Wednesday, December 17, 2014

At Little Qualicum Falls: failing is really a sign of success?

It is just a few days after a series of heavy rainstorms hit our west coast of Canada and I am anxious to see if that has translated into spectacular falls and rapids at this provincial park on Vancouver Island. Too late, the water flow is already back to 'normal' for this time of year as I trek the trails with my camera. Today I have chosen to use my new telephoto lens and so the feel of my compositions are quite different. Rather than struggle to find some 'air' in my photos I am zooming in this time, going deeper, seeking the detail that can express the whole rather than taking the broader view.

Taking lots of photographs regularly keeps me up to speed, but also prone to using familiar compositional formulas. And yet if I wish to move my practice forward I need to think carefully and be creative. Today I take plenty of 'big water' images, that is the most obvious thing happening right now, but try to slide some more nuanced things in as well, taking advantage of my long lens. It is always surprising to me how difficult original thinking in photography can be: perhaps it is the very simplicity of tripping the shutter, the second's worth of planning needed, that encourages only minimal thought.

One approach I use regularly is to thing in terms of contrasts: in shape, colour, texture, tone, line and subject matter. I know that placing white frothy water against dark canyon walls, contrasting large green mossy slopes with triangles of white water enhances the qualities of both and can speak strongly of this time and place, but that really has to be my starting point today if I wish to break new ground. I begin to notice the trees along the banks, the lines of the branches, the way they echo or bend against the flow lines of the river. I am making images that are about relationships within the whole frame rather than simply snatching 'things' out there. The tree in the foreground is integrated with the background, or one might say the positive and negative spaces work with each other to create a unified statement. And painters have been doing this for a long time too so even that is a pretty standard compositional device and should be available to every photographer as part of his 'bag of tricks'. Can I get beyond this today or does the powerful subject matter trump all?

In the end I have a set of strong images, partly because of the subject matter and also because I have used my skills well; but as for new ideas... I will have to wait and see; sometimes the germ of an idea only grows and emerges more fully developed at a later time. I must remember that breaking new ground is remarkably difficult and that failing is the best teacher in the end. Knowing that one has not reached the possible that lies at the edge of thought is the most valuable lesson and that self satisfaction is the most dangerous feeling for a creative person, no matter what one is working on.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Firewood gathering and first snowfall.

The murmur of the almost frozen stream, the distant calls of ravens, and the wind whispers in the sunny tree tops, but down here at ground level it is cold in the shadows and the fallen tree trunks are sprinkled with the first fine snow of the winter season. I am cutting up a maple tree today that crashed to the ground in the last big windstorm. We still remember the mighty thud and splintering branches amid the roar of the wind as we sat eating our supper by oil lantern, - the electricity supply being the first causality of the storm. It sounded like it was just outside the window instead of down the hill a ways.

Usually I do not start my winter wood collecting until early Spring, but this tree top has landed on my neighbour’s side of the line and should be gathered and cleaned up after as soon as possible, so buzz, buzz goes the saw, followed by the thump of the splitting maul. At first my hands freeze up and I hug them tight in my arm pits to warm them, but soon my body adjusts as the work continues. Once I get help from Heather and Nicole, wheelbarrowing and stacking the split rounds, and that is a great help, and welcome company too down in this lonely, cold, corner of the world.

Usually though, it is a solitary experience, just me in the forest chopping and carrying, getting the job done, a few hours each cool sunny day, nodding to the little brown birds that seek food amid the fallen branches and listening in to the raven-talk across the valley.

The Salmon run. Fall on the Englishman River.

 The air is still fresh on this frosty morning despite the rotting salmon carcases littering the cobbled shores. The river swings wide around the curves and brushes smoothly against its banks, eating away on the outside and depositing gravel on the inside of the bends, in the act of snaking slowly back and forth across its floodplain, as it has for thousands of years. Salmon have long returned here to spawn and leave their eggs to mature beneath the gravel and then let their used-up bodies enrich the river life, the dense undergrowth and tall trees that line the banks. What seems a simple sight, the salmon spawning once more, is really only the visible aspect of a complex ecosystem. We come to look, but miss the complex strands of life that are bound together: river, salmon, vegetation and all the other species from seals to eagles, from trout to bugs, that take from and also contribute to the river.

