Hide and Seek

I caught a whiff of spring yesterday ~
Efforts to capture its fleeting essence
Were for naught.
Freshness escorted by bird ballads
replaced by cold rain and squally winds.

Winds threaten spring again today ~
We are enrobed by a diaphanous cape of fog.
Spring plays hide and seek
But I will keep looking ~
even if I have to count to one thousand and sixty-two.

Published in: on April 4, 2014 at 12:12 pm  Comments (13)  
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Whistling with a shoe full of slush……………

        Postings have been uninspired of late–but here is my latest newspaper column:

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”  ~ Doug Larson

          This week ushers in a much anticipated spring and hopefully rushes the winter that seems never-ending out the door. We have been promised temperatures in the 40’s (for those of you who are not of a certain age or have embraced centigrade—I guess we should be getting to around 7 or 8 degrees and maybe {cross your fingers} a balmy 10.) Sounds almost tropical compared to the temperatures we have been experiencing of late.

          Doug Larson, a Wisconsin columnist in the 50’s and 60’s, captures this spring perfectly—slush in our shoes is not going to stop us from clutching the promise of spring to our breast. We are ready to cast off our layers of clothing, our boots, our hats, our mitts and our long underwear and encase our feet in sandals, and our bodies in something other than wool and fake fur. I am ready to pack away my heavy boots and don running shoes for my daily walk (which of late has not been all that daily—I shun the cold and the wet and the slippery).

          This winter of my discontent has not been kind to my waistline—comforting and warming myself with food has led to a discomforting weight gain. As the sun warms the land, I plan on filling my plate with food of sustenance instead of consoling and pacifying carbs and sweets and fat.

          I met the poet, Christina Rossetti, in an English course or two. She had probably gone through a winter in the 19th century that is similar to the one we have been suffering in the 21st when she penned this poem:

“I wonder if the sap is stirring yet,
If wintry birds are dreaming of a mate,
If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun
And crocus fires are kindling one by one:
Sing robin, sing:
I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring.”

          Her misgivings about spring are certainly easy to understand given the fact that winter does not seem to want to loosen its grasp. Perhaps though we will appreciate the warmth more when spring finally arrives, no longer curse the groundhog for his truth, and complain less when it gets hot (unlikely—I make no such vow).  Spring will kindle thankfulness for all that is green and bright and warm.

          I have already girded my loins (I seem to be channelling Shakespeare today) in defence of  the fact that spring may be somewhat shy at first—giving us glimpses of lovely days to come, then retiring to let us stew in the inevitable last days of cold. But I am a proud Canadian, and this winter has made me understand what those in the most of the rest of Canada already know—that hockey reigns supreme (yay Olympics and hometown girl Meghan) and a little cold will not kill us.

          My spring coloured wreath hanging on my front door is still waiting to no longer be a discordant note—it is hung to herald a reluctant spring, and no matter how long it takes—its pinks and greens will soon join the chorus of other spring colours and not stick out like a sore thumb in the white snow. It proclaims, announces and foreshadows things to come (yes I am using my thesaurus again).

          One of the best descriptions of spring I have read is the one I will leave you with. It is from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett:

          “Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…

          “It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”

What is your definition of spring?

Published in: on March 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm  Comments (8)  
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Warmth and Inspiration

 Have not been too inspired of late, but here is my weekly offering in the form of my column:

            This never-ending winter has many of us hunkered down and if not hibernating at least wishing that was an option. I, however, have done my part. On March 1st I took down the wreath I had on my front door which featured a snowman and put up a new more seasonal wreath. Or at least it is a wreath that I hope becomes seasonal soon. It sports pink and lime green hydrangeas and looks quite lovely in contrast to all the white that envelops us.

            After I put the wreath on the front door on Saturday, my husband, John and I travelled to Kitchener to go to a wedding and when we got back yesterday I made the disappointed observation that my tactic did not work. Apparently springtide was not attracted to my symbolic gesture—so I will just have to accept that while it may not be around the immediate corner, the warm season is at the end of a long jaunt filled with ice craters, snow piles, and deep car-eating ruts in the road.

