Backyards

How has the weather been where you live?  Have you had a chance to get out a bit to enjoy Spring?

Thankfully, the weather around here has been quite beautiful lately. A good amount of rain, and lots of blue skies and sunshine in the mix!  Everything has turned to a lush green, and flowers are blooming.

The other evening, a couple of birds were singing the most beautiful melody in the backyard. I couldn’t see them, but their enchanting song seemed to joyfully echo through the trees. It was a rare kind of sound, and made me drop everything I was doing to stop and listen.

We have been making the most of the nice weather. Even on weeknights, we’ve often opted to eat in the backyard, enjoying the longer hours of sunshine and the blissful fragrance of the nearby lilac blossoms.

We have been so busy lately that our backyard is definitely sporting a very ‘natural’ kind of beauty.  😉  If the weather cooperates, I am hoping to spend some time working in the yard next weekend. Over time, I hope to create a yard that grows plenty of native plants and provides some habitat for butterflies and bees, so I will be doing a bit more research, too.

In the meantime, I hope you have a great week!  I’ll leave you with some famous reflections on “the backyard” and outdoors.  Do any of these resonate with you?

“People’s backyards are much more interesting than their front gardens, and houses that back on to railways are public benefactors.”

~ John Betjeman

“Nature is impersonal, awe-inspiring, elegant, eternal. It’s geometrically perfect. It’s tiny and gigantic. You can travel far to be in a beautiful setting, or you can observe it in your own backyard – or, in my case, in the trees lining New York City sidewalks, or in the clouds above the skyscrapers.”

~ Gretchen Rubin

“The really best acting is children in a playground or in a backyard. They’re just lost in their imagination…”

~ Nolan North

“I like to sit in my backyard. I go out on the hammock and sit in silence and kind of meditate. Nature is calming, and it’s nice to go out there and clear my head.”

~ Devon Werkheiser

“I feel a responsibility to my backyard. I want it to be taken care of and protected. “

~ Annie Leiboritz

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Life’s Landmarks

For the last 18 years, when we are coming home after a long road trip, there is a tree that welcomes us.

Amidst the prairie farm fields, in a particularly flat stretch, this tree unexpectedly breaks up the landscape, triumphantly announcing that we only have 100km left on our journey home.

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It was already a large tree when my husband and I first admired it, as newly weds, on our return home after visiting family in a different province. Since then, things have changed with each visit.

There have been the uplifting changes, like the years when there were new arrivals to the family – the births of my son, and his cousins. How wonderful it is to watch children grow, and it is hard to believe how fast it happens! This July will be the first time that one of them, my eldest nephew, will spend the whole summer working away from home.

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There have been the inevitable losses, too.  Sadly, my husband’s parents are both gone now, his childhood home sold.  That summer tradition of the family sitting together in that backyard, near that lovingly tended garden, a finished chapter.

Many rich moments connect the years between those road trips. And after all this time, our majestic old friend still welcomes us home.

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Time to Paint

Post by Carina Spring.

It’s been a lovely Mother’s Day weekend. Aside from lots of time with my family, and a delicious supper prepared by my husband and son, Saturday also included plenty of time for creative work.

This Saturday I decided to paint.  What a treat!  I would like to do that more often.

I love the beginnings of paintings, so full of potential.

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There are points in the life of a painting, especially one that is largely developed from the imagination, when you have to decide whether to stop or continue. Is it finished?

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With this painting, I decided to continue. Maybe I should have called it done at the stage illustrated in the second photo (above), because I really liked how it looked and kind of miss it now.

Somehow, though, it didn’t feel finished, so I continued. I suppose that is part of the learning.

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The third picture above is where I stopped painting.   I am not satisfied with it yet, so I know it’s not finished.  It’s time to step back and get a bit of distance from it in order to understand what it needs next.

How I would love to paint every day! Knowing that I would be painting again the next day would help me approach each painting as an experiment- an evolving part of a larger process.

But painting is a very consuming activity, so it is challenging to do when one has a career.  It takes focus and energy that I also need to devote to other aspects of my life. It is even harder when one feels pulled toward various creative outlets: I long to write, and blog, and draw and paint.  I don’t want to – or perhaps just can’t –  choose between these forms of expression.

As I reflect on the past year, I am somewhat encouraged. I have completed several larger drawings, and quite a few small, fun paintings. Little by little, I am finding ways of making visual art a satisfying part of my life.

It takes so much patience, though!!

About the painting…

Images of birds often find their way into my art, and I am sure that is due to childhood experiences that imprinted themselves into the stories that weave through the tapestry of my life.

This painting was loosely inspired by a photograph from a book, as a starting point, but was mostly developed through my imagination.

Though I prefer oils, I worked in acrylics in order to avoid the fumes.

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What a great weekend!  Today is Mother’s Day and is also my aunt’s birthday, so we invited my mom, aunt, and cousin over for lunch. My husband made quiches, and we all relaxed and enjoyed a few hours together.

Happy Mother’s Day!

My Favorite Clutter

Several years ago, I de-cluttered my home. I discovered that the process was more about celebrating what you choose to keep than mourning what you decide to discard.

It turned out to be an exciting undertaking with joyful results. Our home felt relaxing, spacious and revived by a new energy.

I was so glad that others could benefit from the many items that we no longer needed, and thrilled to have re-discovered items that I had abandoned in my own basement.

My home was transformed. One treasure at a time, one change inspiring the next.  Our house became a place that celebrated our life and nourished us in new ways.

We have moved to a different house since then, and the experience of decluttering my previous home has profoundly affected how I am setting up my current home.

It has also inspired the new series I am introducing at home…hurrah!  It’s called My Favourite Clutter!  This series is about celebrating those special items – the ones that share our stories and express something unique about who we are.  The clutter that we love for whatever reason!

 

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My Favourite Clutter 

A Mysterious Lakeside Treasure

When my son was about six years old, my husband and I took him on a drive out in the country, along a lake-side road.  Stopping here and there to explore,  we wound up finding a quiet, narrow, little beach, lined on one side with trees and bush. We stayed for a while, enjoying the air and peaceful view, while our son played in the rocky sand.  At one point, he stopped and ran excitedly toward us holding this object he’d found in the shoreline, where the water meets the rocky sand.

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It was made of a heavy metal, and had clearly been around for a long time – deeply encrusted with rocks, and so rusted that it had an organic appearance.

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On our way home, we had fun guessing what this object might be, and imagining what unusual circumstances could have brought it to its current state.

How long would it have taken for rocks to become so deeply embedded into the metal?

Any ideas?

My son was so proud to have found such a unique souvenir.   Now it happily adorns my studio, on a shelf amongst my plants, reminding me of a beautiful afternoon that is suddenly 5 years away; reminding me to pay attention to life as it happens.