Are you getting your Vitamin N?

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Vitamin N you say? Yes,  that’s N as in Nature. As mentioned in my last post, one of my comforts is being in nature.  I’ve done a little research on this subject and according to Richard Louev, author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle ( is such a thing as nature deficit disorder.  His research suggests that many children and adults are suffering from depression, attention deficit disorder and obesity because of so much time spent connected to technology as opposed to nature.

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Louev is convinced that taking time out to connect with nature, (which can be in cities and parks as well as forests or more remote locations) is the antidote to many of the ailments plagueing the population today.

This leads me to myself and the reasons I might find getting outside everyday so comforting.  Perhaps  it is  because everything slows down for me when I enter a natural environment?  Maybe it is how nature causes me to notice that it never hurries..

For example I notice that  blackberries ripen when there has been just the right conditions for the right amount of time.  This means I can’t say I will always pick blackberriees on August 31st.  Some years I may be picking blackberries as early as July 31st and others it might be almost into October.  Nature takes exactly the amount of time it needs to cycle through the seasons.  One year is never exactly as another but there is a pattern within its gentle cycle that makes me feel safe and secure as I observe it from year to year.

Richard Louev believes and has seen that children can gain a sense of calm and security from spending time in connection  with the natural world and that a if we want to have any hope for this planet it is going to involve having near equal amounts of time spent in nature as opposed to connected to technology.

Another benefit that a nature break gives me is a sense of connection.  We live in a world that in one way is so connected through technology and yet in real time is very disconnected.  How many of us  communicate with our colleagues through email everyday but never actually see them face to face?  How many of our conversations and communications in a day are ‘remote’ or digital?  We lose something when we have no physical connection to each other and experiencing nature is a way to counteract this disconnection.

imageIn nature I begin to feel a connection to the earth that is easy to lose in our technically advanced world.  This can happen during a quick walk around the school yard  at lunch as I notice a leaf or an acorn or when I am out combing the forest for mushrooms or scaling a steep mountain.  The point is these doses of connection with nature do not have to be difficult to get.  They can be had in cities as easily as in forests or farms. I believe that chronic disconnection  is a prominent factor that contributes to  the widespread suffering from conditions such as depression, anxiety, attention deficit and obesity.

I know that we can find biological evidence in the bodies of those who suffer from depression and the like but isn’t it possible that like Gabor Mate likes to say, ” our biology becomes our biography. What do you think the biography of a person who grows up in front of a variety of screens, mostly indoors, playing games with ‘friends’ across town or across the globe and eats alone while engaged in screen time will translate into in their biology?  Isn’t it plausible to think that an existence such as this would be damaging to such a social creature as a human being.?

Think about some of the circumstances and conditions that have been crucial to human civilization and you won’t have to think long to know that one of the keys to our ability to thrive is our natural tendency to form groups and work together toward our common good.  Surely, time spent in a virtual world disconnected from anything natural or ‘real’ is not going to form neural pathways in the brain that prepare us for collaborating and thinking about how the systems of nature model how to protect and honor diveristy in order for species to thrive.

If we don’t teach our children about Vitamin N just as if it were as necessary as sleep or food then what will our world look like in a few generations?  Just as many of our First Nations lost their languages and traditions because they were not able to teach them to their young so too will the ways and means of thriving as a spoecies be lost?

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Don’t get me wrong.  I am not subscribing to some apocolyptic doom and despair  future with no hope.  In fact it is just the opposite.  I feel the work of those such as Richard Loev, Fritjog Cappra, Michael Ableman and Zenobia Barlow and organizations like The Center For Ecoliteracy, the Slow Food Movement and the Children and Nature Network are doing great work to reconnect us with our true source of energy and inspiration.

So I close by asking you again.  Are you getting your Vitamin N?  Have you noticed what kind of sky you are living under today?  Were there stars out last night?  Make a point of getting outside today if only for a few minutes and really notice what you are experiencing.  Even if you are in a city see if you can find one thing that connects you to the natural world.

Notice a leaf on the sidewalk and try to take in something about it that you could share with someone when you get back to the office.  If you have the priviledge of being in a more natural environment notice what the birds or squirrels are doing today.  Simply observe and connect with what nature is today and observe anything different in yourself because of it. Perhaps a clearer, mind, an unfamiliar state of calm or a new found sense of wonder.