            The road trip to Kitchener was uneventful—but a bit dicey on the way home yesterday. One of the things that John and I do to make the trip more enjoyable is play music from our misspent youths. I am sure that John has now had his fill of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and in particular one of my favourite ballads of all times: “Our House”. I love the melodic tale it tells and will share some of the words with you now. I would share the whole thing, but I think there are copyright issues:

I’ll light the fire, You put the flowers in the vase, That you bought today–

Staring at the fire, For hours and hours, While I listen to you, Play your love songs,
All night long for me, Only for me–

Come to me now, And rest your head for just five minutes, Everything is good,
Such a cosy room, The windows are illuminated, By the sunshine through them
Fiery gems for you, Only for you…….”

And my favourite verse of all: “Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard, Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy’, Cause of you…..”

            This song embraces “home” to me—warmth, contentedness, love, and the fact that life can be hard, but the people you surround yourself with can make it so much easier. So in this vast coldness and Arctic vortex winter, we can be warmed by words until the sun shines a little warmer.

            The other song that John had to put up with on our road trip was from the movie “Frozen”. I picked up the soundtrack from Costco for less than $9 if anyone is interested and we listened to the song “Let It Go” in its various renditions. I particularly love track 10 which is the Demi Lovato version of the song—her voice soars and makes the words come alive. Just the words “Let It Go” have a power in themselves and each of us can translate them to mean what we want them to—I am sure all of us have to let something go in order to make room for other and better things. Here is a sample of some of the words I found particularly inspiring, and coming from the movie “Frozen” seem very apropos to the weather we have been having: “Let it go! Let it go! I am one with the wind and sky,

Let it go! Let it go! You’ll never see me cry,

Here I stand and here I’ll stay

Let the storm rage on….”

            Though winter is not done with us yet and “rages on”, I will take the lilting words of the “Frozen” song to heart and “Let It Go” all the while dreaming of “Our House” with a warm fire, fresh flowers in a vase, and cats in the backyard. In reality though it has to warm up for my cat to venture out—he sniffs the cold air and hightails it back in the house dreaming of adventures and warmer days. So while I dream of those days too, I will adjust my spring wreath and put on my big boots until nature finds it in her heart to warm up the environs.

Published in: on March 4, 2014 at 7:50 am  Comments (34)  
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Enjoy the Rest of May

 “The world’s favourite season is the spring; All things seem possible in May.” ~   Edwin Way Teale

May is a lovely transitional month—not too hot, not too cold, much like Goldilocks’ favourite bowl of porridge—it is just right.

Over the long weekend my family, like thousands of others, planted their gardens as this is the weekend it is considered safe—there should be no more frost or cold threatening our delicate plants. As foretold from my crystal ball, which is really just learning from experience, half of my vegetable garden is taken up with peppers—most of the hot, hotter, and hottest variety, as the avid gardener in the family, my eldest son has a penchant for peppers. We do have four green pepper plants for my more mild taste buds. We planted a row of radishes, a row of carrots, two rows of onions, tomatoes (a few yellow as I just love these) as well as some lettuce and chives.

And, we planted Swiss chard—that most prolific and hardy of vegetables. In fact, we had Swiss chard from last year come up in the garden this year—now that is my kind of plant! Now I just have to learn to like it a little better. I kind of like it—but do not love it.


English: Geraniums, Omagh Still in bloom along...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I write this, I am multi-tasking (which may explain a lot)—because I am trying to come up with a plan to plant some flowers that take little care, yet are pretty. So far I have come up with geraniums, which are the Swiss chard of flowers–hardy yet always impressive, and my go-to flowers– Impatiens. I do think I should step out of the box a little and get something different this year, but I am not sure what.

Do you have any suggestions for easy and pretty flowers–remember I am not much of a gardener. Bliss for me is an easy care garden–how about you?

Published in: on May 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm  Comments (50)  
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All Things Are Possible

A Wild Cherry in flower. Français : Un Merisie...

A Wild Cherry in flower.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.” ~   Edwin Way Teale

Do you find possibilities of bliss in May?

Published in: on May 17, 2013 at 4:00 pm  Comments (27)  
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A Cliché

English: Ho Hum Records Logo

English: Ho Hum Records Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is April

And it is raining

Ho hum.

(Brought to mind by that old saying: April showers bring May flowers.)

What clichés bring you bliss?

