Everyday Magic

Day 1 – Sunday

They arrived, naked and vulnerable, sometime between Saturday mid-day and evening.

Three baby robbins tucked into the nest woven into the wreath at our front door.

Mama and Papa attentively sit and/or feed their tiny fledglings, protecting them from the elements and marauding magpies.

Day 2 – I’m hungry!

I watch through the slightly open slats of the kitchen window, measuring the babies’ progress by the lengthening moments of time the mama spends away from the nest. When I see her leave, I race to the front door, slowly, carefully opening it to grab a photo. Sometimes, I’m not quick enough and the mama catches me mid-action. She squawks and flaps her wings, changing direction mid-flight as I hastily retreat and slowly, carefully close the front door. Within moments she returns.

I can almost feel her breath of relief. Her babies are safe. I didn’t disturb them.

Yesterday, their third day in this world outside the protection of their egg, I took a photo. Their feathers are starting to appear. Their beaks to become more defined. They are starting to untangle from one another.

It is mystery, magic, miracle at our front door.

She has chosen her nesting spot well. Tucked into the portico of our front porch, the winds do not disturb her, the rain does not intrude, and the magpies… they have to dive and tuck to access the nest. Before they can do that, mama and papa are on scene, and the crazy woman, aka me, on the other side of the glass has time to race to the window, hollering and flapping her arms to chase the magpie away.

The storm has abated, somewhat, though the winds still howl and rain falls, not as heavily and consistently. The river is higher today, the highest we’ve seen it since moving into this home 4 years ago. It’s still a long way from our back fence and the storm is predicted to pass today with the water cresting later this afternoon.

I am grateful.

Day 3 – too soon to fly

On our front door three baby robbins grow stronger every day.

On the pedestrian bridge I look at from where I sit at my desk typing, workers have gathered again to continue resurfacing the bridge deck. They’re doing their yoga this morning. Their morning ritual.

It pleases me to see them stretching and bending before beginning their work.

They were absent yesterday. It wasn’t safe to crawl over and under the bridge deck. I’m not sure I’d want to do it today but there they are, clad in rain gear, readying themselves for the day’s labour.

High above, the sky is lighter, less angry and swollen with pregnant clouds desperately trying to rid themselves of nature’s wet bounty.

The trees still dance in the wind. A small, leaf-burdened twig is ripped from a limb and strikes the deck.

I am here, calls out Mother Nature.

I see you, I reply.

We are one.

How it all began

Three eggs at our front door

Riverwatch

There’s no stopping the rain. It comes down in sheets. Eases off and returns to its deluge form again.

It’s going to go on like this for another day, the weather forecasters foretell.

And I watch the river like a hawk.

It is my ‘June’ thing. Riverwatch.

June is the rainy month in Calgary. If the river is going to flood, it will most likely do so now.

And I keep watch.

Prepare my ‘gotta go package’. Important papers. Suitcase. Treasures.

The likelihood of needing it is low. In the great flood of 2013, the river came to our back fence. No higher.

But…

Who knows with Mother Nature? Though the forecasters do foretell that these rains are still significantly less than the rains of the great flood, I still keep watch.

I let that knowledge comfort me. Ease my mind.

Living on the river is a gift or perhaps I should call it a privilege. Because it is.

We get to watch the river coursing through Mother Nature’s unfolding seasons from fast-flowing spring to sultry summer to Autumn’s gunmetal greys and winter’s glistening ice blanket.

We are party to buds bursting forth into a green curtain of beauty playing peek-a-boo with the view beyond their greenery to falling away to reveal the river flowing and freezing up and breaking up and flowing once again.

It is a privilege to live on the river.

And, just as darkness contains light and love contains anger, with that privilege comes the knowledge that what is cherished most also contains the potential to become something less desired.

As in all things, vigilance, standing in awareness, being present within all that is present, contains opportunities for miracles to unfold, love to rise and hearts to beat wild and free.

