“That is one good thing about this world…there are always sure to be more springs.” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
“And the Spring arose on the garden fair, Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere; And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.” Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Complete Poems
Whenever I feel the uncertainty of a moment, a lingering fear of the unknown or sense of urgency, I go to nature and feel the strength of the earth under my footsteps. The trees bestow their gracious welcome as the sounds of the forest fill my soul with a peaceful silence. The sky, the wind, the sun and clouds remind me that I belong to this world. I am home.
As a global community, we are learning to reinvent our lives. The road turned and we have come upon an unexpected detour. The path may be unclear, but we are together. And that gives me great comfort. Join me on my nature walk and consider the words of the poet, Mary Oliver.
“Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.” Mary Oliver
“Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps make something of the world.”
Sleep is our best friend, bringing us the gifts of good health and well-being and allowing us to live our best life. In our joy of being awake, we cannot forget that sleep allows us many benefits. Even the ancients knew that “Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps make something of the world.”
After a restful night’s sleep, our decisions are more in-tune, our learning improves as does our memory and physical reflexes. We pay attention to our environment and our emotional state is more relaxed. Our world view is enhanced and with it our creativity. Sleep is our best friend.
Last fall, I met the Moss Lady in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, British Columbia. She came to life in 2015 and was inspired by the Mud Maid in Cornwall’s Lost Garden of Heligan. Artist Dale Doebert worked with the Victoria City park team to create the elegant 35-feet-long Moss Lady, using boulders, pipes, cement and wire. She rests serenely under a specially designed clay-based acidic soil so moss can cloak her while she sleeps.
You are welcome to join me on the path to visit the Moss Lady. May we embrace the gift of sleep in the same spirit as this gracious lady.
“You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
Tonight, I am going back in time to the moment I first heard Desiderata, which is Latin for “things desired”.
It was the beginning of a new year and a new decade – 1970.
A poster designed to look like ancient parchment with the Desiderata written boldly in an elegant script was a treasured purchase. It remained on my study desk for inspiration and traveled with me to college a few years later.
2020, the Desiderata continues to be relevant as I look forward to the years ahead. It is a new year and a new decade.
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
“Some hats can only be worn if you’re willing to be jaunty, to set them at an angle and to walk beneath them with a spring in your stride as if you’re only a step away from dancing. They demand a lot of you.”
January 15th is National Hat Day, an unofficial holiday that celebrates one of the most essential accessories invented centuries ago. Even the Egyptians sported sassy headgear, along with the Ancient Greeks and Romans.
Think of Winston Churchill’s hat, the homburg, a felt hat with an elegant curved brim boasting a grosgrain ribbon. And recall Napoleon’s bicorne, which he wore sideways to stamp his brand for all to see his courage on the battlefield. I remember Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat, classic and elegant. Then there was the famous Panama Hat worn by President Theodore Roosevelt when he was visiting the Panama Canal excavation. My most favourite “hat” fashionista is Queen Elizabeth II, long may she reign. Her signature style of matching hat and gloves with a string pearls is timeless and graceful.
Vancouver was under snow today and there is more snow in the forecast. Winter has arrived and I had the perfect hat to keep me warm on a snow day!
“Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.”
Hugh Macmillan, “Rejuvenescence,” The Ministry of Nature, 1871
Winter has come and, with it the promise of long winter evenings of reading in the coming cold days of January and February. I have a stack of books at the ready and have signed up to a competitive family book reading challenge that has set me on a course of discovery. Winter is a time of respite and renewal, waiting, preparing…
The soil appears to be dormant, but there is unseen activity happening in the depths of the earth in preparation for the coming of spring. So it is with us. May we “gather our life” in the same way as Nature and recognize the beauty of a winter landscape.
Join me as I look back on the late blooms of Autumn, just before Nature called her family together.