Tag Archives: nature

Vitamin N

And dead mice!

When I was little, outside play and dirt were the norms. Summers at the ocean were driven by my mom saying “get outside and play, don’t come back until lunch”  Wouldn’t happen today.


Our youngest grand was here this last week unexpectedly  because her sister was in the hospital. She is not used to being by herself. She is quite resourceful and loves to play outside, soaking up Vitamin N(ature). Dirty to her means the opportunity for a bath, (“can I have colours”) at bedtime.  Friends? Way too many friends here.


And dirt! Sand to be particular.  It goes in your Crocs and it comes out, too.


Oh,  and the dead mice. We have  a problem with mice in the barn, but the cats are on it. As for this little fellow, well, he lost his importance to real goats and chickens. Sometimes the Disney variety just doesn’t cut it. They get abandoned.


When the play is over, the only thing left to do is go in for lunch!


It Takes A Gaggle

To raise goslings.







Angels In Your Head

“You wouldn’t believe what once or twice I have seen.  I’ll just tell you this: only if there are angels in your head will you ever, possibly, see one.”  – Mary Oliver


I consider eagles a spirit animal and I wear an aboriginal carved silver bracelet with an eagle on it always. I am very lucky to have the company of 46 eagles on my hikes with the dogs in January and into February. Wilderness is not a luxury.



Snow Report

Sunday December 27th
New Snow 35+ cm
Conditions Excellent
Temperature a balmy -9 C to a high of  -5 C
Elevation 1500m

Everything is a snowman today, and I can shovel again tomorrow!


The Artist ~ Nature

“So far as seeing things is an art, it is the art of keeping your eyes and ears open. The art of nature is all in the direction of concealment. The birds, the animals, all the wild creatures, for the most part try to elude your observation. The art of the bird is to hide her nest; the art of the game you are in quest of is to make itself invisible,”

John Burroughs

IMG_2239[1]IMG_8793Black Cottonwood

A Mindful Moment

 This little guy resonates at the highest frequency for me. His boots, his sweater, his toque, his garden tool, his name “Scout”. What is not to love if you love kids, gardening, nature and mindfulness. I want him to come live in my garden, please?

Psst…you gotta come and see this!!!

Said the 4-year-old. It usually meant, “look what I am doing or have done or what the cats and dogs have done: but this time it was special. “Shh “she said as she motioned us to come quick and be quiet.

wild deerIt was a beautiful female deer, down by the creek at the back of our property. We had a perfect view of her from the deck. She was quietly munching on rose hips and false Solomon Seal berries. She might be the same doe from last summer, she looks similar. What a treat.

And……. what a treat for the 4-year-old. A year ago she was afraid of the tiniest bugs, creatures, and animals. A clear case of NDD (nature deficit disorder). Today she embraces all. The telling point was when she requested help saving a frog who was hopping through the grass just before a dog training class. We had to help him through the fence, in case he got stepped on, maybe his mom was looking for him. Empathy training doesn’t come any easier.


Zen Garden On Paradise Lane

Meditation Benches

Everyone should be quiet beside a little stream and listen.

I love Karen Maezen Miller. I love everything she writes, I love everything she says and everything she doesn’t say. Her new book Paradise In Plain Sight is beautiful, but it’s not about gardening. Thank goodness. I do love her Lessons From a Zen Garden. Her book inspired me to think about what lessons I have learned from my garden.

It reminds me very much of another favourite book  Fly Fishing Through a Midlife Crisis by Howell Raines. His book wasn’t about fly fishing either. He had some lessons as well:

  •  Always be careful about where you fish and what you fish for and whom you fish with.
  •   Be even more careful about what you take home and what you throw back.
  • The point of all fishing is to become ready to fly fish.
  •   The point of fly fishing is to become reverent in the presence of art and nature.

There is no way you would call my current garden a “zen garden” or a Japanese garden. I did have one once. It was at our last house on the wet coast.  A modern-day version of what western gardeners thought an Asian Garden should look like. It was peaceful,  quiet and beautiful.  Already there when we bought the house, the garden was rumoured to have cost $30,000. It was based loosely on the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden and designed on the harmony of four main elements: rock, water, plants, and architecture.

