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Category Archives: Nature in All Its Glory

Merry Christmas

I wrote this poem several years ago about the magic provided by the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and Christmas. What message was in those celestial colours and sounds? As a child, I thought the sky talked to me and told me a creation story.

I grew up in Northern Alberta and Christmas was a special time. I recall cold winter nights. I mean they were cold–almost minus 40 at night. Our windows upstairs were almost completely frosted over. On moonlit nights, the light kept me awake or that is what I told others.

During Advent, my mom and older brothers walked across the street for evening Mass. The younger ones, including me, went to bed. I did not fall asleep right away and would watch out the window for them to come home. I thought no one saw me, but my Mom would come up and tell me to go to bed.

At that time of year, I recall is the Northern Lights and how you could hear them as well as see them light up the sky as they danced across the sky. We don’t see them very often in Edmonton with the urban light.

When we spend time at the farm at Christmas, we hear and see them again. On cold nights we hear the train (about a mile away) and it sounds like it is coming through the house.

Small children–

Breathlessly awaiting,

Peering through frosted window

Soaking it in.

Heavens rippling–

Lights undulating;

A celebratory fury

An indisputable guide.

This old house speaks;

Nature answers–

Heavens crackle

Sweet symphonic sounds shimmering.

Earth’s floor–

Blanketed in white

Celestial colours speaking

Capturing young senses.

A vivid winter scene,

A sensual, sensory palette,

Reminding us–

Christ’s Mass is here.

pic_wonder_northern_lights_lg

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Wildness

via Wildness

Michele‘s post reminded me of poems by two of my favourite poets.

Environmentalists refer to Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver‘s poems. An educated guess is that Henry David Thoreau, who Michele quotes, informed their writing.

Wendell Berry wrote in moments of despair he “comes into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought.”

Mary Oliver ends Summer Day with the following question: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?” Paradoxically, the question is an answer to her eloquent questions about who created nature.

Nature has a way of being and providing us with lessons for life. It is in meditative moments, when we just are, we grow to understand what that can mean. We grow and value what is essential not to us, but to those who come after us.

“We do not inherit the world from our ancestors, but borrow it from our children.”

Fairmont Hot Springs

When we visited Fairmont Hot Springs, I walked each morning and we went below the hot springs one evening for a short hike. On the walks and hikes, I took pictures.

On Sunday, we went to church. As we came out, this buck posed for pictures. He was in the shade so I cropped the picture and, as a result, it is a bit blurry.

I walked each morning and afternoon. This doe crossed the road about the time the sun was coming up each morning. She kept an eye on me, just to make sure.

Just outside Fairmont is Columbia Lake, which is the head waters of the Columbia River. The lake appears to have a mist over it most of the time.

When I walked in the morning, I took this picture as it was becoming daylight. The mist was much heavier at this time of the day than it was during the day.

Several evenings we went to the hot springs. On one of the evenings, we walked below the springs and found a path to a small creek. The moon was just rising from behind the mountains.

A small water fall flows into the creek. The volume increases when they release water from the swimming pool to clean it. I took the picture without any flash. I don’t know if it is the rocks, the time of day, or some other reason that allowed the picture to appear so well-lit.

Mountains and Water

I was on the road today, driving through part of Alberta I do not spend much time. I drove to Fairmont Hot Springs, which is in British Columbia. To get there, we came via Banff National Park. The normal route west usually takes me through south of Banff and Jasper National Park.

It was a beautiful day and two mountains stood out against the sky with clouds in behind them. I am not sure of their names, because of a lack of knowledge of the area. It was in the Mount Norquay area, but I thought Norquay was further to the north.

This might be Mount Norquay. It seemed to be the mountain that stood out and was the focus of the pullouts, but I don’t know the area well enough to be certain.

These palisades are just off to the side of the mountain above.

This is just above Numa Falls in Kootenay National Park in British Columbia. The mountain parks on the British Columbia side are not as well-developed as the ones on the Alberta side. I use the word developed in a relative way, as none of the parks have significant commercial development. We were not able to get any closer to the falls as the bridge is out and the gorge has no direct access.

Below, is a video of the falls from YouTube. I don’t see a bridge in the video, but the gorge is inaccessible.

 

The Meeting

A couple of weeks ago I was out for one of my daily walks. We live in neighbourhood that is well inside the city, so what happened was a surprise. A deer was on one of the lawns. It saw me, but by the time I had my cell phone and camera out is was two blocks away. Just the same, it was an unexpected moment to bethoroughly enjoyed.

The deer’s unexpected appearance reminded me of what Thich Nhat Hanh says about the ordinary being part of the extraordinary. We just have to remain open.

When I am quiet,

When I just am,

Openings appear;

Something shows itself.

In those ordinary moments,

Miracles appear,

Making the moment (extra)ordinary,

The enjoyment exceeds itself.

We took this picture in Waterton Lakes National Park. I walked around a corner and one of the young ones was within arm’s length, but separated from the doe. I stayed still, until mother and child reunited.

To Read a Poem…To Write a Poem

This poem rattled around in my mind and body for the last few days. I did not write it out in rough form, so this is it.

To read a poem;

That is to breath in the world,

Meditating on that world

(Re)membering a fleeting moment–

A moment my whole body experienced;

The smell of pine forest

The distant white-topped mountain

Rocks disturbing a river’s flows

The touch of a gentle breeze,

Cooling a sun-burnt face.

To write a poem;

Breathing out,

A lived-experience,

Giving words to a fleeting moment–

Flowers gesturing towards mountains,

Trees caressed by mountain wind,

Nature’s fragrances arise from the valley

A silence encroaching upon my mediation.

 

Saint Francis and the Sow

This poem by Galway Kinnel reminds me everyone is blooming. There is something hidden inside of us we cannot fully know and understand. It is the inner voice that calls us to what we are fully human to do.

It is essential to be mindful and attentive to that voice and find moments of silence. Unlike the sow, humans are able to pause and reflect, pray and listen to the response. Having said this, it is not something that is intuitive and instinctual. It is something we have to remind our self of from time to time.

The bud

stands for all things,

even for those things that don’t flower,

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on its brow

of the flower

and retell it in words and in touch

it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;

as Saint Francis

put his hand on the creased forehead

of the sow, and told her in words and in touch

blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow

began remembering all down her thick length,

from the earthen snout all the way

through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,

from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine

down through the great broken heart

to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering

from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:

the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

 

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