Winter Hideaway

I’ve taken you to the beach in the winter with me before. In my mind it is truly majestic, even if it is one of the Great Lakes and not the sea. My future holds intimate moments connecting with the sea in all seasons. For the time being, I must content myself with Lake Ontario lovely and splendid in its own way.

 

These photos were taken on three separate walks over a two month period. As you will note, the weather turned and Old Man Winter blew his icy breath upon us as the winter wore on. Spring is now peeking its lovely face forth like a child playing hide and seek, making sunny days ever so welcome. Yesterday was one of those bright days saturated with sunshine which has put a spring back in my step and a smile on my face.

 

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As the season slides dreamily into warmer temperatures, birds singing and flora unfurling and flowering, this Spirit of mine begs to see what she can see.

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Life of a Bee

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“The happiness of the bee and the dolphin is to exist. For man it is to know that and to wonder at it.”

– Jacques Yves Cousteau

 

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“The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them.” 

– Saint Francis de Sales

 

Beach Bliss

 

 

 

Snack Shack/Restrooms

 

Have you ever heard the call? The call to head to a certain location?

Do you listen?

This morning, although the temperature was frigid, the beach called to me.

I have not been spending as much time as I desire outdoors lately so when the beach called, I dropped everything and went directly there.

Wind blown sand and snow

Wind blown sand and snow

 

Nature holds many surprises if you look around and notice the details.

The windswept sand and snow is a temporary painting on the landscape.

I dare not walk past without admiring its beauty.

swim at your own risk

swim at your own risk

 

 

 

 

trees along the pier

trees along the pier

“Of winter’s lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer’s secret
Deep down within its heart.”
~Charles G. Stater

 

beach volleyball

beach volleyball

 

 

 

 

Winter Beach

Winter Beach

 

There is something so mystical about the beach in the winter.

It is other-worldly. The sights, sounds and scents are very different from during any other season.

I stood in this spot for an extended period of time. Taking it all in until my face started to hurt from the cold.

With my ear buds in, listening to music I found myself dancing. I know. Weird, right?

I was alone on the beach without a soul in sight and here I was dancing!

I rejoiced in the sensation of pure bliss – of Spirit and surroundings.

Think I’m odd if you want to…whatever. Before you pass judgement though I dare you to give it a go for yourself.

Glimpse of Summers Past

Glimpse of Summers Past

 

 

 

 

snow fence

“Land really is the best art.” – Andy Warhol

 

 

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

 

 

 

 

Bench

 

 

 

 

[W]hat a severe yet master artist old Winter is…. No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel.”  ~John Burroughs, “The Snow-Walkers,” 1866

I Dream In Shades of Green

Here in the Northern hemisphere winter has unfolded and Old Man Winter’s icy breath blows relentlessly. The beauty can be awe-inspiring to some, downright depressing to others. I am of the inspired mindset. I tend to do a lot of inner work when winter settles in. Inner as in practicing self-love, or taking care of my Spirit, focusing on what I need to keep joy in the heart and regain focus on health. As an avid gardener, horticultural tech and professional landscaper I tend to yearn for garden time while simultaneously rejoicing in a bit of a break in the schedule. Plants are always on my mind…seriously. I dream in varying shades of green. I long to get my hands in the soil and mud on my boots. To smell the earthiness of freshly cultivated soil.

 

Something I had failed to ponder, which now occupies my mind almost on a daily basis is what exactly is going on within the garden while we are, for the most part, forced out of it. There is surely magic taking place. I find it fascinating to think upon what is shakin’ underground that we never see. The slowing of the biological processes of what we are aware of that is above the soil line while life force is still maintained. The energy that is still flowing constantly while for the most part we as humans deem the garden to be resting until we get back into the garden to assist; as if plants were relying solely on our actions.  I am humbled by the realization that we are merely a player on Mother Nature’s stage. 

 

 

winter garden

 

 

 

 

Kick It!

What am I kicking you may be asking. Well, it just so happens to be list making time. While I’ve never really jumped on the Party Your Face Off on New Year’s Eve bandwagon, I do like to use January 1st as a sort of stock-taking day. To scan both the vibrantly glowing and the dusty, cob-webbed corners of my mind in search of what I learned from the previous 365 days and how I choose to move forward through the next 365. An intriguing individual that I have come to know in the past year made a statement that hit the nail on the head, so to speak. I summarize when I say that he stated that each day is a new chapter not each year. Very wise, and the truth as I’ve always believed it to be. We don’t live year by year as those that seem to pivot their lives around New Year’s Eve would lead us to believe. We live day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second. Each fragment of time is unique and within it holds incredulous moments. When my eyes open each morning, I give thanks that I have another day to experience joy. This is always my first thought. Seriously. This may sound hokey to some of you but it gets every day started on a positive note and in a forward direction.

