Sunday, January 30, 2011

Well the snow we knew was coming started at 4:00 in the afternoon Friday and has been pretty steady since then. However it has not been overwhelming and not too cold we are at minus 21 C at present.  This has however led to shoveling snow that most iconic of winter pastimes. However our portion is fairly small, we have neither driveway or car.

A number of poets have mentioned this winter rite.

"He had thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existance,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway."

                                                        Shoveling Snow with Buddha
                                                                  Billy Collins

" I've learnt the beatitudes of ice,
something sacred, something cold,
demanding respect, a paraphernalia
of horned boots, cowl and padded vest,
for body nicely flexed to winter's mould."

                         From Shovel to Self-propelled Blower:
         The Immigrant's Progress
                                                                            Reinzi Crusz

Saturday, January 29, 2011

On a trip to Edmonton in the early fall I was able to watch a small red squirrel interact with the magpies. He lives in the spruce across from the window of the desk where I work but claims the entire area including the bushes in front of the window and the two trees down the slope. I first noticed him when he shot up the near tree a couple of times after a pair of magpies.  One flew to the top the other moved to a spot where he could not be easily reached.  The squirrel returned to the ground then crept closer it would disappear, then it's head would pop up here and there like a character in a Looney Tunes cartoon finally it rushed up the second tree and zipped along a branch to reach the magpie who finally gave up and flew off.

I am familiar with the territorial behavior of red squirrels, although they are rare in the city now having been replaced by black squirrels.  Many years ago one moved into a spruce tree next to the window of our apartment's kitchen it would hang from the screen and chatter at us if we moved about in the room. This lasted until a neighbour chained a German Shepard to the tree hopefully it simply moved.

Another time we were in an archaeological field camp, the outhouse was off by itself in a grove of spruce with a red squirrel chattering at you the entire way. The outhouse had a corrugated plastic roof, once you were sitting there having a quiet moment the squirrel would launch a spruce cone from 20 to 30 feet up the tree the noise was incredible, like a rifle shot.  It also crept into our tent trailer at night and boogied under the kitchen sink, a great place to store cones. A handful of black pepper ended that but the outhouse remained an experience.

I returned to Edmonton to work this winter and the squirrel magpie drama continued.  This time there had been several enormous snowfalls the magpie would land on a tree next to the next the spruce the squirrel would attack.  Since the layers of snow where so deep he often tunneled under neath, the squirrel used a different strategy.  It launched itself from the tree, sometimes from 5 or 6 feet up trying to intersect the magpie in the tree or in the air, upon missing it would break thru the crust and disappear. Twice I saw the magpie struggle into the air and then saw something fall away and the squirrel reappear.  I do not know whom latched onto to who but the magpie only made it a few inches into the air. The number of magpies increased the snow continued and the "game" ended. 

But the great and flashing magpie
He flies as artists might.

A magpie in Picardy
Told me secret things—
Of the music in white feathers,
And the sunlight that sings
And dances in deep shadows—
He told me with his wings.
                                                    Magpies in Picardy
                                                                                 T.P. Cameron Wilson

The rest of this poem and more information on
it's author can be found at Tim Kendall's blog on war poets.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All three of our locations are situated in park like setting.  Edmonton has a large pond with ducks and geese in the summer.  Calgary used to get deer probably sneaking down from Nose Hill Park but I think a spate of construction a few years ago blocked their routes. We still get grey partridges, duck, geese and white tailed jack rabbits.  These pictures however are still from my trip to Edmonton.

"To be inhabited, to be explored
        With the single-minded perseverance
                        Of a blind man whose sight has been restored."
                                                The Secret Amplitude
                                                             John Koethe

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I finally took my camera on a trip to Edmonton.

They have had a lot of snow possibly the most in decades.

Snow is one of those things that is "fine" to watch

when you have nowhere to be but present.

"No wiser now
Than the spellbound child
who first beheld beguiled,
Long seventy years ago
Enchanted snow."

                                               Enchanted Snow
                                          Melville Cane

Several people asked what I was taking pictures of
but it was hard to know what to say there was so much and so little.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I had planned to post some photos
from my business trip to Edmonton.
Boy lots of snow.

But then the neighbours dropped in.

Even the weird redheaded neighbours from down the block.

"Sparrows splash
in shallow sunny  

                                                Ken Wagner on Haiku Habits

At one point it was everybody out of the pool. 
Then I heard a magpie call, he landed, stomped
around the yard, saw me and left. 
The sparrows returned and
the house finches started to show up.

"Therefore I shall throw
Broken bread, this sullen day,
Out across the snow,

Betting crust and crumb
That birds will gather, and that
One more spring will come."

                                                    Ecclesiastes 11:1     
                                                                   Richard Wilbur


Monday, January 17, 2011

I was in Edmonton for part of last week, they had even more snow than Calgary  but the temperate was about the same between -20-25 degrees C with a wind chill.  I have not managed much time outside but I tried for some photos this morning. 