It is easy to grasp how it was that the reality of the world, its complex interwoven-ness, became personified by our ancestors. The River God, Eagle, Frog Woman, Mink, the Salmon People ...., were personalities that reflected that great complexity. As 'Beings', they were in relationship; we, and all other life forms, the river, sky, the very rocks themselves, could interact, we could speak to them and be spoken to, be influenced and seek to influence in our turn. We humans were in communion, an acknowledged part, but not necessarily a preeminently important part, of the web of life itself. What takes a scientist to explain to us now was once accepted knowledge spun within a common language of myth and story.

So,feel the pull of the river, swim against the current, run Salmon, run.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Remembrance Day on Saltspring Island. Not a simple ceremony.


Last week I took our Swiss international student to experience a Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph in our little island town of Ganges. I have not attended it myself for twenty years or so and with her foreign eyes beside me I experienced it from a more thoughtful perspective. A Swiss-German speaker herself and with several recent German student friends, what would she make of all this ceremony, this determined remembrance of a conflict that the 'loosing' side would just as soon forget?

“Lest we forget”... “we shall remember them”... the crowds of people, the uniforms, ... marching, bagpipes, bugles and drums. The laying of wreaths... the battle of the Atlantic, Dunkirk, Juno beach in Normandy.... The service seemed to last a long time and involve every organization and business, and half the individuals on the island. How barbaric this must seem to a young Swiss woman from a country that was neutral through the European wars of the last century. And yet, she needs to experience Canadian society in this aspect too and seek to understand what exactly is being expressed on this cold morning in October.

Perhaps it is not so simple after all; we remember the fallen in all the wars, we look around us at the wounded from the most recent wars as well as those of the last century, we give thanks, we perform a kind of hybrid religious and national ritual. “God is with us “we seem to say before thinking no, that was what they were saying on the other side of no-mans-land. And those ancient veterans marching past us, were there not some medals from the other side as well?

We dedicate ourselves to peace here on our little western island, to working for peace within our community, supporting our local institutions and look beyond to our nation and to our world. We remember, and that remembering is within the context that some of us are at the sharp pointy end of peace keeping and peace making. We all remember the past that we may, like those islanders whose names are carved in stone before us, serve the world and struggle to make it a better place. Every year we gather to rededicate ourselves to service for the greater good.

A few years ago I wrote a memoir of my early childhood in wartime Britain. Thinking about our international student and her school experience of hearing the 'war story' over and over and her German friend's distress about a history that goes back to their grandparents generation. (“ We didn't do it, and we love our country”.), I realize how focused on the 'war' I and my generation are. Born into it, ( during an air-raid) expecting nuclear annihilation in my adult years, aware of the wars and dislocations that have come since, mine must seem a 'warrior' mentality. I have seen a longer time span and have a more nuanced view of humanity than my student from Europe. Thinking good thoughts is not enough, but thinking bad thoughts isn't either. We need to understand.

Here are my remaining fragments of the story of the Yanks (USAAF ( 457Bomber Group ) in Connington, our little village during the war, and it was not clear cut then either.

I remember seeing a flag over a hedge; an American flag, I am told.

My Father walks around our house during air raids on the look out for incendiary devices. Our 300 year old home has a thatched roof that would go up like a bomb. The family shelters under the big oak table.

A crashed German plane in a nearby field is pillaged by a stream of airmen seeking souvenirs. It later explodes from a delayed action bomb.

Mom is always cooking meals for the Yanks using food “provided” from the base stores. Presumably we got a share in return. Tight rationing for British families.

Dad is very interested in hearing stories of the latest mission. Wounded in WWI, he is out of this one but has his village Home Guard unit. Brother John listens in.

The first Americans we meet are the engineers who built the airstrip. “What are those medal ribbons for?” Dad asks an old railroad engineer, recently arrived. “Well this is my WWI, this is from my state, this from my railroad union, this for enlisting...” Not wrong, just different from the British system. We need to adjust to American ways too, but really they are mostly so nice that is not so difficult. And yet our village feels as occupied as many a village on the other side of the channel. My dad has spent years of his youth in Canada and the US, only returning for WWI. He feels an empathy for these boys so far from home. They return our welcome many times over.

