Tag Archives: nature

It’s Not Just About the Destination

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“It’s not just about the destination” sums up my thoughts while traveling to escape the noise and fast pace of the city and my work-business life. It is not to escape who I am or what I love to do… my passion and commitment are firm, although, at times, I doubt the strength I have to continue on certain paths. Plagued by self-assessment, as anyone might be while trying to navigate the rough roads of every day, I often wonder if I should just run off on some other trail–change my direction–change my destination. Then, I remind myself… it’s not just about the destination because, in fact, we all end up the same place anyway. It is all about how you see your journey there and I am constantly reminding myself to stay in the moment without worry about what happens in the end. Therefore, I do realize that I see things somewhat differently depending upon my situation and location. This trip was about certain goals, but everything in between, before, and after is up to fate and fortune. What you make of a day is really what thought you put into it and the effort afforded to enjoy every moment. It will all be there when you return, so to worry about “what to do” or “what about” or “what if” is a waste of such a beautiful surrounding.

I am happy I am able to reflect on the time I take away–this time we were really tired at the end of the day and barely had supper and did a few mundane tasks before sleep claimed us. There is something about the mountain air and being out in the beauty of nature that fills you with enough that you are pleasantly exhausted. My knees couldn’t help but remind me that I did more than usual even though I try to do it on purpose, whenever I can, in order to claim every minute of the day in action. To bed early–one would think we’d stay up late writing… however, a tired body won out over a determined mind this week.

Day One arrival was nice and early and we could even check into our hotel room and then go exploring on Wednesday. We took a trip to the Beaver Boardwalk–my daughter recommended it last trip, but we didn’t make it there. Going this time was a treat. What a beautiful nature spot in Hinton! Yes, we have our ponds and walkways here at home, but sorry, Sherwood Park, the most obvious thing missing is setting… I sometimes (well, often) wonder why I still live here with so much soul/spirit connection to the mountains. This park was the perfect way to spend a couple of hours, wandering the boardwalk through the marshes and beaver habitat, traipsing some closer-in trails, and taking a look-out post in the tower to admire the view. I say closer-in because I am not one to wander onto the forest trails–hiking was a younger days sport for me due to my limitations, ones I have accepted, and am able to push to some extent enjoyment of the activities. Also, there’s the fact that we are in wildlife territory and bears and cougars just don’t excite me up close and personal. From the truck window, I am a brave soul – not on foot, however.

Trips away with my dear friend, Mandy, make me appreciate her even more because of the similarities we have –I don’t have to try to keep up and do things I feel out of my comfort zone with… we match in many ways–our appreciation for nature and its fragility to human invasion; yet, the strength and majesty and power of it awes us in the same breath. I could travel the same roads and see the same sights each day or weekend or whatever, and still be in wonder at the amazing embrace of nature–the bold colors of plants, the cuteness of a baby animal, the calming peace of water and wind, the warmth of sun–even if it only peaked through clouds throughout most of our mid-week trip.

We never lost sight of the reason for our trip, although it was in the back of our minds as we connected with the precious moments of each opportunity. The Beaver Boardwalk was more than just walking through a nature setting–it was about stopping and appreciating the finer details of plants, trees, the view, the colors, the sounds, smells, and feel of it all on your soul. Nature caresses one’s spirit with renewing qualities to create a mood of relaxation and connection. There was no sign of any wildlife–other than a couple of birds and fish in the ponds. I wondered about the lack of waterfowl on the ponds… Mr. and Mrs. Beaver must have been relaxing in the shade of their studious home–we saw signs of them being around, of course, but no chance sighting of the animals.