Not allowing the possible less desired to deter us from living here requires an acceptance of all that is present. The beauty, the constant flow of water, the sense of being immersed in Mother Nature through every season while being part of a vibrant and bustling city is divinely inspiring and invigorating.

And so, I watch the river.

She’s a wild one today.

She’ll be wild for another couple of days, the weather forecasters foretell.

Guess it’s a good thing I like living on the wild side!

Bird in Nest. Do Not Disturb.

The view from our bedroom window

She sits, still and enigmatic as a full moon glowing in the dark. Patiently, she waits for nature to take its course.

I watch, constantly peeking through the slats in the blinds at the kitchen window I never drew, until she arrived. Impatient for nature to take its course.

Her nest is an architectural marvel. Securely fashioned into the wire rungs of the spring wreath I hung on our front door to welcome guests.

She is the most welcome guest. As are her two blue eggs nestled into the nest she crafted of moss and leaves and twigs and forest debris.

The front door is off limits now. Guests are invited to enter through our garage door, into the laundry room, down the hall to the main room. (I really must get that basket of clean laundry put away!)

I’ve hung a sign on a rope strung from the handle of a large lantern that sits on the far corner of our front doorsteps to the planter that sits at the edge of the walkway beside the stairs leading down to the backyard deck. “Bird in Nest. Do not disturb. Thank you!”

I wonder if she realizes the sacrifices we’ve made to give her peace. I smile at my use of the word ‘sacrifice’. It is anything but. She feels like a gift from Mother Nature. As I said to my beloved last night after my final peek through the blinds to ensure she was settled in for the night, “I’m so glad she thinks our home is safe for her to nest here.”

It is the third year we’ve had a robin use our home as its nesting site. The other two were tucked into the rafters above the bottom deck. They were easy prey for the magpies and crows who frequent the neighbourhood too.

This nest is easy for me to help protect from predators. I watch incessantly for marauding crows or magpies on the hunt. The minute I see one, or hear the squawking of the robin and her mate, I race to the window, adding my voice to the cacophony.

I think the crows and magpies are terrified of this woman on the other side of the glass who flaps her arms and screams loudly, ‘Get Away!’.

I hope so.

There’s lots for them to eat in the band of forest that separates our yard from the river behind our home. They don’t need to poach eggs from our guest.

I do not know if there are more than the two eggs in her nest now. I only risked the one photo as I didn’t want to disturb her nest building. As robins lay one egg a day, it’s possible she laid a couple more eggs before she settled in to incubate her hatch.

I don’t know how much longer she will be resident at our front door. It could be three or four weeks. What I do know is that C.C. and I are agreed. The door is hers until she and her fledglings take flight.

It’s nature’s way of reminding us to slow down. Be still. Be patient. And above all, be caring of all creatures, big and small.

In the meantime, I shall do my best to not keep peeking through the slats of the blinds I’ve drawn to give her privacy and to help her feel safe.

See Mother Nature. I am learning from you how to be present in this moment right now, connected to all of your creation around me.

Namaste

Ebb and Flow. Flow and Ebb.

#fromwhereIsit #morningview

The river is flowing again. Fast. Free. Fluid. Spring melt ripens slowly.

The water level rises, centimetre by centimetre. Day by day. Where yesterday, the log-jammed up against one of the buttresses beneath the bridge was fully exposed, this morning, only ridges are available. Soon, as the snowmelt begins in earnest in the Rockies to the west, the water will submerge it and wash it away downstream.

For now, morning brings higher water levels. By dusk, the water will have receded a few centimeters. The cycle will continue day after day as I watch, sometimes with trepidation, its ever-increasing flow, wondering, how high will the waters come?

It is the gift and the angst of living on the Bow.

Years ago, along with 99 Calgarians chosen for Peter von Tiesenhausen’s Passage’s exhibition celebrating the Bow River, I released a small wooden boat (slightly bigger than my hand), carved with a number and message on its side, and set it adrift into the rushing waters of the River. Each of the 100 boats contained information for whoever found it on how to share the story of the boat’s discovery online.

I do not know where my boat was found, or if it was. I know many were. Many weren’t.

