Monday, March 25, 2013


When I was growing up, one of the (few) days on the church calendar that made any sense to me was Palm Sunday – and maybe not so much that it made sense, as that it made me happy to be at church that day.

I suspect what I liked was the fact that Palm Sunday was the day we received a swath of palm leaf. Although only a small token, that dried bit of palm felt like a gift – the single day at church when, instead of just throwing coins into a basket, we got something back.

I came to associate the day with things changing, going forward. It may have been Palm Sunday when my parents decided to buy the house they’d been considering. I think I met one of my best boyfriends that day. Silliness perhaps, but a person seeking direction is alert to points that may be worth marking.

Yesterday was this year’s Palm Sunday, and though I can’t say I noticed any big shift going on in my life, I did discover some beautiful palms. I bet they’re the same variety that would have been blessed and distributed had I still been someone who believed in going to church.

As with so many religious observances, when it comes to Palm Sunday there’s some crossover in the events of origin. Jesus, who was a Jew (a fact that some Christians may find heretical) was riding a donkey into Jerusalem as he was preparing to celebrate Passover.
He was greeted by people laying palms along the ground. And today – at least in Canadian time zones – is the first day of Passover.

Even though I don’t follow any particular religion anymore, it’s clear that those early lessons were imprinted, as some of those early-learned stories appear now and then in one of my poems.

Whether this is the week when you observe rituals associated with Holy Week (pre-Easter) or Passover, or simply the changing of the seasons, may it be a time when you can hold your own palm open to whatever lies ahead.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Finding balance

Even though it's not quite officially spring, many of the flowers know better. Crazily, I had to go uptown to shoot this image, as the squirrels had efficiently eaten the budding heads off all the daffodils in our yard. As far as I can tell, they didn't leave a single one. I can only hope the pesky critters got their fill and will leave the rest of this spring's bulbs alone. 

Technically, the equinox doesn't happen until Wednesday, and for most of us, it'll be while we're sleeping. So unless you want to set an alarm, it probably won't be a year to do the egg-balancing experiment.

Still, there are plenty of other ways of seeking balance in our lives. The first that comes to mind is likely diet -- in the foods we choose to eat. The one I'm trying to pay more attention to this year is trickier (at least for me), the ongoing delicate balance between work and play. This week, Spring Break, the goal is play.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What the Robin Saw

Spring is when I usually get around to washing the windows. The accumulated grime of winter (compounded by the ongoing construction next door) gets to a point where I get out the vinegar and newspapers and clear them off. This year, I have (beyond the sawdust) a new sort of 'dirt'.

Yesterday I noticed what looked like a gazillion little scratches in the glass. Looking more closely, I realized the marks weren't scratches, but splashes of bird poop!

Last year, a pair of robins built a nest and raised a family in an outbuilding I call 'the boat house'. This year, though the old nesting spot exists, the robin seems to be looking elsewhere -- into the room where we watch tv.

I don't think it's that he wants to watch the nature channel. I suspect it's that he's interested in the hibiscus tree behind the window. The little tree is still inside for the winter (it goes outside in May, for Queen's birthday), but its blossoms are putting on quite a summery show.

This morning, despite the fact that the blind's been pulled so he doesn't have to gaze in at the tree's alluring form, he's still hanging around, as if hoping that little tropical-looking world might open its doors to welcome him.

I just hope his apparently desperate building urges don't mean we're in for a lollapalooza of a springtime storm. But then, maybe some heavy rains would help loosen at least that window's current grime.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Plying BC's watery highways

It seems I've been doing a lot of travelling lately -- especially on BC's watery highways. Last weekend's trip to Powell River meant four ferry rides, two each way. And this week saw just about as many, though these trips were to different destinations, and on different days.

There's been plenty of rumbling and grumbling since the ferries were privatized (or at least semi-privatized, depending who you talk to) a few years back. The biggest complaints have focused on the rate increases, especially as these have been coupled with cutbacks to service.

Among rumours flying recently has been one suggesting that the route between Comox (on Vancouver Island) and Powell River might be cut. This would see passengers from Powell River needing to take three ferries (and driving over 100 km along the Sunshine Coast), then driving another 100 km once they got to Vancouver Island (at Nanaimo) just so they could get across a relatively short span of water to Comox. The current ferry ride takes an hour and twenty minutes. The impossible-sounding 'new' route would take a full day.

This kind of thinking makes me crazy. And I'm sure the people of Powell River and Comox (and the rest of the upper Island) aren't nuts about the idea either.

There's apparently a survey of ferry services in the works, one we should be seeing a report on pretty soon. My best suggestion for raising more funds for our highways is to toll the folks who use the fabulously-expensive-to-build Sea to Sky Highway, the one that gets skiers from Vancouver to their mountain chalets. But I suppose that's another story -- and likely just another pocket we taxpayers get to keep filled.

I've complained in the past that the boats don't appear as well maintained as I remember them being while they were government-run (as the rest of our highways still sort of are). But rust aside (and yes, it's everywhere once you're out on the decks, away from the glitz of the lounges and shops), staff on the ferries remain friendly and welcoming.

In fact, on last week's return trip from Nanaimo, two of the crew members remembered me from when I'd gone over earlier in the day. And no, I didn't have purple feathers sticking out of my head. I was just me.

As with just about everything in this world, the bottom line can't always be money. The part that should matter more when decisions get made is what the effects will be on people. As Maude of Harold and Maude once said on the subject of people, "Well, they're my species." Mine too.