Impressions of the place are best in point form, because that is how they hit you when you are in the moment:

  • The song of the red-wing blackbird
  • The amazing arrangement of wooden walkways over water
  • The variety of flora with bursts of color that stand out so vivid against the greenery
  • The sound and tempo of the wind through the trees as it rises and falls
  • Sun peeking through the overhead canopy in an otherwise dull cloudy sky
  • The man who looked at me funny for taking an overhead picture… yes, look up, too!
  • Wire mesh protecting perimeter trees from industrious beaver clearing crews
  • Signs giving information about the place: make less noise to see more wildlife or be aware and cautious and informed of bears, cougars, wolves… :O
  • Picking up a couple of interesting stones from the rock pathway to commemorate
  • The lookout tower and amazing view of the nearby mountains through the trees
  • Patterns in nature–ripples on the water, long grass blowing in the wind, piles of drift-water-worn limbs

My thoughts may not match anyone else except for those who have the same appreciation for the beauty and magnificence of nature. But, even in that similarity, there are personal differences. The photos I take are not ones that another may take as I look for the shot that appeals to me; I don’t take people pictures; I don’t do selfies. I want the essence of the place where I am–what attracts me, what speaks to me. To each their own.

The take-away for this activity–always invest in the time to enjoy “every precious moment,” as a friend posted. The emotions that grab me in the mountains are awe-inspiring, captivating, yet overwhelming, at the same time. The thought that this glorious world we live in surrounds us for so short a time in comparison to its own life span is one for self-contemplation. No matter what you believe, it’s what adds to a beautiful life–it’s not just about the destination.

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Retreat Goals

Despite the turmoil of the months leading up to this weekend, my goal in going is to get away from the overwhelming every day – to focus on some of my own writing. I brought with me several projects to follow up on, which will include editing, designing, formatting. I hope to finish a few things so that I might move past this block that haunts me. Another novel to be done – An Italian Son – and my first kid’s picture book needs drawings. Can I determine the style I want to use for the illustrations?

I have also a company project in tow that I want to finish editing – it is in layout format so working through the reading achieves more than one end.

I am also hoping there’s a poem or two to be had – I will try to force the stoppage in order to free some words into a composition I will be happy with – I used to be so connected to poetry. What happened? Did it abandon me or did I abandon it? I know it’s not lost forever… just temporarily misplaced.

My camera is also my constant companion – there is always visual inspiration around, especially here: the birds are welcome subjects, trees and greenery, wood structures and pathways, squirrels and other wildlife supposedly around out there somewhere. If only the rain would let up. I will go out for walks to get some fresh air and connect with nature. It’s cooler, though, and cool, wet weather is not my friend.

Sidebar…

I wrote my goals at the beginning of the weekend – it was gloomy when we arrived but soon gave way to rain for the past couple of days. We definitely need the rain and would happily send it up north to the forests. In truth, we couldn’t have a fire inside in the fireplace the first couple of nights because of the dryness here at the Creek. Finally, the rain gauge showed enough moisture accumulation and sharing alongside the fire was a possibility the last two nights of our stay. I love warm spring weather, though… Sunshine – the one from the sky – why have you abandoned us this weekend?

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Strawberry Creek Lodge – Writing Retreat – Spring 2016

Blog 1 – The Retreat

Anticipation.

It’s been building since the day we left last year, brought on and encouraged by the positive results and the lasting effects of concentrating for days with one’s own muse. More time! So in answer to that request, we extended the trip one more night on the long weekend, which gave us one more full day of retreating to write. It’s funny that we need to retreat in order to bond or reconnect with our inner creativity. It’s the way life is, though – fast paced and loud, demanding and insistent. Surely a retreat is not always necessary – it’s a mini vacation for the mind and soul. If one truly takes the time to focus on “self”, while appreciating others’ need to do the same, the results are amazing and the argument for retreating is unarguably natural medicine for the ailing spirit.

Commitment.

Planning and soliciting attendance isn’t necessarily difficult or anxiety building until you get closer to the day and unanticipated events happen to cause holes to appear in your apparent flawless and effortless planning. Life happens – things come up that you cannot possibly foresee over the course of a year. The need to have minimum numbers causes the added pressure to ensure all the seats are filled. We are all thankful that a distress call put out there attracted the attention of like-minded individuals who could make the weekend getaway. Financial strains this year had me even questioning my spending; however, the benefit to my mental well-being far outweighed any other argument. It just means more work upon returning home.