Perhaps, like the log stuck against the abutment, my boat landed in the weeds upstream from where it was launched and became buried in the silt of spring flooding.

Perhaps, it became waterlogged and lies at the bottom of the river in some distant tributary.

Or perhaps, it floated and drifted, following the current all the way to Lake Winnipeg into the Nelson River and onward to the Hudson’s Bay.

I like to imagine it did. I like to imagine it sailed out of the Bay into the Arctic Ocean to become frozen in time under the Tundra of the far north.

Perhaps.

Perhaps still, the patches of ice that stubbornly cling to the gravel bar further upstream will melt and somewhere on their journey, a current will find my boat, still and silent, waiting for its release in a marshland far to the east.

Perhaps.

The river, like time, does not flow backward. My boat, like memory, fades.

The sun struggles to reach the ice clinging to the shore.

Somedays, I struggle against the flow, just as some days I struggle to release the angst of these past two years.

Somedays, I release myself to the flow, allowing worry and angst, fear and sorrow to abate into the River’s constant flow.

Ebbing and flowing. Flowing and Ebbing. Life moves on as time passes.

No matter if I struggle or release, the river is in constant motion, life abounds all around and I am carried by the flow.

Whether I struggle or release, Love is always flowing.

It is my choice to struggle or to breathe into its constant flow trusting that no matter where I go, or where I become stuck or end my journey Love will always carry me through.

Namaste.

________

This is a video of the boat launch — if you look closely you’ll see me passing by the camera… 🙂

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Not Yet Spring.

In the snow below our upper deck, animal prints trail through the no longer pristine blanket covering the earth. Signs of this January melt that arrived on a gust of wind sweeping down from the Rockies, lie scattered across mother earth.

Once snow-laden branches stretch out bar arms entwining one another in a silent dance of hope. Has winter gone?  Is it time to get our juices flowing in anticipation of lengthening days beneath a welcoming sun? Is it time for spring?

Not yet cry out the geese, the ones who did not fly south and sit huddled up on icy banks along the river, squawking and honking in the morning light. Not yet.

Winter is not yet done.

This interlude of almost spring will not last.

Be patient.

And I spy my winter boots laying in the corner of the closet, my big puffy down-filled parka hanging above.

I want to leave them there. To let the sit forlorn and forgotten. To hide them away like Christmas cookies stored in tight containers in the freezer to keep me from indulging in what I do not need.

I want to indulge in these warmer days. To walk outside unencumbered by bulky clothing whose only purpose is to protect me from frostbite and cold toes and fingers.

I want to run free.

Be patient, honk the geese.

Winter will swoop in again. It is too soon for spring.

And so, I leave my parka hanging in plain view, my giant clunky fleece-lined boots lined up beneath them as if waiting for me to step into them again and take them for a walk in frosty temps and frigid air.

I leave my basket of heavy mittens and hats and scarves by the door, along with Beaumont the Sheepadoodles booties which he detests but is forced to wear when the temperature drops to Arctic zones.

I leave it all handy because like the geese who webbed feet paddle furiously beneath the rushing waters of the one thread of river that remains unfrozen, spring has not yet sprung. It is too soon.

But oh how I wish it had.

Oh how I wish I did not have to be patient.

But all my wishing and hoping will not change the course of the seasons here at the windward base of the Rockies.

All my dreaming of spring will not force winter to disappear like a distant memory grown too cold too remember.

All I can do is savour this interlude of spring-like weather and bathe in the gratitude that comes with knowing with every day that passes, winter’s return will not be as long now that its stay has been broken.

A NOTE ABOUT THIS POST

So…. I wrote my post in Word first this morning — it was a morning pages kind of exercise for free-fall writing. The purpose is to write without focusing on ‘the purpose’ but rather just the process of trusting in the process of letting whatever is seeking to appear, ‘fall out’.

I copied it and then got distracted and forgot to paste it in here before copying something else.

Oh no! I had forgotten to save it in Word and thought it was lost.

