Sunday, October 31, 2004

City Slickers

Yes, we are back in the city and I am struggling just a tad, to adjust to all the hustle and bustle and lack of space. I feel so closed in back here at home and it always takes me a few days to acclimatize.

From my spot where I sit and write here at home, I can only see the very tops of three lonely trees and a bit of sky and that is it. At Riverwood I could sit in my favourite place on the couch and look out at the trees on Pine Fort Hill or along Welcome Lane, to the trees across the road. If I tired of sitting there, I could venture out onto the porch and look past the barns down towards the old logging road and river, or move into the kitchen and look out across open fields and meadows. Now, when I look out any window in my city location I see houses, houses and oh yes, more houses. Sigh.

I always feel overwhelmed with the houses and people and traffic once I get back to the city after spending a month or so in the country. The nearest general store is 3k’s away from the farm and I think 11 people populate the 4 corner community around the store. When we get home, we drive to the grocery store 4 or 5 blocks away and 11 cars are at every corner, never mind 11 people living 3k away. I feel assaulted by grey concrete and lights and stores and don’t like it at all. I spend the first few days at home wanting to go back to the pine trees, open fields and the green relaxed feeling of the countryside.

I have to make myself focus on the positive when I get home and slowly but surely I start to adjust back into city life. I must admit that it is very nice to have high speed internet again, access to my public library, and flat land to bike along. What a treat after the hills around Riverwood. If I curl up on the couch down in the family room, which I will do once it gets colder and I want to write beside the fireplace, I can see our back garden, which is still in full bloom and looking lovely right now, I must say. We had lots of frost up north, but not a speck of it has touched this area yet so the garden is still dressed in riotous summer colours and is having a wonderful party in the cool evenings and warm days. I am sure there are other positives too, but you get the idea. I am trying. And for now, that is enough.

I spent the day yesterday unpacking, washing, sorting through mail, making phone calls, and listing what needs doing in the garden, etc. Busy work that helps me get back into the groove here at home.

Today, we spent the morning puttering around the house and then we set out to do banking and other errands. The most important of which was a visit to the library to try to track down some books. I found one at the main branch, but the other titles I wanted will have to come in from bigger libraries. One is actually coming in all the way from the National library in Ottawa. Neat huh?

So, as I work at it, I am finding lots of positive things about my little corner of the world here in the city. That is the key isn’t it? Not to focus on what is wrong in our lives, but on what is right with any situation we find ourselves in. Pretty soon feelings follow thoughts and moods change. As a man thinketh – so is he!

I hope you are able to find something positive about where you find yourself today and good feelings find your little corner of the world and warm your heart on this cool autumn day.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Foggy Riverwood Morning

It is very foggy here at the farm this morning and that makes for a snugly wrapped feeling around me today. That is the only way to describe it - snugly wrapped - warm, cozy and safe.

As soon as the coffee dripped into the pot this morning, I took a steaming mug of it over to the kitchen window and sipped the warm creamy brew while I looked out over the land south of the house. Mmmmm, those first few sips of coffee are always the most delicious aren't they?

As I stood there gazing out the window, I was amazed to discover that I couldn’t see anything past Raspberry Hill Gate. The trees rimming Fourpaw Pasture were all dressed in gauzy mist and Elisarben Meadow was covered with a wispy white blanket. It was so beautiful and peaceful and...gentle. Yes, gentle is the word I want. That is how the morning seemed to me. I stood at the window for the longest time, sipping my coffee and feeling that gentle mood seep into my soul as palpably as the coffee seeped into my body.

The beauty of this place feeds my spirit and speaks to me in ways that nothing else can. I absolutely love it here and am never ready to leave no matter how long my stay has been. We have been here a month now, and must go home at the end of the week but I am just not ready to leave. Sigh.

Oh, I do love this old farm. We had such a great time this past weekend with my sister and her husband. Rain threatened most days, but not much fell and we even had some sunshine peek through the clouds from time to time. What an absolute treat this weather is for late October.

My sister and I gabbed the weekend away as we walked along the forest paths, or sat in the cozy old farmhouse with cups of tea, or relaxed on the Friendship Bench down at the swimming hole and drank in the beauty of the pine trees on the far shore of the river, reflected in the still water. We talked to our heart's content and it was rich, rich, rich. We shared the hopes and dreams we have for our kids along with the hopes and dreams we have for ourselves, and voiced to each other the fears we both had when she faced surgery this year.