When we moved here to Paradise Lane just off Paradise Road on the treeline above the grasslands I brought all my previous garden knowledge and  prejudices with me. I wanted to keep gardening the same way. Ha!


Well… I did have the same elements; rock and lots of them, plants I had never seen before…….. what was a plant or a weed. I had water, underground in a well and a raging creek as my property line. Some days it was there and some days not at all. Dependent on what the master gardener Mother Nature decreed, we also had fire and wind.

Life and gardening lessons were in abundant supply. Peace and plenty were interchangeable with chaos, mayhem and nothingness, and nothing was controlled by me. But, this is after all, paradise, right here.


I grew up being taught that man has dominion as a gift from ‘god” overall. Genesis 1:26
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

After 13 years here I know that any desire I have to conquer or have dominion over this garden is for not.

I have learned that:

Field of Dandelions

1. Dandelions are not a weed.  There are no weeds, just aversions. Dandelions here are the first food for bees and if you are walking through a field of dandelions and it is not buzzing, your crops are in trouble. I have already blogged about One Man’s Weeds Are another Man’s Toilet Paper.

Ever wonder how so many dandelions end up in your garden?

As a teenager my mom had a phrase about squeezing zits on your face. When you kill one  a hundred more come to its funeral. Weeds and resentments react the same way.

1a. These are not dandelions. They are yellow and you never see them in anyone’s garden but sometimes in the spring they cover the hillside for a very short time and photographers vie for the best shot of mass balsam in bloom. The biggest resentment in my garden is Burdock.

BalsamWeeds & resentments are very similar.

2. Something very, very small can cripple or enhance a garden, a life, an economy.

dead pinePine trees grew everywhere in these parts and farther north. They were part of the basis of our forestry resource sector. A tiny beetle the size of a grain of rice killed millions of acres of pine, sometimes destroying whole communities. Little things can also be a sense of joy and renewal. The tiny violets hiding under the no weeds.                                                                       IMG_5824 IMG_5803

The baby tree, a gift from its mother, protected by her dying roots and fed from her decaying body, or the first damselfly of spring.


3. Water is important for living and nurturing. Water from a shallow well can be a great teacher if you mindlessly leave a tap running and drain the well.  How you water your garden is also how you should water your life. A gentle shower nurtures growing plants better than the harsh jet setting on your hose nozzle. Relationships are the same.









4. Be careful whom you invite to  your garden, just like being careful whom you invite to fish with you. If you live with five cats be prepared for the Nepeta to be eaten to the ground. If you live with a non gardener don’t expect them to know the difference between dandelions and balsam. Be careful what you ask of them; like weed whacking, or watering. Not everyone has the soul of a gardener, but they do have a soul. Forgiveness helps.

Dwarf Mane Coon

5. Rocks,  integral to a Zen Garden, and dirt are important in my garden as well. They teach about sensing, seeing and listening.

You can build walls with rocks, use them as  a door stop or make them part of your  meditation. I am an addicted rock collector. I am always picking them up on walks. Rocks have solid stories to tell. They are the foundation of the earth. I always add the small ones that talk to me to my fountain below. The large lava formed rock is a “grandfather” used in aboriginal sweats….the ancestors are always invited and blessed at a sweat lodge.

grandfather rockIMG_5817IMG_5837

Nature is always talking to us. Even dirt has something to say. Chef Dan Barber  says in his new book  The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food  “soil is a living organism (made up of billions of smaller living organisms — just like us). It inhales and exhales, procreates, and digests. And it has a personality, too…..but soil is constantly talking to us, communicating what it needs. It shoots up milkweed if it’s hungry for zinc, and wild garlic if it needs more sulfur. If you see chicory or Queen Anne’s lace in a field, that means the soil is low in fertility”

We just  have to observe and listen. (especially for the birds)

blue bird grasslands

6. I  have a notion that change happens slowly, It only took a short time here with a windstorm and a fire to disabuse that belief. In ten years over 100 trees have died or fallen. We spent two weeks evacuated by a raging fire. Impermanence gets bandied around so much today. Yes, eventually everything changes and disappears. Even saints  get old and broken.

