The Oil Man and the Sea: Navigating the Northern Gateway by Arno Kopecky

At a point, I got myself out of sync on the reading selections for the Aboriginal Pride with 12CSI reading list.  It all began at the reading of Clearing the Plains.  I haven’t reviewed this book yet because, honestly, I still have a chapter to go. (Intense)  This one should be required reading for every post secondary student…but, more on that another time!

Regardless, I attended the book clubs for those few months, as I am always so grateful for the fact that such excellent conversations occur and I learn so much.

The Oil Man and the Sea: Navigating the Northern Gateway by Arno Kopecky did not seem, by its title, to be anything I would ever consider picking up to read and yet, upon the recommendation by a book club member, I did.  While Arno Kopecky is not an Indigenous author, the book was suggested for its connection to numerous Indigenous activists, elders, fishermen and various people impacted by development and encroachment around the Northern Gateway.  This author introduced me to many of the issues surrounding the history and planning for transportation of product in a highly pristine and essential part of Canada.  One might argue that the narrative might be skewed, given that the writer is speaking from a non-indigenous voice, however, I feel that my personal journey addressing the Calls to Action involves a lot of discernment and listening..to many voices.  I have been living in a sort of fog all of these years, where it comes to this discourse.

45. We call upon the Government of Canada, on behalf of
all Canadians, to jointly develop with Aboriginal peoples
a Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation to be issued by
the Crown. The proclamation would build on the Royal
Proclamation of 1763 and the Treaty of Niagara of 1764,
and reaffirm the nation-to-nation relationship between
Aboriginal peoples and the Crown. The proclamation
would include, but not be limited to, the following
commitments:

i. Repudiate concepts used to justify European
sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples such
as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius.
ii. Adopt and implement the United Nations
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as
the framework for reconciliation.
iii. Renew or establish Treaty relationships based on
principles of mutual recognition, mutual respect,
and shared responsibility for maintaining those
relationships into the future.
iv. Reconcile Aboriginal and Crown constitutional
and legal orders to ensure that Aboriginal peoples
are full partners in Confederation, including the
recognition and integration of Indigenous laws and
legal traditions in negotiation and implementation
processes involving Treaties, land claims, and other
constructive agreements.

47. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and
municipal governments to repudiate concepts used to
justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples
and lands, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra
nullius, and to reform those laws, government policies,
and litigation strategies that continue to rely on such
concepts.

This book is built for the adventurer and for the person who has a big appreciation for wild parts of Canada that, despite the challenges in favour of development, industry and encroachment, remains one of the few places that exemplify that particular MAGIC that comes with WILD.

My preamble…then, I’ll carry on about the book.  This next paragraph is from my gut…a simple formulation of my own feelings.  Yes.  I drive a car.  Yes. I purchase packaged items.  Don’t throw tomatoes.

The Canadian government has demonstrated tremendous determination to create/grow an economy built on the back of energy.  There is no way that Canadians see ‘everything that goes on’, given the vast and oft-isolated topographical regions of this country, our home.  What we don’t see, can’t bother us.  And yet, living in these far off places, our indigenous brothers and sisters are well-aware of the tapping out of resources, the destruction and the economic hardship resulting from the abandonment of industry as it becomes obsolete or sucked dry.  There are witnesses.

Documentation to some of this…check out Alan MacLean’s photos at this site.  Let’s just take a bit of a look at Alberta.

I’m just going to let you sit with those images.  I’ve been sitting with them, and all I have to say is that things are way out of control and so much about it has to do with economics and employment.  ‘Corporate’ Canada wants YOU!

Enough of a side-lined rant!

The book is a good one…it moves very quickly.  It isn’t a struggle and it is certainly not dark or apocalyptic.  Arno Kopecky and photographer Ilja Herb, take the reader on a magical journey (I felt like I was there) aboard a small sailing boat…well, is forty-one feet, small?  It seems small to me.  Neither of them had prior experience sailing.  So, one aspect of the book is the story of negotiating this boat through British Columbia’s central coast.  So, firstly, this would be considered an adventure book as in this part of our country, the inland passages are linked together by a dramatic network of fjords, islands and lush forested land masses interspersed with inlets.  I was enamoured by the descriptions of place throughout and feel as though I was introduced to the Great Bear Rainforest in a very honest way.