My parents stand outside in the night and watch the city of Coventry burn from a massive and deliberately scorched-earth air raid. When later, Germany feels the bite of devastating Allied raids there is little sympathy here. They started it but we will finish it. Hard words, strong emotions.

My brothers watch the con-trails in the sky as fighters and bombers grapple far overhead. They race around acting out these battles. My brother Paul is still to this day called 'Hawker' ( Hurricane). They build an 'ack-ack gun' in the orchard out of old pipe, overlooking the runway. The village bobby comes to put a stop to their pretending when the returning aircraft come under 'fire' . The poor guys with jangled nerves did not appreciate even this bit of fun at the end of yet another daylight mission.

A time when the sky is filled with aircraft: Dakotas full of parachutists and gliders packed with soldiers under tow, all headed for Normandy and the beginning of the liberation of Europe.

Those big B 17 four-engined aircraft would no longer roar past our house and stagger into the air with a heavy load of bombs or limp home again full of holes. Half of those young men who had swept into our family’s life would be home again. But those that survived the war would remember us all their lives as we would equally honour and remember them.

It is interesting to think about those on the receiving end of all the bombs carried by those B 17s. I met a German man while we were sailing the Pacific who had been a teenager in the Hitler Youth and had hauled the injured from collapsed buildings. Perhaps he was on the receiving end of those same bombs loaded on aircraft just down the road from our home and dropped by those nice young men we knew as friends. Such is war.
He said to me,” You know Bill, we could have won the war.” and I replied, diplomatically I hope, 'Yes, but wasn’t it just as well you didn’t? Even allowing for the bias of history written by the victors, and allowing also that not every SS Officer ( his father) was a monster, surely we can agree that a world ruled by the leadership of the Nazi party would have been worse than the Roman Empire ever was?” He had no good answer to that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Carving shared. PNG in Victoria's Alcheringa Galley.

The other day we watched a DVD from the library, titled 'Killer Whale and Crocodile': a documentary film about carving, both on our own North West Coast and in Papua New Guinea. As I have been a carver since childhood, I found it very stimulating to see a whole village of carvers along the banks of the Sepik River and it reminded me of a dream I had as a returning CUSO volunteer from S. America. With some courses in Anthropology behind me and the recent experience of living in the far reaches of the Amazon, I was aware of the relentless pace at which Western culture was bulldozing traditional societies and their belief systems aside. As a teacher in Guyana, I was part of that process and it left a somewhat sour taste in my mouth. Surely, I thought, there must be some way, if not to stop it, then to create a transition to give new vitality to traditional beliefs even as things changed on the ground. In fact, surely these traditional ways of living with the world had much to offer the rest of us who were hell bent on destroying the very reality that supported us all.

I was thinking of John Houston's work in the Canadian Arctic where he introduced Inuit people to printmaking, helped create a fine art market and jump-started co-operatives and individual artists into beginning a cultural revival. How about using this model in New Guinea along the Sepik River I thought, or along some new road, hydro dam project or strip mine in 'developing' countries around the world? I checked with my Anthropology prof. and received a guarded answer as I should have expected. Science casts a jaundiced eye on 'social engineering' such as I was innocently proposing.

Imagine my delight to find in the video that the Sepik was producing carvings that make real the cultural stories that underpinned a people's belief in themselves. Some for the tourist market by the kilo, some for the world's fine art collectors market and some for local buildings and ceremonial needs. All these people were somehow blending the old ways with the new, supporting their villages financially and using the net to keep in contact with new ideas and markets around the world.

We in the west tend to think of the Arts as an expensive lump of jelly on top of our ice cream, something good but somehow extra. Too much might even be bad for us! We have lost all those old stories of how things came to be and how we fit into the world and this is to our detriment because these are the roots of image making, of song and dance, of expression itself. These Sepik carvings oozed energy, raw power and creativity and made the gallery images on the walls of so many contemporary western art galleries seem pallid and uninspired.