 

 

Kicking it means two things to me – getting rid of something that is no longer of use to me and my journey and to initiate action to the extreme. Those of you that know me well know that I can be a bit hardcore with certain things so kicking it up to the extreme means a whole heap of willpower has to be employed. Let’s  just get right to the list, shall we?

 

 

 

Kick It Style #1 – Don’t bring me down.

 

 

1. Usually external things get to us all and create unwanted stress. Little things like someone cutting us off on our way to work or plain old rude behaviour. I’ve worked on taming the tigress inside of me over the past few years as far as not allowing others to get to me and stress me out as much. I’ve noticed my tigress stretching occasionally  as of late with the desire to lash out (both internally and externally) over menial things to which I would rather use control and poise. I accept my inner tigress and value her greatly but there is a time and a place for her abilities and power. That said, I am all about allowing irritation from others roll off of me. Meditation comes in handy here.   Letting it go.  To realize that some individuals are just moody bastards or buzz killers and frankly, ain’t nobody got time for that! 

 

 

2. Don’t push your agenda or religion on me or others…we all have our own. Just yesterday a patronizing individual tried to verbally overpower me by trying to force their agenda on me. This is more than a simple ruffling of the feathers here folks. When “No, thank you” was not working I had to pull out the big guns…yup, inner tigress. See, there is a time and a place. No stress, no raised voice just simple eye contact and force of character.  Say goodbye to Mr. Irritating!   I would love to hear what others have to say and I highly respect your opinions. However, respect mine as well. Thank you.

 

 

3. Bad vibes. I will merely smile at you until you feel like a tool or scram. Complaining and whining is ugly. I need to mentally tell myself to stop if I head down this path too. There is no use for such things. Let’s just stick to good vibes or if that’s too difficult, neutral vibes.

 

 

good vibes only

 

 

 

4. I am nobody’s doormat. I love the quote by Pablo Picasso, “Women are one of two things, a goddess or a doormat.” I choose to be a goddess.

 

 

Photo from Pinterest

Photo from Pinterest

 

 

5. Goodbye laziness – hello action!

 

 

6. Coffee as the first thing that hits my stomach in the morning. I know, I know. I am a severe addict where coffee is concerned and this is going to command a LOT of willpower on my part. This practice is doing me no favours so it is being kicked. Simple as that.

 

 

 

Kick It Style #2 – Here We Go!

 

 

1. Since the end of the work season (landscaping ended at the beginning of December here), the ladies I call co-workers/friends and I have been discussing ways to stay strong and fit during the winter months. Interestingly we have all taken a different route. I have embarked upon a mixed martial arts style full body workout daily for three months. After this time, I will be back at work and I’m sure I will still be kicking my own butt at home. Just for the record, I am not sparring or fighting. I’m a lover, not a fighter. I just like the defined muscle and definition of a fighter’s physique which will be mine with much hard work and dedication.

 

 

2. The volume of Life is being cranked! I am ready to ROCK!

 

 

3. I am realizing a few dreams this year that I have carried in my heart for many years. I will share them with you as they come to fruition.

 

 

4. I love, seriously and completely, love to be silly and live and laugh with abandon. Not in an embarrassing immature fashion but in a “let’s not be so serious all the time” sort of thought pattern.  This is not new to me but is a must as this is one of my defining characteristics. It is refreshing to be surrounded by friends of a similar mindset. If they are going to stare, give them something to look at. Or as Bonnie Raitt so superbly stated, “Let’s give them something to talk about.”

 

 

Ooo...so tempting.

Ooo…so tempting. Photo taken by unknown.

 

 

 

5. Staying in touch with nature and spending time outdoors is vital to my wellness. I feel drained when the connection with nature has been severed too long…like more than a day.

