Arbor Day

Arbor Day has never been a day that I personally associated with…until now. I’ve always loved the notion of Earth Day, even though I try to live each and every day in a manner of caring for our planet. Arbor Day seemed too one-dimensional, too all-about-trees. I wouldn’t feel all aglow at the thought of Soil Day even though healthy soil is essential. Why the sudden desire to adore a day for trees? My heart just feels in tune with trees recently. I have become more observant of the trees around me and have gained appreciation of each one’s individual uniqueness. As a Horticulture Technician, gardener and environmental tree-hugger I have always understood the value and beauty of trees but something in me has shifted to feel the presence of trees like never before.

In Ontario (Canada) we observe Arbor Week from the last Friday in April until the first Sunday in May.   J. Sterling Morton founded the idea of having a special day in honour of planting trees over 135 years ago. Isn’t it reassuring that we still note this day to plant trees? I feel optimistic when a tree is planted with the intent of it enjoying its growth for many years. On the wings of optimism I planted a tree this morning in my back yard. My little tree has a special place in my heart. When my son was just a wee little guy, he brought me home a sapling from school one day. It was so tiny that it was almost unrecognizable as a Spruce. It was potted in a Dixie cup and sat on our windowsill for a month or so before it graduated to a pot on the patio. Since this tree exited the school in my son’s tiny hand it has been contained in a pot until today.  I couldn’t decide where the perfect spot in our garden would be to plant this tree until today. I went out into the back yard to enjoy the bright clear sky when I noticed a sunbeam in the back corner of our garden. It was like a stage light directed at the perfect location!

Spruce- Picea Abies

One day this small tree will become tall and stately, just like the little boy who presented it to me with great pride and a toothy grin.

Although I love my Picea abies (Norway Spruce), my favorite tree in my garden is the majestic Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra). To me it is reminiscent of the Group of Seven paintings I  adore and is a signal to me that I am home as I come around the corner.

Pinus nigra - Austrian Pine

Pinus nigra – Austrian Pine

Pinus nigra - Austrian Pine

Pinus nigra – Austrian Pine

Pinus nigra - Austrian Pine

“There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.”  ~Minnie Aumonier

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Day of Smells

Yesterday. The Day of Smells. Every day is filled with smells you may say, but yesterday seems to be especially poignant in my mind. Let me explain.

 

 

 

Daffodils - Narcissus

Daffodils – Narcissus

 

 

 

Although the day was filled to overflowing with scents, there were a few that really stood out.

 

 

 

Starting my day as usual…freshly ground coffee. Mmmm, my favorite smell to start the day. Without coffee’s mouth-watering aroma my day is not the same. I even ran in to Starbucks yesterday for an extra fix on my way to work which is highly unusual. Alright, alright, I really needed a washroom before jumping in the work truck due to an overabundance of coffee already but I just can’t resist the deliciousness of wafting coffee aromas. “I’ll have a Venti Tribute Blend black, please.” Ah, just what I needed. Smell #1.

 

 

 

Smell #2 – crunchy, decaying leaves on the forest floor. I just love that earthy, rich fragrance. Breathe deep.

 

 

 

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Margaret Atwood

The fragrance of Spring is in full force. So many wonderful smells at this time of the year. More so than at any other time, I would say.  Hyacinth’s distinct smell perfumed the air yesterday. Such a heady fragrance.  The only issue was that while the hyacinth perfume was filling my nostrils another odour wafted in and altered the experience – skunk. Cough, cough…ew. There was obviously a skunks home in the vicinity. Wowzers, it was extra odoriferous.

 

 

 

The best smell of the day was a first for the season and another of my favorite smells – fresh-cut grass. Oh my. My head was swooning from the green ambrosia. Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me? Ahem, sorry.  There is something so mesmerizing about the first whiff of cut grass for the season. Oh who am I kidding, I am always affected by it. Always have been. So much so that years ago two friends of mine from high school (yes, I’ve love the fragrance that long) gave me a fresh-cut lawn scented candle as a gift. It was pretty darn close to the real thing too.

 

 

 

The worst odor of the day was also the last. There was a strange, funky smell in the hallway outside my office door. It was a strong iron-like stench with undertones of wet pennies. Gag. I was on a mission to find what was causing the rancidity and I eventually found it. Uh-oh. My daughter’s hamster had died and left behind wafting lines of stank. It is shocking how quickly dead animals start to decompose. I had heard him sifting around through his bedding the day before. Perhaps poor little Marshmallow was preparing himself for the inevitable. Sniff. We have had a few hamsters as pets over the years and each of them had unique personalities. Marshmallow was by far my favorite. He was a gentle little creature and will be missed. Many tears were shed last night over not being able to say goodbye. Sometimes a final farewell is within the heart, not with words. This morning I had the task of burying Marshmallow in the garden. I chose his final resting place in a small garden filled with Black-Eyed Susan that my daughter and her best friend planted two summers ago. What did I notice while fluffing the soil afterward? The spicy aroma of cedars and warm earthiness of the soil.