Second to this, I enjoyed the many personal narratives by the people and accounts about the people who, in several cases, gave these men safe harbour, assisted in repairs and often contributed to the content of the book through interviews.  Several participants have committed their lives to the protection of this land and water, knowing full well that this is likely the last great wilderness on earth.  The writer seemed naive at times, meeting such wise and dedicated individuals.

Third, I grew in my knowledge about the history and planning of Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway.  My knowledge now exceeds what I’ve picked up over news stories these last many years.  The book was generous in terms of presenting several different perspectives, as well.  I learned that the weather through this region is unpredictable and that the waters to be negotiated are prone to storms and crazy conditions.  It doesn’t take much for Canadians to realize the risk that such conditions pose to wildlife and environment.

The book was beautiful in its rich description of the land, the wildlife, the people and the waters.  I highly recommend this read.  As a result of this reading, I send out unlimited positive wishes regarding our human reliance on non-renewable energy sources and the almost obsessive willingness we have to challenge the delicate eco-systems of our nation, in order to continue down the same path, rather than pour that same energy into alternative solutions.

As of 2016, this… A look at the status of Northern Gateway and other major Canadian pipeline projects

January 2018…of course….lost revenue. 

What comes of all of it is that we need to challenge our thinking.  My readers are either extremely right on this issue OR extremely left…I think that the important thing is that we discern the various implications and decide what is most important to us.  This book revealed to me the physical nature of the rugged coastline, the past issues surrounding the use of oil tankers in even more benign waters…and the high potential for an ecological disaster.

My peeps, as captured by Michelle Robinson.  I love this lady…and I love her archive of photographs!  We were visited that night by APTN National News.

Facebook Profile Updates

Three days now, I’ve been deactivated on the most popular social media website since sliced bread.  I document my father’s music in the hours I might have wasted on early mornings, while drinking my coffee.  I listen to Chris de Burgh music on Youtube as background, while reading Al Purdy poetry.  His words make me weep at times.  I would have posted that on Facebook.

I imagine filling in that small space…I don’t even remember what the prompt was?  Say something about yourself…or what you are doing…what came to be known as a status update.

I would probably post a link to this post.  As a way of weening myself from the process, I thought to update my status here…what would I say?

July 5, 2016  A dark cloud fell upon me when, from no where, a friend invited me to go chase dark clouds.  He parked his car across the street and magically appeared when I needed a friend.

July 6, 2016 My hair was dirty, so I didn’t join my girlfriends for a night of listening to live music.  I didn’t paint at Rumble House, again.  I read Al Purdy poetry and used a sock as a place-saver.

July 7, 2016 I feel sad that I’m seeing the changes in the pond, all on my own, and that no one else sees exactly what I see.  Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow are trying to raise another family in the neighbour’s vent.  I relent and put seed in the feeder that I had pulled out of service because of the growing population of voles.  But, now, with the children’s incessant cry for sustenance, I give in.

July 10, 2016 What does it mean that I have 13 hits on my blog from Macau SAR China, today?  Some times these connections, through writing, just surprise me.

Yesterday’s photographs…documentation of train graffiti, imagining that the artist would want to know where his art had traveled.

I like that the red-winged black bird made it into this shot…

IMG_9280

It’s been wonderful to see the great Cormorants coming through.  They are closer to the river…this, a lone female.

IMG_9228

Mama Savannah Sparrow watching out for her young sprout…IMG_9226

Youngster…sitting a short distance from Mom…about half her size.

IMG_9214

My partner in crime.IMG_9208

A herd of 20 geese, four adults and the rest, progeny, slip into the water as Max and I tippy toe through the goose poo.IMG_9204

Alvise Came to Town!

Dang!  I wanted to document each and every monthly angel, with its creator, Alvise Doglioni Majer.  This time I forgot.

We had lots of creativity to talk about, though, and the minute I saw her, I was smitten by July!  Thank you, Alvise.  She has now officially joined the other ladies in the Journey Around the Sun series.  The summer critter to be represented is the honey bee.  Alvise has two hives on his property now and will expand to four next year.  I particularly enjoy the face, halo and wings on this angel.  She has a bit of a summer tan.