She was told at the end of June that she might have ovarian cancer, and was sent for tests. The tests came back positive for cancer but she had to wait until September for her surgery to find out for sure. They couldn’t even do a biopsy before then. Goodness that was a long time to wait. What a relief we all felt when we were told after the surgery that it wasn’t cancer even though the pre-surgery tests said it was. Oh, such a dark path that was to walk, for all of us. That dark experience makes this path in the sunshine all the brighter and more wonderful now though. We basked in that sunshine this weekend, and I kept hugging my sister to make sure she was really there and we were celebrating. I was so grateful that she was ok and wasn’t facing chemotherapy and radiation and who knows what else. We walked around with big grins on our faces and enjoyed every minute of our time together. What a gift this weekend visit was! We were lost in the fog of uncertainty and fear for so long this past summer, but emerged into the sunshine of good news this fall and rejoiced in that sunshine during this weekend.

If you are walking through the fog of uncertainty and fear in your life today, I hope you feel the gentle spirit in the middle of it, and find some comfort in that. Be kind and patient with yourself as you wait for the sunshine to break through the mist. It is there, even though you can't see it or feel it right now. Hang on, it will shine again.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Algonquin Adventure

I had a lesson today on how to put pictures on Hello and then transport them to my blog. It seems rather complicated and I am sure that I will have to be walked through the process a few more times before I can do it on my own, but, I got these pictures there (on Hello) and now here, so thought I would write a few lines to go with these pics of our trip to Algonquin Park on Monday.

Sunshine and cool air were the perfect companions to the coloured leaves and made for a wonderful day to drive to the park, through the park, hike along rugged trails in the park, stand on rock cliffs at the end of the trail and let our eyes drink in magnificent vistas of the park and take pictures, pictures, pictures. A most wonderful day indeed.

Speaking of wonderful things, I think digital cameras are right up there near the top of the “wonderful things” list. I got a small Digital Elph for Mother’s Day two years ago and I absolutely love that camera. It is tiny enough to tuck it in a pocket and take it with me wherever I go, and I do. I snap pictures with abandon all the time and it is common for me to come home from a simple walk in the park and have 60 or 70 pictures to download. Needless to say, I took quite a few on Monday. On an ordinary trip I might only keep 5 or 10 pics from the photo shoot that day, but Monday we kept a lot more than that. When we got back to the farmhouse we looked at them on the computer and then AC cleared the card and I was ready to go again the next day on our walks around the farm. I never (well, hardly ever) leave home without my camera.

My family usually groans when I come out with the camera at every event and snap away, but they love to get the collage pages of pictures AC makes from my kazillion snapshots. We don’t like just having them on disc or in the computer. We like to print them up and put them in an album. AC is faithful at sorting through the pictures, grouping some of the best ones and printing them out for me. He does 8x10 collages and they are fabulous. I pick up the albums over and over again and re-live the joy of the moment as I leaf through the pages.

Well, this is a very short blog, but I must run now. We are expecting more company to arrive tonight and stay for the weekend, so the laptop will be packed away and blogging will have to take a rest. We will be busy drinking tea and chatting into the wee small hours of the morning, then rising late the next day to walk the trails around the farm and then more tea and visiting late into the night. Hope you all have a good weekend too.

Talk to you all next week.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Jewels to Potato Chips

It is a cold and rainy afternoon here at Riverwood, so it is time to take to my laptop and write for a while. AC is out stacking wood in the shed, but my back won’t allow me to even think about helping him with that activity, so it is writing in the warm cozy farmhouse for me. Mmmm, what a treat. I will make a steaming mug of creamy hot chocolate for him when he comes in for a break. That should warm him up after his labours.

We went out for a walk in the rain this morning along the Riverside Ramble Trail. Wow, so much has changed since last week. The path has lost that velvet jewelled carpet of colours and now is covered in a layer of what looks and sounds like potato chips. All shades of brown, and nothing but crunch, crunch, crunch under our feet! Ahh, each has its own beauty. The emerald green moss gnomes are still standing at attention at the base of many trees and their brilliant coats haven’t lost any colour, but all the other forest inhabitant’s coats have blended into muted browns. Still beautiful, but different.

As we walked along the trail I looked at the thick growth all around me and realized once again how easy it would be to get lost in these woods if we didn’t have this new path to follow. Two years ago we went into town for groceries and noticed posters tacked up in the store, of a man who had been missing in the woods for over a week. Shortly after his arrival at his cottage he went out for a walk in the backwoods and never came back. He had been going for walks in the woods behind his cottage for years, but it is so easy to lose your way up here.

