When I took some rose photos this morning, I realized just how many rose photos I have! I thought they’d make a cheerful photo blog. Roses are another beautiful reminder of the brevity of all life and of the importance of living in the moment. I tried to remember that today as I am feeling impatient as I wait for the days to come. Take care and enjoy!
I thought of this post today because I am in charge of feeding the juvenile magpie that my neighbour rescued. The little guy is moving around a lot more today and is eating very well. Soon he’ll be old enough to survive on his own. Here’s a video of the rescued magpie singing its melodious song:
And here’s a re-post of Compassion for a Magpie:
As you may or may not know, depending on where you live, a [black-billed] magpie is a black and white bird with long tail feathers which looks a bit like a crow. When the sun shines on the magpie, its dark feathers are iridescent, appearing to be blue, purple and green all at once. The magpie doesn’t have a sweet, musical voice. It screeches and chases songbirds, even eating other birds’ eggs when the opportunity comes along. It flies behind cats, cawing loudly and snipping at their tails.
Listen to me read this post:
Around here, anyway, magpies are not well-liked. We have a few in our yard for a couple of reasons. They enjoy the suet I put out for other birds, and they are extremely fond of the eggshells they find in the compost bin. Both the suet and the shells are valuable sources of protein. There are also quite a few tall trees in our neighbourhood which provide excellent shelter and nesting habitat. And so, for now, the magpies are here to stay.
Just yesterday, one magpie of a mating pair was injured. It lay in the grass struggling to lift its head while the other circled about, cawing and seemingly urging the other to stand or to fly.
I could feel the uninjured bird’s distress at the situation of its mate. The healthy bird was clearly agitated, quite frantic, and I thought “Not so different than us.”
There’s no feeling more frustrating than that feeling of helplessness and useless restlessness in the face of suffering – especially the suffering of someone we love. As I watched the magpies in this difficult circumstance, I recognized and understood their suffering as no different from my own.
I couldn’t watch nature take its course, and I don’t know for sure if the injured magpie went on to live or to die. I looked away and closed the curtains in response to the stab of pain in my heart. It was silly, after all, to feel so deeply the pain of another – especially one so despised and at times so despicable. What did I need that for when I already have enough sorrow of my own?
It’s true that we cannot easily take on all the sorrows of the world, nor can we single-handedly cure all the injustices, illnesses, and injuries. But the magpies made me consider that perhaps if I could just open my heart a bit wider to see and hold the suffering of others that I may be better equipped to deal with my own. If I can accept the magpies’ suffering – both the injury and the distress – then perhaps I can also better accept my own suffering and that of all living creatures. With a more open heart, perhaps next time I won’t need to look away.
I took this short video while standing within our covered deck. It’s a beautiful place from which to listen to the rain and stay (mostly) dry while listening. I don’t remember the last time we got a deluge like this, but there was likely a good rainfall or two last summer. The rain is calming and makes my cooped-up feelings roost and relax a bit. Wherever you are, I hope you have a chance to enjoy the rain, to breathe in deeply, and to notice you’re alive.
The mountain ash trees in our front yard are blooming and the blossoms fill the air with thick perfume, and every evening there’s a layer of yellow pollen on our patio table’s glass! There are so many bees pollinating the blossoms out front that the trees were humming last night. I took a few 10-second recordings trying to capture the sound. Turn up your volume and you’ll hear a steady hum. That’s the bees!
You’ll also hear an attention-seeking robin in the background trying to steal the show with his melodic singing voice. And in one of the videos, a mourning dove chimes in. Her mother told her she can sing. (She can’t.)
Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.Hal Borland
We had the opportunity to visit Big Knife Provincial Park last week for another hike, this time on the Highland Trail. During our previous visit, we hiked the Lowland Trail. Downloadable trail maps are available from the Alberta Parks website, if you’re interested.
Thanks to Wander Woman Travel Magazine (check out the publication – it’s excellent) for the following story about how Big Knife park got its name:
Big Knife Provincial Park is named after Big Knife Creek, which flows through the park. The park and the creek are in Blackfoot Nation territory. According to legend, a fight to the death happened near the creek. A Cree warrior named “Big Man” fought a Blackfoot warrior named “Knife.” The creek was thereafter known as Big Knife.Debbie Olsen
Nothing like a fight-to-the-death story to keep us visiting our provincial parks, am I right? Another draw this particular visit were the bright yellow signs posted around the park and at every trailhead: Warning – Bear in the Area. “How relaxing!” I exclaimed. I didn’t. Instead, my husband and I held loud conversations when we’d remember. Occasionally, we’d lapse into comfortable silence as we walked along until we remembered that our silence could potentially startle a very large, faster-than-you’d-think, bear and end in one of our deaths. Probably mine as I have much shorter legs than my husband.
During our last visit during which we hiked the Lowland Trail, we found a narrow path leading up to this hoodoo. Against my better judgment, I stepped on its clay side at the base of the hoodoo where its incline just begins. The earth gave way as soon as all my weight was on it. Under the dry surface, the clay was wet and slick. I slid and fell down, clay all over my one shoe and covering my right pant leg. I didn’t get hurt, but my pride was a little bruised.
To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.Terry Tempest Williams
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.E. B. White
Do you want to be right or do you want to be light? Throughout life and especially as we age, we need to decide if we’ll release the burden of the past and forgive or if we’ll keep carrying around our pain. Either way, it’s difficult. It’s hard to lug through life all our hurts and resentments that grow heavier with time. It’s challenging, too, to open our hearts, accept our pain, and to forgive and move on.