I’m enjoying a bowl of beef barley soup on this rainy chill of an afternoon.  I’m glad I got out to the pond this morning…so sad, however, to find that pesticides were being sprayed in an area where young geese were feeding and the other birds were still busily harvesting worms surfaced after yesterday’s rain.  I just don’t understand why we are not more invested in caring for delicate ecosystems.  Why would the pristine turf of a sports field take priority?  The city of Calgary website explains that the presence of broadleaf weeds is a tripping and safely hazard.  But…I digress.  I’m praying for the conversion of the human heart, in so many ways.

IMG_9177IMG_9179IMG_9182IMG_9183IMG_9186

Former archives.

Alvise Doglioni Majer’s Studio

Sunday Driving on Friday

April’s Angel

Road Trip and Angels

 

 

May and June

This past winter was an unusual season, so mild that it was difficult to even classify it as winter.  The plows came around once.  We had two big dumps of snow.  And, that was it.  Spring came early, with many warm days in March.  As a result, everything is dry.

At my kitchen window, in the neighbour’s vent,  Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow have nested three times, all without success.  On the first go, we had babies and Mom and Dad did a marvelous job feeding and protecting their wee ones and then all at once, one morning, there was silence.  Given that the duct tape I had applied last season had fallen off (and I’m sort of glad it did because I always imagined my neighbour charging me for a repair), I believe that either a Crow or Magpie rampaged the nest.  The sparrows tried two more times, but with no successful hatch. The nest is now abandoned, apart from the occasional visit from an adult. This has made me pretty disappointed because I enjoyed my daily observations of Sparrow behaviour, while I worked at my kitchen sink.

IMG_4332Kath's Canon, February 8 2016 Franks and Sparrows 019

The Fort McMurray blaze happened and left the province in shock.  To not mention this would just be wrong. The media images of the devastation and mass exodus from the city were terrifying.  I think that this fire changed all of us in ways we could not imagine.  Our hearts are still reaching out to those impacted most.  In an economy that was already struggling with woes, this has contributed additional stress.  My prayers continue to be for those impacted and for the fire fighters who continue to make efforts to quell this blaze.  This image, from Jonathan Hayward, Canadian Press.

Alberta Wildfire 20160508

A giant fireball is seen as a wild fire rips through the forest 16 km south of Fort McMurray, Alberta on highway 63 Saturday, May 7, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

There just isn’t a transition from that!  As a result of the differing and dry climate, different insects are inhabiting our gardens.  My asparagus failed to come up this year and very few Oriental poppies.  My strawberry plants are weak, as are my lupines. I learned, one morning, while taking photographs that this is all due to the destruction of the Tarnished Plant Bug, last season and this.  I’ve spent these months trying to ethically rid my garden of the ‘damned’ things.  Sadly, this means I will likely be chasing them away to someone else’s garden.  I am thinking it will take me a couple of seasons to build up my garden again and I’m anticipating more damage next summer, given that the bugs likely produced eggs before I got on to this.  Gardening causes me to think about what it must mean to farm and to weigh my decisions around protecting beneficials such as bees and lady bugs.

IMG_6352

Tarnished Plant Bug presence Noted!

Different birds have settled into the pond area at Frank’s Flats.  It’s easy for me to notice because of my close relationship with this location the past five years.

Last year, at this time, I was watching the nesting practices of Osprey very closely.

Kath's Canon September 2, 2015 Osprey, Franks, Stinky Max 062

In late April, this year, two nesting platforms maintained by Enmax were pulled down as a result of future infrastructure development on the Stoney Trail ring road and so things have changed. I can only keep track of a single platform from a huge distance.  There is no access at this location on Sheriff King Road, for viewing.  I think that the relocation happened just in the nick of time, however, so I am grateful for the efforts of Enmax. Presently, Mr. and Mrs. are watching over a couple of eggs, if not chicks by this time.

Mr. or Mrs. showed up right on time this year, overlooking the pond south of 22X and exactly where the platforms were located last year.  I’m not certain if this is one of the siblings born last season or if it is one of the adults, but I am really happy that we have this presence.