Benefits.  

Nature. Focus. Amazing surroundings. Like-minded souls sharing your love for words. Ability to socialize, materialize, compromise – or just disappear into your own world, as needed. As a writer, the solitude is a blessing and it is made even more inspiring by the beautiful setting and lodge.

No – you don’t have to go away to write, but a retreat is an experience every writer should try during their writing journey. Most will go back for more – year after year. Others will savor the experience and move on, knowing they can always go again when warranted. For me, it is a place I could imagine retiring to in order to write to my heart’s content for the rest of my life… the whole working for a living thing-money and paying bills- thing that stops me for now. Every trip produces more work and creates memories shared with writing colleagues. Fellowships are forged – friendships are solidified. The wonderful thing about Strawberry Creek Lodge is the myriad of delightful nooks and crannies where one can hole up for a time or stake out for the duration; the rooms are wonderful sleeping and private working quarters to spread out your tools and prepare to produce; the meals… the meals are marvelous. Imagine being called to the table by the cowbell at set times to enjoy amazing meals with your retreat pals. No cooking. No dishes. No cleaning.

Pitfalls.

None. Unless, of course, you count the fact that you won’t want to go home and you might attempt to kidnap Brenda, our awesome host/cook, because you never want to have to cook again… ever…

As a dedicated writer, invested in your passion – you will utilize every moment possible to focus on your words; be kind to yourself with rest and relaxation; socialize at appropriate times; connect with your inner creativity and nature. For those who couldn’t go – there is sadness in what life brings – but there is always next year.

A Writing Retreat. It is not something that is necessary – but it is something life-altering to those with a serious passion for word creativity. The retreat is a great way to immerse yourself in the beauty of solitude away from every day distractions to focus specifically on writing. It’s a recharge for the creative battery.

See you next year – keep on writing!

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Birds of Spring

Preface:

The love for spring and birds and all things beautiful prompted me to write this – the robin started it all and the progression to put the words to page ended up including thoughts about my mom. Both of us are spring babies and the appreciation she had for nature inspired me to follow paths where the wild things live. I am not brave. I fear death. Yet in my own way, I am an explorer and an adventurous soul. I am not sad. I am merely reflecting on beautiful thoughts that still bring tears.

*****

RobinWe sat on the back deck under the umbrella and chatted. We cradled ceramic mugs adorned with images of birds. The hot tea warmed us and cool spring breezes washed over us like whispered conversation. We had grown comfortable with the sporadic comments and the pleasurable silence that punctuated our early Saturday morning visit. The sun was still to our right but would soon be to our backs as we sat in shade of the house. Bundled in large knit sweaters, we settled back in the canvas chairs, sipping green tea and warming our hands. Overhead, crisscrossing jet trails cut the wild blue yonder into slices of pie.

“Why do they have to mess up the beautiful sky?” she would ask. We always looked up watching for birds and small planes and whatever else the countryside might offer. I knew she loved the view from the deck at the back of her house. The jet trails were something we always noticed and talked about. It was something we often speculated about – was it weather related air current type stuff, or was it a conspiracy to create cloud when there was none, or was it just because it was what jets do at a high altitude. Whatever the reason, it would come to be my way of knowing she was always with me – perhaps, even her way of showing support wherever I might be and whatever I might be doing. The jet contrails and the birds of spring, both beautiful and meaningful in their own way, are a necessary part of how I was able to move forward without her.

Because of her love for nature and her little house in the country, I began to take more notice of those things around me that drew me to her. Yellow eyed daisies growing in white waves always remind me of her, because they grew wild in her yard and as the years went by there were more and more of them. I see every full moon and remember her calls to me, “Did you see the moon?” I watch for the geese and their return to the northern climes after a long migration. Then in the fall when they coo and swoop in large masses collecting their formations way up high amongst the clouds, I regret their leaving just as I regret hers.

