At Set of Sun

Vancouver has experienced a historical heat wave these past couple of weeks. Walking in the early evenings at sunset has been refreshing after the heat of an afternoon sun.

My latest reading adventure is “A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf” by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney. I have gained a profound insight into these women writers and their friendships. Based on long-forgotten letters and diaries, these women have become real to me. Their friendships were authentic, offering a diversity of thought and a respectful understanding, even though opinions and values were sometimes on opposite sides. There is a richness of conversation, a recognition that we are at our best when we are surrounded by friendships.

As I watched the reds and golds merge with the blue in the horizon, I was reminded of George Eliot’s poem, “Count That Day Lost” which is also known as “At Set of Sun.”

I invite you to join me for a Zen moment on the Vancouver Seawall at close of day.

With gratitude for the friendships that give meaning to my life.

At Set Of Sun

If you sit down at set of sun
And count the acts that you have done,
And, counting, find
One self-denying deed, one word
That eased the heart of him who heard –
One glance most kind,
That fell like sunshine where it went –
Then you may count that day well spent.

But, if, through all the livelong day,
You’ve cheered no heart, by yea or nay –
If, through it all
You’ve nothing done that you can trace
That brought the sunshine to one face
No act most small
That helped some soul and nothing cost –
Then count that day as worse than lost.

76 Thoughts

  1. A beautiful and meaningful poem, Rebecca, and the scenery is delightful. I was reading up about the ‘heat dome’ above Canada yesterday and I read that 300 people have died. So awful! I wonder how the animals are faring, especially the bears. I don’t think they would like heat.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Oh, Robbie, the sudden deaths recorded during BC’s heat wave is now, according to a recent news article, up to 719. We have not experienced this type of heat wave before. Scientists say it will become more common with climate change. It is indeed sobering and a wake up call for all of us. I am so glad that you joined me on the Seawall. Always enjoy your company!

      Liked by 6 people

      1. How does this happen in Western countries with accessible water and fans!? I remembered France had a devastating one, so I double checked to see if my indignation was justified. Sure enough in 2003, 15,000 people died and in 2019 ‘only’ 1,500 perished due to excessive heat. This is where a simple call to kindness, for which Rebecca tirelessly advocates, comes into play. People need to check on their neighbors, apartment managers on their residents, and where that is impossible, local governments need to step up. I want to shout ‘unforgivable’ but know better.

        Liked by 6 people

      2. Oh, Mary Jo. I am shouting with you. The warnings came a few days before the heat wave arrived, but it came with a force that was unprecedented. Canada doesn’t experience this type of heat especially in northern areas of NorthWest Territories. “As a climate scientist, we expect to see more extreme heat waves going forward into the future because we’re adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. But this is even beyond my expectations. To have a heat wave last this long and be this hot in Canada is completely unprecedented in history.”https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.6085275

        The fans and air conditioners cleared out in the first day. Vancouver opened cooling places and water was set out for animals. Health alerts were everywhere. The greatest tragedy was Lytton, B.C , a village of 250, that recorded the country’s highest ever temperature of 49.6C (121.3F). And then, a wildfire engulfed 90% of the village within 15 minutes. Climate change is real and the results are devastating.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. In most places I’ve lived, there have “cooling centers” in municipal buildings or event centers for those particuarly at risk. The elderly seem to be at particuarly high risk. In this day and age, deaths from the heat are easily prevented if another person is paying attention.

        Liked by 4 people

      4. 719! The last I heard the count was less than 200. I’m afraid for the world, as it seems climate change is now inevitable unless drastic measures are taken immediately. Take care, my friend.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. I share your concern, Jennifer. Canada is about winter, freezing temperatures, snow storms, not recording temperatures that are 49.6C or 121F. It is cooling down on the coast but remains hot in interior BC. A few days ago, Environment Canada issued alerts for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
        https://bc.ctvnews.ca/mobile/sudden-deaths-recorded-during-b-c-s-heat-wave-up-to-719-coroners-say-1.5494848

        This is a wake up call to us. Climate change happens everywhere, even in Canada. Thank you for you caring comments.

