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

 

Healing Silence

“The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.”

– Caroline Myss

creek

Silencing the mind can be one of the most difficult tasks we as humans have to undertake. It sounds simple yet, if you are anything like me, the brain is usually swimming with “stuff”.

I honestly don’t recall a time in my life when I have been pulled in so many directions at once like I am at present.

Silencing the mind feels like an insurmountable quest lately. When things become so overwhelming I just want to escape, that’s exactly what I do. I find myself walking or surrounding myself with nature in some form or another.

There is nowhere indoors that can possibly come close to the uplifting and enlightening experience of being immersed in the great outdoors.

I feel part of a whole when I am outdoors. Infinitesimally small, yet connected to a web that’s never-ending.

Mother Nature instinctively wraps her loving arms around me and settles my heart and instantly quiets my mind.

It is in this peaceful embrace that my soul begins to heal.

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! 

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.

Summer of Revelations

I have learned a lot this summer. About myself and life in general. I’d say that I am sad that summer is coming to a close but that would be a lie. I am elated at the prospect of change. Change of the season to Autumn, change of daily routine, and change in temperature. I respond well to change, I think. It keeps me on my toes and makes everything  fresh!

 

 

I never thought of myself as a Being of Summer. Boy, how things have changed. The heat and humidity are not high on the fun-factor scale for me but I can deal with it which I never used to be able to. This summer I have developed the look I always sought when younger but could never accomplish; hair bleached by the sun, tanned limbs and absorbing vitamin D in the form of sunshine like nobody’s business! This really hit home when my Grannie said to me a week or so ago, “You are definitely an outdoor girl.”  I used to be the girl who hid from the sun to keep my  pale skin from freckling and turning the shade of a cooked lobster. Now I work in the sunshine daily and am trying to be smart about precautions while maintaining reality. I certainly don’t spend my days off laying in the sun!

 

 

“I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things…

I play with leaves.

I skip down the street

and run against the wind.”

– Leo Buscaglia

Yesterday, I realized something quite extraordinary – I am only twelve pounds away from the weight I was throughout high school! Mind you, after having two children, the joy of passing time, and working a very physically-demanding job my body shape has changed significantly (for the better, I think). So, I plan on saying goodbye to those clinging twelve pounds before the end of this work season and accomplishing a task I had never thought was all that important until now since I am so very close to accomplishing it. Weight in terms of the scale is not all that important to me but how my body responds to exertion through work and play is paramount. I have become strong and more defined muscle-wise over the past two work seasons and am liking how I feel! I intend to keep getting better in terms of health and strength. My lazy and uninspired days are behind me.

The other day something occurred to me when I was listening to an acquaintance talking. This individual had mentioned how difficult and time-consuming it was to be environmentally friendly. WHAT? This came as a shock to me as it was in that moment I suddenly realized that I basically run on autopilot when it comes to issues of environmental responsibility. Sure, I’m not perfect and I sometimes make poor decisions but overall I feel responsible for my actions and have integrated this thinking into the every day so it is the norm in my world. It seems so archaic and offensive not to care about the planet we all share and its inhabitants. I seriously don’t understand the unconcerned mindset.

 

 

One of the biggest revelations this summer has been that sometimes, there is no going back home. Recently I went back to my hometown to visit family and friends. I quickly realized that this may be their home but it is no longer mine; I am merely a visitor. At first this thought made me uncomfortable so I dug a bit deeper to understand the reason for my discomfort. I think part of the parcel is that my parents are aging (as we all are) and I have moved in a different direction as offspring are supposed to do. When I first moved away from home at the age of 19 to St. Catharines, I knew no one here. It was not only an adventure but it was sometimes lonely and scary until I made friends and connected with others. Luckily, this was only a matter of days that I wound up in the company of good people. This city has become my home over the years and has replaced my hometown as the place I identify with. I no longer consider myself a Peterborough girl  and this puts a bit of a lump in my throat. Honestly though, the Niagara Region has opened its arms wide with welcome and I am now enfolded in its embrace. I love living here!