Winter was beginning to be unbearable and the worry about her living alone is one thing that weighed as heavy as the snow on her little roof. She did not relish moving into the Park to be closer to the civilized world; it was not in her destiny to move into any kind of senior’s residence, either. The fates took care of that concern, although I would have shoveled her driveway forever and took care of her when the time came. It didn’t come, though. Her journey was not with that kind of finish.

This year I noticed the robins more and their activity around me. It seems there a few around who accompany me on my day. One makes its home in the eaves above my apartment window and you can hear it singing in the still early morning. One stopped for a picture on a post outside my cabin window while I was in Jasper and another hopped up to the truck for a picture while I sat in the parking lot at Miette Hot Springs. Yet another hopped closer and closer while I loaded the truck with books this past weekend.

Everyone deals with loss in different ways. Recognizing the little things we used to talk about and remembering the things she loved is how I am able to move forward. Writing these words helps, too – as I am able now to express them from my heart without pain tearing into them before I even have a chance to put them to the page. The test would be to read them out loud – although I am sure I could attempt it, one never knows how one’s emotions are going to interfere at any given time. The wound is deep and will never going to go away, but it is healed over, protected from outside exposure.

*****

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” ~ Langston Hughes

 

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January 1, 2015 – 30 day Photo/Blog Word/Freeing the Creative Spirit Challenge

January 30-day Photography / Blog Word / Freeing the Creative Spirit Challenge   

Day 1 >> Self-Portrait

Ah, yes. Me, myself, and I. Day 1 - 30 day challenge Self-PortraitNot my favorite subject… in photographs.

No matter how creative I think I am or how acceptable my image seems to be to me in the mirror… there is always something that doesn’t translate onto the “film.” I have accepted that I will never be in motion pictures or in magazines or on the news anchor desk. Don’t get me wrong – I love me and all I represent and have grown to be over the years. I am happy with my accomplishments and look forward to so much more as we go on. The past year was one of freedom, in many ways, for me. It was a discovery of self and a connection with inner self. It was a realization of what was needed and what will never be the same. It was a search and destroy mission – searching for sense while destroying the senseless blocks that weigh me down. Although I anticipate 2015 to be a year of change, 2014 was one of rediscovery and adjustments, too. The chance to reconnect with love on so many levels came to fruition – and love is something I cherish deep in within my soul. I am a hopeless romantic, at times. I was able to complete my long time WIP – An Elizabethan Affair, thereby finally publishing my affection for William. I set limits while breaking boundaries. I realized some of my own goals while helping others to realize theirs. I moved forward without looking back.

January 1st is always a day to dive with caution into the goals one sets for oneself. Often resolutions are made with high expectations that end up being measured with somewhat waning results. I do not want to make promises to myself that I end up abandoning because of my work or company schedule. My goals involve the creative aspects of my life and have been unchanging for a number of years now. For writers, our methods of inspiring new work may change, but the output is always the same – words. Our passion lies deep – we cater to our desires. My desires also lie in complimentary areas of creativity, especially photography. I am a truck window photographer – a fly by skidding to a halt picture taker along the side of the road hoping for a handy turnout… just ask anyone who’s been along for the ride! Today’s challenge of self-portrait was considered here and there with a little bit of “yuck”… but when the opportune moment hit me… it fit the assignment and it fit me. It is my reflection in my own truck window while on the day’s sojourn.