Published in: on April 10, 2013 at 3:36 pm  Comments (30)  
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Mackerel Skies and Mares’ Tails

Mackerel sky over Lincolnshire, England.

Mackerel sky over Lincolnshire, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is my column for the newspaper this week:

The weather seems to be a healthy topic of conversation lately in that most of us are questioning why we are only having spring-like weather instead of full-on spring. And today the weatherman said that it is more like February 1st than April 1st as it is only going up to 39 degrees Fahrenheit or what it is in Celsius—4 degrees?

I am going to be a bit of a devil’s advocate here, and say that while I am tired of donning coats and gloves, I have not needed boots or hats too much lately—and the big news is that I have been known to leave the gloves behind for short sojourns. And that is a first sign of the things to come. Over the weekend I wore spring coats and sweaters, but as the evening came on, I did shiver me timbers.

My husband, John, who loves, loves, loves Lee Valley Tools got to visit their London store on Thursday when he went to pick our youngest son, Tyler, up from college for the Easter weekend.  Tyler was not quite ready when his dad pulled into his driveway so he sent his father off happily to Lee Valley to give him more time to pack. Well, about an hour after sending his Dad off, Tyler called me, and lamented that he had sent his dad to his favourite store to kill some time, and he was not back yet. Big surprise! I have been to Lee Valley and Lowe’s and some other stores of that ilk with John, and I know what waiting is all about. What that man finds so fascinating at these stores totally eludes me, but that is fodder for another column.

While he was at Lee Valley he picked up a little pamphlet called ‘Weather: An Introduction to Clouds, Storms and Weather Patterns”. (See how I am coming back to the original topic at hand?) Now, on the surface this sounded a little too much like grade 6 geography class where we had to learn the names of the different clouds and air masses, and other things that are good to know, but boring to an eleven year old. There is a page in this multipage pamphlet that I found, while not exactly captivating, quite interesting. It listed several facts of weather lore, and what those traditional sayings mean. Some I had heard before, but many were new to me. See how many you are familiar with, and if you knew just exactly what the phrase really meant:

“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor take warning”. The explanation is that red sunsets are usually followed by dry nights. A red morning sky means rain is on the way. Now I knew this one as my husband likes to scuba dive, so this knowledge is pretty important if you are going to be out on the lakes.

“A sun-shiny shower, won’t last half an hour.” This apparently means that showers that happen while the sun shines are brief. Who knew?

“Mackerel sky and mares’ tails make tall ships carry low sails.” Never heard this one before, nor do I think I could decipher it—but it means that certain clouds are often followed by high winds. A mackerel sky and mares’ tails—does that mean that the clouds are shaped like fish and tails? This one is a little too opaque for me.

“Christmas on the balcony means Easter in the embers.” I like this one, but not necessarily its meaning, which is that if you have a warm Christmas, Easter will be cold.

“Squirrel’s tail fluffy, winter will be blustery.” This one is self-explanatory—even I got it. Another self-explanatory one is this: “Onion’s skin very thin, mild winter coming in. Onion skin’s thick and tough, coming winter cold and rough.” And still another that does not take a rocket scientist to understand it: “No weather is ill, if the wind be still.” Well, duh.

“A coming storm your shooting corns presage, and aches will throb, your hollow tooth will rage.” This sounds rather menacing—the explanation provided says that bad weather is brought on by a drop in atmospheric pressure; this can cause blood vessels to dilate, which aggravates sensitive nerves near irritated body parts.

And last, but not least: “When halo rings the moon or sun, rain’s approaching on the run.” Apparently halos around the sun or moon are caused by light reflecting off high altitude clouds of air crystals; this in turn is, is a precursor of rain at lower altitudes. Okay then, that is clear as mud.

There will be a test on these terms, so study up.  And don’t say I never taught you anything.

Bliss is learning now what I should have learned when I was 11. What do you think?


Spiral Birds and Blooms: 2nd Chiyogami Series

Spiral Birds and Blooms (Photo credit: so_jeo)


Mid-March hesitates

Lion yawning, lamb awaits

Spring plays hide and seek.



Mixed snow and rain, icy cold

Where is soft sweet spring?


True bliss is patience

Icicles will drip and melt

Giving way to blooms.

Published in: on March 15, 2013 at 7:41 pm  Comments (52)  
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