 

 

This summer has also shown me more of the incredible natural beauty that surrounds us here in the Niagara Region. We have such a diverse landscape that is teaming with incredible natural wonders. The Niagara Region is tucked between two of the Great Lakes – Lake Ontario (I live on the south shore) and Lake Erie. There are over 200 walking, hiking and cycling trails to be enjoyed and shared with incredible flora and fauna at every step. The Region has created many naturalized sites to encourage wildlife to do its thing and give a safe haven for many species. One of my favorite hikes/walks is up the escarpment by Niagara College. It has a feeling of such intense history to be with these particular trees and rocks and gives an all-encompassing feeling of being a part of Nature not just an outsider looking in. These photos were taken in the late Fall a couple years ago but the escarpment is beautiful in every season.

 

 

 

One of my favorite walking trails on the Niagara Escarpment

One of my favorite walking trails on the Niagara Escarpment

Ericsson 2012 343

 

 

 

Within a short walking distance from my home is the Welland Canal. Even though I’ve lived in St. Catharines half of my life I still find the Canal interesting. It is fascinating that these huge freighters and  sea-going ships make their way through a system of locks up the Niagara Escarpment. For a brief description of the Welland Canal see this link. When my kids were itty-bitty, they used to love to go sit at the locks with me and watch as the ships went through. They were thrilled to bits when the workers on the massive ships would wave to them. Recently I have visited the Canal again a few times and realized that it doesn’t matter how old or young you are or where you come from the Welland Canal is an incredible feat of engineering.

 

 

I’m sure I need not dwell on the prominence of wineries in this region but seriously, they are worth a visit and the trip along the wine route. Wineries play a huge supporting role in the area’s mindset and activities. Good food and great wine are the specialties of an area filled with orchards, farms and vineyards. It’s easy to eat well here.

 

 

Another huge revelation for me and I think the most important of all – I need to live the life I envision for myself. We all have dreams, desires and are called deep from within our Soul to certain places, people and actions. Respecting someone else’s dream is essential to living our own.

 

 

Learning to love the Life we have and moving forward instead of stagnating or going backward is on my mind. I see movement in my future…I strive for joy each and every day through learning new Truths…to treat myself and others with kindness…to appreciate all that is on offer.

 

 

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open

where there were only walls.”

– Joseph Campbell

 

 

 

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

 

Road Trip – Part One

The road trip was brief but added fuel to my fire.  It has taken me this long to collect my thoughts and bring myself back to reality. Road Trip – Part One will be about how I spent my weekend away while Road Trip – Part Two will focus on my friend Steph (and travel companion) and what she was up to. Let me just set the scene by saying that Steph kicked some serious butt and focused like a mad woman last weekend.  We traveled together to our nation’s capital city, Ottawa, then went in our separate directions to get busy with our planned weekends.

 

 

Ottawa is in my Top 10 of favorite cities. If you haven’t visited this stunning city, I encourage you to do so. History, art, culture, politics, nightlife, cuisine, outdoor activities galore all rolled into one beautiful package. I have visited Ottawa so many times that I have lost count but every visit I find something new and exciting to explore. What was my main reason for going to Ottawa other than as a travelling companion to Steph? I was making the journey to visit my sister. Oh, how I love my sister and spending time together always makes my heart happy. We had some serious visiting and spa-ing to do! Yes, I said spa-ing. What else could I possibly call decadent lingering at this Scandinavian style baths/saunas for hours on end? Just thinking about being there still sends me into deep, rubbery bliss. This was my second visit to le Nordik in Quebec that is just a short jaunt from Ottawa. Each visit was a uniquely different experience but both were insanely sublime. I am actually thankful I don’t live closer or I’d be on a first name basis with the staff.  Seriously. Should you ever have the opportunity to go to a spa such as le Nordik, please do so. If you decide to make the trek to le Nordik in Quebec, call me…I’ll join you.