Searching for sunshine on a grey day >> only pop of color = Sunshine (my truck) and the flag; only life form = sunshine (my man) Ray:

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Day 3 – Easter Sunday

Easter Long Weekend 2014 Blog Pictorial – continued…

8:00 am

I spent time with my delightful hosts, Ingrid and Mike, over breakfast and coffee served in their beautiful, awe-inspiring home. It is built on a southwest facing parcel of land complete with trails and a creek, lots of trees and long winding driveway. They share their dream of coming to Canada and eventually obtaining this amazing property, building their home, and living each day to the fullest. Ingrid shares stories of sledding with her dogs, designing web sites from the very beginning, and Mike – he ensures firewood is always cut – their home is fully heated by a wood burning external fire “place” that channels warmth to the in-floor heating. A severely cold winter depleted the firewood stores…

My plan for the day was to go out and take pictures – make hay while the sun shines, so to speak – it was a beautiful foothills morning.

11:00 am

I am sitting in this bowl of sunshine and silence with an alpine breeze threading its way through the valley – it’s cool and it whispers through the pines. It comes down from the snow-covered ridges… listen to it. I am all alone, yet here, with respect and awe, I feel as if a part of something much large than me. No other traffic has passed me – no other life forms walk nearby. The tempo of the wind rises and falls, rustling the new evergreens… they sway and relay the soft sung message of the mountains. I can tell it is close to noon, now, as the sun is directly overhead, but as any city slicker would… I check my phone… 11:55 am. Some would think it crazy to just sit here alone. But always alert, I watch the weather, the roads, and listen to the sounds of nature all around me. I don’t wander off. I am not a hiker; besides Ingrid pointed out before I left – we are in bear country, and watch for the cougars… they are more of a threat. I haven’t seen any, yet.

The sky is that Alberta blue and the fluffy white clouds drift in, plump up, then scatter… leaving clear, direct warmth from the high noon sun. This is a great spot to bask in nature, draw its calming effects into my soul – take time to contemplate and write these feelings. This point is about 25 kilometers in and I decided this would be where I turn back because the road ahead not only climbs further into the back woods, it also appears to narrow, there is more snow, and it’s muddy from the seasonal melt. I do things I like to do but I don’t push the limits – a four-wheel drive and companion might allow for further exploration that way or another… or maybe even dry summer roads? There is no cell phone service here – my phone hasn’t picked up a tower since I left the B&B. I wrote this while sitting in the sun without worry to anything else. (Note to self: it would have been good to alleviate the ensuing issue by signing into the Wi-Fi before leaving on the day’s excursion… or perhaps, not taking a break from connectedness the night before by sleeping – could have got the Wi-Fi code the previous evening??? Oh, and don’t forget the backup Rogers Rocket Hub at home… because then you have absolutely no connection to anyone but yourself…)

I am almost a tearful happy it is so inspiring and almost too much – can that be? I hear my own heart beating and feel gladness having found my reason for this deep sojourn into the trees and foothills. I assume I found my wildies – the herd grazed contentedly along the edge of trees, scratching themselves on tree branches, and laying in soft pine needles. They watched me – parked at the road’s edge – and were not bothered to move on until I got out of my car. They didn’t rush off but took time to regard me with indifference as they ambled beyond the rise and down beyond to where I would not follow. The mare stopped to look once more.

The stallion came out of the trees to the right and stood to watch me, too. I took a couple of pictures; then let him be… the attention aroused him.

My writing was interrupted by a group of hikers descending from an adjacent path – time to return. The trip back was punctuated with more traffic, some speeding by – where are you going in such a hurry? So much for the quiet Easter morning trunk road… I understand the work crews and truckers who are making a dime, but do you others take the road less traveled so you can get to where you are going quicker? What happened to appreciating the journey?

1:30 pm

Arrived back at B&B to appease my friends and family of my status – I am fine. There is something to be said for disconnecting.

I feel disconcerted but am happy with my holiday discoveries. I am reminded of Ingrid’s statement at breakfast. She told me of taking a session on Time Management … and employers loved her ability to manage time. She wondered, however, of her ability to manage her life time… after all, you only have one.

