Wednesday, April 27, 2016


An offshore reef lies in the glare of a reflecting sun burning through the overcast. This has little to entertain our eyes - little colour, no happy faces or other social interest. How then does it have a right to call for our attention?

Some images do not seek to entertain but speak of a reality so raw, so powerful that we want to turn our eyes away. Here lies the heart of the matter - light, dark, earth, air, fire and water.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Family appreciation day.


 We clamber up the brow ( gangway) onto an Orca class Canadian Naval training/coastal patrol vessel for a couple of hours of manoeuvres just off Victoria Harbour. This is the day when the navy welcomes family members aboard as well as reservists who are improving their ability to manage first these and then even larger vessels.

Margot steering

Sarah drives the ship, with expert assistance.
This is a special day for our little family group because we get to see our eldest daughter Anne do her military thing and so do her two girls that we are accompanying. Anne joined the reserves at seventeen and over the years we have watched her graduate from basic training,then become an officer, and now she will be acting as XO for the day. Our experiences of her sea-going abilities up 'til now were on our schooner voyages around the Pacific where the routines she learned in the navy had stood us in good stead. Now to see them in action in their original setting!

Coming HMCS Malahat in Victoria Harbour.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Man's Search for Meaning The seventieth anniversary of the publication of Victor Frankl's important book.

I have read this book twice, spread over several years and I suspect that each time more that it is read will yield some new insight, not because of my faulty reading but because life experience in the interval will open me up to a greater understanding.
Set in the concentration camps of WWII Germany, it is a harrowing tale, like so many others on this topic, but Frankl, a psychiatrist, observes himself and his fellow prisoners and draws certain conclusions: about love, about the will to survive, how what he has observed in the most hellish circumstances can have relevance to us all.

“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering. If there is a purpose to life at all, there must be a purpose in suffering and dying. But no man can tell another what this purpose is, Each must find out for himself, and must accept the responsibility that his answer prescribes. If he succeeds he will continue to grow in spite of all indignities”.

Frankl is fond of quoting Nietzsche, “ Who who has a WHY to live can bear almost any HOW”.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hiking the uplands on Saltspring Island.

The wind rattles the tree tops as our hiking group follows a steep narrow trail cut through the dense undergrowth and I glance up thoughtfully, thinking of dead trees and falling branches. It is a cool, blustery morning snatched between rainy days. With luck we will not get soaked after all. Soon we emerge onto a mossy, rocky hilltop and can see the low clouds and feel the full force of the wind. Ahead of us lies the Burgoyne Valley capped with a dense blanket of dark grey cloud and farther out beyond the cloud's hairy edge are the Gulf Islands, Haro Strait and a lone freighter about to zig-zag around Turn Point and Saturna Island on its way to Vancouver. All bathed in beautiful silver light.

We stop for lunch in this windy damp place, hunkering down out of the wind, and I have half an hour to feel the chill, the drifts of cloudy vapour and savour the rawness of it all. We are in April but up here a few hundred feet above the sea, Spring is taking it's sweet old time. And, I love it! After all those sweet-blossomed promises of peace and love down near the sea there is a more austere love on offer on this rocky hilltop and I feel it in the wuthering wind and drifts of dark cloud.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Bloomin Spring!

Down at sea level Spring is just little more advanced than up on our northern valley side, so Ruckle Park still manages to provide a preview for us. Everywhere I look supplies a calendar image, and that can be a problem for me. With a landscape overflowing with possibilities the challenge to select and refine, to think carefully before I press the shutter is great. Blossoms, lambs, new leaves and cute grandchildren press upon me!

Friday, April 1, 2016


The tone of nature is related to what human beings call "grief". What Lucretius called "the tears of things", what in Japanese poetry is called "mono no aware", the slender sadness. Robert Bly.

The cherry trees are in blossom in a neighbor's yard, high on a south facing slope, and they buzz with bees. Down at the bottom of the hill we wait hopefully in our shady clearing for this miracle to wander into our yard.

Miracle? Its all a matter of perspective. Does Spring, which comes every year, class as something amazing, something to notice and to celebrate? I would guess that it would be possible to not really notice Spring, - the cherry blossoms - , but because I went and photographed them this morning with careful intent I feel that have communed with them, given them my attention, and have received something in return.

The Japanese celebrate Sakura to make special note of cherry blossom time and think of it as a slender sadness. Such fresh beauty for so brief a time, like our own lives which seem so long from some perspectives but, as the poets point out, are as brief as a candle's flame. To celebrate Sakura is to incorporate impermanence into our understanding of our lives.

The bright cherry blossom is part of our lives this Spring. How beautiful, how precious!


Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough,

And stands about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my three score years and ten,

Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
AE Housman

when cherry blossoms
no regrets