                          For this one my motto is if you can't be in focus be mysterious..,

                                                    "The city. A winter sky.
                                                    Darkness. The portal yawns."
                                                                            Boris Pasternak

      "A chaos of clear horns rings in the snow dawn
            of a place I visit in dream,
            I don't know where."

                                                                    Record of Dream, Sent to Shi Bohun,
                                                           to the Tune of " Night Roaming in the Palace"
                                                                                                             Lu You                                                                                                                 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This beautiful box was a Christmas present from my mother-in-law.
It was described by the woodworker as
Bison Spirit Box
Black Walnut with Spalting
Birch Tile surrounded by African
Padauk Border.

Friendly Forest Products

Of course I had to think of what to keep in it.
And it had to be special.
Some random magpie feathers,
a red tailed hawk feather given me by my brother-in-law.
He retrieved it from the land he sold us for the cabin we hope to build this summer.
A small rose pebble, a magpie dropped this from a roof next to where I was sitting having coffee.
I am not sure what will be next.

"Once I came back to the leaves just as they were falling
Into the rattling of magpies and the waving flights
Through treetops beyond the long field tawny with stubble"
                                                                       W.S. Merwin

Saturday, January 8, 2011

We seem to be lucky today so far we have not much snow compared
to the rest of Canada. But it does leave me wondering whose white world
should I enter next Emily Bronte's, the Otter's or Stan Roger's?

"COLD in the earth—and the deep snow piled above thee,

  Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!

Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,

  Sever'd at last by Time's all-severing wave?"

                                                   Emily Brontë

“so I came straight off here, through the Wild Wood and the snow! My! it was fine, coming through the snow as the red sun was rising and showing against the black tree-trunks! As you went along in the stillness, every now and then masses of snow slid off the branches suddenly with a flop! making you jump and run for cover. Snow-castles and snow-caverns had sprung up out of nowhere in the night--and snow bridges, terraces, ramparts--I could have stayed and played with them for hours. Here and there great branches had been torn away by the sheer weight of the snow,”
                                                         Wind in the Willows
                                                                    Kenneth Grahame

"Ah, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage
To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea;
Tracing one warm line through a land so wide and savage
And make a Northwest Passage to the sea.
Westward from the Davis Strait 'tis there 'twas said to lie
The sea route to the Orient for which so many died;
Seeking gold and glory, leaving weathered, broken bones
And a long-forgotten lonely cairn of stones."

                                      Northwest Passage
                                       Stan Rogers

The evocation of history and memory seen through a snowy curtain
can be pretty effective for me. 
It leads me to appreciate the connections we
form not just to our own past but the past of others through art and literature.
Winter seems  a perfect time for reflection, stories, music and armchair

Friday, January 7, 2011

“And then they come with colder feet, and fret
The winds with snow and tuck the streams to sleep
With icy sheet and gleaming coverlet,
And fill the valleys deep”
                                 Archibald Lampman
                                   ( an old favourite )

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I went for a walk at lunch the other day.

It is hard in the midst of the city to pretend you are in the wild wood.

But sometimes you have help

"This we’ll gladly hear-
a lonely, wild heart
that in limitless freedom
still finds its way to us."
                                 The Loons Head North
                            Tarjei Vesaas

The Whole landscape drifted away to the north,
To Moose Factory, hundreds of miles, to the pole
And beyond, to the Arctic ends of the earth,”
A Window on the North
R.A.D. Jones

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Still winter but not actually that cold, hovering around freezing.
A good excuse to celebrate all things winter in poetry.
which can of course be done mostly from inside.

“If I could walk out into the
cold country
And see the white and innocent dawn arise:”

“If I could walk over stubble
Fields white with frost
And see each separate small beaded blade”

Both quotes tak en from
                    If I Could Walk Out Into A Cold Country
                                              Elizabeth  Brewster

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I did not have photo of a deer for my previous post
but when I found these words in R.A.D. Ford’s
wonderful book

A Window On The North, The Ryerson Press 1956,
I knew my neighbourhood could supply ample mountain ash.

And in the garden the fire
Of bright red mountain ash
Is burning. But it cannot warn us.
                       The Golden Grove
                  R.A. D. Ford

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lacking  a good photo of a deer
but wanting to highlight some poetry
we are back at Christmas.

Neither imagines
the spirit-deer made of thicket shadows,
the deer known only when imagined.

                This Day, Tomorrow, And The Next
                                          Pattiann Rogers

When for too long I don't go deep enough
into the woods to see them, they begin to
enter my dreams. Yes, there they are, in the
pinewoods of my inner life.

                                                                      The Faces of Deer
                                                                                      Mary Oliver

The deer have crossed the treacherous lake,
And disapper now one by one into the spruce
Woods.  In the silence a bough breakes
Sharply with the weight of ice
and the sound re-echoes from the grey skies.

                                                                                     Thaw in January
                                                                                              R. A. D. Ford

Some last looks at Chrismas. 
I normally keep the tree up forever but it is looking a bit dry.

I did post earlier about my love for shiny toy like things.

I do not think there is any doubt about it.

I am guilty.

I also love SF and robots.