 

 

 

 

 

 “Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.” – Gustav Mahler

Be Like Sunshine

 

Photo: www.photo-blog.ca - credit to James Wheeler

Photo: http://www.photo-blog.ca – credit to James Wheeler

“Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.”

-Lord Byron

I think that this is one of my favourite quotes. I smile every time I think of it or my eyes fall upon it.

We all know someone that can clear the clouds away just by being present or having them in our thoughts.

I only hope that I can be this for someone else when they need a bit of sunshine.  That in itself would bring me great joy and fulfillment.

Compassion in the Face of Tragedy

I don’t normally blog about current events but yesterday’s Boston Marathon bomb fiasco has touched my psyche to the point where I feel the need to write down my thoughts. I was at work, nearing the end of my day when a co-worker mentioned what she had heard on the news in her truck. When she first said that there were two bombs that had exploded my first reaction was disbelief. I thought perhaps I had misunderstood. Then the bits and pieces that were known thus far were reported and my body went cold. You know that wash of cold that starts at the top of your head and rushes down every inch of your body? I felt numb. I needed more information so I could process what I was hearing while at the same time I didn’t want to hear more.

 

 

As I drove home after work yesterday, radio stations were awash with reports on what had taken place, the increasing tally of injured persons, and speculation as to who could be responsible. At this point, I am overcome with compassion for those that were affected by this horrid act. Those whose lives have been changed forever. My heart has been saddened by such a senseless attack on humanity. I would like to extend my condolences to loved ones of the victims as well as my wishes for a timely recovery for those that were wounded. My thoughts are with all of you that were in attendance as well. How could anyone want to injure others and families out for a day of cheering each other on while accomplishing great personal goals? My thoughts keep coming back to the question “what is wrong with people?” Seriously. Why are acts upon unthreatening and peaceful people committed? Although simplistic in essence, why can’t everyone just get along?

 

 

 

 

This got me thinking. Perhaps a simple state of mind is where we need to return to process this information. Back to the basics of human compassion. Let’s just all get along.

 

 

 Society seems to have this crazed need for retaliation at whatever cost. I’m sure that the media will be pointing their contorted fingers soon enough and getting everyone all riled up. Look at the greatest atrocities throughout history and it usually stems back to a dislike toward differing opinions such as religion, race, or gender. These acts in turn create a wave of persecution and hatred thrown in sweeping generalizations about certain communities. . If we just got down to the nitty-gritty we would understand that we are all human. We all feel emotions. We all need food and  water. We all want to be treated with kindness and compassion. What does it really matter where we live, what we look like, or how much money we have? It really doesn’t. There will always be a few bad apples on the tree of life but that doesn’t mean the tree should be chopped down. The goodness that is on the tree still exists whether the bad apples are there or not. Don’t ignore the amazing apples in light of the few spoiled ones. When we work together great things can evolve. Hopefully in light of the events that took place yesterday at the Boston Marathon we can try to keep from playing the blame game until the bad apple(s) fall from the tree. The person(s) that chose to plant these bombs acted out individually. They made that decision. At any point in time they could have had second thoughts and stopped themselves, but they didn’t. May I present to you the bad apple(s).  There are far too many horrific events taking place that we are needing to process. We are all in some way trying to take it all in. Blaming others doesn’t make the atrocity go away, it only makes us bitter. Use your energy to show compassion to others whether it be to those in attendance during  the events of yesterday or someone you know that just needs their spirits lifted. We can allow tragic events to dominate our thoughts or we can choose to spread kindness and confidence  in  humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama

 

 

Lightning Storms Aplenty

My first day off work in seven days has finally arrived and with it came a great amount of rain.  This is turning out to be a Spring dictated by the pendulum swing of Mother Nature’s moods. The past two nights we have been treated to incredible lightning displays interspersed with loud rolling thunderclaps. Pelting rain and hail have also made an appearance. I enjoy a good thunderstorm every so often.  The intense energy of a thunderstorm is exhilarating. I have great memories of sitting outside in the breezeway with my dad and sisters watching thunderstorms as a kid. My dad instilled in us that all aspects of Nature and weather are to be respected and enjoyed. These are the memories that last a lifetime. I think this is why I love the energy of storms and rainfall so much.