Make an effort to think about where you fit in this scheme and remember that we are nature ourselves; part of a grand scheme that requires diversity and connection among each tree, stream. lake, forest, ocean and being. Vitamin N.  No doctor referal or prescription required.

What is comfort?

My son and I

My son and I


Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.    Hippocrates

Comfort always, as prescribed by Hippocrates is pretty much what my son and I spent the last 12 days doing.  Technically, neither of us is ill, although I would say he is rather homesick.

As I drove away from his house today aware that I won’t see him until Christmas I refrained from tearing up for his sake and mine.  We had such a good time together and I chose to think about what we have rather than what we don’t have.

Last night as he was baking the oatmeal cookies he whipped up for dessert and was wanting to feel guilty about the calories I reminded him how important comfort can be. We were avoiding what was on both our minds, I would be leaving the next day. The cookies were something familiar and ‘treatish’ to comfort and remind us of good times we have had in the past.  I teach my students a little brain science and I was well aware that we were getting our dompamine fix by stimulating good memories as well as our taste buds in order to move away from the ‘sad place’ we could easily have gone to.  We took goofy pictures of ourselves eating the cookies and played cards and then said good night on a high note.

Our children will teach us if we allow them to.  My son reminded me that when we are sad, suffering, lonely or uncomfortable we often think that ploughing through is the best way to cure the ill feelings.  In fact the opposite is true.  Sure there are things we need to do that we don’t like but that does not require that we never allow ourselves a moment of pleasure or at the very least calm.  Why do we practice mindful breathing exercises, meditation, prayer and creativity?

So what is your comfort?  Is it a certain food that reminds you of a safe comfortable time?  Is it nature?  How about poetry, reading, gardening, crafts, journalling?  All of these activities are capable of providing comfort to a weary soul.

In our family food was definitely a comfort because I loved to cook and bake so much ( one of my creative outlets that brings me comfort). My children were used to a house filled with an eclectic mix of music (also a comforting activity), lots of activity in nature and outdoors as well as being very active in organized sports and music lessons.  Any of these activities can create comfortable feelings that remind them of home.

So, as my son and I played cards,  walked along the lake and in the woods, baked, cooked and talked while listening to classical, country, jazz and even Christmas music we were creating comfort through familiarity.  Even though we were in a strange house, in a far away town, in another country, we could still conjure up the peace and calm we find in each other’s company.  We made each other laugh with what we believe are  witty comments and stories but most of all we were getting comfortable with  our new relationship as mother and adult son.

Calm and Cozy

sugarloaf mountain view

sugarloaf mountain view

Today my son did not have classes so we were able to have a slow start. We were sitting in jammies with a cup of java having a visit by the window by 8am.  It was a gorgeous sunny day but a little chilly when I stepped out on the porch to check the temperature.  We lingered over some favourite old music and a Face Time call to my parents.

view over Lake Superior

view over Lake Superior

My son and I

My son and I

After a quick bowl of oatmeal and shower it was time to get outside for our Vitamin N, (nature).  I feel a bit deprived in that area so we headed to Sugar Loaf Mountain (this term is used very loosely) for a hike and a view from the top.  We took the ‘difficult’ route to try get a vigorous walk in.  After climbing for about 15 minutes and about 100 stairs  we reached the top.The view was fabulous and the breeze had a bite beckoning in winter no doubt. We snapped a few photos and then descended.

Next it was time to drop  my son off at the rink for his workout and I headed to the Marquette Food Co-op which has become my favourite shop in town. I picked up some local eggs and yogurt as well as some baking soda for my son.  He has decided that he would like to learn to make  pumpkin loaf after his workout.

We arrived back to the house by noon and quickly made some salad for lunch before embarking on the baking lesson.  It was really very simple and he only needed instructions on how to not over stir the loaf.

We also picked up a sock-eye salmon from his freezer on the way back to the house so that will be what he makes us for dinner.  This will be a very satisfying dinner as the salmon is one he caught and vacuum packed himself this past summer back on the Vancouver Island where he lives.

sockeye fillet for dinner

sockeye fillet for dinner

The pumpkin loaf recipe was very easy and we got three small loaves for him to have as a treat.  The salmon recipe will be one he has picked up from several locals back home and adjusted to make his own.