IMG_3490

No place to go, the Osprey began building on the tops of the power poles.  This photo was taken once all nesting materials had been removed, demonstrating the adult Osprey’s determination to set up camp.  I quickly contacted Enmax via Twitter and from there, same-day action ensued and a new location was selected for the erection of the platform.  Disappointed, I knew that I wouldn’t, with my Canon Power Shot, be able to monitor the nest this season.

IMG_3482

From a distance, I saw that the very next day, male and female had established a home, with an abundance of nesting materials.  It was a thrill to see.

IMG_3942

I have visited a few times, just to make certain that the beautiful raptors have had a successful experience.  Only a week ago, I checked in.  Mr. is attentive as Mrs. sits patiently.  These two are slightly behind the other nest I watch, nearing the edge of the Bow River at Sikome Lake, but they look like they are managing.

IMG_6671

Birds have been plentiful at the pond and I’ve nudged up closer than in the past.  Sometimes I imagine the birds saying, “Oh, it’s just her again!”  I still haven’t made the capture of a male or female Shoveler and that disappoints, given that they attended the pond in large numbers this year.  Because they are so skittish, I also haven’t a focused photo of either variety of Grebe, although I’ve captured some great out-of-focus drama!  Below, see some of my collection of species this year.  I am thrilled with the closeness I have developed with nature and seeming, all because I am present for a walk each day, since October 13, in order to take a single photograph of a bush on Instagram.  I have been blessed!

 

The garden has not disappointed and continues to give me a quiet place to sip my coffee in the warm morning sun.  I’ve always received peace in flowers and green. This was a very early photograph…I can’t believe how things have changed and I’ll have to get out there again to snap a photograph or two.

IMG_5758

My Auntie Ruth turned 90, as did the Queen of England.  This meant a trip to Raymond and it meant a 200.00 speeding ticket!  It was a beautiful reunion of family!

IMG_5556

IMG_5646IMG_5437IMG_5415

So much in the way of art and art exhibits!  I guess compared to usual, maybe a little less. The Ivor Strong Bridge has been dealing with some repairs and so I feel, every evening, as though I am on an island and don’t wish to struggle my way out of the community.  Not so much live music.  I think I’m going to have to remedy that!  I was definitely grateful for Allan Rosale’s invitation to the University of Calgary!

I’m very interested in learning the traditions and practice of Indigenous dance.  Jess has been so helpful in this regard and is a very inspiring teacher as well as practitioner.  I hope to continue with this study more consistently throughout this coming year.  I met Jess through Eileen since we were all in attendance to the Juno Awards event that featured Indigenous Nominees and included a power house performance by Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Jess, Kath and Eileen

I hope that if you or your children are interested, you might contact me for information as the camps and study continue throughout the summer.  Such a positive and physical experience! Sîpihkopiwâyisîs Jess McMann-Sparvier is a powerful spokesperson for her cultural traditions and is inclusive, finding the narratives so important to share.  She is rooted in history and is constantly doing research.  She combines her delight for music, dance, tradition and teaching and is just one of those people you must meet and spend time with!

While I may not be athletic, I find this circle of beautiful people to have a very positive impact on me and the dance forms, a definite wake-up-call to my muscles!

Read Trail of Tears to Prokofiev HERE.

Find the link to Indigenous Dance Studio here.

Jess 2Jess

May and June have been full and richly lived…home repairs, teaching, paint, writing, family history.  I can’t ever imagine life not being beautiful.  I am filled up as I look at what has passed this last month and a half.

 

 

 

March 11, 2015: Rumble House

I wanted to ease into my evening at Rumble.  I didn’t want to neglect Max or my every-evening litter pick up at Frank’s Flats.  I also wanted to eat something.

DSC_2892

So, with all of those things attended to, I headed north on my epic drive to the intimate, warm and magical environment that is the Rumble House.

Bronwyn Schuster had brought to mind the idea that sometimes I might paint on a more intimate panel, instead of the large sized format that is so typical of me.  And so, I worked on a beautiful 8 x 8 inch cribbed panel, perfect for fitting inside someone’s purse.

Arriving late, at 7:30, I sat down next to Priscilla who was sitting in a comfy chair next to me, busily crocheting/knitting on a self-invented slipper.  I mentioned that I was going to paint a meditation.  She mentioned how much she enjoys sitting near her son, Rich, so that she can hear the things he says to others as they walk by.  Priscilla also said that she is in awe as she watches his paintings reveal themselves.