Listen to me read this post:
In a cardboard box downstairs in my house, the house that belonged to my grandmother, there’s a trove of cards and letters that my grandmother collected over the years. In that cardboard box, I found and read several warm and caring letters written in my mom’s graceful hand to her mother-in-law who openly could not stand this young woman married to her son. So consumed by her feelings toward my mother, Grandma expressed them to me, long after my mother was dead and gone.
My grandma chose the narrative that supported her resentment, those poisonous perceptions. No one forced her to sustain it. There is always a small payoff to carrying grudges and resentful attitudes: we get to feel we’re right, that we hold the truth and see situations as they actually are. It is a very small payoff compared to the repeated stabs of resentment we experience each time we review our treasured memories of slights and insults, real or imagined.
The Gift We Give Ourselves
Feeling justified often keeps us from forgiving. We tell ourselves, “They don’t deserve my forgiveness.” We hold our anger close so that it scorches us, but instead of dropping that hot coal, we clench our fists and hold our hate tightly. We clutch our memories of situations that hurt us but now are over. Why don’t we let go of our suffering? Perhaps we feel that we shouldn’t give up our view of being right, of being the victim in all this. Our resentment and the stories surrounding it are part of our identity. Sometimes, we become our pain. If we didn’t hurt anymore, who would we be?
That’s why forgiveness is not for the other but only for us. It’s the forgiver who changes, not the forgiven. The forgiven don’t even have to know they been forgiven for forgiveness to work. Heck, they’ve probably forgotten all about us. They’re too wrapped up in their own stories, just like we are.
To forgive means to take control of our own minds and of our own lives. This isn’t easy, either. But as long as we judge ourselves and blame others, these negative feelings are in charge. The more we forgive the more power we have over our lives. Counterintuitively, the more we release, the more we gain. There is strength in forgiveness, more than in bearing a grudge and holding close our old hurts.
It seems strange to me that forgiving is often interpreted as weakness. If you’ve tried it, you know it takes much more determination to forgive than to hate. We can slide into resentment like slipping down a hillside, slick with mud. Forgiving is like climbing that same hill while the rain is still coming down.
A Path to Peace
There’s no way around it that I’ve found. There can be no personal peace without forgiveness. That’s too bad because not only is forgiving one of the most difficult things we do, it’s also never ending. We will never forgive one final time, wash our hands and say, “Well, I’m glad that’s done” as if we’ve just finished painting a room or cleaning the garage.
As Martin Luther King Junior said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.” And he would know.
Forgiveness is an ongoing, high-maintenance project. The moment we’ve successfully let go of one hurt, another one pops up to take its place.
Yes, forgiveness is a lifetime’s worth of work, but it may be the most worthwhile work we choose to do. In the end, it’s up to each one of us to decide if we will carry our heavy burden into old age or if we’ll lay it gently down and continue along a path to peace.
Of course, it’s too late for my grandma to feel the soothing balm of forgiveness. But it’s not too late for me to remember her painful and heavy burden, and to use her story to encourage myself to undertake the lifelong and urgent work of forgiveness.
When looking for photos to post to the historical society Twitter account I manage, I realized that I have quite a trove of photos from abandoned homesteads and building sites in the area. Here are some of the best close-to-home shots from over recent years. These were all taken at the same abandoned farmstead. Wherever you are, take time to enjoy the view. – Lori
Yesterday morning I dug out my old skates and walked down to the outdoor rink that the local fire department created in December. It’s situated by the local arena which lately, due to Covid-19 restrictions, has been closed. People skate on this oval all the time, but this was my first visit to the newest attraction in the village.
When I arrived at the ice rink, one of the volunteer firefighters was just finishing adding some water to the ice surface to remove the thick frost left there by the rain we’d received a day or two before. He’d made a wide, wet ring around the outside edge of the oval, but the centre was still thick with a combination of frozen rain and sleet. The firefighter had run out of water to apply to the ice so he drove off on his quad, hauling a little trailer behind, and I laced up my skates.
Prior to this attempt, I hadn’t skated for about seven years. As I stepped onto the ice, I made a realization: wet ice is extremely slippery. I took a few tentative steps and began staggering around like a newborn giraffe, my arms flailing in tight circles as I tried to gain some balance. Then, as I rounded the oval I discovered what I couldn’t detect from just looking at the ice rink. It has a definite downhill slope and suddenly, I was on that decline and picking up speed fast on the wet surface. With my knees locked in terror and my arms spread for balance, I made a frantic plan to leap into the snowbank I was headed for. But, even as I planned my desperate escape, my skate blades obeyed my feet and followed the curve of the wet ice oval. Here, the ice was level and I slowed to nearly a stop.
Heart pounding, I stepped off the wet outer oval and onto the frosty centre where I staggered about until the firefighter returned on his quad with a full canister of water on his trailer. By the time he returned, I was regaining a small slice of my lost skating ability. Still, I was happy to head to the bench, swap my skates for boots, and let him finish resurfacing the ice.
After my short, sweaty skate (sweaty from fear and the exertion it took to keep upright), I dropped my skates off at home and went for a walk. The sun was bright and the trees were adorned with frost. There were large ice crystals embedded in the frost and floating through the air, glinting as the morning sun kissed them.
Thanks for dropping by to spend some time with me today. Take care. ~ Lori