 

 

What do I love so much about this spa in particular? Perhaps it’s the eucalyptus steam sauna that makes one’s body drip with moisture that sends me into a euphoric state. Maybe it’s the freezing cold waterfall or plunge pool that is awaiting my departure from the sauna.  Or possibly it was the relaxation afterward that my body and Soul cried out for. Oh, who am I kidding…it was all of it rolled up into one bliss-filled day of heaven on earth. I even enjoyed the dry heat saunas this visit which I hadn’t been keen on my last visit. It’s interesting how tastes change with the passage of time and personal experiences. Since picture-taking was obviously taboo (this is a den of relaxation and who can really let go if someone is snapping photos of them lounging around in their bathing suit in sometimes unflattering positions).  I suggest that you visit this link to see what all my gushing is about. If I had to choose what my favorite thing about the Spa was, besides the company of sister and friends, I would have to say it was a tie between the Vaporo aromatic sauna, Tellura – which was freaking amazing, or simply the sensational hammocks in the trees secluded from activity. These hammocks were not your run-of-the-mill hammocks either, my friends. There was something almost magical about them. Once cocooned within its folds, no sounds but the leaves blowing in the breeze and quiet relaxation music I effortlessly drifted off into restful slumber like no other I’ve experienced.

 

This place is truly decadent.

 

The trek up to the Spa

The trek up to the Spa

 

 

 

 

Another of my fave sites to visit in Ottawa is the parliament buildings. I am not a lover of politics by any means but the architecture is even more impressive than the buzz that surrounds parliament hill. Canada’s parliament buildings were built between 1859 and 1866. In 1916 there was a fire in the centre block that left nothing but the northwest wing and the  library standing. If it weren’t for the foresight of an employee to close the library doors, the library and its contents would have been lost as well. During the first World War, construction began to build a new centre block which was completed in 1922 with the Peace Tower finished in 1927. The Peace Tower was named in commemoration of Canada’s commitment to peace. Cool feature: the huge gargoyles on the corners of the Peace Tower by the clock face.

 

 

Me on the Hill with the Peace Tower and Centre Block

Me on the Hill with the Peace Tower and Centre Block

 

 

 

There is always something interesting taking place on Parliament Hill. The day we were there the Queen’s Guard were strutting their stuff on the grounds, including bagpipers- in kilts! Yes, I giggled yet again at the sound of bagpipes.

 

 

Queens Guard

Queens Guard

 

 

 

 

On Parliament Hill we stumbled across an incredible sculpture that I hadn’t noticed before. I was struck by its beauty and strength. The Suffragette movement touches me profoundly. I become choked up at the courage of women to stand bravely and fight for the rights of women everywhere. I am proud to call myself a feminist and share in the convictions of my sisters before me. Feminism to me is not an excuse to man bash (glorious specimens that they can be) as some women choose to do but to expect equality across the board. Not ask for permission to obtain it. This sculpture garden, if you will, is very moving.

 

 

sculpture

 

 

 

 

Take a seat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After enjoying the sights and hubbub on the Hill, my sister and I strolled (alright bolted) to Chateau Laurier for brunch. What a brunch it was! Maple crepes with maple whipped cream, chocolate croissants, delicious salads, hot dishes and a pastry table that delighted the eyes and taste buds among many other dishes. And the coffee…oh, the coffee. Sinfully scrumptious.

 

enjoying the coffee at Chateau Laurier

enjoying the coffee at Chateau Laurier

 

 

 

The road trip of relaxation, catching up with my sis and excitement came to a close all too quickly. I already miss my life-long friend and can’t wait for the next get together. Getting away from the daily grind is essential occasionally for allowing my Spirit to soar. To remember that there is intense beauty and exceptional individuals that share this planet. Sometimes the places that are relatively close  – in this case about 7 hours away from my home by car – feed the hunger for adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
-Bill Bryson

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