the early hours

The early hours are best spent outdoors whenever possible I have come to believe. When the light has slipped in  quietly bringing a warm pink to the treetops and the mist sits like  gauze in the shadows, the wind rustles the dry leaves, geese bleat as they arrive on the water, late autumn on the lake is a time to treasure.  The loons remain and on lucky days I spend some time in their company I have become a familiar sight, one to be ignored primarily which tells me I am doing it right.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours, staying until my fingers were too cold for function. There was magic  in the light and reflections, the perfect stillness of the morning and it was hard indeed to leave.


I have fallen shamefully behind on my schedule for painting but soon the time inside will be far greater than out and I will be grateful for work that is waiting. Ideas are simmering. Color combinations are introducing themselves and if I can hold them in memory I can attempt to produce them again on the palate and on the canvas.


I have been captivated by the loons, so iconic of Canadian wilderness considered the be primarily solitary, the pair I have shared time with this summer have pictured elegance and grace, and in their company I feel such ease.  Rarely have I seen them together as much as these past days of colder weather and shorter light and I wonder if the migration day is soon.


Life is change, the seasons, the light, the experiences though sometimes repeating are never of course exactly the same. In every familiar moment there is also the possibility of something brand new.  In my extended family, beginnings and endings are layering in some dramatic ways. It is all part of the nature of life which includes the inevitable challenging, exhilarating and compelling sense of change that equals the electricity of knowing you are alive.  My best learned secret is when it begins to feel overwhelming, trust your deepest self.  Float, close your eyes, take a breath, stretch your wings and let the current guide you. ‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience’ much of which seems solitary, and yet we remain connected.


points of view

One September day I took a day trip with two like minded painting friends to visit some galleries and check out a couple of showings. We drove off on a sunny morning through some beautiful landscape to stop first at the lake country gallery in Winfield, and later the larger Kelowna galleries. I had recently joined online to explore some neighboring towns art options and consider if they might work for me when I bring my work back into a public forum.

An interesting quote I read, though cannot attribute to a speaker, Being an artist is a constant dance between putting yourself out there front and center and hiding yourself away. I think I am quite comfortable with the hiding oneself away part of the dance.

The gallery tour put some incredible work in some beautiful forums, and the day with painting friends always goes into the category of fuel to the fire.   Summer I have found to be a slow zone in painting, I say that while recognizing in spurts some pieces made it from beginning to end, and the sketch book was not totally ignored. It is however, time to get back to the practice part of painting. The one that says in a calm but firm voice, you must show up.


I have new work that is rising up from the sleepy embers, sparks of idea, flashes of image, and I am eager to make that commitment. I have found an interesting thing happened on the way to productivity, I revisited a piece started last  winter. I have been adding glazes and refining detail, I slipped into the studio late last night to grey down the white of an eye as its brightness was something i didn’t want to see on my first view in the new day. It is a piece that I have learned a great deal from working with a medium and method still new to me. I will not post it until it’s fully finished at this point, as one thought came like a slowly understood revelation. From the beginning I had an attachment to the subject. I do not know him as a person, I only watched him in a moment of his world and work. Despite his youth he had so much strength and openness, not one of vulnerability but of truth. From the moment I started sketching, and in the early stages of the paintings I could see the finished piece with such clarity it never occurred to me that everyone else would potentially see something different. Last night I invited my husband to have a look, stating that in the past two weeks I have spent three full mornings working on this portrait. I can see each change and understand which additional ones I will still make, but I also wondered if anyone else would see anything different. I shared my earlier revelation regarding sharing work in progress, including I am just understanding not everyone may see what I am seeing. A squeeze of my shoulders, a kiss on the cheek, a quiet,”then make them see it”.  I smile.


We of course do not see the world as it is, but we see the world as we are.  Sharing image is to be done with release. Control the part you can, –   let go, the rest belongs to the viewer.

It is dark these early mornings when I wake. Autumn lets me sleep a wee bit longer and still be present for the sunrise. SALUTATIONS!

The dew stays a bit longer here in the shadow of the mountain and some days my patience to be in the sun takes me on a morning walk or bike ride out of the shade, into the bright warmth. There is something lovely to be found in the mist and dew, tiny prisms and reflecting spheres. One of the things I love about photography is it asks you to really see things in a different way. It helps train your eye to subtle bits of lights and shadow, and where to focus to determine your point of view.