We visited the Alcheringa Gallery in Victoria soon after watching the DVD and spent a marvellous time seeing the carvings and talking to the owner/collector who spent time walking us through, pointing things out and discussing the very issues that were in my thoughts when we first returned from our own life changing experiences in the Amazon. And yet, just as I had wondered while wandering in the basement of the National Galley in Ottawa while viewing the Inuit collections, is there some kind of dislocation when we view as ART something so far removed from the role these pieces may play within another societal context? Are we fooling ourselves, is this just another imperial set of acquisitions, taking a cultural artifact and making it 'art' with commercial value within our own cultural context?

 But even while questioning the whole economic foundation of these displayed carvings I found I got a creative charge and a sense of comradeship with other makers of images because their work was before me in Victoria and not hidden away in a remote ( to us) location. Perhaps the message from that video was that artists share a common vision no matter what their cultural background. If the only way we can be influenced by these carvings ( like Picasso before us) is through a fine art gallery, and if people can support themselves and way of life through making art for others, surely this is a reasonable balance. So, thank you Alcheringa, for making my old dream come true.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Excalibur: walking to the edge of the known world.

The tide at Rathtrevor Beach on Vancouver Island goes out for a very long way, so the other day we joined our daughter's family there and soon found ourselves drawn into a walk to the sea. Far in the distance others were doing the same thing; walking to the thin line at the world's end where the land slid beneath the waves. Flat, corrugated by the departed waves into sandy replicas of ripples, pockmarked by clam holes, it felt like we were walking out into foreign territory. Ours was a temporary visa permitting a brief visit before the sea quickly returned to reclaim its territory.

Perhaps it was the soft misty light, the lack of sharp distinctions that lent this simple morning's walk a sense of walking into the land of fairy, of accidentally passing into another dimension - those distant figures way out on the bounds of reality standing looking out to sea, waiting for the sign. We walked and walked far out to the sea's edge and understood the draw, all was wrapped in softness: clouds, the water's surface, even the ghostly gull paddling just beyond the silent little waves that first steepened slightly and then sighed as they slid onto the sand.

If a hand had risen, brandished a sword thrice, and sank back into the depths this would have simply confirmed our sense that we were standing at the world's end with our toes already within another dimension.

Each frothing wavelet pushed farther up the beach, the tide was on the turn and it was time to walk briskly back to solid land, that line of beach logs, grasses and distant trees which spoke of the solid familiar world we normally occupy.

It stayed with me though, that world of the partially seen, the place of dreams and legends that draws us all from time to time, like sleepwalkers, to experience that other kingdom that lies there in the mists at the edge of conscious thought.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Promise and fulfillment: After the dry comes the rain.

It must have been this way since forever in the human experience, else how could this change in the season yield such a complex response. After the long dry, the parched land, comes first the cloudy promise and then the deluge.

This morning's heavy rain, the puddles and clogged drains, is the dramatic end to an almost uninterrupted dry summer. How we yearned for this and yet how almost instantly do we resent the low overcast, the driving rain, the wet clothing. We shrink inside our leaky summer jackets, we grimace and dash from one dry shelter to the next. And still we are opening deeply to the wet because we along with all other life around us feel the promise of fresh green and a new life.

Monday, August 11, 2014

In Camera. Using the camera menu to create snappy imagery.

My last blog entry extolled the wonders of going naked, camera-ly speaking, and now here I am describing the sheer creative fun to be had by tooling around with the in-camera creative programs; be they the modes that lead us by the hand (in night photography for example) or especially, the little extras the Nikon people throw in on their entry level DSLR cameras like my newly purchased Nikon D 3200. I was fully prepared to curl my lip until, in the process of familiarizing myself with all the new bells and whistles, I found all these little after-capture things one can do with images to entertain oneself and one's friends.

I have become aware that many amateur photographers are using in-camera menu operations to add a little zip to their shared imagery. Fun, playful fun: and perhaps that is more interesting in the end and has more creative potential than the earnest but dull family photos and documentation of trips that have been the common product of the camera since the photo world began.

I think we do need to lighten up and spread our wings because creativity is multifaceted: Full time serious study and application is less effective than a full portion of free play added to the mix. On the other hand, play-play-play, that does not lead to new ways of thinking and working with materials simply remains unfulfilled potential.