I have used a computer for decades – Word in particular. And in all that time, I was never sure how to find my ‘Clipboard’ other than the last saved item.

This morning, I learned something new!

wish I’d known it in December when I realized I’d inadvertently not saved the minutes for a board meeting for which I act as Secretary. (Until next week that is when I new secretary takes over and I step into the role of Vice-Chair – I’m pretty sure they’ll be happy to have me relinquish the role! 🙂 )

In the meantime, I am grateful to have discovered how to find my clipboard and retrieve things I copied after all this time! What a treat!

You Are Not Welcome Here

It is a conundrum I carry with me. It infiltrates my thoughts, creeping into every crevice creating ripples of fear that billow around my mind like smoke from a chimney, causing my breath to catch and me to gasp for air.

Which is where the conundrum lies.

Each breath is fear-laden yet, to dissipate fear, I must breathe. Slowly. Deeply. Steadily.

And I don’t want to. Breathe. At least not here, in a hospital where the air fellow humans have expelled could be laden with unwanted guests. Not in this place where my beloved has been resting and healing since New Year’s Day when a winter cold had turned to pneumonia necessitating medical intervention.

My mind scurries around ‘What if…?’ with the slithery adeptness of a fish moving through water.

What if that molecule of air I cannot see is rife with poisonous particles? What if my next breath draws in unwanted viral content eager to attach to my airways, its only mission to spread through my lungs?

What if…? I get infected and don’t know it and give it C.C. and… What if?

I imagine holding my breath. A long time. Like a looonnnnng time. And, even though I know it’s impossible and that in that one breath the undesirable is possible anyway, I catch myself standing outside the sliding doors of the hospital taking a deep, deep breath.

I hold it for as long as I can and exhale.

And take another, letting the power of breathing calm my jagged fears, soothe my worried mind.

And I walk in. Mask in place. Sanitizing my hands at every possible station. Keeping my distance from everyone I meet. As I step onto the elevator and use my elbow to press the button for his floor, I keep my mind busy with thoughts of well-being, chanting silently to myself words I learned years ago in a meditation class, “I walk in beauty now. Beauty lies before me. Beauty lives above me, behind and below me.”

And I walk into my husband’s room, calm of mind, gentle of heart, letting the smile behind my maskt be visible in my eyes. I greet him with a kiss blown from a safe distance and sit down at the edge of his bed for a leisurely visit.

Perhaps my fearless presence will remind this pernicious bacterial visitor who has taken up residence in C.C.s lungs that only love is welcome here.

Only Love.

She dares to steer her course into the extraordinary

In a sea of ordinary, she dares to steer her course into the extraordinary.

Thank you everyone for your kind words, your thoughts, ideas and empathy.

My ring is still missing but, as I often do when I’m feeling turbulent inside (and the wind is howling outside, which it is) I go into my studio and dive into curiosity and creativity, allowing whatever is seeking to appear, come to light.

The muse was all about exploring the question… “I wonder what would happen if I…”

In this case, the ‘if I’s’ were all about mixing different media to see what might happen.

Layer upon layer. Additions. Subtractions. Layer upon layer.

Like life. We try on a new pair of shoes and if they don’t fit, we try a different pair.

My art process yesterday worked the same. I tried spray inks and acrylic inks on top. Gesso through a stencil. Inkpad on top. Again and again and again.

No hesitation.

No judgment.

No groans of disappointment.

Just pure, unabandoned experimentation.

Because… in a world where confusion, disarray, and dismay become the ordinary tidings of our days, sailing into a rainbow world of magic and mystery is a wonderful way to transform every day into something extraordinary!

Namaste.

Some Mornings…

Some mornings take my breath away.

One moment I’m immersed in typing, head down, fingers flying across the keyboard, always pushing with just a bit more force on the ‘e’ which has started sticking. Lost in thought and words appearing as I type, I look up without looking, fingers still flying and then, it captures me.

The view outside my window. The world bathed in golden autumn light. Not red. Not yellow. Not orange. An indescribable gold kissed rose that wafts and floats through the trees like a ghost on All Hallows Eve drifting through candle-lit gravestones shimmering in the light of a full moon glowing bright.