I was more focused on the community of people that surrounded me than anything else.  Michael is always so cheerful with his greetings and it sets the tone for a wonderful experience. Paula and Brittney were busy creating their first collaborative piece, a mix of collage elements and paint. It was good to talk to Mike and to share a bit about our sadness and the loss of our friend, Loretta. Leenie!  It was so good to see her smiling face and to be around her energy!  I had opportunity to speak with Asa…hadn’t had a chance to catch up with him in a long time.  Jo and Jeff were tucked away in a small safe place, collaborating on a beautiful piece that reminded me of a book I’m reading about a mother and her daughter, pomegranates and seeds and Persephone.  Louise was back…hadn’t seen her for awhile. What a special touch that she asked me as she left if I had a ride south.  (I’ll never forget the first time we met.) I chatted with James and Enriquito and finally reconnected with Jennifer.  She was painting an awesome bird of prey.  In fact, everyone painting in our section of the space, was painting in a warm/hot palette of colour.  That intrigued me.  I felt/feel nested in this place with like-minded and diverse people.  I like it.

I set about painting my meditation.  I incorporated text in graphite first, a piece from Jewel

jewel-quotes_4474-1

(sic)

As I go about each day, picking up the plastics, the discarded cups and bags from stores, the packaging and flyers that are strewn into natural environments where birds lay their nests; coyotes, their dens; ground squirrels, their complex webs of tunnels, I feel a sense of nurturing fill me up.  I wish to create a safe nest for all.  I wish, and optimistically so, that all human beings would open their eyes to our self-destruction.  We are very lackadaisical about the landscape as we rush by, getting to the next place.  And given that we can not see beneath the surface, the oceans, more than any place on earth, are crying out to be protected.

A nest meditation seemed the right thing to paint.  Because the time with my Rumble pieces is so immediate, I practice the rituals of writing on the back of each piece and then archiving the work by taking a photo or two.  The process of painting at the house is like a bright flame lighting up and then extinguishing, all in two hours.  Funny, on this particular night, I did not sign my piece and I did not photograph it.  I’m posting a photo or two here of other works that have explored this theme of nesting.  Thank you to Sam who purchased my Wednesday nest containing three blue eggs, at auction.

P1140481 P1140505Thanks for the image, Sam!

Three Eggs and NestI treasure my place on this jewel of a planet.  I am only one…but, wish in this brief moment, to make an impact.  Here are some of artist-souls who impact me.

Jennifer

DSC_2833James and Enriquito

DSC_2886Rich (I never get a good picture of him)

DSC_2875Paula and Brittney

DSC_2870Asa

DSC_2852Oliver

DSC_2836What a place!  We’d love to see you next Wednesday night.

DSC_2847

 

A Matter of Time

The weather is changing…in fifteen minutes, I had collected up my bag of litter and Max and I were off to enjoy the shift in temperature and remarkable scenery.  A woman stood on the ridge looking, I suppose, wondering what I was up to.  Two pigeons strutted about the east side of the glassy pool of open water, two muskrats slid, slippery, into the dark water on the west rim.  I never cease to be in love with this small bit of the world.  A jet black crow dipped, unbalanced, with nesting material already spilling out of its beak.  Spring is just around the corner.

Always company, no matter the weather.

Always company, no matter the weather.

February 20, 2015

February 20, 2015

A shift in the weather.

A shift in the weather.

The Unspeakable

I have the luxury of being semi-retired from my teaching career and so I have the luxury of designing my schedule so that I can take care of myself and also take care of others.  It is a good feeling.

This past week has been given to my before-sixty colon screening.  I wondered about writing a blog post about the process because I think that generally it’s viewed as a private subject…or that is the stigma of the past, at least.  Let it be known, I’m going to encourage the more healthy approach…this is a preventative step that all of us can take to better health and personal safety, so it needs to be demystified (to a point).  While I am tempted to post the three photographs that were snapped of the inside of my colon, I promised my father that I wouldn’t.