 

 

 

Each and every day I plan to make a difference in some way. Whether it be putting a smile on someone else’s face, sharing limitless love, helping others when needed with no expectations, or simply being a shoulder or an ear when such is needed. By bettering ourselves, it becomes easier to be there for others. We have more strength, love and compassion to share when we feel good about ourselves. I challenge you to do something each day that makes a positive difference in your life or someone else’s.

 

 

 

Let’s KICK IT! 

Side-tracked By A Day Trip

To avoid boring you to death, this will be my last post in a three-part series about our Disney World adventures. This isn’t actually about Disney at all, but instead I will thrill and excite you with details of a day trip away from the swirling fun that is Disney. Alright, I’m certain this isn’t thrill worthy stuff but it made for a unique day all around. In the last week or so before flying off from reality, my sister and I worked out where we would like to explore. My son had one request…go to the ocean. My kids had never been to the ocean and I was determined to grant this wish. We live on one of North America’s  Great Lakes so a large body of water is part of the daily scenery. However, nothing compares to the ocean! We verbally went back and forth between the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. I wanted the Atlantic Ocean and my big sis wanted the Gulf. Who won the battle of debate? Keep reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Didn’t it figure that the day we had rented a car to head to the beach ended up being overcast, rainy and windy. I had also thought that it would be the perfect day to wear a dress. I’m brilliant, I know. Life goes on and so we headed off for a day of adventure!

 

 

bridges to the beach

bridges to the beach

There were brief pockets of sunshine throughout the day but the wind was a bit of a nuisance. As to be expected, the closer we got to the ocean the windier it got. While driving along this strip of highway that seemed to be mostly bridges connected by islands I couldn’t help but think how terrifying this would be should there be a hurricane. Evacuation route signs were everywhere. My sister and I came to the conclusion that neither of us would ever live in a location that needed evacuation route signage. If you live in such a place, you are braver than us. Or you simply enjoy life being peppered with severe risk. Your call.
Cruise ships

Cruise ships

There is something so odd about cruise ships along the side of the freeway.

Beach, here we come!
Beach, here we come!

Now you see who’s debate skills are superior.  Maybe it was the 3:1 that was the clincher.

Cocoa Beach from afar

Cocoa Beach from afar

After a bit of driving back and forth along the main stretch of road looking for signs to the beach, I finally rolled down my car window and leaned out to get the attention of a city worker. He was very helpful, and friendly I might add, and pointed us in the right direction  which of course we had already passed. As we walked over to the beach the sound of the pounding surf permeated all else. There is no other sound in nature that contains such a combination of force and serenity simultaneously. It instantly transports the Spirit to a happy place. THIS must be the reason people choose to live in evacuation areas!

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach

Although it looks bright and sunny in this photo, don’t be fooled. It was grey and windy which made me ponder the decision for all of these people to try to catch some sun. Humans are interesting creatures.

See the red flag on the beach?

This indicates that there were rip currents and swimming was not recommended although many people were in the water. We walked in briefly and were almost knocked over by the huge, powerful waves.

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach

Another danger on the beach was the massive amount of jellyfish. They were everywhere and I was just about to step on one coming out of the water when I was warned with a holler. Talk about freaking a person out!

My son just couldn’t get enough of the jellyfish. He spent most of his time getting up close and personal (too close for my comfort) to watch them pulsate. Moments such as these are wonderful teaching opportunities and allow children to gain a better understanding of all the incredible creatures we share this planet with. I’m certain this will be a memory that last a lifetime for him.

jellyfish

beach grasses and railing

The sound of the surf and the mysterious sea life captured our attention but it was the windblown sand that lovingly cradled the beach grasses that made me swoon for the beach.

The way the elements distress wooden structures such as these stairs was, to me, the epitome of coastal scenery that I carry in my mind’s eye.

sandy steps

sandy steps

Next stop…Cape Canaveral.

Space Shuttle

Space Shuttle

I was pretty excited to visit Cape Canaveral and the NASA museum. According to the website there are tours that shuttle visitors out to the launch pad and infiltrate your brain with all things space related.

This could have gone either way, I figured. I was hoping for new knowledge but was on guard for the nerd alert to sound. Well, upon further inspection we decided not to do the tour. At $50 U.S. per person it was a bit steep for an experience my kids were only going along with for my sake. Oh well.

 

NASA museum

NASA museum

After a day of sand, surf and shuttles we made tracks back to Disney. It was a supremely glorious day spent making memories.

“A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together.

Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood.”  