So, let us study our camera's functions carefully and get to know that information so well that our camera becomes an extension of our mind. Let us study other image makers - they are our work mates -, let us push our limits both technically and imaginatively and in the process by all means engage in creative play.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Revolting ideas in photography

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
Helen Keller

The camera places itself between subject matter and the photographer.
Yes well, that would seem obvious, but what is not noticed somehow is how intrusive the computer program is that supplies 'trouble-free' picture making.
Today I experimented with shooting manually, just like in the 'old days' and the first thing I noticed is that I could choose not to have sharp focus; I could determine depth of field by feel rather than by machine; I had my personal control back, my self expression.

We are all looking for machines to do our work for us, our thinking, and do not notice what we are missing in the process and how much the camera programs channel our thinking. When we take a photograph we accept that the camera is part of the transaction, but how much does the planning of the manufacturer to make their product attractive to as wide a range of buyers as possible actually change the essential photographic experience? Plenty!

The answer of course is to avoid program modes and shoot with aperture and shutter speed and iso combinations that we think ( with our minds), and to turn off the auto-focus and focus manually. So, what about the exposure meter? Could that be turned off too? How far down this road of simplification need one go to get out from under 'big brother's' helpful hand that is blocking our view and understanding of our subject?

There are so many menu 'aids', and indeed they are helpful and more or less guarantee us a 'good' photo, but inasmuch as they also rob us of direct experience they are like an automated brush and paint program for painters and a 3-D cutting machine for sculptors; they place emphasis on end product and less on the process of making. And that is a pity because the essence of making things is the involvement of the maker with his materials. Just think about those early photographs from a hundred years ago; those photographers could not avoid direct participation with camera and subject matter: their knowledge and sensitivity was essential in order to take and develop their images. And it shows.

When working in other materials and processes I begin to develop an idea and move as quickly as possible to working directly with the materials. That hands-on process can teach me much more than my conceptual mind alone can imagine. I do not welcome someone's pre-packaged program that leads me in 'three easy steps to watercolour painting',so with a camera why would I uncritically accept a set of menu and modes that do much the same thing?

So, goodbye perfect photos and hello the great unknown.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The grasses of Summer.

It is mid summer now and the landscape is drying out to the bleached appearance we associate with dry, warm, sunny weeks. Even as we water our gardens and orchard every day we look beyond to the forest and rocky, dry-moss covered outcrops and drink this precious summertime in. Soon enough the seasons will change and cloud and rain will return. This is the season of grasses going, going, gone to seed in all their variety.

The other day I walked a new piece of Saltspring Island and marvelled at the sheer variety of seedy tops in this conservancy owned ex-golf-course piece of land. The fact that many of these waving grasses are imported golf course varieties that we do not usually get to see un-clipped and manicured does not detract from my appreciation of their beauty. Down the fairway glades between lake and forest I walk and photograph, seeking to capture the feel of this place.
It is such a delicate moment in the mind when I meet new landscape, I resist rushing to judgement, categorizing and marching on unchanged. Because this is the opportunity that may not present itself again, a fresh look, a fresh opportunity to receive.

I was saying to a visitor from Korea last week that landscape and seascape, clouds, the stir of leaves in the breeze, are like personalities to me. I think that fine distinction was lost in translation somehow, but that is how I felt as a child, swept up in a personal relationship with nature, and I find it a useful and satisfying way to frame things for my creative self today.

I see you, grasses, waving to me there!”

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Annie Dillard's 'Pilgrim at Tinker Creek'. The book that just keeps on giving and giving.

"It scatters, it comes and goes"  *

I returned to re-read this book after many years away and found that those intervening years of experience had deepened my understanding and appreciation for Annie Dillard's observational and philosophical style. She walks along the banks of Tinker Creek and finds a whole universe. Like Thoreau with his 'Walden' journal she has chosen one place in nature, (and like Thoreau, not so far removed from town), to observe, record and reflect. Having just completed her later book, 'An American Childhood' I was prepared for her intense focus on the 'real' and her question 'why'?

Since reluctantly completing 'Tinker Creek' I have been reaping the next stage of her writing; its continuing influence on my own life. She has sharpened me up! I am seeing and hearing and being more intensely touched by the natural world. The wind clearly rushes through the new summer leaves and now the rain patters gently on the roof overnight. This has got to be the true effect of a work of art; that it influences how we the readers behave later and not just at the time of reading.

