Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Firsts of April

First Buds: The Pussywillow

First Flower: Coltsfoot

First Road Trip: to the new Kent Hills Windfarm...whishhhh, whishhhh....

First 28°C day: April 28 - oh joy!

First Coast Crawl: the Fundy Coast

First Rain: heard through an open window

Without the 6 feet of gathered snow this winter, would spring bring such bliss and utter joy as this?

Monday, April 27, 2009

What if we paid heed to childhood desires?

A respectable number of people showed up for Reveille! an open mic event my writing association hosted last Wednesday as part of the Frye Literary Festival here in Moncton. It was pleasantly noisy, but not intimidating, with an appreciative crowd prone to good-natured heckling and howls.

We’d gathered to hear writers and others read from the words of their youth. It was meant to be an ‘awakening’ – hence the name, Reveille - a light-hearted, fun and liberating evening for writers and wannabe writers to give voice to their childhood self.

It was all those things and more.

As one writer after an
other rose to read diary entries, poems, short stories and letters they’d written as children, you could actually hear in the words, hints of the adults they became.

My own revelation came when I stood to recite, “I Want to be Free”, a morose epistle I penned at 16 yrs of age, while I was wallowing in the despair of a social life cut off at the knees. I’d been grounded and in an act of defiance, had skipped school and driven my mother’s car to the beach for the afternoon. There, I pulled out a school notebook and drained my frustration on the page.

Like seagulls against the sky so blue
Like waves upon the beach
I want to be free, oh yes I do,
But freedom’s beyond my reach.

Oh, the trees can whisper their secrets,
The grass can tell its tales,
But to everyone, I own a debt,
My reach for freedom fails…

I want to touch the cool, green trees,
I want to smell the flowers,
I want to forget about all my needs,
Or just while away the hours.

It goes on (and on....), but you get the drift... The audience howled appreciatively (assuaging my fears that they might not think it was funny…) and seemed very happy when I finished and sat down.

But in the midst of the silly words of my teenage melodrama, it hit me. Here I am, some 30 years later, professionally writing about nature.

My writing life has come full circle. I’m still captivated by trees, birds, landforms, ocean.
I still seek out natural settings, beaches and beautiful places when I’m in need of comfort and inspiration.

I think of all the wasted years when I was not writing.

What if I’d had more faith in my childhood desires? What if I'd had more faith in myself?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

MonctonWriters host Reveille! for the Frye Festival

My writing association (MonctonWriters.ca) is hosting a very special open mic event in conjunction with Moncton's premiere international literary event - the Frye Festival). Here is the info...if you live in the Moncton area, we'd love to have you come down and share in the fun...Reveille! promises to be a hoot! Read on...

Are you a writer or wannabe writer (in the Moncton, NB area) who has saved everything you've ever put on paper? Then
Reveille! is for you!

Reveille! Is an open mic event where anyone can share their childhood ‘writings’ with the audience.

Have you saved embarrassing diary entries from your youth?
Letters you wrote to your grandmother?
Short stories you crafted in junior high school?
Angst-filled poetry penned after your high school boyfriend/girlfriend dumped you?

Then come along and

We want to hear what you wrote when the inner 'writer' in you first awakened. (hence: "Reveille – to awaken").

What you need to do:
Bring your original work and be willing to stand up in front of the microphone and read it... with a straight face. The more cringe-worthy, the better!

When: Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Time: 7 to 9 p.m. (pre-registration at 7:00, readings start at 7:30)
Where: Moncton Press Club (160 Assomption Blvd)

Hosted by: Moncton Chapter of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC)

Special guests will be Author Sheree Fitch and CBC Information Morning host, Dave MacDonald (among others!)

Your Emcees for the evening will be PWAC members (and Times & Transcript columnists) Brian Cormier and Brett Anningson.

For more information, visit www.monctonwriters.ca
(or leave a comment here!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Traveling uncertain ground

It was just an impromptu afternoon excursion with friends, a hike into the waterfalls on Memel Creek.

It would be hard walking; although fields were bare, forests were still thick with grainy cornmeal snow…in some places hip deep. In fact, I hadn’t been on a trail for weeks as my carefully groomed path no longer supported me, and the snow was too heavy and wet for snowshoes. But the forecast warned of two days of snow over Easter (and it was right!), so I wanted to take advantage of an outing before the fresh snowfall.

Armed with gators and trekking poles, we hiked partway, following a groomed snowmobile trail that provided good firm footing. But, once we stepped off the trail to cut through the woods and follow the creek, the snow was uncertain, sometimes holding our weight, other times giving way.

We lumbered along, stepping carefully and consciously; often what appeared firm collapsed or boots caught in covered underbrush and tangled in hidden bent saplings. However, we navigated to the swollen creek and falls without incident.

The noise and power of the spring runoff, surging around granite outcroppings and thundering off the precipice somehow quieted our group and each of us wandered alone for a bit to enjoy the surroundings.

The guys, of course, had typical guy fun.

Later, we heated water for hot chocolate and munched on sandwiches, fruit and cookies, appreciating the cold, clear tumble of water, the musky smell of damp earth, the joys of a first spring outing and easy friendships. A broken birch branch dripped sap slowly...but with steady rhythm...the heartbeat of trees.

We agreed that a life without nature would be empty, like a sky without stars.

The excursion reminded me that too often we are inclined to stick with what we know...the well-traveled paths created by others...easy known routes that are laid flat and firm.

But when we allow a sense of adventure to lead us off the easy route...to make our own path... as uncertain as the terrain may be, we are often courted by the unexpected, challenged by the unanticipated and graced by the uncommon.

And making that journey with friends brings closer ties and even greater reward.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lifeblood of Trees

Frosty nights, tepid days, snowbanks retreating from tree roots, dissolving into drifting mist…this is what coaxes the lifeblood from trees…

The freezing nights lift water from the roots of the drowsy sugar maple - like a sharp intake of breath caused by the cold. There the water mixes with stored sugars in the tree. A warm day expels the sweetened sap like a sigh…

All through the maple woods, thin spiles drip sap into metal cans and friends gather to help collect the clear liquid that fire will turn to gold.

Spring is simply not spring without a trip to the maple sugar camp, where wood smoke mingles with sweet sugary steam, drawing people....condensing community. As sap bubbles and evaporates into syrup, the solitude of winter bubbles and evaporates into the sweetness of laughter and camaraderie.

Like the tree, we also store our sugar...last year's gold...dispensing it throughout summer, fall, winter with care, trying to make it last. Then...one day...we tip the bottle upside down and the last drop is gone.

But spring arrives and we dare to dream of decadence again...glistening maple cream and warm maple syrup...then, finally...FINALLY...we welcome, with a deep, deep sigh, the first taste of spring.