New Experiences…even after 50 years

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Over the past days I have been out and about in nature and had the privilege to  experience some things for the first time.

My first new experience came when I headed out for my ‘walk,’ which is usually a sort of shuffle jog alternating with a fast walk.  Since there was so much snow on the ground this day, my walk was more like a steady trudge in mud.  Every step required that I plunge my heavy boot into the snow, wait for the sink and then lug my leg back up over the snow’s surface to plant the next step.  I felt sort of like a soldier with a really bad marching gait.  Needless, to say the exercise was great as was the scenery.  For the first time in my life I walked on an ocean beach that was covered in snow.  The sun was shining and it was beautiful to see the snow in lumps over the beach rocks and sitting atop the upright logs meant to help hold the beach sand in place.  I marvelled that I could be seeing something for the first time.

Another day when it was really snowing we thought we would head out to the marsh and leave some bird seed for all the birds that find sanctuary and make their homes there. We stood and sprinkled seed but I also held some in my hand and within seconds a chickadee landed on my hand and at right from it.  I squealed with shock from the feeling of its little feet on my hand as well as delight in the fact that this little wild creature was actually feeding out of my hand.   I felt so excited to see this little creature up close and to notice the distinct markings of its feathers and its little eyes and beak.

Finally, yesterday I got to see an elusive creature that I have heard but never seen; a Roosevelt elk.  I saw it in Cathedral Grove by the side of the road eating Salaal. I was so thrilled that I neglected to stop and take a picture.  Imagine my shock when several hours later I drove back past that same spot and the elk was still there.  This time we pulled over and I got out, crossed the road and approached the majestic animal.  I could see that it was clearly sick, as it was thin and tired looking.  Even in its fragile state, I still marvelled at the stateliness of this giant, quiet creature.  I was no more than 15 feet away from the elk when it looked straight in my eyes and gently laid down in the underbrush as if to say to me, I’m tired and I have to rest now, please don’t hurt me.  I snapped some photos and got back in the truck to process what I had just seen.

After calling the conservation office I later learned that the elk was sick and was not able to be rescued.  It was put down and although I was sad, in a way it was a relief to know that the elk was not poached by a passerby or abused in any way.

Knowing that even after 50 years there are still so many things I have not seen or done gives me hope for the future and causes me to be willing to hang onto my sense of wonder and curiosity. Just as I know there will be bumps in the road ahead I can also rest in the knowledge that each day there are new wonders to experience, people to encounter and form bonds with, and always…….. nature to sustain and astound us.

Settling Into the Snow

Just three days ago the weather was promising an early spring here on the island.  We had friends over Friday night and had planned to watch the eagles soaring overhead in the early morning while we sipped our coffee.  We were excited to share this with our friends from another part of the island.





After an evening of wining and dining we woke up to the yard blanketed in snow and the white stuff steadily falling.  I guess eagles don’t care for flying in the snow, as the sky was void of any birds and all we could see was falling snow. We moved to plan B and walked the woods and the beach in the snowstorm.


Three days later it is still snowing.  Schools are closed, I have sewn two blankets, unravelled a lot of salvaged, felted skeins of wool and done a whole lot of baking.  I am heading out to trudge through the snow to the marsh to feed the birds who will be struggling to find food today.  Since my larder is bursting with baked goods prepared to stave off cabin fever and starvation it seems, I figure I should share the wealth with nature when food is a little sparse because of the snow.

We have devoured some fine meals and I have some bread laden with our  own dried fruit and roasted nuts in the freezer now.  I also have Health Cookies, Gluten-free Shortbread, Carrot Muffins and Homemade Pizza in the freezer.  It seems I am ready to host a large Coffee Klatch.  If only my friends and family could get here in all this snow.


Miso Roasted Vegetables


Prawns Masala and Salad


Fruit and Nut Bread











Early Spring, Late Winter? I Suppose it Doesn’t Matter.


Last week we discovered why maple syrup is so expensive.  My son left his maple tree tapping equipment for us to use this winter while he is away playing hockey.  We have a big  Broad Leaf Maple in our backyard and so just before I knew it was getting cold we drilled 4 holes in the tree, inserted the spigots, attached the lines and led them into a cannister to be caught.  We went away for a few days during the cold snap and when we got back we were so excited to see some clear fluid filling about  1/3 of the contatiner.

After bringing it inside and straining it, I set about ‘sugaring off.’ The dutch oven was  2/3 full when I started and after a couple of hours of simmering  I was left with the ‘golden’ syrup, (gold might be more appropriate to indicate the value of the viscous liquid). I think I can honestly say we got about 4 Tablespoons of delicious maple syrup.  I felt like such a pioneer woman.

