Sunday Evening Reflection – Canada in Winter

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Canadian winters are legendary.  Think Snowmageddon St. John’s Newfoundland this past weekend and Edmonton, Alberta’s coldest morning of this century: Wednesday morning (January 15, 2020) when the temperature set a record  of – 37.8 degrees Celsius.  I grew up in Northern Manitoba where the average temperature in January is considered “severely cold.”  So, when Vancouver had a winter storm warning this past week, it felt like we had joined the rest of Canada.

I love our winters – the snow, cold air, the fresh smell.  Yes, I can smell when snow is in the forecast.

Canadians know how to embrace the cold!

  • Buy boots with removable liners and be sure that your feet don’t feel cramped.
  • Wear a hat and cover your face. I learned firsthand what it felt like to have frozen cheeks.
  • Buy a thermos so that you can bring along a hot drink if you are walking. You will notice that I have a stash of regular and herbal tea on hand in winter months.
  • Protect your hands. While I love gloves, mittens are even better for keeping your fingers warm.
  • And if you are in cold, cold, cold weather, check out those fashionable fleeced-line leggings. Your legs will thank you.

Vancouver’s snow is disappearing with the rain, but I captured the moment.  Join me on my snow walk.

Celebrating Hat Day on A Snow Day

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“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.”

Neil Gaiman

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!

 

 

O Tannenbaum!

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“ O Christmas Tree O, Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
They’re green when summer days are bright;
They’re green when winter snow is white.”

Vancouver’s Christmas tree, from what I witnessed when it was being assembled in the Vancouver Art gallery plaza a few days ago,  is a masterful piece of engineering.  The cranes were in place, and the sidewalk was blocked off from pedestrians.  An attentive ground crew, along with two brave men high above the ground, worked together to secure the placement of the branches. There was even a brisk chill in the sunshine of a Vancouver afternoon that gave a nod to winter with the possibility of snow for Christmas.

December is fast approaching, the month that heralds the upcoming holiday festivities with the promise of gingerbread cookies, eggnog, and gathering of families and friends. The  music that came to me as I watched the evolving tree transformation was “O Tannenbaum.”

To be clear, Tannenbaum is a fir tree, not a Christmas tree, nor does the original lyrics refer to Christmas.   It has an old and ancient history – that is, if you consider the Renaissance to be ancient.  This is the story of how O Tannenbaum came to be a Christmas carol:

It all began with the German composer Melchior Franck, (1579 – 1639), who was both an influential and prolific composer during the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras.  One of his compositions was a Silesian folk song, “Ach Tannenbaum.”  Silesia, as I found out in a Google search,  is a historical region of Central Europe which is located mainly in present-day Poland, with small parts in the Czech Republic.

Fast forward to Joachim August Christian Zarnack, (1777 – 1827) a German preacher, teacher and – here is the important part – a collector of German folk music.  In 1819, he transformed Melchior Franck’s composition into a tragic and heartbreaking love song,  using the symbolism of a faithful and loyal fir tree in sharp contrast to the unfaithful lover.

A few short years later in 1824, Ernst Anschütz, a Leipzig organist, teacher and composer decided to add his creative touch by including two verses of his own, still keeping to the theme of the fir tree being true and faithful.   Somewhere along the way,  the word “grün” (green) was added to the lyrics.

How did “O Tannenbaum” become “O Christmas Tree.” No one knows for certain how it all happened.  It just did.  Somewhere in the 20th century, it transitioned into a new role of becoming a beloved Christmas Carol.

 

Maybe it was the magic of this holiday season.  Or… maybe a song takes on a life of its own.

O Tannenbaum, Vancouver Art Gallery from Rebecca Budd aka Clanmother on Vimeo.

Bike the Night Vancouver

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Cycling has become a major player in responding to the need to seek the cleanest and most energy efficient forms of transportation. With every push on the bike pedal, we are the energy creators. It is the best of all solutions, for we respond to two imperatives: embracing a healthy lifestyle all the while seeking solutions to safeguard our precious world.

Serendipity is timely. On my evening walk up to my local grocery store, something exciting was happening.

Bike the Night, Vancouver

Bike the Night, presented by MEC, brings out over 5,000 cyclists, young, old and in-between, to ride through the streets of Vancouver. Starting at 8pm, riders embark on a 10-kilometer journey through the open streets of Vancouver. Even the Burrard Street Bridge is closed for the event.

 

The excitement and energy is unmistakable and compelling. The spirit of adventure comes through the lights, glowing reflectors and stickers. Bike the Night lights up Vancouver.

Come and join the party!

Thank you, Deb & Cat

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Dear Deb & Cat,
We have never met…

There is a possibility that we may have passed in the street without knowing that we had somehow connected through your artistic endeavour. Yes, it is your mural that appeared overnight along a path that runs under a bridge, leading to a busy street. The one with the brilliant sun shining over a tree, three tulips, a flowering shrub.

I was in a hurry to complete a scheduled task. Until…

The spreading branches, with fresh leaves called to me. There was an enveloping warmth, a feeling of renewal, the arrival of spring.

You reminded me that we live in a beautiful world of light and colour. Pablo Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the souls the dust of everyday life.” Your mural exemplifies this idea.

Looking back, I have no recollection of the “urgent” task. Instead, I have a memory (and photos) of the moment I spent with you via your art.

Wherever you are, whatever you do, I know that you will accomplish great things.

With gratitude,

LadyBudd

Cherry Blossoms Welcome April

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“Between our two lives
there is also the life of
the cherry blossom.”
Matsuo Bashō

The cherry blossoms grace our lane ways and gardens, welcoming April, the month that was, in ancient Rome, sacred to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. April is the month that gave us Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth and, more recently, Wangari Maathai, Maya Angelou and Ella Fitzgerald.  There is a warmth in the chill of an April evening, perfect for the beginning of journeys as immortalized in Geoffrey Chaucer’s, The Canterbury Tales.

What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
Kobayashi Issa

For me, April has always been about cherry blossoms.  Vancouver is renowned for our approximately 50,000 cherry trees, which flower in varying shades of pink and white.  Every year, we hold a Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.

“In the cherry blossom’s shade
there’s no such thing
as a stranger.”
Kobayashi Issa

The cherry blossom is Japan’s national flower that has given birth to hanami, a century-old custom that is said to have its origins in the Nara period (710-794) which simply means flower viewing.  Families and friends gather under the canopy of flowering cherry trees to share a meal and gaze up at the delicate white and pink against a pristine sky of blue. Nighttime brings out the paper lanterns that people carefully place in the trees to add a spectacular illumination, which highlights the profound idea of the ephemeral nature of life. The blossoms come for a moment to bestow a graceful elegance,  covering pathways with petals, then, slipping away with the silent promise to return the next year.

So, my dear friends, I invite you to join me under the canopy of a Vancouver cherry tree.

Cherry Blossoms from Rebecca Budd aka Clanmother on Vimeo.

 

“Cherry blossoms – lights of years past.”
Matsuo Bashō