You know  it is amazing how well we can cook and eat with just a few basic ingredients.  I was thinking about this as I walked into the co-op today.  Basically, we have milk, eggs, cream, olive oil, yogurt, lettuce, dried cranberries, nuts, coffee, frozen berries, flour, sugar, honey, oatmeal, and some seasonal fruit and vegetables.  We are eating local as much as possible by shopping at the co-op, the farmers’ market and the local butcher.

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread

This afternoon as he does his homework and I knit we will enjoy a coffee and a piece of the pumpkin bread we made.  When I leave we will both cherish this memory and the warm feelings we had both physically and emotionally as we enjoyed our homemade little treat.

Tonight as we dine on bright red sock-eye caught in our local waters back home by my son we will talk about past fishing trips, good memories made and how fortunate we are to be so connected to the sea, the land, the forest and each other.

Just a brief footnote to apologize for not linking the recipes mentioned to the sites where they can be found.  I am composing on an iPad as I travel and so I am not able to highlight the text to create the links.  I will fix this issue when I am back on my home computer.

Fall or Winter?


Fall or Winter?

Fall or Winter?

I drove from Marquette, Michigan to Sault Saint Marie, Ontario today, to meet a friend I have not seen in years.  We had an amazing visit and we picked up as if it had only been a week since we had last seen each other.  I was reminded again how wealthy I am because I have such good friends.  This friend is the ultimate conversationalist and incredibly creative and intelligent.  I love her panache, her way with words and her willingness to ask the difficult questions of life.

As I drove, (through a snowstorm on unfamiliar roads I might add)  I observed the unfamiliar landscape and tried to find a place for it in my own experience.  Isn’t it funny how no matter where we travel or move to  we inevitably compare it to what we already know.   I suppose that is how we bring meaning to new experiences.


snowy roads

    snowy roads


Whenever I am away from home, (wherever that may be) I try to imagine what it would be like to live there.  Today, with the wind blowing off Lake Superior and the snow falling I thought about what I would like if I were to live here.  I think I would enjoy the snow for a short time but it would get old real fast.  I quickly dispersed of that train of thought and created an adventure story in my head.  I was an adventurer, willing to risk driving in the slushy snow through unfamiliar territory to see a friend.  I had a chuckle as I passed through a hamlet claiming ‘moose capital of the world’ as its claim to fame.  ‘Hey, I have been to the moose capital of the world,” I imagined myself saying as I told of my adventure upon my return back to the coast.

In this area I found out that the marking of the year is done in ways unfamiliar to me.  For example when I stopped at a gas station this morning to use the bathroom and ask if I was still heading in the right direction.  The friendly woman behind the counter answered that I was on the right track.  Then I asked if this snow was normal this early in the year she said “oh yes but then you can bet on opening day it will be a beautiful sunny day.

” Opening day? The opening day of what I thought to myself. Let’s see….opening of winter season, the local cross country trails, a new store?  I got brave and asked what she mean by opening day and discovered she meant opening day for deer hunting .  Ha Ha like that means anything to me.  The day she was referring to is  November 15th. She could just as easily told me that it was not unusual for it to snow but it would quite likely get nice again before November. Ah well, all part of the adventure story.

 'our temporary home'

‘our temporary home’

All this snow and talk of winter and the snowy conditions made me think of myself cozied up by the fire knitting.  As I made the long drive back to Marquette I realized things seemed more familiar to me and I felt like I was heading home to  Marquette.  We don’t have a fire and I don’t live there but the thought of the cozy little house I have rented for a couple of weeks with my son there waiting for me and my knitting and books and crafts strewn around ready for me to pick up was comforting.

It really is amazing how adaptable we are when we allow ourselves to be.  Time to pick up my knitting.

must start knitting

must start knitting

Let’s Have Some Dinner


After two days of building furniture and getting my son’s “masculine retreat” (aka bedroom in a bunch of hockey dudes’ apartment) ready for dwelling I need a rest.

We assembled furniture for approximately 7 hours in between his classes and hockey practice and workouts.  I wonder how many times we have driven from our little rental cottage, to his house. to school and to the rink in the last two day.  It doesn’t matter now thought.  We are done.

Today when my son was at school I ran to a couple of shops to pick up some finishing touches for his room, like baskets and picture hooks, as well as a tray for his change and junk he likes to throw on his dresser top.  After I dropped him off for practice later in the day I went straight to the food co-op for salad fixings and a few odds and ends for dinner.  I put the roast in the oven, made a salad and got the leftover vegetables ready to reheat.  Back off to the rink to wait for my son to come out the back door with knitting in pocket.  This whole routine is really feeling familiar.  I forgot how much we used to run around after our kids.


