike too late last night and I had left my coyote-stick back at the car.  Sure enough, Max became agitated and, picking up a scent, began his fast, snout-to-the-ground zzzzz back and forth and back and forth along the fence. Then, FREEZE!  He stood utterly still in his tracks.  I stayed utterly still in my tracks.  And there, nose to nose, but separated from us by the fence, a large male stared intensely at us.  And as if tagged, Max woke from his stillness and barked madly.  As the coyote loped away from the fence…two meters…then five…then ten, I couldn’t help but take note of its beauty.

Grateful that he had a healthy thick coat and bright intent eyes and carried lots of weight for the challenges that lie ahead, I shouted out to Max.  COME!  MAX, COME!  Like a bullet, he flew through the snow banks and followed me as I attempted to walk in a steady and calm manner.  (I’ve let these animals see my fear before, only to be stalked for long distances by several coyotes.)  When Max did his about-face to charge the fence once again, our buddy had already turned himself around to follow us…but with the appearance, once again, of this loud herding monster of mine, the coyote headed into the scrub and disappeared.

DSC_1553My experiences of Frank’s Flats often bring to mind Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, Prodigal Summer, where the reader encounters “three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia. At the heart of these intertwined narratives is a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. A reclusive wildlife biologist, watches the forest from her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin.”

Books like this one remind why I love Frank’s Flats so much and wish to be a steward of this small, but engaging ecosystem.

Tonight, the very same location was bathed in a soft blue light and until the sun set, the landscape flattened out.  Truly looking INTO the sky, it has been an every-evening- occurrence to see a hugely animated world of winged figures, flying in close formation, one formation after another and heading in the very same direction…ducks and geese…more and more ducks…making the journey that agitates everything within them. What a truly amazing sight!

Leaving Frank’s Flats, the sky to the west.

DSC_1567The moon on the eastern horizon, as I pulled off of the highway and steered home looked something like this…almost full…pink…and swimming behind blue cloud.

Veiled Moon Photograph by P-M Heden, TWAN

Veiled Moon: Photograph by P-M Heden, TWAN

Once pulled up to my front drive, she was a pure and bright golden ball in the darkening sky.  Tomorrow night sees the December full moon.  I wonder what beauty nature will hold for me as I greet another day.

Mothers, tonight, hold your children.  They are beautiful.  They are your own.  You are blessed.

 

 

 

 

Meeting John McKee

Time spent in Comox was about a lot of things, not the least of which was coming to the realization that when your life collides with another life, it’s a tremendous thing to really open up to that experience.  REALLY getting to know a person, teaches you just how amazing human beings are.  I marvel at the unique gift of each person.  I know that sounds cliche, but it is true.

Grace took Cayley and me up to meet John McKee late one night so that we might look through one of his telescopes at the moon.  I was so much in awe of the crisp image and detail on the surface of the moon that I cried…but there was so much more to this story.  We rotated through one turn after another, gazing through this powerful backyard telescope.  The rest of the time, we leaned back in lawn chairs and watched the shooting stars dart across the sky.  In fact, this was the night of my first bat-in-flight experience as well.

I have no doubt that I will be writing about John again, but consider this an introduction. John, a former air force man, is an astronomer who intensely studies the universe and so can speak eloquently about all matters of the sky…and when you’re finished that, you can get into his reading list and beyond.  In his day, he consistently attended the seven-day party at 1,800 meters above sea level in the mountains near Osoyoos to star gaze with other enthusiasts and to consider his life an adventure is an understatement!

His home was stacked from top to bottom with objects of his affection, items that he’s collected and constructed, both.  As well as turning wood and doing fine leather work, designing and building boats, constructing his own home, he, in 17 years,  built 32 telescopes for people across Canada.  I was very fortunate in that I had opportunity to use and adjust one of these.

The telescopes that John McKee builds are reflecting telescopes.  In future posts, I will write about the methods of his construction as well as the effectiveness of this type of scope.  He DID reference an Italian monk, Niccolo Zucchi of 1616, who made the first reflector, but never mastered the right shape for the mirror and could never figure out how to look at the image properly.  As my readers know, it took Isaac newton to take the reflector idea and perfect the telescope in 1670.

I asked John if a book had been written about his life and work and he quickly responded in the negative. (Before I left, John passed me a duplicate copy of an article that was written by Ryan Stuart about his star-gazing and was published in the Comox Valley InFocus Magazine August/September 2006). I have written to Ryan Stuart to talk to him more about his interview with John.  This meeting caused me to ponder how many brilliant people I have yet to meet…people who are enthusiastically exploring their passion regardless of any sort of notoriety. It also caused me to fill up with gratitude for the brilliant people who are already in my life and who fill me to the brim on a regular basis. In a future post, I will share some of the books on John’s list.  The Lost Continent of Mu by James Churchward would be a start. You just might want to join me in learning history that might have slipped past you somehow during your formal education.

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Sister-in-law Grace and daughter, Cayley…in a time warp.

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John and Grace

?????????? ?????????? DSC_0131 DSC_0130 ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? Careful documentation and storage, allows for John to access books/records and past editions of astronomy magazines and space program archives with ease.

?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? DSC_0121 ?????????? ??????????Based on these photographs, can my readers even begin to imagine the stories that were being fired out during the few hours of our visit? Now John and I are phone buddies.  Great morning coffees happen and will happen over chats about the stars.