– Charlotte Kasl

 

Riotous Explosion

Burning Bush - Euonymus alatus

Burning Bush – Euonymus alatus

 

 

 

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”  – Albert Camus 

 

 

 

As the garden season is winding down and Mother Nature is tucking many types of flora and fauna in for a long nap, the last burst appears. A riotous explosion of colour that delights the senses.

In the Vineyard

Vineyard in Niagara

Vineyard in Niagara

The wineries nestled in the Niagara Region are jewels on the crown of this glorious landscape.

This particular winery is one of my favorites due to its incredible wines and stunning views. It’s interesting to stand in the vineyard and just be still. To feel the life force that abounds.

The hills are definitely alive!

In the distance is the Niagara Escarpment which is a ridge that was formed by glaciers. This area of Ontario is blessed with a distinct microclimate due to the escarpment that supports the production of incredible wines.

Have you had wine from the Niagara Region yet? Hunt some down if you can, it will be worth your time.

May I suggest my favorite – Old Vines Foch from Malivoire – if you like a luscious  bold red as much as I do.

One of the many reasons this winery in particular is a favorite is in part due to their mission statement on sustainability. They definitely seem to uphold this statement.

“Operation with minimal environmental impact is a foundation block of Malivoire Wine’s corporate mission. A series of operational practices has been adopted to conform to this mandate.” – Malivoire website.

For more info on the sustainable practices of Malivoire, check out their website.

Standing among the vines

Standing among the vines

 

 

 

I am always awestruck by the beauty of grapes on the vines. Luscious little fruits of the gods they are.

On the Vines

On the Vines

 

 

 

There is something so timeless about vineyards. No matter where on this beautiful planet you are, if there are vineyards there is deep-seated history within the plants. A knowledge that is passed from generation to generation of humans but is simply imprinted within the plant’s growth cycles. It is a double whammy for me, Nature doing it’s thing and our ability to capture this essence.

“It is written on the arched sky; it looks out from every star. It is the poetry of Nature; it is that which uplifts the spirit within us.” – John Ruskin

 

I Dream of Gardens

 

 

I am in a gardening frame of mind at present. I eat, breathe and sleep gardens during the summer months. Yes, I even dream of plants in my slumber. I am always grateful to get dirty and breathe fresh air.

 

 

Last weekend I felt the urge to get out into a garden that I could savor its beauty with no strings attached. To walk among the greenery, stop to smell whatever flower caught my eye, and sit still and let my senses lap up all that was on offer.  I figured that the best location to do this was at the Niagara Parks Botanical Garden that is about a fifteen minute drive on the highway from my house. I hadn’t been in this particular garden for a few years so I thought it was high time I check it out again. I am never disappointed by the gorgeous planters and urns that dot the walkways. They are a symphony of colour and textures that are pleasing to behold. Despite the plethora of planters, my timing was not great since many of the show gardens, the rose garden in particular, had just finished blooming and had been recently dead-headed. The Parks had planned well and planted adjacent flower beds with eye-popping colour in hopes of detracting away from the blah vista of non-blooming rose bushes. Candy-coloured annuals distracted me from disappointment.

 

 

There is one area in particular in this 100 acre property that calls to me through the treetops and beckons me to make a beeline directly into its inner sanctum – the herb garden. This garden is walled by cedar hedges that were planted in the 1940’s and still stand, perfectly manicured to create not only a mini micro-climate but also creates the feel of an outdoor room that quite honestly, I would be more than happy to stay in for hours.

Herb Garden

Herb Garden

 

 

 

After the herb garden, a nice stroll through the arboretum was in order. Don’t you just love the cool shade beneath the trees? My inner child wants to run from one shady spot to the next by the feel of the shades’ coolness alone while the sun shines in my eyes.

 

 

arboretum

arboretum

 

If you plan on visiting the Niagara Region, I highly recommend both the Butterfly Conservatory and the Botanical Gardens on your list of places to see.  Who knows, you may even bump into me taking in the gardens in every season!

For more info on the botanical gardens, visit this link.

Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens

 

 

I bid you farewell and many enjoyable hours in the sunshine!

“When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.”
– Minnie Aumonier 

If only…

 

 

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Despite the heat and humidity that envelops us at the moment, there is so much bounty to enjoy at this time of the year. If only I could stop a little longer and rest by this beautiful pond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Be like the flower, turn your face to the sun.”
— Kahlil Gibran