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Locarno Beach, a good place to slow down and enjoy gazing at the clouds…

It’s OK to “go slow”.

When I was a “youngster”, back in the 1950’s, I spent some time each summer with a friend’s family on the Sunshine Coast here in B.C. It was such a delightful place to visit, where everything seemed magical. Driving along the dusty dirt road to my friend’s grandpa’s place, we would pass a sign on the roadside which always made us laugh. The sign said:

CAMP

GO SLOW

Of course, we called the place “Camp Go Slow”.

Remembering that sign has made me think about the speed at which most of us seem to live today. Not only traffic has speeded up, but the very way in which our minds work is in overdrive. It appears that  moving slowly is not acceptable in 2018, nor is thinking slowly.

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Stopping to notice the sweet scent of a rose, or to look up at the soft white clouds in a pale blue sky would appear to be eccentric behaviour nowadays. What a shame! Our access to myriads of online information at the touch of a finger is filling our brains at breakneck speed. It’s no wonder we can’t remember all of what we’re stuffing into our heads! It doesn’t surprise me that so many people are suffering from anxiety and depression.

We’re even encouraged to walk quickly, cycle, jog, swim, lift weights, anything to get our heart rates up. This is all well and good, but to my mind, not at the expense of our emotional well-being. Finding a balance is key.

Pausing to just breathe, slowing down to notice the beauty that remains in this world can be very healing. Even if I can’t get to the beach, or into the woods, I sometimes just stop and really look at a flower, or a leaf, or a bird or an insect. Nature is amazing!

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White-crowned Sparrow

Getting away from our “screens”, whether it be smart phone, computer or tablet, is such a healthy way to get back into more natural rhythms of living. My own overuse of the computer has led to a gradual decline of noticing what is going on in the real world. By “real world”, I mean whatever bits of “Mother Earth” are left for us to experience in a slow, noticing manner.

Mindfulness meditation is one simple way to slow down and become aware of what’s going on around us. It doesn’t have to be complicated, this type of meditation, nor does it have to be practiced in a rigid way. Simply sitting still, being aware of each out-breath for a short period of time helps to settle our minds. Any activity which absorbs our attention positively can help to centre us, to relieve the need to rush and be “busy”. Raking leaves, painting a picture, knitting something simple, are all examples of ways we can practice “mindfulness”, and achieve a more steady pace of living.

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Crocheting can be a type of meditation:)

Practicing tai chi or yoga can help us to focus, to slow down and just breathe! I’m talking about traditional yoga practice, not one of the speeded up varieties, of course. Although tai chi is a martial art form, the way I practice it is in a slow and mindful manner. This is very calming.

On the cooking front, I may be considered old-fashioned, but rather than using a microwave or any other gadget which speeds up food preparation, I prefer the slow cooking method! Food just tastes better when it’s prepared mindfully, and is probably healthier for us as well.

With climate change forcing us to re-think the way we live on this beautiful earth, I believe it’s time to slow down and actually consider how to do that. How can we learn to (as Graham Saul asks):

“Restore the life support systems of the planet.”

—Graham Saul, environmentalist & Executive Director of Nature Canada

Well, I don’t think that we can help the earth to heal by racing around, “business as usual”, frantically and unthinkingly. It will take time and a great effort from everyone, but I believe positive changes can be made.

Slowing down will help us to once again realize that we humans are a part of the biosphere, part of the web of life!

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Columbine, a self-seeded beauty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At 6:54 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) on September 22nd, 2018, Autumnal Equinox will occur here in Vancouver. That’s today! So, I’d like to share a few last photos from the summer of 2018, mostly flowers, of course.

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Michaelmas Daisies (Aster x frikartii “Monch”… possibly)… & Sedum “Autumn Joy”

This intriguing combination created itself in the boulevard garden which I’ve been working on, (“The Verge”, as I’ve taken to calling it) at our daughter’s place. The Aster appeared out of nowhere, and I’m happy with the serendipitous partnership.

Verge: The verge of a road is the narrow strip of grassy ground at the side.

In this case, of course, the grass by the sidewalk has been removed, to be replaced by a variety of perennials and herbs.

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Where the front lawn used to be. Veggies galore! Organic all the way.