Night Skies and Bats

The evening air was so refreshing tonight and the atmosphere very mystical.  Tree branches were being blown by a bluster of wind.  The sky was still slowly turning from blue to black, with a waxing crescent moon to the southwest.  Stars were visible in each of the windows between the clouds.  With such a bright backdrop, light etched the edges of the surrounding clouds.  In the wide open field I stood, gazing upward, taking it all in.  Every now and then, lightning flashed…but tonight, no bats.

For about a week, I was taking Max out to this open field in the dark of night. My head seemed to be dive-bombed by bats on each of these occasions.  It was so mysterious to me.  Darting away, again and again, I’d hear that distinctive call, and as if to be on roller coasters, they would speed across the navy sky, changing direction at will.  Amazing stuff.  On the first night of this phenomena, I didn’t feel at ease with the experience, but on following nights I took it all in.  Nature provides many gifts if we are present to her.

This short video shows the type of experience I enjoyed.

This next one helps to identify a bat’s sounds.  When there are several around you at once, the sound, of course, is amplified.

I was thinking that, as well as all of the other action we need to take to be good stewards of our communities and the world, we might also make the effort to be conscious of light trespassing…more and more there is a horrendous amount of light pollution.  It would be an awesome thing to do to think about your neighbours and turn off your lights.

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An astronomy update for August can be heard on Calgary Eye-Opener, here.

The Beauty in Ordinary Days

He Must be 16 Yrs Old By Now!

Watching Peanut-the-cat ‘watching’ birds, while sipping my first cup of coffee, is an experience that can not be overrated.  I love these mornings of autumn where everything seems to take on texture, more than any other time of year.  My autumn is filled with ‘ordinary’ days and I feel like I’m made new because of it.

Sparrows Polish Off Yesterday's Feed

On one of my off-leash experiences with Max, I completely relaxed into autumn and wrote.

It is an
autumn
afternoon.

I haven’t been a 
part
of the earth before.
I am the ground,
a bed of yellow leaves,
cool.

I watch the
golden bedazzled
flecks of leaves

separate

from the outermost branches
of hundred year old trees

and gently,

one
after
another,

they come and cover me until
I decide to roll over and
write this poem on an envelope.

Blue sky dappled with bits of cloud;
sun spiked rays, 
like those sharp arms of light
in child-made drawings.
There, up in the corner.

I remember asking,
“Does the sun shine like that?” (What a stupid question!)

Look in the eyes said, “Yes.”

And today I learned it is so,
as sun rays reached around
and through tree arms,
lighting up the dance.

I am witness, this year,
to an event of extreme importance.

Delicious Morning

Beach Day: Cavendish

Sunshine at 6:30 this morning…so the laundry got out on the line early!

A Line Full of Clothes in PEI

I spent the early afternoon picking up wee pebbles off of Cavendish beach…a heavenly place to be saying my good-byes to PEI and taking in the sunshine.  I came home and looked at my photographs, but didn’t feel as though I captured the seascape at all…would have been so much better in juicy oil paint…the atmosphere was so charged with wind, sunshine and water that a photograph just flattens it all out.

East Cavendish Beach, heading toward the White Sands of the West

Presently, A Program in Place to Protect the Dunes (Alliteration!)

Boardwalk

Good-bye Pounding Wave of Cavendish Beach!

Thinkin' About the Footprints Prayer While Walking & Pebble-pickin'

Moments of Inspired Realization

Moments Of Inspired Realization

While standing out in the vast field, having thrown the tennis ball for Max, no less than 50 times (and I’ve decided NOT to exaggerate this number as I do typically), I was standing in the center of the field alone….he was charging toward the ball, when suddenly I felt ‘that’ amazing feeling.  I remember experiencing it as I saw my babies’ hands   for the very first time.  And I would often get it when I walked home from school in North Bay …the sound of crunchy snow under my feet… in the dead of winter, warm sunlight hitting the white snow…my eye lashes coated in delicate ice crystals.  I experienced that feeling when I sat on the black round stones on the beach at Scalea…watching my daughter melt into the mercurial water as the sun set.  I had that feeling this morning.  I felt the sun warm on my hair and the blue sky poured over everything.  Max wore a smile…and I felt utter bliss in the state of pure Divinity in one of those surprising moments of realization.

Being in the Studio

I’ve just come in from the studio, my Chapel, where I’ve spent most of the evening playing with my new ideas.  I’ve almost completed two of the studies and began sorting canvas triangles onto a new canvas that has beautiful proportions for this sort of thing…about twelve inches tall by sixty inches wide.  I painted a ground of yellow ochre wash onto the canvas and then proceeded to arrange light blue sky triangles onto the surface.  The sense I get from these pieces is almost like the experience of looking through a kaleidoscope up through the trees and at the sky.
 
They ARE about memory. 
 
When I began painting the landscape, it was my intention to capture some sense of ‘place’ so that my children would have an inheritance.  I hoped that by painting images of ‘magical’ landscapes that I have treasured, particularly the river, there would be an imprint that would survive the loss of the land and river as we know it.  Now, the work becomes more and more suggestive of that memory.  As it is minimized it becomes more successful. 
 
This evening’s work is most reminiscent of the vast golden fields of southern Alberta and the wide open skies that were once shared with my grandfather on Sunday drives.  It is appropriate that the work should be interpreted through the device of a quilt-like motif.
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