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Family Day

He picked me up in the blue Tucson – the one that used to be Mom’s, and he drove the first leg of the trip out to my sister’s for coffee. We talked about work and weather and the state of things within our family dealings. At one point I felt scolded, as if a child, just because my views don’t match those of others. I feel like a rebel as they may never be the same and I hold independence and freedom of thought close to my heart. I said I didn’t care but that was taken out of context – it is not that I don’t care, but rather, I care too much to let the numbers overshadow that which is truly irreplaceable – her. I am not oblivious or swayed by what others know to be their truths realizing we should all decide for ourselves and hold true to your own. I am me – and there were tears. But he had his tears, too. Dad stated bluntly that no one could know the extent of his loss – she was his life and now he just exists.

We talked of subjects I feared would be hard to broach; but, in all honesty, they were easy once the emotional trench was dug. I flooded it with inquiries, comments, and questions so he would be aware of the things we already knew, already had in the works – we, being those I have spoken to about the subjects we discussed. There is cause for concern but we found truths and revelations in our conversation. But, there were also things that need further clarification. What one chooses for their last resting place is personal yet it cannot be so personal that no one else is privy to the preference. At one point, he admitted he would have chosen cremation and the spot to rest – now he chooses to be by her side forever, and we have that covered.

The blue icing skies were smeared with fluffy white marshmallow clouds. The warmth of the mid-February sun at +2 kissed the snow-covered fields making them shine like meringue, rich sweet and browned in patches with winter wheat or grasses or weeds peeking through the snow. Crows and coyotes plump with an abundant taking of winter road kill watched from the ditches as our vehicle passed by… We encountered a quizzical little animal on the highway and in the wondering “what it was” realized quickly that the vehicle next to us determined what it wasn’t… alive… so quick a life can end. It was puzzling until we saw one right outside muskratmy sister’s house under her truck. We determined the little animal to be a muskrat – and we wondered of its frequency in sightings (there were plenty for the crows and coyotes along the highway) and did it hibernate? A search provided the answer – no – but it usually sits at home content to feed on the stores built up for winter survival. It ventures out at first sight of spring…

As nature takes its course and one is lost leaving others to go on, we must embrace the life around us. Take time to smile at the sunshine, wonder of the creatures, and feel pleasure in the company of those still here. We must let those hurtful things go that bog us down with anger or bitterness; accept that your views don’t have to match those around you to be just as viable. We must also venture out into the big world to discover what it has to offer – no matter our fears – and appreciate life in the moment.  

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The Seduction of Spring

Seduction of Spring July 2011

As the March night slipped into a sleepy silence, a stillness was borne unto an awakening land – a land still groggy yet reaching for warmth from the depths of slumber, stretching and rising like a Phoenix coaxed from the ashes of a winter’s hearth gone cold. A hushed wind whispered warnings through the timberland, whipping up a murmur that stirred amongst the trees; it slid and caught on encrusted snow, tempting the crows to mock again as they did the night before in the full moon’s wash when they watched from their perches high above. But they kept still and all else settled, as a fear took hold and silence fell, so as not to tempt the fates of the Morrighan.

As the hour grew late, nature’s children released a collective breath which held thick upon the cool night air. A final frosty coating tipped the branches. Timbered souls huddled together, readied and bare, wanting for spring’s sweet caress. The night shivered in anticipation of her arrival then shuddered to calmness as if already a lover fulfilled. The forest silence pleaded for a peaceful night.

“No noise, my love, sleep as the hour draws near and, by and by, you shall awake to a new day.”

Until that time, downy cover lay gentle over a fragile land and gave security with false hope. But no sound sleep would befall the earth that night – virgins entwined amongst their unsuspecting beds would be dragged, kicking and screaming into the night, bedclothes melting away as the grasp of Eros claimed their desires. The death of winter was sure.