        Liked by 3 people

      6. Hi Rebecca, it is frightening. We have hardly had a winter. We had one cold week and that is all. The spring flowers are already peeping out. It would be delightful if it wasn’t so unnatural. I am so sorry to learn of so many deaths, that is very sad.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Rebecca, such serenity in your beautiful images and words! I feel for you all suffering under the unbelievable heat and hope it soon dissipates. No wonder you treasure the slightly cooler evenings by the water. The book sounds wonderful and one I look forward to reading. Thank you for sharing such a thought-provoking poem to start my day. Here’s to making each day count! Xx

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for joining me on the Vancouver Seawall. The heatwave has dissipated from the coast and has moved eastward into Alberta and Saskatchewan. It certainly has been a unusual event. I am glad you enjoyed the poem by George Eliot. I appreciate the simplicity of the thought – one kind deed is all that is required to made a day memorable and well lived. I’m with you – here’s to making every day count.

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Shey for your lovely comments. Every day I have an e-mail delivered to my inbox from a poetry website. This was one of the poems that I received. I did not know that George Eliot was a poet as well as a writer. I continue to learn and learn and learn…. 🤗 🤗🤗

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I didn’t know either. I have never come across her poetry and I must now read more. You see? Learning. The funniest thing was the subject matter. The Mr and I were discussing just that re the way the neighbour next door here carries on, especially to the one downstairs right now. LOL. let me tell you it is not as in kind words and the easing of hearts……….. x.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Helios always delivers his best in sunrises and sunsets. I am delighted you joined me at day’s end in Vancouver. I imagined your view of the sunrise. What a wonderful time to meet. We are on opposite sides of the world but share the same sun. Sending hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dearest Rebecca,
    we heard about your heat wave in the news yesterday. That sounds horrible. We hope you are all right. We hate hot weather as you can’t do anything against it.
    Here we have just around 20 degrees, a temperature we like. But even we had a little above 30 degrees a couple of days ago. That’s a temperature that makes us stay inside.
    Keep cool, have a happy week
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you, dear Klausbernd. This has been an extraordinary event, especially for Canada, which suggests that climate change is evolving at a much faster pace then scientists first believed. David Suzuki noted many years ago that “We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.” Drinking lots of water, staying indoors or in the shade. Sending much love to my dear friends The Fab Four of Cley!!!

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I knew you would like this one. I did not know that George Eliot was a poet was well as a writer. Thank you for you lovely benediction: “May cool breezes and refreshing rain pass your way soon.” Sending many hugs your way…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rebecca, the heat wave hitting your region was beyond terrifying and beyond awful. 😦

    Sometimes literature lovers forget that the masterful novelist George Eliot also wrote poetry. (I know I had forgotten! 🙂 ) That was a powerful poem of hers, with an important lesson. Read expertly by you amid the backdrop of gorgeous images.

    The book you mentioned — “A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf” — sounds amazing!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Canadians know how to deal with extreme cold, and now we are learning to understand extreme and prolonged heat waves. Many Canadian homes do not have air conditions simply because they were not required in the past. I appreciated Mary Jo’s thoughts on taking care of each other is an important aspect of responding. “A Secret Sisterhood” is a very interesting book. I enjoyed reading the mixture of reviews. Everyone has an interest in these writers, so there was some lively debate. I went back to your book to revisit the chapters on these women. I love George Eliot for her determination to live life on her terms.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Dear Rebecca, I had to think of you these days because of the news about the heat and fire in Canada, especially around Vancouver. I hope you and yours are safe.
    It is an interesting “women in power” team! Jane Austin and the Brontë’s sisters fulfil my childhood. Thank you for the nice poem by George Eliot.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much stopping by the Vancouver Seawall and for you comment. Very much appreciated. The heat has moved to the interior and Alberta, Saskatchewan. I am delighted you enjoyed the poem!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I’d never read any of Eliot’s poetry, so thank you for this wise selection! This kindness, as a form of love for strangers and neighbors alike, can easily be neglected when we’re individually or collectively suffering. I hope with your dangerous heat wave people are checking on one another like Good Samaritans but also finding ways to comfort those closest to us. A heartfelt reading, as always. Hugs + Hugs = Many hugs 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Many hugs coming ack your way. What I appreciated about this poem, was that all that was needed to complete a day was one act of kindness. It needed be a grand outpouring of emotion, just a simple smile, a gentle word, a helping hand. Thank you for you concern about our heatwave. These are the times when people step up and help each other.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Do you mind telling us which poetry subscription? I get daily poems from Poetry.Org and PoetryFoundation.Org but haven’t received many of the wonderful poems you share!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I receive my daily poem from Poet.org. I save the poems that are in public domain as I am free to recite them, but there new ones that are brilliant.
        I also use this site to find poets and poetry.
        This is the recent one by George Eliot that I want to recite. I also have an account with Poetry Foundation, by my e-mails come from poets.org. I know you will enjoy this poem.
        Check it out. https://poets.org/poem/choir-invisible