IMGP4994I found the first bits of hard frost in a valley wetlands, in the shade and shadows the weed heads lit a path of dancing light. Nature does not hurry, each thing has its moment to shine and beauty abounds whether we see or  not.


I have been working on sketches for a new project. It is hard for me to put one thing aside to attend to another. I struggle with time management in a way that surprises me in the absense of deadlines or external pressure. It is one of the things I have learned about my own process in this year removed from participating in the outside world, I still create that sense of ‘must’.


I am however, much more likely to have faith in the pause. That space between inhale and exhale, where there is a strange sense of clarity.  It is fleeting, but I know it exists, and the task for me now is to trust it. Nature does not hurry, and yet, everything that needs to, happens.


variations of kind

My camera is a fairly constant companion, a way of walking in the world and gathering image seems in some ways for me an important part of processing and valuing the world around me. What I do with the image if far less important then being with it in the time it takes to photograph. People will often ask me about what equipment I use and to this day, other than the one constant which has been I use a pentax (for no particular reason other than it was the first brand I purchased and it became familiar in my hand) I have to go and find the camera and read the body info to answer the question. The same is true for each lens except in my head they are the big one, the mid sized big, the silly big and the really close one.


The close one does a nice job with super sharp tiny hard to see with the eye things. Some times, in some instances, i like that.

The loon in the distance, is more about creating a feeling, that softness between space and time, the solitary being in an expanse of quiet rain on an open lake. Sometimes, I like that too.


There are the moments when I am closer and the image could be brought to that crisper sharper place. Others where the light on the water is as important as the loon in the water in telling the story of that particular instance I want to hold in my memory, so I open it up a bit more and have something more like this…


I have a few photographer friends, each with their own unique styles and incredible skill sets, each that really control their shots by their knowledge and commitment to understanding the mechanics of making their camera work. While I admire that ability and sometimes envy it enough to pull out manuals and pretend I will go that route, that has proven time and time again not to be the kind of photographer I am.

My brain just does not work that way.

There is a dance between the eye and the heart and the hand that sometimes creates something just right and probably more often  misses, but the moment the dialogue in my head starts asking whats your setting I loose the connection from heart to hand and I cannot enjoy that trade even for a superior outcome.  That said, I am off to the shore for a bit, thermos the last thing to add to my bag, and yesterday I found a link again to share with you the sounds of the loon, which once experienced, lives strongly in your heart, it is as simple as that.

My best shared knowledge as a photo junkie, do not take anything too seriously, stay joyful and present in the moment, breathe deeply, be in the sun and the rain and the wind and the snow, walk softly in this world, we are all fragile things.


This morning the rain was falling in a constant but gentle persistent fashion. It wasn’t the easiest walk to begin, but I layered up and topped with a water resistant jacket and headed out with determination. I have learned that walking with a camera is not a fitness walk and that a fitness walk as it is already challenged by my desire to sit and observe at a few stops along the way. As soon as possible I stepped off the roadway and began a walk to the shoreline. I stepped over the do not trespass sign at the track and found my way down to the misty lake. A heron was standing in the shallow shorewater, an autumn veil behind him. I crawled up into the low branch of a cottonwood to sit in the shelter of the leaves and watch as the heron spread his wings and did a slow looping curve skimming the surface of the lake. The water itself was the beautiful mix of lavender blue mixed with strips of soft lichen green, shallow enough to see the rocks and weeds with thousands of shimmering minnows. The rain drops made a symphony of the quietest version of piano keys, echoing into larger circles until they met resistance of another echo and as the rain built in intensity the drops bounced from the surface like small jewels. The kingfisher landed briefly on the jagged remains of a pier post before lifting to survey his fishing options and diving to resurface fish in mouth. Along the path the branches of the bramble held drops collecting the quiet light and while I ached to have my camera I realize, I still hold the image.


This morning, standing by the kitchen window looking across the driveway to the sweeping branches of the horse chestnut I am thinking about how each season it is its’ own kind of beauty. In the spring it is full of cone shaped large flowers that buzz with bees, you can literally hear them when you stand in the front yard and the fragrance, well, that explains the bees! Birds of course nest there a plenty, squirrels race up and down the maze of branches. I have lain beneath on its knotted roots and taken photos up through the sky, the abstraction of curving branches, prickly cased chestnuts and layers of leaf.