*One of the interesting aspects of Annie Dillard's writing about her time beside Tinker Creek is her experience of what might be described as a James Joycian 'epiphany'. Those times when the curtain parts and ultimate reality shows its face. Her quotes from Heraclitus that point to the transience of such moments and their power to alter her understanding of the world that she details in Tinker Creek point to the ability of her own literary creation to affect her readers in their turn. Indeed I would think that without her intense focus she would not receive, without the preparation, the mind tuned in, she would not hear the broadcast that " scatters" and "comes and goes".

Still thinking about Tinker Creek, I explored it via Google Earth. (Tinker Creek Va. USA) and roamed the countryside, zoomed over the mountainsides and down valleys. I even 'drove' down country roads and tried to catch glimpses of the creek itself. What I found of course is that this is just plain old landscape, full of fields and woods and mountainsides, threaded by roads and rail lines, pitted by quarries and dotted with reservoirs. The magic of the book is contained within the mind of the writer; within her observations and thoughts. This should be as it is, the magic of Annie Dillard's writing is not contained within some magical special landscape but placed directly within the land of our everyday experience. Her message is that our own familiar landscape is both normal and special, it is up to us to experience it so closely that it will be both and it is we whose eyes will be opened.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Transcendentally speaking.

The Rhodora

In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals fallen in the pool
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that, if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for Being;
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask; I never knew;
But in my simple ignorance suppose
The self-same power that brought me there, brought you.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

We have a Rhododendron in bloom down by our woodland stream, a brilliant flash of elegant pinky-purple blossoms set amid the greens of forest and water-iris leaves. I photographed it today and thought of Emerson's poem. I suppose it was the same flash of thought we both shared across time, although of course I would probably edge away from 'selfsame power', an expression he himself had no problem with, transcendentally speaking.

Yesterday, another sign of Spring arrived at my doorstep, an elderly couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses came along to spread the word. I have been occasional acquainted with them for many years and they never give up showing up. I welcome them, sit them down in the sunshine and we have a long chat about the troubles in the world and how God has it all figured out and will rescue us in the end.

Once perhaps, I might have used my Bible knowledge and verbal skills to poke around in their beliefs a little, but now that would seem merely arrogant. Besides, as we talk about the peace that flows from the leafy landscape around us under the warming sunshine I'm no longer sure at all that we are are not pretty much on the same page. They no longer object when I refer to humans as animals and I no longer object to the formula of good and evil that comes from the Adam and Eve story. Really we are that rare thing, people who have known each other for a long time and value this meeting for its and life's transitory nature; that, like the Rhodora's falling petals, this might be for the last time.

...if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for Being;

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Spring at Burgoyne Bay. 'Make and mend' .

This bay on the wilder south-west side of Saltspring Island was once a stopping point for early coastal steamships that provided transportation links before roads, railways, and aircraft were developed. Not so many years ago an abandoned house nestled into the run-riot garden and non-native decorative trees beside the beach. Today this coastline and the old farm fields and barn that lie just behind the forested slopes are a provincial park and at this time of year it is spectacular, with its spring blossoms, mossy rocks and fresh leaves. Beautiful, but somehow sad with its echoes of farming long abandoned. I walk for pleasure amid the results of so much earnest labour; the fields being reclaimed by alder, the barn sagging with its milking parlour long since abandoned.

The old home-site near the beach has been 'remediated', but the trees planted long ago still please our eyes; the magnolia, the Japanese maple, the redwood and the laurel hedge are strong healthy specimens. The original settler's plantings amid the 'wilderness' are our link to time past but so much continues and is our link to time future. The stream that once burbled past their door and provided drinking and irrigation water still flows down from the hills and through the fields and swamps. The tide still rises and falls and produces seafood for the gathering. Geese still pass overhead on their way north, ravens soar on the updrafts against the mountainside and owls patrol the night skies where the same stars patterns show themselves between drifting clouds.

The interesting aspect I am noticing today, amid this blend of old and new, is that all this is harmonious. Even the old fallen cedar posts with their tangled fencing wire are on this Spring day inevitably part of death, decay and renewal. Human structures and farming practices are being repaired by powerful new growth.

One can acknowledge the passage of time and the sadness of the ruin of human dreams but be thankful for the bigger picture; for nature's relentless 'make and mend'.