After watching the marching band practice in the parking lot of the rink in the biting cold I returned to my car and pulled my knitting out of my pocket.  I never mind waiting when I have my knitting with me.  It feels like productive time.  After about a half an hour my son appeared and off we drove home.


It was so nice to come into the house and smell the roast and know that dinner was almost ready to eat.  We sat down for a 10 minute relax before dinner and then together pulled off a really nice dinner in short order. A glass of wine a fine dinner, good company and dessert.  What a great day.

You Don’t Like Soup?

roasting the turkey carcass before boiling

roasting the turkey carcass before boiling

Today I find myself struggling with what to do with the turkey carcass from our recent Thanksgiving dinner here in Michigan.  The thing is I am not at home in my own kitchen and so there are no staples or pantry items.  Oh and the other big problem is… son hates homemade soup.

When I was raising my 3 children often Monday would be homemade soup day.  I thought I was being a frugal gourmet while at the same time a super mother, you know, real food made from scratch, delicious and nutritious.  Not to mention the warm homemade bread which accompanied it. (My favourite recipe still from Harrowsmith Country Living Cookbook.) Every Monday the kitchen would be steamy and warm from the soup bubbling away on the stove and the sweet brown bread coming out of the oven.

I would set the table and present  what I thought was a meal fit for a high end restaurant with cloth napkins, cheese or herb garnish for the soup and loads of salty butter for the warm from the oven bread.  A handwoven basket of notable character (usually a gift from South African friends or one of my weaving friends) would be lined with a handwoven napkin and brimming with the yeasty delectable bread.  The soup would be placed in the middle of the table so as to awe the awaiting diners( my family) with  the ladling of the earthy mixture of broth, vegetables and herbs.  Think of it as dining foreplay,  meant to entice the eager eater into heightened gastonomic pleasure!

You can imagine my surprise when on one of these such nights my son, who suspiciously had been consuming copious amounts of bread and very little soup announced, “I hate homemade soup.”   “What, you hate my soup?  How can that be?”

It was unfathomable to me.  How could anyone not appreciate the fine flavours, the delightful presentation and my enthusiasm in the domestic arts?  That one short sentence brought me off my home economic high horse right promptly and caused me to have to adjust my expectations of my children’s individual palettes.

I continued to make soup on Mondays but the rule was my son had to eat one ladle of soup minimum and if he really wanted to indulge on the bread he had to make an effort to accompany it with a little more soup, even if was just the broth.

You may be wondering why I tell this story today.  Well, as I said, here I am in Michigan, renting a small house without my usual well stocked pantry and I need a nutritious dinner for us and  just happen to have a turkey carcass.  But wait, alas the boy doesn’t like soup. But I just can’t bear to throw away that carcass.  Hmmm

farmer's market finds

farmer’s market finds

The solution comes to me in a flash.  I will use the turkey soup stock to cook potatoes and leeks in and I will create the one soup he does like. Leek and Potato Soup.(recipe tab)  Don’t ask me why but my son loves this soup.  It really is the only soup he will eat.  In the fridge I happen to have leeks and potatoes from the Farmer’s Market in Marquette and I brought some herbes de provence with me so we are set.  There won’t be any homemade bread but we are both watching our ‘carb’ anyway.  Not only will we have a nutritious, comforting meal.  I will be able to give him a cooking lesson at the same time and he will be able to use the recipe I texted him a few weeks ago.


So, with snow and hail and frozen rain falling intermittently all day today and the cold north wind blowing we are going to hunker down tonight and enjoy the one soup that satisfied my need to be resourceful and frugal and allows my son to enjoy his meal.


Cook, Create. Walk


What does one do when visiting their university student son?  Well, in my case ,since I am a long way from home and away from anywhere or anyone familiar besides him I Cook, Create and Walk.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving for us.  A week late but the day we chose to celebrate because we were able to be together all day without going to the rink or the university.  My son and I started in the morining by making ‘the pies.’  That meant  I made the pastry and then he helped me mix the ingredients for the filling.  Once the pies were in the oven it was vegetable peeling time for him and stuffing making for me.  We worked together in the small kitchen quite nicely and I enjoyed the familiar banter that we fall back into when we are together.