First, let it be known that the Forzani and Macphail Colon Cancer Screening Centre is an amazing facility and team under the umbrella of Alberta Health Services.  After receiving the necessary paperwork from your family doctor, off you go for a two hour information session about the process and the benefits of having a colonoscopy.  I had already completed a FIT test and with 75% accuracy, it is less invasive than the colonoscopy, but a bit messy, if you get my meaning.  (sidenote: for your collection, the saran wrap-over-the-toilet-approach can be unsuccessful…just saying).  I had passed that test with flying colours, but still wanted the 98% assurance of the colon screening.

The most inspiring event along the way was sitting in the lecture theater next to a similar aged woman.  She had sat next to her mother in hospital when she was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. She watched her own mother endure a huge fight for the last two years of her life.  This gracious daughter was so matter-of-fact about her approach to screening and yet held in her heart such an enduring story, that I could not help but feel motivated.

Everything I had heard from others was true regarding the prep being more unpleasant than the test itself.  I chugged my four liters of CoLyte (an intense laxative) as specified.  What is funny about this is that I spoke to the husband of one of my teacher-friends over the phone about all of this to minimize the anticipation factor.  He was so bang-on about his description of the experience that absolutely nothing was surprising. I really appreciated that.  Basically, you learn your own way of managing the taste, the amount and the experience.  After the fourth eight ounce glass I DID have a bit of anxiety, but I called up Health Link and they calmed my jets.

What worked for me….thinking about this being a medically amazing adventure…focusing on the benefits to my health…watching the birds nesting in the neighbour’s vent across from my kitchen window (visualizing a focal point)…breathing.  After each eight ounce glass, I swished my mouth with mouth wash followed by a swish of nice cold water.  The solution can leave a slightly metallic flavour in your mouth otherwise and create a bit of a fuzzy feeling on the tongue.  I kept myself well-hydrated on power drinks and the process was managed swimmingly. (You guys were all eating pancakes, bacon and sausage for Shrove Tuesday…my Lenten fast not only started early, but was taken to the next level!)

Very specific directions are given and excellent scheduling times, so that nothing in the process is surprising.  My daughter was generous and made herself available for the entire afternoon of the procedure.  I think it is such an important thing to be supported when experiencing a new event such as this, so hurrah for the care givers out there!

The day of the procedure, (Ash Wednesday) I was welcomed by a warm and friendly care nurse, Janet.  If it’s possible to make an unpleasant experience, lovely, this lady made my day.  She placed, on my tray, a juice box and some shortbread cookies as motivators to get all of this over with.  After a two day fast, these were exciting to see.  I informed her that “Yes, I WANT TO BE SEDATED…if not knocked out!”  Apparently some patients do this without sedation.  Wowsah!   When you are sedated, you DO have some recollection of pain, but it is muddled and after two twinges of this, I seemed to go off to sleep.  Air is injected (for lack of the proper word) into the colon so that the wall of the colon can properly be explored for the sign of any polyps (most times benign, but sometimes ugly).

I came out of la la land in a sort of euphoria.  Janet’s voice spoke to me about my cookies.  She had told me before hand that she would be letting me sleep for fifteen minutes and then would wake me for snack…so there were no surprises.  Time flew by. After the snack, a complete report (along with photos) is given and it turned out that 1. I had done an excellent prep and 2. my colon is in super condition.  I was told that my next screening could be done ten years from now.  I’m so grateful for this result.  I felt absolutely normal apart from some gas pains in my tummy.  At home, I was stooped over for a while as these pains increased in intensity, but once things started moving (inject laugh here), it was a breeze. (if you get my meaning).

I guess if I could give my readers any advice, it would be, if possible, book off of work on the day preceding the test (a fast day) and the day following…just be good to yourself and turn on your favourite Netflix binge.

The day after my test, yesterday, I began my spring litter clean up at Frank’s Flats.  The recent warm weather 8 degrees allowed for some serious picking to begin.  My daily litter pick always begins as a positive aspect of my Lenten journey.  I just wish that citizens would take better care of our landscape.  Some aspects of life seem to be unspeakable.  We are faced, daily, with challenges.  I hope that my post will remove some of the fear of the Colon Screening process.  I am grateful for the excellent program that is available to us in Calgary.