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An urban vegetable garden is preferable to a boring lawn, and this one has turned into a real family affair, with everyone pitching in to help. Passersby stop to talk, and the garden helps to create a greater connection to others in the community.

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Phlox paniculata. The fragrance is lovely, bringing back memories of my earliest years of gardening. This perennial has lived through moves from three previous gardens. It’s a survivor!

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On the Great Lawn at VanDusen Botanical Garden. Pure relaxation! (It was a hot day during Vancouver’s summer heat wave.)

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The smoke from wildfires in B.C. was thick for weeks on end this summer. This was the view from Spanish Banks, looking towards Stanley Park. The mountains and the city skyline were invisible, and the air was filled with “particulates”. Climate change is going to force us all to change our ways.

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Hazelnuts in our back garden, on a self-seeded hazel (Corylus) tree. Food for the squirrels. I’ve noticed that they also eat seeds from maple trees, and acorns from oaks, naturally.  Animals are so self-sufficient!

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Our granddaughter picking apples from a neighbourhood tree on the boulevard. Free for the taking! They made great applesauce. (Here’s a hint for making sugar-free applesauce: use the juice from one large, organic orange and a tiny bit of water with your cut up apples. No sugar needed. Simmer gently just until you get the desired consistency. Simply delicious!)

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Organically grown tomatoes and peppers from the back yard greenhouse our son-in-law built. Aren’t they gorgeous?

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Here’s the greenhouse in early summer. The tomato plants eventually grew very tall, and were supported by an ingenious method using thin ropes attached neatly to the ceiling. Cucumbers and green bell peppers shared the space.

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The last roses of summer, just before the rains began. These roses have such a beautiful perfume. They may be Rugosas. I lost the tag during the latest garden move. All six rose bushes came through the move with flying colours, I’m happy to say:)

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Sunset over Bowen Island, looking towards Howe Sound. Photograph taken at my favourite place on the planet: Spanish Banks beach!

Looking forward to Autumn of 2018, here is a haiku by Basho, a Japanese poet who lived from 1644 to 1694:

On a leafless bough

In the gathering autumn dusk:

A solitary crow!

—Basho

And remember:

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“The autumn wind blows through

Little Pines-a lovely name-

Bush clover and pampas, too.”

–Basho, 1644-1694

The weather of autumn and winter 2016/17 has been more like it used to be in the old days here in Vancouver. Before climate change brought warmer winters, we had more snow and ice, and more pronounced seasons than we’ve been experiencing for the past few decades.

Here on the south coast of B.C., this past autumn and winter have been different, starting with a cold snap in early November of 2016. We’ve had three notable snowfalls during this exceptional winter. It seems that “climate change” does not necessarily signify warmer weather all the time, but it does mean unpredictability and changes in climatic conditions. It was unseasonably cold from November right through until early February, and our heating bills can attest to that fact! We’re back to milder weather now, and spring is on the way.

Here’s a retrospective of photos taken from October 2016 to early February 2017.

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Blue Pumpkin with Spanish Chestnut & Hazelnut…Cotoneaster berries in vase…Canadian Thanksgiving, October 2016

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Japanese Maple tree, Autumn colour, 2016

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“Every leaf a miracle”…

–Walt Whitman

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Schizostylis (Crimson flag), Autumn 2016

“To create a little flower

is the labour of ages.”

–William Blake

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Super Moon & Clouds over Vancouver, November 14, 2016…the closest the moon has been to the Earth in 68 years. Photo taken from Trimble Park, W. 8th Ave. & Discovery St.

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Winter sun & shadows…

“Beauty lies not in objects, but in the interaction between the shadow and light created by objects.”

–Junichiro Tanizaki, in his essay “In Praise of Shadows”. (1933)

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Blue sky, white clouds & Blue Atlas Cedar tree…December, 2016

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And then it snowed. Three little trees at the edge of Pacific Spirit Park on West 16th Ave.

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Hollyburn mountain, West Vancouver housing developments, freighters visible in Burrard Inlet, all seen over the rooftop of West Point Grey Academy, next to Trimble Park, (aka West Point Grey Park).

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Grouse & Seymour mountains at sunset. Stanley Park is visible, stretching out into Burrard Inlet.

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Snowy West Point Grey sidewalk, December 2016

“Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter,

Long ago.”

–Christina Rossetti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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