From the snowy ashes she arose, her lithe body distorted and writhing as she gasped and gulped, in frantic desperation, to regain life’s green pulse. An unearthly scream rent the midnight hour and all cringed and thought the curses were to be upon them. Instead, the noise began to sooth like warm breath on an icy pain. Steam rose as tempered air touched flesh and pallid hide and she pulled wildly on the tangled mane of her mount – straining, pulling – demanding the ground unearth them to grant vernal freedom once more. Entwined as one, horse and master regained completed form – Epona had arrived and all celebrated.

No guilty pleasure to be left unturned, she traced a pattern freely over land, threading through the naked forest, with soft sureness, enticing new buds to pop with just a look. Her touch was fiery and when placed just so it brought crimson blush to barren soil, deflowered and flowered, all in one stroke. Pounding hooves awoke the hibernating beasts who stirred with frustrated realizations. Creeks welcomed her intrusion to their beds and they pooled their heated fluids. Wild and turbulent in her wake, they thawed away their inhibiting icy shackles.

Spring lay anew upon the earth, splayed and spent, yet rejuvenated and Epona, body drenched in sweat, smiled with satisfaction at her newest conquest. She smoothed her flaxen hair and thread throughout the tresses new sprung daisies. She caressed the neck of her dutiful destrier, glistening with early morning dew. As quick and quiet as she came to the night, her job done, she faded into the dawn, just as the sun peeked over the horizon.

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The Wedding of Winter

The last sliver of daylight slipped silent into the good night. The time was not yet right even though it fixed upon the earth a golden sand-like mirage and laid it like a shimmering slip cover over a desolate white land. A gilded aura fleetingly caressed every bony branch, embraced each high pine crest, and kissed the tangled webs of earth and sky as it engulfed nature with ethereal bed time comforts. As the studded heavens opened up to reveal their jeweled gifts, she smiled. The time was now drawing near.

Crystal took great care in making the headdress – for in the making there required consideration to all elements. It must portray the purity of new fallen snow upon an earth unmarked as a virgin presented to her mate on the wedding night; it must show the very beauty of her being with a single floral bloom, but not just for show, as it required also a magical quality; it must dazzle with light comparable to a million stars to shine the way into the darkness of their seasonal embrace. It was the longest night but the brightest start and it had to be perfect for the bride named Winter.

Meanwhile, Sphere put the finishing touches to the cakes – soft icing mounds white and sweet – cool to the tongue, a tasty treat. It was with great pleasure she sculpted them into peaks then placed them carefully on ice to last through even the most tempting of rays from a short day sun.

So it was that Winter came to wed the earth wearing shimmering white that sparkled silver diamonds in the moonlight with a halo of mistletoe interwoven with angle hair.  Her frosty breath upon the air whispered through the trees like flitting ghosts of silent prayer seeking night choirs, calling wolves to howl and prompting hoots of owl. The darkness reflected all her glory as she rivaled day with light so bright – a magnificent evening show. It was not that she did not like the hue of fading dusk or the shine of the celestial watcher of the day; rather, it was that she preferred moonlight silver to gold, velvet darkness to light, and she was proud to wear downy white to marry shortest day with the longest night.

Winter lay her frosty touch upon a sleeping earth with a chilling wedding promise.

Wedding of Winter

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A Tribute

SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY

~ George Gordon (Lord) Byron (1788-1824)

SHE walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes:

Thus mellow’d to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impair’d the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o’er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!

A Tribute to My Mom:
This page remained blank for some time while in my emotional argument I debated the finality of it all if I put the words to page. Would it be admitting it was okay in some way? My strength comes from within just as it will for all of us but it also resides in the love I knew she held for those who were close and for all of those who came to know her. She knows the connection I have to words and I pray she hears them now as I share them with you today. In our grief we can take solace in the comfort of knowing she no longer suffers and will not endure more pain. The monster cancer was caged when she took her last breath and her sleep allowed her to move peacefully to the next stage of her journey.