        Liked by 2 people

  7. If memory serves, around that bourgeois era, where talent the likes of Mary Ann Evans, known by her pen name George Eliot, could not, as a woman, publish their work without resorting to the stupidity of those macho times. How awful and frustrating that must have been, to forced to live such unfairness, that and the no vote for woman. remnants of this shallow way of male thinking, unbelievably and sadly still plague us.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You would love this book Jean-Jacques! The letters and diaries of these women are a treasure trove of what it was like to live in those times. I am at a point when George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe start to correspond. I admire anyone who takes on the subject matter of these great writers for there will be readers who with either like or dislike the book. I am one who likes the book. Honest and open debate is always a good thing.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Dear Rebecca,
    we are VERY sorry that so many people died in that heatwave. Writing this we have 19 degrees, a temperature we like. Now everyone, at least in your area, gets a feeling of what global warming means. We hope it will change peoples attitudes towards their carbon footprint.
    With lots of love 🤗🤗
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree wholeheartedly, Klausbernd – we must be aware of our carbon footprint. Those small, seemingly insignificant actions like recycling, reducing consumption, are essential. Everyone is responsible. Climate change is evolving at a faster pace than what was anticipated. Sending much love and hugs back to my dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. We watched a clip on the wild fires from the UK newspaper the Telegraph. It is heartbreaking to see people’s whole lives so carelessly destroyed. It always leaves me thinking if it were me how would I re-start … and then the enormity of what these brave souls have to do hits you. These truly are extraordinary times Rebecca. It reminds me of the old Blessing/Curse- may you live in interesting times. So sorry to hear of the devestation to your wonderful country and its wonderful people. As you said this is a wake-up call. The Elliot poem is lovely. Heard the sentiment before but never knew its source.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Paul, for your heartwarming comments. It was one of those apocalyptic events that reminded me that climate change in a global problem. We can no longer believe that heat waves will happen elsewhere – not where we live. Thank you for reminding me of the old Blessing/Curse. We are definitely living in interesting times. I never knew that George Eliot was a poet. I have signed up to receive a daily poem from a poetry website. It’s a great way to start the day.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank goodness you are able to find some respite from the heat in the evenings. What a blessing to be able to walk out to see the sunset in such beautiful surroundings. Your poem is the perfect clarion call for these troubled times. I’ve written it in my journal and have also downloaded A Secret Sisterhood, which looks fabulous. Thank you for another inspirational post. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Liz! I can only imagine how high your stack of books has grown. My is toppling down from the ceiling, which is a great comfort to me. I love being surrounded by books. They are the best of friends, the greatest companions on journeys that take me back in time, forward into the future, across oceans and continents, and propel me into the most dramatic scenes and electrifying events before taking me back home, safe and sound. Sending many hugs back your way.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. We have heard about the heat wave conditions, Rebecca, upon our nightly news. Such a devastating event for so many; and rather an unnatural condition to think of Canada in these terms. So often, when I think upon Canada, I picture brisk walks in chilly settings, fireplaces sparking flames of warmth; you get my drift. It seems so incongruous to imagine heat past a certain degree. And yet, here it is; heat.