My fingers stop moving. My mind stills. I jump up, run to the deck door, fling it open as I call out to C.C. to wake-up and, “Come see!”

There is beauty in everything.

Mystery everywhere.

And always miracles.

Because, the miracle this morning is that in that one looking up moment, I caught sight of morning light in its full intensity, it’s full unfolding.

I would have missed it had I not lifted my head to consider the thought that had just entered my mind as I was typing an email to the CEO of the organization with which I’m working. I was considering the thought, ‘how do I phrase this?’ when I lifted my eyes without really seeing the world beyond, only to be awoken by its beauty.

How many times does this happen?

How many instances of beauty are missed because we’re so immersed in the doing of what needs to get done rather than the being with all that is present?

There is so much beauty in this world. So many miracles unfolding right before our eyes.

Today, I awoke and found myself embodied in nature’s sunrise, awash in life’s glorious beauty bathing the sky in autumn’s glow.

What a beautiful awakening!

Like a Leaf Falling

I am deep in meditation when a leaf flutters down through my awareness, drifting effortlessly into view within the deepness of my knowing.

Softly it whispers. “Like a leaf falling, time moves without your hands guiding its passage.”

What the…?

My first reaction is to shoo the thought away. I mean seriously! I am in meditation. I’m not supposed to be having thoughts!

It won’t be shooed.

There it is again.

I sigh.

My breath deflates.

A thought rises up out of my belly. Resistance is futile. Meditation isn’t about emptying the mind. It’s about being present within all my body to this present moment. And in this present moment, a leaf is whispering to me.

As gracefully as I can muster, I yield to its presence and allow it to settle gently onto the crucible of my knowing, I am held in this present moment, embodied within all that is present here and now, within and all around me. We are all connected.

That leaf and me. That breath of wind. The tree releasing its golden gifts. The earth catching them on its fertile ground.

We are all here, embodied in this present moment. Effortless. Complete. Timeless.

And I breathe.

It is the timelessness that surprises me.

I mean, isn’t all of life about the passage of time?

Time is a man-made construct, some voice within whispers.

Huh?

The construct of time was created by man to somehow make sense of and claim nature’s natural nature to Release. Let go. Be.. Be present. Man doesn’t like the present moment. Man is caught up in fixing the past or designing the future.

In nature, there is no concept of ‘time’. No past. No future. There is only this present moment where all things that are present exist fully alive, fully here, being and becoming.

In this moment, the invitation is to Release. Let go. Be. Release. Let go. Be.

In Philip Shepherd’s work on The Embodied Present, there is an exercise where trainees are invited to walk outside and allow the body to guide them to stop periodically beside a tree or flower or leaf, neither intentionally nor non-intentionally, and state, “I am here.”

The ‘here’ is not a declaration, a claiming of ownership, a marker placed judiciously in time and space. It is simply a statement of communion with all that is present wherever the body has guided you to stand and state, “I am here.”

This morning, as I sat in meditation, a leaf fluttered into view carrying with it a reminder to get out of my mind and into my body. To let go of having to know. To Release. Let go. Be within all that is present in the world around and within me.

And in that sacred nature, to be open and alive within the vast, ineffable mystery of a falling leaf as it drifts effortlessly on the wind’s whispering incantation to Release. Let go. Be.

Namaste

Frost Kissed Skies

In deference to autumn’s chilly morning temps, I have been bundling up on my morning walks with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle lately. Nighttime temperatures have been sinking below freezing. Frost covers the ground.

But, in one final gasp of bravado, I attempt to defy Mother Nature. I haven’t pulled out the remains of summer from the garden. Yet.

I don’t think Mother Nature cares. She just keeps doing her thing.

Which, in the case of this city at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains north of the 49th parallel, is to sprinkle autumn mornings with hints of winter days to come.

Resistance is futile.

Mother Nature will always have her way.

And Mother Nature’s way is always full of beauty and wonder.