Last year AC went for a walk in the dense woods on the other side of the road, and got completely turned around in what he thought was very familiar territory to him. Luckily he had the GPS with him and when he realised it was taking him longer than it should to reach the farmhouse, he turned on the GPS and discovered that he was walking away from the farm and not toward it. He thought for sure he was walking in the right direction, but instead, was going deeper and deeper into the woods. It was raining cats and dogs and I was just about ready to call out the troops to go looking for him when he walked out of the woods, soaking wet but ok. What a relief to see his bedraggled form walking toward me that day. He never goes walking now without the GPS and extra batteries tucked in his pocket just in case.

I hope you have some navigational device to help you sort out the thick woods of your daily life and it points you in the right direction when you are lost or floundering. Maybe it is poetry or music or exercise or writing or…..whatever. Take it out of your pocket, turn it on and follow your heart. It is easy to lose your way in the world today, so take time to stop and think about where you are, where you want to be and then set a course for your own North Star.

Happy trails to you and don’t forget to Pay Attention along the way.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Pay Attention

It is a cool rainy day here at Riverwood and I have spent most of it reading and writing. Pure joy indeed.

Right now I am sitting here with a mug of hot, cranberry-apple tea and it smells as good as it tastes. MMMM good. The day is so dark I need the table lamp beside me turned on and that makes for a nice warm cozy circle of light to sit in on this cool dull day. The rain is pouring down outside the window and from my comfy spot on the couch I can see the pine trees on the hill bending and swaying in the wind, trying to dodge the raindrops. I think the trees are losing the battle.

We spent most of the morning inside the snug farmhouse reading and writing, but before lunch we donned our rain gear and went out for a walk. What fun. I do love to walk in the rain if I can keep myself warm and dry while doing it, so we suited up and set off bravely into the downpour. We walked along the old logging road and then veered off onto the new Riverside Trail, which is lined with trees and follows the river north of the farm. I kicked wet leaves with the toe of my waterproof boot as raindrops tippey tapped on the hood of my raincoat. I felt like I was inside a warm cocoon as I sauntered along. Such a nice feeling. Pine trees filled the air above my head with a sweet fragrance and the earth was covered with a jewelled, carpet of leaves, beneath my feet. Fallen leaves alive with vivid gemstone colours – ruby red Maple leaves, topaz gold Beech leaves, amber yellow Ash leaves, tiger’s eye brown Oak leaves and emerald green moss were all sprinkled with sparkling diamond rain drops and made a magnificent rich display. The River looked like a pewter chain winding through all the jewels. What a grand and glorious walk on this cold rainy day. I am so glad we ventured out into it.

I have been reading Raymond Carver’s poetry lately and last night he introduced me to Antonio Machado. In Carver’s poem “Radio Waves” he mentions Machado and the advice he gave to anyone who asked him what they should do with their lives. “Pay Attention!”
Those two words stopped me in my tracks. How profound. Just pay attention to your life. Look! Listen! Touch! Smell! Experience it and pay attention to all of it.

Later in the evening I was reading Julia Cameron’s new book “Sound of Paper” and she also challenged me to “pay attention” to everything around me. I felt chills run up and down my spine when I read her words so soon after seeing the same words in Carver’s poem just hours before. I perked up my inner antenna and really paid attention at that point.

Cameron goes into a whole chapter on paying attention and how it will open up your writing, painting or anything else you touch with your creativity. If you liked her book “ The Artist’s Way” I highly recommend “The Sound of Paper”.

I tried to pay attention to every detail of this day and it really did make for a rich full day full of joy and pleasure. Try it, you will like it!

I am just about to pack up my laptop for the weekend so won’t be writing much for a few days. Company is coming for dinner tonight and will stay until Sunday. I am looking forward to the visit and will “pay attention” to every moment of it.

I hope you have a good weekend too. Pay attention and then write about what you see, hear, feel, taste. I look forward to reading what you write and also sharing my observations with you next week.

Talk to you later.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The “Leftover”Side of Thanksgiving

I love this side of Thanksgiving don’t you? The “leftover” side is all about relaxing. All the planning, shopping and cooking is done, but the sweet taste of the holiday is still in the air. The fridge is full of leftovers and the mind is full of happy memories. Ahhh, wonderful.

We had a warm time with family and friends this year and I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration too and are now enjoying this most amazing October weather. We are back at Riverwood now and can’t believe how warm it is up here for this time of year. We went out for a bike ride this morning and we could have worn shorts and a t-shirt instead of the pants and jackets we did wear. Sheesh, once I pedalled up that first hill I was sweating buckets. I stopped and got rid of the jacket which helped a bit, but I would have been much more comfortable in shorts. Oh well, it was a fun ride even if a bit warm. I had to walk my bike up a couple of the big hills today, but spent more time riding than walking so it is getting a bit easier with every ride.