A mama bear and two black cubs barely made a mark hiding in its low reaches when we surprised them in the yard giving us time to change our path! Now of course it is beginning its blaze of fall glory, yellow sun bursts of leaves that are much broader than my hands span will make way to an orange blanket by halloween.


Their crunch under foot and roll in the wind will add to the creepiness of a night walk and they will bunch up beneath jack, the pumpkin king, at the base of the old well. In winter it cradles snow and paints a lacy image in the sky. Last year, or maybe the one before an adult moose stood beneath sinking in the snow and as the ground dips leaning down to the bank it wasn’t until the next day when I stood in her tracks I could see how enormous she really was as the branch the wisped about her bowed back was above my head!

Aging in people is not quite like that with trees, we do not revisit our youth when the days grow longer annually, but like us, trees carry scars and marks of time passing. They have great big arms to hold memories, and a capacity to offer shelter and strength to lift climbing children and middle aged ladies. One isn’t to have favorites with living things, but i really do like my giant chestnut tree, maybe it is a touch of compensation adornments hang elsewhere.

september song


Though still bright and jeweled with bursts of color, the garden is making seeds and storing food to bulbs from leaves no longer green. The fruits of the summer are being stored for the short days of winter where raspberry jam will smell like a whisper of july on sunday mornings. September is abundance! I see it in the sweet maries that drip from vines, the baskets of bumpy cucumbers, the orchards and the road side markets all seem to be bursting at the seams.

IMGP4253 I feel flooded with sights, fragrance and memory. We are hardwired to open doors to the all but forgotten moments  when our senses are awakened and we stumble back down roads we have travelled. These last summer days are rich and full of moments like that. A peach pie cooling in the window takes me back to Helen’s kitchen where as a newlywed I learned her recipe though not her magic touch. She shared generously in a voice that still carried remnants of the accent of her childhood in the Virginia hills. She was cautious with those stories having met a lot of preconceptions and bias in her early days in Canada, but while we waited for the sugar and water to boil into a thick syrup she talked about being one of a dozen children. Her memories of that time in the black hills where the men came home with coal dust deeply soaked into their skin and shoes traded in september were not worn outside of school until the cold came.  While canning I hear my aunt Ruby’s voice telling me to boil down sugar not to skim away too much, not to be wasteful even when there is plenty because of course times change.  I think about berry picking, and dusty roads, bare feet and the rich laughter of the women who shaped my childhood, who have now mostly passed. I think about love.


Yesterday I walked with my daughter in the cool grass along the forest wall. Bits of amber in the ferns and bracken, a briskness in the morning air. I stopped to pop a cherry tomato from the vine into my mouth, ‘Mom, really? it’s 9 o’clock’! I smile and bite down to the burst of flavor.  We weave a tapestry rich in color, fragrance, sound and taste. It becomes a shawl on our shoulders in the cold times. It wraps us in comfort and tatters with age. We pass on pieces like quilt patches to the ones who come into our lives. It is how I know the aunt who died when I was an infant, and the one who never grew to be more than a child. I know them, though we never met, they too shape my life.

IMGP4240-2September of course takes the children back from summer and leads them into the classroom. Some advocate for a year round school system and while I understand what that could offer, it would in my opinion take so much away.  I am an advocate for summer holidays. I hope that there will long be lazy times to lay in the grass and find images in the clouds drifting past in the bluest sky. I hope there will  be barefoot days, berry picking pails, sandy toes, campfires, mosquito bites to fuss about and elders to teach outside of classrooms the stories that tuck into the fibre of connection and family life. How much can be packed into this last week before labor day and first bells? Lets see!

Last October….

