Friday, June 25, 2010

AT THE MARKET. Translating our experience through the senses into ‘Reality’.

The photo is all swirls of colour and partially repeating fragments of form. It has been made with a slow shutter speed with a camera slung at waist level and running on automatic focus. An interesting playing with reality we might say, using a sharply focused, frozen image as our standard of comparison. What if, in actual reality, it is reversed and the swirly image is how we sense the world and the concrete organized picture is what we create out of the fragmented input to our brains?

The total sensory experience during that morning at the market would have included a stream of information from smell, hearing, and touch as well as visual. The visual alone would have been changing rapidly in the shifting crowds of people, close up, moving, distant, all mish-mashed together just like in the photograph.

We all select to a great degree what we see and how we blend our total sensory input into a much simplified mind view. From birth we have been learning our culture`s take on the world and combining it with the inherited physical abilities of how our brains process information. We simply use a system of stereotyping to give us a quickly updated version of the current situation. What is reality is something else again.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ritual. Planting.

At the end of last month we were placing the last lot of vegetable seeds in the ground. Rake, rake, poke holes, place the corn and beans seeds in the ground and cover them up. Such a simple Spring ritual that has been a human activity for thousands of years. The future of the garden too is all mapped out; watch for the emerging plants, weed out the competition, keep the soil moist. Eventually we will begin to harvest the crop as the summer cools and the nights grow longer. Harvesting and preserving: canning, freezing, drying, saving seed for next year. Ready for winter with potatoes and other winter vegetables still in the garden to be harvested throughout the cold dark months. An extended ritual that is not generally acknowledged as such, not given its due in the life of the spirit.

The big religions of the world seem to have moved on to higher things, - Compassion, Moral Responsibility, Love of God - , but all those old religions to do with the seasonal round, the Earth and our place within it, are somehow primitive and beneath our notice. Some people still say Grace at meal times, in some form or other recognizing our connectedness to earth, air, fire and water, on ‘wind and rain and sun above’, but if we are not directly involved in the growing process the ritual becomes a little empty. Without that connection our lives are a little empty too.

All parts of life are a continuing ritual connecting us with the earth and we need to feel and honour that if we are to fully live out our days as individuals, societies and as a species.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The hidden stream.

The stream that flows down the sloping surfaces of our land has now slowed to not much more than a trickle. In winter, during stormy times, it roars so loudly that it matches the wild wind song in the tall trees, but in early June it is a quiet whispering thing that glides through the tall green grasses, wriggles smoothly around large pebbles and mossy logs before slithering under the wire fence and, a last patch of blue, ducks down among the nettles and heads for the valley bottom below. Soon it will draw its tail down behind it and disappear through the long dry summer months.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Building a life # 26 Windy Point.

From our new campsite at Windy Point we can look back along the reef rimmed shoreline to Arbutus Point and the stranger`s camp that presently occupies our familiar summer home. After the initial disappointment we are very happy up here on the top of the sandstone bluff. Someone before us has made a driftwood table and there is just enough room for our tents. In the afternoons the sea breeze rushes through the rugged fir tree and the dry summer grasses. A little bay lies below us, divided down the middle by the spine of a reef, and beyond lie the rocky Pellow Islets. Only occasionally does a small yacht dare to work its way through the reefs into the bay and anchor for the night. We are (almost) lords of all we survey.

We have found a direct trail that leads to the center of the island where the pump is located amid the grassy fields and near the old ruined farm house. This was once settled by Hawaiian pioneers and later owned by several folks who dreamed of the perfect life in the Gulf Islands. All is now gone back to nature and is a park for all to enjoy. Lucky us. Sometimes Heather and I imagine our own little clearing and its buildings melting back into the bush and, thanks to our experience on Portland Island, we find this thought a comforting one.

We can take long walks along the shoreline trails, visit the two main bays where yachts can anchor easily, or take our flotilla of little craft and row, paddle and sail along the shores, around the island and back home to Windy Point. “There are our tents,” we cry as we rush through the narrow channel by the Pellow Islets on the frothy backs of the waves of the afternoon breeze.


The Last Hurrah.

There is no obvious point when settlers become the settled but this summer adventure with the girls seems as good a place as any to say that the greater adventure we have been involved in as we created a new home in the Big Woods has become simply normal life for us. We are much more self reliant and resourceful people now and this will give us the foundation on which to build more family adventures in the future. When the girls enter their teens I will rebuild the barn into horse stables. Show jumping and dressage will keep them challenged. Later we will all take a winter holiday with Amazon, our catamaran, in the Bahamas and Mexico. When the girls have completed University ( they worked and paid their own way) and Heather has earned another creative writing degree and published a couple of books (The Patti Stories) we will have our Shiriri Adventure in the Pacific. All of this confidence to keep stepping off the beaten path we can trace back to these years in the Big Woods.

The barn underwent yet another transformation when we returned home from our ocean adventures. It is now my art studio/gallery. Just the other day I needed to enter some photographs into a gallery show and it looked like getting my entries printed and framed to a high standard would be just too expensive. Very naturally I pulled out of storage some rough cedar planks that I had milled from my own trees, ran then through my table saw, sanded, glued and painted them. I bought glass cheaply in large sheets and cut it to various sizes. Matting, mounting, putting it all together took care and time, attention to detail, but the results were fine. After all, isn`t that what we have been learning to do all these years?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

‘When the blue of the night meets the gold of the day...’

The early morning sun lights the far shore of Burgoyne Bay and catches the tops of tall trees that clothe the steep hillside above the dock. Down here on the beach it is still deep shadow, - the last wisps of night linger, tinted in cool blue by the overarching sky. I step carefully on the slippery beach gravel and open myself to this transient moment.

The red railed wharf above my head is an obvious starting point, all dark against the mountainside. Red in shadow, and to my eyes barely discernable as red at all, but the rigid pattern of piles and rails are dramatic against the sky. What if I were to tilt the camera and abandon the horizontal line of ocean and make a first step into the cool blue shadows.

A small boat lies at the high tide line and I cannot not take its picture, so beautifully shaped for the sea, but now sitting with its keel ready to cleave the sky. This is someone`s project, to reclaim a beautiful wooden dinghy and probably she belongs to one of several organic-looking anchored boats out in the bay. Those live-aboards; the sailor folk that do not own property, do not rent, may not do regular work, move around a lot and are viewed with disdain and distrust by those tied close by the land, are now bathed in this morning`s warm sunlight that falls freely upon all.

I crack my head hard upon an overhanging maple branch as I crouch low to get close to photograph some crab shells left earlier this morning on a boulder by some otters. I fall forward upon my knees clutching my forehead and see through my pain a soft lustrous glow shining up from beneath a black rock. I shake my head and can see that an oyster shell is catching the blue skylight in its pearly cup and reflecting it off the wet dark surface of the overhanging rock. I make the photo, finding in this accidental and almost hidden moment the perfect expression of these shadowy remains of the night before.