Second to that, I wish to challenge each of you to find a wee piece of land; a sidewalk that you travel each day, one edge of a park where you take your children to play…a place that you can regularly pick throughout the spring and summer.  If you are disgusted by something, then be proactive and take care of it.  Don’t grumble…just be the change you want to see.

February 19, 2015 Frank's Flats

February 19, 2015 Frank’s Flats

DSC_2465

Finding Blake

I was thinking about why I title these sorts of posts, “Finding_________”, instead of “Meeting _________”.  At first, I wondered if it had been influenced by the movie title, Finding Forrester, one of my favourites. But, no, I have come up with another answer while hiking Frank’s Flats today, enjoying the sunshine and the melt.

?????????? Since I’ve retired from full time teaching, there is not a single day goes by where I do not seek out new knowledge, revelations or relationships.

Today, I found Blake.  I’ve seen him before…tucked between trees on the ridge that surrounds the flats, but today I decided to introduce myself.  This afternoon, he had his easel set up on the north slope.  The sunshine was exceptional and his colours danced, even as I hiked some distance away, edging the pond.

“Hi, there.  Do you mind me grabbing a photograph of your work?”

“No problem…sure…go ahead.” (broad smile…warmth in his voice)

DSC_2496“It’s meant to be viewed the other way…a pyramid…pizza.”

I asked him if he would turn the canvas for me…we step back together.  The conversation opens up so that I forget to snap the second photograph.

I notice, “It looks as though there is a hole through the pizza that leads somewhere else.”

“That’s cool.  I didn’t notice that.”

“Where do you pick up your stretched canvases?”

“45% off at Michaels.”

DSC_2497“Have you heard of the Gorilla House? Rumble House?”

From there we talk about connections…art…street art versus destructive painting…youth.

“How did you get started painting?”

“I used to be a skateboarder…snowboarder…until I was found to have an inherited liver disease.  I had to say good-bye to all of that.  I paint now.  For the most part, I give my paintings away to friends.  I’m forever indebted to my uncle who gave me a big chunk of his liver.  That’s why I’m alive today.”

“Come down to paint with us.  Get connected with like-minded people.”

I hope Blake fires me off a note by e mail so that I can share some locations/links with him.  It was a great thing to find Blake.  Once again, I marvel at what people do and the reasons they do the things they do.

?????????? DSC_2499 I walked on from there…stooped…a piece of litter continuing the colour story.

DSC_2500

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.

DSC_1546

DSC_1542

DSC_1536

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.

 

 

 

 

The Nuisance Grounds & Listening to Derek Beaulieu on 93.7

I was thinking about writing a poem as I was depositing my trash bag into the bin today, Another hour or so at Frank’s Flats, and I was left feeling that I had entered into the personal narrative of a community…browsing deep into the sock drawers of strangers.

Driving home, I heard Derek Beaulieu, Calgary’s 2014 Poet Laureate, reading his poem, Please, No More Poetry on 93.7

For a moment, I second-guessed myself and thought it would be a waste of time to write.  But, only for a moment.  And then I decided, instead of Netflix, I would go ahead and write a poem.

October 5, 2014 Frank's Flats

October 5, 2014 Frank’s Flats

 

The Nuisance Grounds

My feet sweat inside my
rubber boots
and the sun shines,
lighting up other people’s waste.
Those other people
leave no more secrets.

Five more granola packages today
and three plastic pudding containers.
I didn’t find the spoons.
Many pages of coloured paper announce the deals
for this week and weeks before.

A bag of human defecation wrapped and tied
neatly, left under a tree.
McCafe cup, broken plastic bits.
Coloured straws, other-worldly in
natural surroundings.
Red hawk calling from above.
Ducks, skittish, paddling out from shore.

This is other people’s nuisance.  Not yours.
Bags with yellow liquid swishing at their bottoms.

Bags with brilliant logos of Wal-Mart,
Home Depot
mostly, today.

A long length of bubble wrap
dazzled dots in the light,
wraps around and hugs a
tree…larch…autumn…beauty.

Styrofoam falls apart
at my pinch, a myriad of white spheres
separate
and
fall
into the grass.
I’ll have to be more gentle next time.

It’s at this point, I think about writing
a poem.

I am at odds
because there is no one to blame.
This is not yours.

©Kathleen Moors