With the potatoes and yams peeled, the stuffing mixed up and the squash cut and seeded it was onto the business of getting the stuffing into the turkey.  It was most amusing teaching my son how to stuff a turkey.  He was fixated on figuring out which end was the head and which was, well, you know….. the other end. We disagreed on which was which and finally to prove his point he took the wings and spread them to show me how the turkey would fly and which end was which.  Turns out I roast the turkey on its back which I hadn’t really thought about much so he was in fact correct about the ends.  Very amusing exercise in turkey anatomy.


With the pies out, the turkey in and the veggies prepped we had time to head out on a ‘find some furniture and paint for the room’ expedition. This was a continuation of the previous day and we pretty much struck out again.  We had some options in mind if nothing else worked out but nothing ideal.  We did manage to get the paint and supplies so we were ready to at least get the room painted.  By ‘the room’ I mean his bedroom in the apartment he is sharing with two other students  At the moment it consists of a matress and boxspring on the floor and his belongings scattered willy nilly on the floor and in the closet.

Upon our return from the unsuccesful expedition we began cooking the vegetables and by 6:30pm were enjoying a glass of wine, some Miles Davis music and I was knitting an alpaca toque for him  At 7:00pm my son’s roommates joined us and we sat down to our Thanksgiving Dinner.  It was a gathering of the nations so to speak, as one of the boys was from St. Louis, USA and the other was from Sweden and us being from Canada. We shared our stories of traditions and  food but mostly just relaxed in the calm and comfort  which the boys are sorely missing.  As a student and NCAA Div. 1 Hockey player, relaxation and the comforts of home are something longed for often and experienced infrequently.  The evening gave us all an opportunity to reflect and truly be thankful for our  respective, supportive families and the comfort of familiarity


With the cooking out of the way, I got up this morning and was able to finish the toque I  started yesterday.  My son and I had a coffee and some breakfast and then it was off to deliver him to his classes at the university.


I returned home, strapped on my runners and warm vest and headed out to explore the area on foot.  I spent almost two hours walking the neighborhoods and looking at the old houses as well as perusing the shops in town.  A chilly northwind was blowing and I overheard  the locals chatting about the threat of snow tonight.  Geesh,  we are not ready for that.

I explored some of the old shops and of course had to stop by my favorite locavore haunt, the food co-op.  It is so nice to see that there is a local food movement and that not all  Yuppers want to shop at Walmart for their groceries.  A pet peeve of mine that I will elaborate on another time.  I also discovered a yarn shop, a library, (something I always look for in a new town) in addition to some very unique art galleries and shops. Add to that a very cool iron ore dock that is unfamiliar for me and a local brew pub rightly named, The Ore Dock Brew Pub.  I hope to try it out one while I am here.

We completed our mission after my son’s classes and hit up a store that we thought was a big box building suppy store.  It turns out it was but it also had some “assemble yourself” furniture and so after the painting is complete we will arm ourselves with a screwdriver and tackle the; some assembly required project.;  I suspect we will have to do it in sessions and perhaps not in the same room as we have both been known to have a rather short fuse when it comes to figuring out these things.  Remember my method of “just let me try it?”  My son subscribes to the same method so it could get interesting.  We will have to throw in a few Red Green lines and keep it light.  Wish me luck.

Cook, Thanksgiving dinner.  Create, a knitted alpaca toque and felted acorns for table decor.  Walk, exploring a new town and landscape.

Travelling Crafts

oven mitts

Easy Felted Oven Mitts

I spent the last two days travelling to get to Michigan to visit my son.  I like to knit and felt when I can and so I thought I would show you what I brought to work on while I put in wait time in airports and travel time on planes

I brought along a hefty supply of yarn and a variety of knitting needles.I didn’t run into any trouble with security thankfully, so I was able to pass the hours of airport and flight time madly knitting.  I knit as much as I could on a sweater I am knitting and now I am going to be starting to make several pairs of oven mitts for Christmas gifts.

I also brought along some colored wool fleece and will work on my collection of felted acorns.  I made a bunch of them last year and gave them away so I would like to make some for myself.  I like to place them around the house and on the table for seasonal decor.  I collect the acorn caps from the ground in the Fall as they are dropping and then glue the felted pieces into them.