I can’t remember if this was in slocan or silverton or the road between. Despite the sign that said open, it actually wasn’t in the timeframe we were driving through. I love places like this. Little spots in the middle of all but nowhere where one can’t imagine much drive by business or much from the locals but still, here they stand. I used to adore the washboard cafe in Canoe. I loved going there with the girls for blackberry cheesecake ice cream while we waited for our clothes to wash in the adjacent laundry mat when our ancient washer or dryer broke down repeatedly! I think there were 8 tables, often three or four had someone having coffee and reading a newspaper, all tables talking both with their own companions and freely across the public space as though we were each connected, and in a way we were. While I often like to be anonymous, it is good to have place ‘where everbody knows your name’, when Gail hands me my mail at the walk in post office or Nikki sells me whatever i have run short of at the canoe general store and says, you have a good day sweetie. I remember her as a little girl in north canoe elementary where incidentally I also covered grades six and seven as did my kids. I don’t mind being small town, it fits me like old denim and gives me a weird sense of welcome walk in when I stumble upon places like this, in the middle of the roads less travelled

In the spring time we visited my daughter in Toronto. We woke before she or her partner and in an effort to be good guests left the house for morning coffee walkabouts. We found a place within the first couple of blocks from their home in Leslieville and joined the regulars as they did the New York times sunday crossword, debated bits of news, discussed local affairs.


The link between these places it seems is in the belonging. In Canoe we have a new restaurant open, the hive. They make great food and good coffee, the atmosphere is a bit spacious for that cozy feeling and currently it is full of tourists with a few recognizable locals. This morning, a weekday wrapping into the wind down of summer tourism I plan to end my bike ride there for a cuppa and try to see if I start to find that piece of connection. It takes a while to find your chair, but once you do, it is a very comfortable feeling that even here on the edge of isolation one sometimes requires.

have you seen this rooster?

he is a bit of an ass…..

In my two days of trying to capture for re homing, I have seen some lovely kindness in peoples efforts to assist, but the more we try, the more wary he becomes. The large red rooster has not been seen since tuesday, we are not sure if someone successfully rescued him or if a coyote found him first. I am hoping he found a person because he was the tamest of the lot.
IMGP3897 Above the favorite spot on the path, is this rather large wasps nest, and as people have been gifting said rooster with grains, granolas and apples, the wasps are feasting as well. While crawling through the brush I just missed placing my hand on this well eaten apple, distraction is a powerful thing!
The space is very beautiful and it isn’t much of a hardship to spend a couple of hours hanging out, trying to make friends (though i am losing ground) with this  wily bird!
IMGP3904 IMGP3900 IMGP3905 IMGP3907
I brought my sketchbook and camera along today but sadly between the many people who stopped to see what was going on, and those who wanted to try more aggressive approaches to catching, I think I am losing ground. The s.p.c.a. is open tomorrow so technically if I were to catch him tonight I could still drop him off but the worry is I will fail and scare him away from a fairly safe and well chosen roosting site, too high for coyotes (and five foot two females) too branched for owls I think he will be okay there until next week.
From the roosters perspective his poster would show a photo of me, Have you seen this human? I believe she is up to no good!

I almost missed it.

This morning I started painting when I got up. Things were going well and I was feeling kind of lazy- this will not be a bike/ swim day.  I looked at the two pieces in progress and determined they were both too wet to go forward, looked at the house in need of cleaning, tossed laundry in the machine, stepped out of pajamas and into my swimsuit. It is already a week into august – summer won’t last forever.

When I got to the beach there was not a soul in sight. The water was calm, the weeds were easily spotted in large and small rafts pretty much stretching the expanse of the swim area.

I have trouble with weeds.

The fear comes from a place without rational grounding and therein will not respond to reasoning. I considered a duck into the water to cool off and then perhaps a leisurely expanded bike ride home.

Looking up I could see something large and dark on the surface of the water, not a goose, bigger than a grebe…. I have an obsessive fondness for loons, their eerie call, their patterned throat, everything about them I find a delight. Any place we have spotted one on a road trip demands a pause next time through, just in case.

14588340414_f90d98914e_oLast year on a friends pontoon. a make shift viewing station for greibe babes, we also encountered loons which for me, steal the show. (these photos are from that day)

I pushed through the dreaded weeds and swam with limited splash to the first buoy on the swim line. A loon indeed.

14403615159_26703ccf7e_o - CopyShe swam never more than half a tie line buoy length away. She watched me with a curious eye, dismissing me as no more or less troublesome than a goose. For about twenty minutes we shared space. There is something quite different than the boat or shore view with a water bird to being head above the water and face to face. The sun glinted across the lazy waves of a wakeless lake, a ghost moon grew in transparency and I felt as though I had been given a reward for listening to the voice that says, take this moment, it is full and offered and will not be repeated. 4 - CopyWith deep gratitude, to the voice that calls or whispers, and year of living quietly that is designed to let me answer.