 

 

 

lightening

 

 

 

Last night as I sat sipping tea with a wonderful friend in the window of Starbucks, intensely discussing our lives since we last talked. We noted periodically the flashes of lightning strikes on the other side of the glass.  I was feeling a bit edgy being so vulnerable while at the same time enthralled by Nature’s magnificence. Why is it that often we are drawn to things that can do great damage? Like storm chasers following tornadoes or those that love the thrill of cliff-diving. The chances of being struck by lightning are pretty slim but it’s still a possibility. It seems to me by my limited research that approximately 120 to 190 people per year are struck by lightning in Canada. On average about 10 people per year die from lightning strikes in Canada alone. Most of these “hits” occur in Ontario, Quebec or Saskatchewan. Yet another reason I refrain from golfing (not really, I just am a seriously terrible golfer). There are not enough trips to the clubhouse that could make me enjoy spending time on the course. One interesting tidbit is that 84% of lightning strike victims are male and sometimes while holding a metal club while in an open area. Very curious.

 

 

 

One of my early recollections of lightning striking close to home was just that; lightning striking my home. Luckily no one was in the house at the time. My mom and I had been shopping for back to school clothes if I remember correctly and we were coming out of the shopping mall on the opposite side of the city from where we lived when the thunderstorm began. The thunder was insanely loud, that I still remember. When we finally returned home we noticed bricks scattered around the yard and our chimney missing. Inside the house told  the story of how damaging lightning can be. Throughout the second story of the house the jolt of electricity left its calling card. Even down the stairwell at the opposite side of the house there was evidence remaining. I recall standing in the backyard noting how the bricks of the chimney lay while listening as the adults talked. Funny how only certain snippets of past events stay within our memory while the remaining information is suppressed or deleted.

 

 

 

From this moment, I was a lightning enthusiast. I have a healthy respect for the destructive power while being enthralled by its magnificence. Shortly after the aforementioned event I went on a warpath in the tiny school library looking for information about lightning and storms. I became hyperaware of safety protocols and still recall vividly the day on the school playground when a thunderstorm rolled in at recess and a bunch of kids ran to a lone tree in the middle of the field. I kept thinking “what a bunch of idiots! Don’t they know that is the worst place to stand?” Obviously they didn’t know and were more concerned with getting wet than being struck by lightning!

 

 

 

I have passed along my appreciation of a great thunderstorm to my kids. Some nights when the sky is filled with flashes of lightening bolts we snuggle on the living room couch and watch as Nature shows off.  Way better than squeezing in amongst other people, vying for the perfect position and swatting at mosquitos to watch a fireworks display, I’d say. Now that Spring has finally arrived and with it the likelihood of thunderstorms, I feel electrified. Pardon the pun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There are many silly superstitions about lightning, and as a result many people – maybe even you – are terrified of it. You shouldn’t worry. Thanks to modern science we now know that lightning is nothing more than huge chunks of electricity that can come out of the sky, anytime, anywhere, and kill you.”  – Dave Barry

Spring Whimsy

Lately I have noticed a bit of a trend toward goal-making. I love this concept of putting down on paper (or shouting from the rooftop, so to speak) what one plans on accomplishing within a certain time period. As I was reading many admirable lists that others made for themselves it became increasingly obvious that I am not in this goal getter zone. Normally at this time of year I would be planning what needs to be in order before summer arrives but this year feels different. Why am I not chomping at the bit this Spring to get myself making lists and putting my plans into action?

 

 

 

Here is my list as to why I have not prioritized my life from sun up to sun down each and every day this month.

 

  • I am a whimsical sort of person. I will drop everything if I come up with a more interesting plan. Yes, my Gemini spirit is rather dominant.
  • Lately I feel confined by lists.
  • There are so many great things to do in the Spring! How can I possibly list them all?
  • I have just started back to work (landscaping/gardening) and am aware that by the end of each day I will be moving as though I am wearing a suit of armour. It is temporary until I get back into the swing of things and my body remembers what it is supposed to do. Let’s just get through each day still smiling, shall we?
  • Day to-day stuff like meals and laundry just has to be taken care of, list or no list.

 

 

Included in my Plan of Attack (this is as organized as I am going to get at the moment. In two weeks I will probably be organized to a “t”. I normally like the structure of goals and lists but for now I am going to forego this need to plan everything):

 

  • My intention is to live each day to the fullest.
  • Laugh every day until I either cry  or my stomach hurts from laughing so hard.
  • Enjoy my time with friends and family.
  • Dance like no one is watching…a lot!
  • Feed my Soul and my body with goodness.

 

 

 

 

enjoy life

 

 

 

 

So in the spirit of the riotous behaviour beginning outside in the garden at the moment, I too shall be full of whimsy and delight in the energy of renewal that blows in on the Spring winds. With a dash of sass, of course.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”  – Confucius