I also brought a book called, 20 Ways to Draw a Tree and 44 other Nifty Things from Nature.  It is a great book for  learning how to sketch, design and doodle things like leaves, trees, mushrooms, owls and the like.  I have a large blackboard in my kitchen that I practice on as well as small bits of paper that I sometimes turn into cards if I am pleased with the results. I am certainly in the developing category still but I thought that I could get good and use my drawings on the board when I am teaching ecoliteracy lessons at school.  I have always admired the board art that Waldorf Schools use and hopefully I will be able to add some creativity into my classroom.

waldorf chalkboard art



A Fabulous Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving weekend was so packed with adventure and visiting that I couldn’t write about it all in one post so here is the rest. After our night in Fairhaven, we returned home to sleep and get up early Sunday morning to prepare for family and friends to come and share the day with us.

The morning began with popping corn for you guessed it…..more caramel corn As well as caramel apples which we picked minutes before. While coffee was brewing I got to popping several cups of popcorn and boiling caramel.  A grocery list was quickly prepared and I sent Richard out to get groceries and wine while I continued to prep the stuffing for the turkey.  When that was finished I began mixing up John Bishop’s Ginger Cake with Caramel Sauce, a holiday favorite for us.

Upon Richard’s return I unpacked the groceries and finished the cake while he headed outside to  prepare the bonfire. By this time it was getting close to noon, anticipated time of arrival for our family. Our guests were to be my youngest daughter, my parents, my sister-in-law, my niece and her boyfriend and later my dear friends and their son.  We thought  that my parents would drive up in their truck with my daughter and the rest would come in another vehicle.  The drive is about an hour and 15 minutes .

At about 12:30pm I heard the sound of a big semi and said to Richard, “oh the neighbours must be harvesting their grapes and getting them picked up today, I hear a semi.”  To my surprise he replied, ‘I don’t think so because the semi is in our yard.”  What???  Why would that be? I ran to the window to look out only to be greeted by my family piling out of a big freight liner truck.Too funny.  My sister-in-law recently purchased a freight liner truck to pull her very large horse trailer and she generously picked everybody up and drove them “rodeo style” to Thanksgiving Dinner.

We spent the day having a bonfire and hot fog roast followed by a walk through trails and down to the beach. The afternoon concluded with some storytelling, lots of laughs and even a nap for some of us.

As dinner preparations were concluded we sat around the table and dined on  turkey grown by our friends,carrots and squash from the market garden down the road, mashed potatoes also grown in our friends’ garden, as well as salad and for dessert, ginger cake, apple pie and pumpkin pie.

The big hits at the dinner table were the Papaya Avocado Salad made by my sister-in-law, Richard’s family recipe of Carrots Au Gratin and of course Mom’s Apple Pie. As the day grew to a close everyone loosened their belts and dragged themselves away from the dinner table stuffed as the Thanksgiving turkey had been.  We had much to be thankful for.

I have included recipes for the dinner highlights on my recipe page. Please give them a try.

Weekend Adventure in Fairhaven

Doors are for people with no imagination.
-Derek Landy

Bellingham Harbor

Bellingham Harbor

Bike riding at Lake Padden

Bike riding at Lake Padden

Thanksgiving weekend is over but it was one of the best weekends I have had in a very long time.  Remember in a previous post I spoke about experiencing time in different ways?  This past weekend it seemed to be all kairos.  Three days seemed to be three weeks.  We began by travelling to the USA to visit friends and stay at the spa in Fairhaven.We took our time and drove the scenic route along through Blaine and Ferndale.  I saw quaint, perfectly kept heritage houses, a beautiful state park and even an oil refinery.   I have never seen an oil refinery and although it is not something I wished to see it was interesting to see exactly what it looks like and how it certainly is a threat to our environment.

We arrived just in time for our massage treatment and then had time to relax in the beautiful room looking out to the harbour of Fairhaven.  We were treated to champagne as well.

In the evening our friends picked us up and we went out to a restaurant along Lake Washington know for its local fare and great service.   The fire oven pizza appetizer was divine as was the wine.  I could not finish my Pumpkin Fettuccine with Chanterelles after sampling the risotto from someone else’s dinner.  I did however find room for the flourless chocolate cake with was ‘to die for.’ We returned back to the room after a wonderful evening of sharing food and stories with friends. The king size bed provided the perfect haven for a good night’s sleep.

