coast

away

I work downtown. We live in a quiet neighborhood not far from town. This is all very well for walking to work along the seawall and having easy access to excellent bookstores and chocolateries, but I have spent most of my life falling asleep to the sounds of treefrogs and owls, rain and wind. The city traffic and sirens and busyness can be overwhelming. Sometimes I need to get away. Anywhere with forest or open water and quiet will do. On one such day recently, we headed out for a hike in the highlands. I wore gumboots and brought an apple and a lump of cheese, and couldn't resist looking for hedgehog mushrooms even though I know it's still too early for them there.

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this morning, and last night, and the night before

I go out into the garden before I'm fully awake in the mornings, last tendrils of sleep wrapping around the trellised peas and eyes a little blurry in the light of the already blue sky. My purpose is to pick greens for the rabbits' breakfast, but it is also a lovely way to start the day. This morning there were two juvenile crows just waking up in the big tree by the house, stretching their glossy black wings and shuffling their feet, looking down at me in the garden and making soft groggy sounds, and a squirrel already busy in the tree's higher branches. Last night we watched the Canada Day fireworks from our front porch. It was so nice to be home, and to lean against my husband on the porch rail. Earlier in the evening, we had walked through the park to the footbridge and watched all manner of boats streaming by towards the inner harbour- rowboats, kayaks, paddleboards, powerboats. People also drifted past on their bicycles, some with pockets bulging with beer cans, and families walked by in hordes, lugging blankets and lawnchairs. Coloured lights expanded in circles, hovered for an instant, some shimmering as they faded. Their spidery smoke shadows lingered longer, illuminated in the dazzling brightness. But you've all seen fireworks before.

Better still was the swimming in the afternoon - we slipped into a lake that was refreshing but not cold, shallow rocks to dive off, and I swam past water lilies, out to an island and under overhanging Douglas fir branches laden with cones and a steep shore covered in fireweed and pink spirea.

I made a crazy hippie necklace today, with a quartz point hanging from a large faceted chunk of blue kyanite, the rest a frenzy of twisted silver wire and gemstone beads. I made it for fun, not thinking I would actually wear the thing, and playfully named the creation "dreaming happiness" as only an ornament involving a large chunk of kyanite and multiple other coloured crystals should be called. I did try it on to make sure it was a reasonable necklace size though, and ended up wearing it to the grocery store, and out for dinner, and I felt so sad and mopey after I took it off this evening that I put it back on and am wearing it now. So that's that.

I'm not sure if I realized before beginning, but gardening is a labor of love. That, or folly, but we are just novices. I've been tugging out some kind of nightshade with white flowers and fruit like small green tomatoes. I had yet to identify it so left a few of the robust, sprawling plants in case they turned out to be a lovely elephantine wildflower that we planted in a misguided attempt to decorate the garden borders, or perhaps the best crop of accidental eggplants this island has ever seen. It turns out the stuff is American Black Nightshade, so I will definitely be removing the rest of it tomorrow. My greasy hair drove me to the garden (I know, the shower would have been an excellent choice, but the weeding really needs to happen around here somehow), where I weeded with angst and ferocity, and also patience and some mindful and methodical mulling, for hours. The moonrise found me sullen and tired, though the full moon shone bright opalescent in a gradation of sky all smokey blues and lilacs. I barely noticed the sunset light up hot pink along long, low clouds in the west. Later, in a lull in the dull popcorn sound of amateur fireworks and the wails of sirens towards town, Venus and Jupiter appeared, glowing brightly very close together, well beyond the branches of the big pine tree that towered over us. The darkening garden was quiet with the small rustles of an evening breeze, moths' wings, birds settling.

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everything I hope for

The rabbits are sneaking up on the houseplant behind me. The cat is at the door, scratching first on the inside, then on the outside. The other cat is on the couch trying to convince J to nap with her. Just a normal evening at our house. The sun descended behind the sky's ragged hem of blue mountains, all streaks of pink and orange fire framed by branches yet to leaf out. This morning it did the same thing but in reverse and with a great deal more magenta.

We drove out to the lagoon to look at birds through battered binoculars. Ever-present and yet-to-be-properly -identified gulls wheeled around and hopped playfully on the beach of broken shells. Mallards, pintails and widgeons dabbled in shallow water in the late afternoon light. In a moment that was like a rush of breath, two swans flew in close over our heads and then disappeared on the horizon, their graceful bodies huge. It felt like a gift.

Recently, I had a thirty-minute wait after work before J came by with the car. I found a bench in the sun and sat quietly with myself, the sun in my eyes and its warmth on my skin. I have fallen out of the habit of daily meditation, and it felt so good to come back to myself there, the warmth and light of spring awakening me too to the present. We have gotten lazy about our evening yoga too, but small poses work their way through my body in the course of the day.

Today when I got home, I found a sunbeam. I carried blankets and pillows to where the floor in the front hallway was a crisscross of light and painted relief of many years' scratches. Spring here is so delicious this year. It is everything I hope for in a spring. I know it's early for most of the country but these are the rhythms I was raised with and I often found myself impatient with the mountains' slow melt and fickle reruns of winter.

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Coastal January

There is something so right in a rainy day. Even when the dishes are piled on the counter and the dust bunnies are changing shapes in the corners, I can be here in my blanket of tired and just make coffee and stare out the window. I'm inspired by friends who are making beauty with their lives.

This feels like a time of gathering and beginning, with great growth around the corner. In the wet grass around my house, knobby bulbs are radiating their stored sun-energy, pushing upwards light green shoots. Small hard buds on the birch tree's branches are readying.

In my own life, so much has changed this winter. I have gained and lost, and settled into a new place in my old hometown. I'm working at working at another job, soon. I know I will find something better, that things always work out better than I expect, but I'm still scared. What I want is to be at home, painting my imagination.

Soon, I will do the dishes. I will switch to herbal tea. I will sit down at my desk, or maybe on the floor, and set aside the worry surrounding my uncertainty. It is okay not to know. I'm open to today. In my hands, solid things, and in my eyes, wonder.

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