I am not getting much writing done these days, but while the sun shines, I must ride or hike the hills around the farm. When the wind and rain blows in I will snuggle down in the farmhouse to write.

We are off to Algonquin Park tomorrow to see what kind of a party the trees are having up there this year. I have never been to the park, so I am really looking forward to a drive through parts of it and this is a perfect time of year to do it. That should take us most of the day tomorrow, and then Friday we prepare for more company this weekend. So, a few busy days ahead, then a quiet week to follow. The busy days make the quiet ones all the nicer don’t they? I hope you are blessed with a mixture of both and you enjoy each one as it comes to you. Gobble the turkey leftovers this week, walk in the sunshine and crunch a few leaves under your feet whenever you can. Makes you feel like a kid again and does the heart good.

Talk to you all later.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Relaxin’ at Riverwood

Ahhhhh. Here we are at Riverwood and I feel sooooo relaxed already. Mmm. As soon as we turn into the lane I feel the magic of this place start to work on my heart and soul and it is made complete when I walk in the side door and the lingering fragrance from the last wood fire greets me and wraps me in its warm embrace. I absolutely love it here.

Sunday and Monday were full of activity to get the house ready to leave for a month and get everything packed up. Whew what a job! Tuesday morning at 9am we finally put the last suitcase into the CRV and the bikes safely mounted on the carrier. We set off on our adventure around 9:30, made a short stop around noon for lunch with Ally, and then drove straight through the rest of the way. We arrived here around dinnertime a bit tired and road weary, but safe and sound. The sun shone on us for the whole journey and as we drove further and further north the countryside got more and more colourful. What a treat! All the trees are in the process of donning their party dresses for the Thanksgiving celebrations to come and the outfits this year are going to be spectacular. Wow! What a show already and they are noteven all dressed yet.

After opening up the farmhouse and turning on the hot water, we unloaded the car and then set off for a walk before it got dark. Stomachs were starting to growl, but we could eat later. Time now for a walk. Off we went, down to the old bridge to check out the water level, then over to the swimming hole, up along the Perimeter Path to Deer Lookout and then back to the farmhouse. After saying hello to the farm proper, it was time for dinner. Yum.

After dinner we dialed in and checked our email and that is the only draw back to being here. Very slow internet service. Sigh. Oh well, at least we have a local number to call, so we won’t complain too much. Less time on the computer, more time to read and write, go for walks and ride our bikes.

To all my fellow bloggers - I might not be writing a lot on line or posting many comments while we are up here, but I will continue to write and post my blogs, and read yours when I can. If my visits are few and far between you will know why.

Cool autumn evenings, hot apple cider and me all curled up here on the couch in the old farmhouse with no TV and no pressing engagements for the next month or so, makes for some perfect writing times. So, I imagine I will be writing a lot, it is the posting that might be a problem. We shall see. Keep checking back to see how I make out.
Talk to you all later.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Quill and Quire

I took a major step back last week and picked up my fountain pen and paper journal again. Ahhh, feels good.

I have journalled for years with pen and paper, but last fall I decided to try something different and do most of my journaling on the laptop. I can type faster than I can write longhand, so I thought the laptop would give me more freedom and open up my writing. In a way it did, but there was something missing.

I love the feel of the pen in my hand and the sound of the nib gliding across the paper. The smell of the ink, and the texture of the paper, stimulate my thought processes like nothing else can and the slower pace I am forced to move at when I journal in longhand makes for more thought provoking writing. Deep thoughts and feelings come bubbling to the surface when I pick up my pen and often what is written there is the germ of my next blog or poem or other project.

I came to the conclusion last week that I needed both tools to write with. My fountain pen and silky paper for certain types of moody writing and the click, click, click of the keys and speed of the laptop for other types.

Writing with pen and ink is like priming the pumpfor me. I curl up in a comfy spot on the couch by the window and set my jounal out on on my lap. Splash! I open my pen and start to write the date and time at the top of the page. Splash! Splash! Stop to take a sip of coffe, glance out the window, write a few more words about what I am feeing, or what the weather is. Splash, splash, spalsh! Another sip of coffee and more contemplation then pen touching paper again and words sprinkling the page. Pretty soon the ideas start to flow fast and easy, and I am splashing around in the free flowing water of words. Total fun!

Writing with my laptop is a blast too, and often when I sit down to write about something, it takes on a life of its own and I end up in a place I never dreamed of going when I started to write. The laptop allows me to cut, paste and edit with ease, and I love that about it.

“There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up his pen and writes.” William Thackery

“You never know what you will learn till you start writing. Then you discover truths you never knew existed.” Anita Brookner

So, quill and quire or keyboard and screen, jump in and get wet, the water is fine.