IMG_5796 IMG_5795

Gardens and living disabuse a lot!

7. Be careful who and what you feed. Feeding the birds in winter leaves unwanted plants in your flower beds. (quack grass, chickweed )


It also creates sunflowers. Leaving areas in their natural state invites deer and bears to eat and sleep. Fallen logs and overgrowth along the creek promotes bug life and shade for the returning salmon. Gardens need to be shared. This type of gardening transcends the needs of the gardener. It’s not about gardening anymore.

Sometimes the nature of my gardening seems so chaotic and out of control; my life too. Unclear or in ruin, taking refuge in wildness can give an order to all things.

8. Children belong GROW in the garden. They are washable and you can just towel dry. As a grandmother, teaching my grandchildren their first nature lessons is a privilege. I feel so sad for little ones that think  nature is something you see on tv, or who are afraid of bugs, worms, snakes and dirt. In a garden they learn they are not alone, it connects them to a world that is small and infinite at the same time. They learn their place.



9. Genuflect.

I love this word. Get down on your knees in the garden with reverence and worship. It teaches servitude and humility.

Thank you Karen Maezen Miller and Howell Raines!

Paradise is here. May we all be blessed with good gardening and great fly  fishing


Poetry & The Old Wisdom

It is “poetry month”, I found out from my daughter’s blog. She is attempting to blog a poem a day. I won’t promise to go that far, but I will try to post some of my favourite poetry and poets.

It is also Jane Goodall’s 80th birthday today. It keeping with my joy of spring arriving, my pleasure in long nature walks and my determination to ensure that my grandchildren have nature to enjoy I thought this was an apropos poem to share.



When the night wind makes the pine trees creak
And the pale clouds glide across the dark sky,
Go out my child, go out and seek
Your soul: The Eternal I.

For all the grasses rustling at your feet
And every flaming star that glitters high
Above you, close up and meet
In you: The Eternal I.

Yes, my child, go out into the world; walk slow
And silent, comprehending all, and by and by
Your soul, the Universe, will know
Itself: the Eternal I.

It also helps to remind me that Jane’s children’s book Dr. White is republished and comes out this week. Perfect gift for grandchildren from a dog loving Mimi.

(thanks Brain Pickings)



Nature vs Naturalist

blue bird in grasslands“May my heart always be open to little birds, who are the secrets of living.” ― e.e. cummings

I love nature but in no way would I consider myself a naturalist. I wouldn’t call myself an environmentalist either, but I do my best to preserve our environment. Being in nature is a practice for living….. (spiritual….mental….physical….emotional) for me. It gets me out of myself (less ego), makes me curious (want to know more), gets me hiking (good cardio), brings me joy (gratitude, awe).

blue bird in grasslands

On both hikes this weekend  bright flashes of blue and cheeky song entertained the dogs and I. The grasslands and even the river dike had a multitude of blue birds flashing, flitting and flirting with us. They were quick but easy to spot with their bright blue feathers. Precursors of what is to come!

blue bird in grasslands

I hadn’t realized that their abundance relied on a multitude of people. My enjoyment was the result of the  hard work of the naturalists in the region and that at some point we were at risk of losing this wonder.

It pulls on my heartstrings. I definitely have a black-belt in codependency with a desire to fix or join things. Just doing a little research had me inclined to join. My expertise in fundraising makes me a valuable member of all volunteer and non-profit organizations. I forget that no is a complete sentence.

Good thing I have my own little piece of nature to come home to and I could resist the temptation to save blue birds. I will just enjoy and try to keep safe the hoards of chickadees in my yard (including the one who insists on hanging upside down).

The Southern Interior Bluebird Trail Society (SIBTS) is a non-profit volunteer organization, formed to promote recovery of Mountain and Western Bluebirds.We are located in British Columbia and have members throughout the province. We establish nestbox trails, monitor them, compile statistics and educate others about this important cause.To date, SIBTS members have placed over 6,000 nestboxes. Since reaching an all-time low in the late 1970s, Mountain and Western Bluebird populations are increasing in numbers. The success of our program is a reflection of the dedication of our members.

 BC Nature mission; “Know Nature and to keep it Worth Knowing”.