    I loved your reading and video. The words so true to life.
    xoxoxo

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh Carolyn – Canadians understand how to respond to frigid winters, but are overwhelmed by this extraordinary, early in the summer season, heat wave that is now moving eastward. We have become cooler over the past few days. A heat wave in June is more problematic re: health concerns, than in August when we have had a few months to acclimatize to higher temperatures. It has something to do with the abruptness of the oncoming heat to people living in mild climates such as ours. The goon news is that we are now more alert and prepared. Thank you so much for caring!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Dear Rebecca, your photography is magnificent and the poem by George Eliot is awesome. I haven’t heard it before.
    The video entranced me with its stunning imagery, soothing music and thought-provoking poetry. I felt I was walking there with you. So lovely. Thank you, my friend. PS You have been in my thoughts as I heard on the radio about the extremely hot weather you’ve been experiencing. I hope it’s cooled down for you by now. Love and hugs from North Wales 💙

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am delighted you joined me on the Vancouver Seawall for my moment of Zen/reflection. Thank you for your encouraging comments! I am pleased to advise that Vancouver has experienced cooler weather these past couple of days. Now, we hope for rain. Sending hugs with all speed back to North Wales.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. This has been an unusual summer heat wave, we are used to dealing with winter, wet chilly days. I am saddened by the heat related deaths in our beloved Vancouver, and I appreciated as I read the comments that others are very sorry, as well. Thank you for the poem you shared, so well chosen, and the video that shows our beautiful Vancouver. I might add, also, that I appreciated the comments that many added leaving valuable thoughts.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Frances, for joining me on the Vancouver Seawall. We learned a great deal about how to respond to heat waves, especially ones that come so suddenly and abruptly. I didn’t know that George Eliot was a poet as well as a writer. I just found another poem that is considered her best: “The Choir Invisible.” I am going to practice reciting this poem. It is quite a bit longer than “At Set of Sun.”

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ahh, Rebecca, that poem and your reading of it made me shiver!
    It’s hotter than should be here, too. However, as I lived in Vancouver, I am shocked.
    My memories of summer were “It never gets hot!” It’s lovely, though, and if I lay still on Rec Beach, I will get to feel quite warm, but never hot.”
    Whose fault is all this global warming?
    Again, I come to the Prince in Romeo and Juliette.. at the end, when the lovers lay dead. “All are punish’d”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. A very good question, Resa – whose fault is all this global warming? I looked up the causes of greenhouse gas emissions on Canada.ca and found that oil and gas and transport were huge contributors, which everyone acknowledges. But what surprised me most was that our buildings, our homes, our workplaces, the electricity we use, our on-line presence, the NFTs and all new technologies were huge contributors as well. Agriculture and waste were present but in lesser amounts than I thought. Climate change is complex, but it is happening. And as you added so eloquently, “All are punish’d.”
      https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/environmental-indicators/greenhouse-gas-emissions.html

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Will check out the links!
        “Fast fashion” is another big contributor!
        Was doing research for an article, when the poundemic hit. Very depressing. I refuse to shop at H&M, or Zara, etc. Fortunately I can sew, and can make my clothes last a long time.
        Being as that masses of humanity & pollution is at least partly responsible for the virus, you’d think people would eschew “Fast Fashion”.
        Nonetheless, the day we did our first step of opening up, H&M was lined up for blocks outside. We have learned nothing.
        “That’s another fine kettle of fish you’ve got us in,” – Oliver Hardy

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh, I do like that quote, Resa. It is a keeper. I have been looking into fast fashion for a couple of years, which has changed the way I purchase and consume. That is why I am very interested in returning to the idea of sewing and creating. The most profound memories of happiness come from my memories in the sewing room with Frances and Sarah. You are an artist in fashion and design. Your gift is that you see beauty in what others find throwaways and create glamour and sophistication in what others consider unredeemable.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. You were lucky to be in a sewing room with Frances & Sarah.
        I think home ec and shop were good high school programs. It’s unfortunate that one was for girls and one was for boys.
        Were they deemed sexist?
        I say bring a modern version of those programs back, and let anyone take either!
        As the world progresses, we must also retain gems from the past. We need not burn all bridges behind us.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Jason! I have been reading about George Eliot and her friendship with Harriet Beecher Stowe, which has prompted me to looking into George Eliot’s poetry. I just found out that she was a poet as well as a writer.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of so many people due to the extreme heat! In the times in which we live, we like to think these situations could be avoided. But, in countries around the world, extreme cold or hot spells do take a toll on human life. In Texas this past year, we lost over two hundred people due to freezing temperatures. I so enjoyed this poem…so beautiful. It is a poem to write upon the heart! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember when I first read this poem. I was amazed by emotional nuances captured in just a few words. Our heat has abated and we have all learned from this experience. We know that climate change is happening, but it is easy to think that it only happens in other places – not where we live. Thank you so much for your visit and comments – very much appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

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