On Saturday morning we started with a stroll along the boardwalk over to Wood’s Coffee and then a leisurely walk to our favourite breakfast place, Tony’s Coffee.  In speaking with our server we discovered that Tony’s has been in existence for 30 years.  Tony himself was there cooking away in the kitchen when we were there.

Oasis on Fairhaven city lot

Oasis on Fairhaven city lot

IMG_1902it was a wonderful experience, walking along the historical waterfront and through the  streets downtown.  As we were walking and taking in all the sights and shops we came upon an old red house right in town that tweaked my interest.  It basically had a tiny little bit of a yard at the front, right next to the sidewalk. I was amazed how with a little imagination they had created their own oasis right there on the street.  The owners had a greenhouse as well as several flower beds brimming with sunflowers and fading Autumn Joy Sedums. I thought they did a great job of using a little imagination to get the feel that they had a large lot to grow food and experience beauty in flowers and shrubs.

This got me to thinking about an oases I had created in the past.  We had a 60 foot by 120 foot city lot and my Mom used to joke with me that I was living like I had 40 acres on a matchbox lot.  When I look at pictures of it now ,I guess that was partially true.  We raised chickens, grew apples, raspberries, rhubarb, figs, lavender, vegetables, sunflowers and had a pet cat .As well we  maintained a lawn, a large native Dogwood tree and several very large Douglas Fir trees. Oh, I I can’t forget my two clotheslines.  I was living my dream right there on that tiny lot.  I have always thought that I would like acreage but when I look back at what I was able to do with such a small space I wonder if it is necessary or wise?

Image 2 Image 3


rhubarb, sunflowers, raspberries, chicken coop and clotheslines
My City lot Oasis

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After we had our fill of the ‘city’ we venture off to Lake Padden to do a little mountain biking in the woods. As we climbed the road up toward the lake we were awed by one property, so much so that we backed up and took pictures of the layout.

The property was approximately half and acre and the owners had done a fantastic job of utilizing the space in order to grow food and keep livestock.  The yard was layer out with several areas for specific things.   One shed had a sod roof with blooming Sedums  spilling off the sides. the building  was a chicken house/garden shed.  On one side of the shed was a fenced chicken yard complete with a black goat, (to keep the chickens company?) and on the other side was a fenced garden area with grow boxes for producing vegetables.

Next to that was another area that looked like the fruit growing area.  On the outside of the fence there were blueberry bushes and on the inside of the fence were fruit trees.  Inside the fruit tree area there were several beehives for producing honey, very clever.  Below the fruit area  was another outbuilding with a metal roof and another fenced area for more vegetable as well as a cutting flower garden. Again, I was reminded what a little imagination can create. These people have created a site that is not huge but is perfectly able to provide them with much of their own food.  If find yards like this inspiring.

yard at Lake Paddenb

   yard at Lake Paddenb


Lake Padden is a beautiful little lake with many bike, walking and horse trails around it. It was a gorgeous sunny day and so the park was scattered with runners, walkers, dogs and bikers.  There was even a couple getting married on the little dock.  After a fairly vigorous ride through the horse trails and around the lake we quickly changed and departed to get over the border and head for the ferry.  At the last minute we decided to try a different crossing and again, spontaneity paid off, as we pulled up to the border and only had one car in front of us.

After a quick drive to Horseshoe Bay we went through the toll and were told we had missed the ferry that was just docking.  Not to be dissuaded we simply parked and headed into the village.  We looked around and decided that since we had nearly two hours we should have an early dinner.  We chose a restaurant on the water where we were able to observe several families and individuals loading there boats after spending a day in the city.  These were most likely people living on Bowen Island and we marvelled at their organization and routines.  They loaded their boats with everything from groceries to garden rakes and headed out onto the waters to carry their cargo to their island homes.  We had a great time dining and creating our own stories for these people.

After arriving home in the evening it was early to bed only to begin preparations for family and friends to join us for Thanksgiving day celebrations.  We planned a bonfire, hotdog roast and some sweet treats for the day, a walk to the beach and then a full scale turkey dinner in the evening.

We felt as though we had experienced enough to have been away a week and really it was only overnight.  I thought about how our mindset had allowed us to experience time like we had as children on summer vacation. It really is true that our perspective creates our experience.

Tomorrow I will post about our unique celebrations to mark our gratitude for all the goodness we have in our lives.