I am certain I speak for my family and all her friends when I say she will be missed. There is a void there that will never be filled. She will be remembered always – when we meet for special times, when we resume our normal days; when we lie to sleep in the quiet of the night and our heart aches while tears fall. Even in our understanding that everyone’s time comes to pass, it will be difficult to accept she is not here to comfort us, support us, and stand beside us. Even in our understanding that her spirit will be with us no matter what, there is little comfort right now in the belief of what we cannot see. Even in our understanding that this raw wound will slowly heal and we know as times passes, the hurt will diminish. Even in all this, our love will not fade…

An Alberta soul, through and through, my mother’s roots kept her anchored here – she was born in Edmonton at the University Hospital in May of 1936. She lost her father soon after her birth and she and her four sisters were raised by their mother, my grandmother, Martha. Mom was the youngest and the last of her sisters to say good-bye to this earth – she leaves us to join them now. I find comfort in the fact she will not be alone.

BJ, as she was known, loved music and as the choir sings and the heavenly host plays on, she will be part of that beautiful sound. She asked me in the early morning hours while she sat in her hospital bed holding off sleep for as long as she possibly could – “do you think there is music in heaven?” I assured her she would hear music. I am sure she will have a table reserved right up near the front to listen or to participate in its making.

She was creative – loving crafts of all sorts. She was an artist – drawing fantastic portraits of great leaders sold years ago. She wrote pages and pages in her journal of her most inner thoughts – and although I could not yet convince her to write her story, over time she came to share stories of her life and so enjoyed reading what others wrote. She loved to cook – we fondly remember the dishes she made over the years while growing up. She loved her garden and nature was her solace. When she moved to the acreage to live in what we lovingly call the “little house” she planted trees. Surrounding the back yard are six large evergreen trees – each one representing a member of our immediate family. They stand as sentinels to protect not only from the north wind but as a reminder of the closeness she felt as a family. She loved her dogs – not only her own over the years but the neighbor dogs that came to visit keeping her company, watching out for her – they visited recently probably wondering why that caring person was not coming to the door to acknowledge them. She loved horses and their beauty although their size scared her; she watched for the geese to return each spring and listened in the fall to their sounds aloft as they left for another winter. Born under the sign of Taurus she was grounded and real and practical and solid and generous and loving. Although she had dreams that perhaps were changed by the turns life took, she raised four kids and kept a wonderful home. She loved to the end the man she spent over 60 years with – my dad.

She was raised in the ‘40s; met and married my dad in the ‘50s; providing a loving home for her husband and us kids – myself, my two sisters and my brother. She was a role model for us in that she always strived to obtain something better – not extravagant or out of reach, but modest and humble and not wasteful. She grew up with little so she appreciated what was out there and worked hard toward bettering herself and her family.

In 1972, my family moved to Sherwood Park when my parents bought their first home. We were lucky to be able to have a mom who stayed home with us while dad was away working and as soon as we were old enough to take care of ourselves she went to work. She got her GED and completed the education she didn’t have opportunity to finish when she was young. Her influence on us and the gifts passed down through our family are evident in all we do. We have singers, musicians, artists, writers, and hard workers who are compassionate, caring, and giving. She taught us well.

There are lessons to learn and life is not easy at times. We question why things work out the way they do and are upset by things we don’t understand. In the unknowing, there is fear. Even in her weakest hours, she knew she was loved and she was never alone. She understood the severity of it all yet found humor at times to make us laugh and never lost her sense of adventure – when asked if she’d wanted a drink she replied “vodka” and when Kelsey offered to read to her to pass the time she suggested “50 Shades of Grey.”

Now if I got this far without breaking down, it has been a miracle. I suppose I will not be able to continue much more so I will simply close with – my beautiful mother, we will miss you. We love you and will remember you. Always.

Thank you to the caring staff at the University of Alberta Hospital – surgery and 3E3 ward.

Thank you to the wonderful, amazing people at Glenwood Memorial Gardens – your help and compassion made a difficult time run smoothly.

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