Needless to say the coveted syrup is being often admired through the glass dish and seldom sampled.  I am not sure what the ‘sacred’ occasion will be that is worthy of consuming the prize but, I am waiting for it.

Another sure sign that Spring is on its way is that we just celebrated Valentines Day(or not).  A friend asked me to create a special take-away treat for her dinner guests and I quickly agreed.  As the date drew near I wondered what to make.  I chose one of my favourite decadent bars and my daughter came up with the idea of cutting them in heart shapes.  I ended up making the Barefoot Contessa’s Pecan Bars and customized them by using various size heart shape cookie cutters and then Belgian chocolate to garnish the edges of the hearts.  I didn’t take pictures of the finished product unfortunately, but here they are sans the chocolate and cellophane packaging.


Weekend Reflections

Over the last week I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a few days in the Okanagan with my youngest daughter and my partner. While we were there the weather was anything but spring.  The temperature was -13C and we had snow twice.  The beautiful thing about the Okanagan is the snow is dry so it just blows around and looks pretty.

The cold snap that gripped most of Canada last week brought a special gift that we don’t often receive here in southern BC; frozen lakes and ponds and outdoor skating.  We were staying on Skaha Lake and the whole lake froze.  With a little coaxing from my daughter we ventured onto the frozen lake with our boots on.  I only wish we had had some skates with us. I had such a good time walking, reading, chatting and enjoying uninterrupted time with my young adult daughter.


Overlooking frozen Skaha Lake


Hanna on frozen Skaha Lake


Richard on the frozen lake

Meanwhile, my hockey player son left frigid, snowy Michigan to go to a major event in Las Vegas to promote his off season job, guiding hunting trips. While we were bundling up and donning down coats, boots, hats and gloves he was enjoying t-shirt weather.  He sent pictures and it was so nice to rest with the comfortable feeling that my children are growing up and becoming independent adults pursuing their passions and making a life for themselves.


Guy at the Hunting Show

I don’t think I could be more content as a parent, really. We often put so much energy into worrying about our children or trying to tell them what we think is best for them.  Upon contemplation and reflection, as well as a whole lot of reading and intense discussion with other parents I can see that it really is none of my business anymore what my children choose. I want to encourage them to be confident and courageous enough to pursue what they think they want and to not be afraid of mistakes or changing their mind.  After all, isn’t that what a life is?  A set of experiences that allows  us to grow and learn.  Some of the growth is pleasurable, some is painful but all is worthwhile and valuable.

Moving on to Spring

hurrying the buds along

hurrying the buds along

As January turned into February I  found myself changing not only my psychological outlook but my physical surroundings as well. I noticed that I am clearing out winter in the house and getting ready for spring.

On the weekend I observed that the trees are all starting to slowly release their tight grip on new life.  The buds are tight but swelling ever so slightly, signifying their preparations for spring.  It is as if the trees are saying, “the winter slumber is nearing an end and we are ready to wake up.”  I am feeling the same way and as I prepare for the day I notice signs of spring everywhere.

I notice that the creams and greys of my table decor are disappearing and being replaced by greens and yellows along with bursts of purple and blue here and there.  It is like I too am saying, “slumber and wallow in winter darkness and comfort no longer; it is time to wake up and put the months of slowness aside and welcome a new, quicker, lighter pace.”

the hand painted runner

the hand painted runner

I noticed that my dark coloured table runner is now the one my children bought for me many Mother’s Days ago.  It is a hand painted cotton runner in greens, yellows and beiges.  Upon the runner stands a vase with two Hellebores stems that I clipped from the garden and brought in to force early blooms.

The buffet is no longer home to bowls of pine cones, burlap and twinkly lights but is instead clothed with a handwoven linen table runner woven by my good friend, and a vase of clipped tree branches bursting with bright green buds.

the spring blanket

the spring blanket

The blanket I just wove is made of bright colours of green, yellow, blue, pink and purple. In addition, I have already put away some winter clothes and taken out a few brighter, lighter items to replace the black and grey standard palette of the passing winter.

I have upped my goal of total steps in a day another 5000 steps and am spending more time outside each day. The maple tree has been tapped and I walk out each morning in anticipation of seeing the clear liquid running to signify yet another sign of spring on its way.

As nature readies itself for another year of growth, so too do I.  As much as I know there will be struggles and hard work ahead of me, I also know the fruit of those will be further personal growth, and movement toward becoming the person I am meant to be, before I leave this earth.  Just as the trees and garden require pruning and weeding to be able to grow into their full potential and beauty, so  do I require the same.

I anticipate many beautiful encounters with nature and people in this upcoming season of growth. I am determined to be mindful that whatever I encounter, I am willing to continue to move through the seasons of my life, just as nature moves effortlessly through her seasons,  with an acceptance of my place in my environment  and among the people I choose or chance to encounter along the way.

Here’s to Spring!