Archive for September, 2012

September 30, 2012

Why I love B.C. – Scenery exhibit #1

Mountains! ¬†(Under the clouds; can’t you tell?) ūüėČ

Aerial photo of B.C. mountains in the clouds.

A typical view from the air over British Columbia’s Coast Mountains.

September 28, 2012

Book recommendation – “The Hills of Tuscany” by Ferenc M√°t√©

This book, a memoir about a couple who spontaneously left life in New York City to buy an ancient house in the rolling hills of Tuscany, had me laughing out loud at some moments and wishing to go Tuscany at most others.  A wonderful story about embracing a slower, simpler life filled with good food, warm friends and beautiful wide open spaces.

"The Hills of Tuscany" by Ferenc Máté, book cover

“The Hills of Tuscany – A Memoir: A New Life in an Old Land” by Ferenc M√°t√©

September 28, 2012

Do you cherish or chop the hands that feed you?

I like this quote about man’s relationship to the natural world, courtesy of Aldo Leopold in A Sand County Almanac:

Harmony with the land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left.

As we move through our daily activities, let’s consider the small things that we might do to live in greater harmony with the earth.¬† Let’s do our best to hold both its hands in ours, as we would those of a dear and long-cherished friend.

September 25, 2012

Calamity = triumph = just a moment in your life

More wisdom from Marlena de Blasi in her book A Thousand Days in Tuscany:

Both calamities and triumphs are passerby and mostly insignificant. . . . If there is a difference between the two, it’s only that our great feats stale in less time than our injuries are recovered.

In other words, we all have our ups and our downs, our crowning glories and our disappointments, but each of these is merely a moment is something much, much bigger:  life.  Your life.

We also tend to grow more from the downs and disappointments than we do from the ups and crowning glories. Which is absolutely, perfectly OK.

Healing takes time, victory stales quickly, and life is made of the moments between it all.

September 23, 2012

Short and fast

From the book A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena de Blasi:

Short and fast is this life. ¬†And it’s not that I would have wished to slow it down as much as I would have wished to understand about the speed.

September 18, 2012

Are you a bear, a skunk cabbage, or separate from it all?

Jill Frayne, in her wonderful book¬†Starting Out in the Afternoon: ¬†A Mid-Life Journey into Wild Land,¬†ruminates on the idea of being connected to the natural world — deeply connected to it —¬†in¬†conjunction¬†with it¬†— not merely associated to it as one part. ¬†The Inuit, she writes, citing work by Barry Lopez in¬†Arctic Dreams, don’t¬†distinguish between “us” and “them” (animals, nature, the physical world) like we do, and that’s something special:

I am struck by a culture that orients more to non-difference than to difference, that perceives of a small boy, say, as a variation on a fox or an ice floe.  A natural relation for human beings with land, I think.  Natural and yet unusual, because our urban North American power of discernment is overdeveloped.

Our brains teem with the activity of ruling out, eliminating, selecting, discriminating, a habit we practice a thousand times a day that gives us a false idea that the objects of the world are separate from each other and from us. ¬†We think a bear is not the same thing as a human or a skunk cabbage. ¬†Yet physical science, if you don’t like New Age, tells us that we¬†are¬†in fact all one. ¬†A bear and a skunk cabbage are much more the same than they are different.

What would it be like, I wonder, if our first thought, regarding anything, was to perceive the kinship, the non-distinction, rather than shorting out to the difference between things?

What, indeed?

September 17, 2012

Observed (incredulously) on the street: A skunk in a cup

This is what I did tonight: ¬†I pulled a skunk’s head out of a plastic DQ/Orange Julius cup. ¬†No, I am not kidding.

I was walking home just before 9 p.m. when I heard a rustling in a nearby garden and saw a black and white-striped shape writhing around between some shrubs. ¬†Bizarrely, it was a skunk with said cup — the kind with a snap-on dome lid; see photo below — lodged tightly on its head.

Plastic cup that had a skunk's head stuck in it!

The skunk’s entire head was in this thing, and the lip of the lid was preventing him/her from getting back out. ¬†I have no idea how the skunk managed to get in there, but he/she was clearly stuck and wasn’t going to get out without help.

I couldn’t leave that skunk like that. ¬†So I waited until his/her cup-clad head was facing me, then I held my breath, grabbed the end of the cup, and pulled — gently, at first, then I really had to hold on to match the skunk’s own violent tugs to get out. ¬†After about 20 seconds of good-on pulling, the skunk popped out, turned tail and disappeared. ¬†Without spraying me, I might (thankfully) add.

What a bizarre occurrence. ¬†And a good example of why it’s important to put garbage in the trash bin where it belongs. ¬†Litter like this can be lethal to¬†curious (and hungry) animals.

September 13, 2012

Kids and love

I came across this parenting maxim in a book I’m reading:

Kids spell love T-I-M-E.

How true it is.

September 9, 2012

Observed on the “street” (trail): Tree bears

Observed on the trail during a hike I did today: two trees, each “marked by a bear” in different ways.

  1. This beech tree had the honour of being scaled by a bear.  The claw marks, which ran all the way up the trunk, are easy to spot on trees with smooth, clean bark like this one.

Beech tree sporting claw marks from a bear up its trunk.


2. ¬†This tree (also a beech) sported a marking that looked like the head of a bear. ¬†Natural or human-carved, I couldn’t quite tell.

Beech tree with a marking like the head of a bear on its trunk.


Granted, it looks more like the head of a polar bear than of a black bear that you would find in my neck of the woods. ¬†It also looks like the head of a beaver, but, hey, beggars can’t be choosers! ¬†I do think that what appears to be a giant claw mark below the head helps lend credence to the bear idea, no? ¬†ūüėČ

September 6, 2012

On apologizing, being interesting and doing those things you always wanted to do (but never did)

Inspiring words from writer Kristin Armstrong (Lance Armstrong’s ex-wife):

Do the things you used to talk about doing but never did.
Know when to let go and when to hold on tight.
Stop rushing.
Don’t be intimidated to say it like it is.
Stop apologizing all the time.
Learn to say no, so your yes has some oomph.
Spend time with the friends who lift you up, and cut loose the ones who bring you down.
Stop giving your power away.
Be more concerned with being interested than being interesting.
Be old enough to appreciate your freedom, and young enough to enjoy it.
Finally know who you are.


Which phrase speaks most strongly to you? ¬†To me, it’s this one:

Be more concerned with being interested than being interesting.

What I like about it is the following:

  1. It encourages each of us to listen, genuinely, to what other people have to say, instead of rambling off at the mouth trying to impress everyone with our own worldly prowess.
  2. It supports us in placing our own inner drives and life pursuits above those that come at us from (often well-meaning) friends, family and acquaintances, as well as from media outlets and society in general. ¬†As long as you are interested in your life path, that’s all that matters. ¬†No need to change that path in order to make yourself “interesting” to someone else!
  3. It hints at the idea that if we focus on the activities, people, conversations and environments that truly interest us, we will in fact be interesting to some people. ¬†And uninteresting to others. ¬†Which is fine. ¬†The folks who remain in our orbit when we’re being our true selves are the people we want in our lives anyway. ¬†ūüôā