Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Celebrating books

While I'm late for observing Canada Book Day (it was last week, same day credited as Shakespeare's birthday). Still, the photo above pretty much sums up the range of what we've come to call CanLit.

The book on the left is one I remember my parents having on the bookshelf in the living room (shelves either side of the television, as if it were a choice). This edition is a book club one from the '50s and not really worth much beyond sentiment. The authors in its pages range from -- well, actually, they don't 'range' much at all -- it's pretty much all dead Englishmen, with three women tossed into the mix. Fortunately, this limited view of our literature has changed drastically, and I'd have to say, for the better.

The title on the right, Is Canada Even Real? is certainly more fun. It's filled with quizzes and old-timey photos. The subtitle probably tells you all you need to know: How a Nation Built on Hobos, Beavers, Weirdos, and Hip Hop Convinced the World to Beliebe. I trust my argument stands.

But even though it isn't Canada Book Day, apparently it's something much closer to home -- BC Book Day, and today is the sixth annual celebration of same.

Where today is also the last day of National Poetry Month, I thought it seemed worthwhile to do a small browse of my poetry shelves (nerdy, I know, but yes, I have two bookshelves devoted to poetry and yes, the books are in mostly alpha order). One of the oldies I came across was a BC-based anthology called Skookum Wawa: Writings of the Canadian Northwest. I found a review of it, by none other than the eminent George Woodcock. If you click on this link (once you get there click on the PDF connection), you'll find it.

A more recent anthology, and one closer to my heart would have to be Force Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia. But then, I'm probably just showing a personal bias.

Whatever your taste in books, today is one of those special days when we're encouraged to go out and celebrate the fact that we can read. Like the sign said, "Keep Calm and Read On."

Monday, April 22, 2019

What is real??

Although Easter might seem like an appropriate time to quote what's likely the most famous line from The Velveteen Rabbit, that's not the answer to today's question.

The item in question is definitely real, though when I first saw it, I thought it was a stone, not what it actually is -- a tiny egg. My brass swans look as though they're feeling proud, and my pie bird crow might well be cawing a celebratory squawk.

When I found the egg, it was lying on some grass near the back door. I'm still not sure what kind of egg it is -- what bird might have laid it -- but I couldn't spot anyone's nest nearby. All I could think of as a possible source for the egg is the garden basket still up from last summer -- the one that seems to be trying its best to start making strawberries again. And it's true, I have seen little birds alighting there, as if they're looking for a spot to build a nest.

But the egg isn't the only 'found gift' that came to me this weekend. I also encountered some real live bunnies who looked like they were getting ready to make a batch of baby bunnies.

Not only is today what many observe as Easter Monday, it's Earth Day as well -- and also the day Elizabeth May, leader of Canada's Green Party, is getting married. I wasn't invited, though a friend of mine was -- and she'll be wearing a tiny feathered hat that I lent her.

So, although I won't be there, I'm hoping my little hat will come home with a few stories it's found for me.

Saturday, April 20, 2019


Nope. Not the kind of weed you might be thinking.

Even though today is the proverbial 420, the weed in question here is not that green one that's finally been legalized (even though there still isn't a store between here and downtown Vancouver, but whatever). This is about the plain old dandelion.

I've got nothing against this readily identifiable plant. I've used their leaves in salads, even roasted and ground the roots to make ersatz coffee (once only, I admit). Apparently, this has become trendy (what hasn't?) with some comparing it to matcha.

I've even got a poem that praises the dandelion bouquets my kids brought me when they were little. So, no, it's nothing personal against a little yellow flower.

But there's a difference between a kid-sized handful and an epidemic of weeds poised to spread throughout the neighbourhood.

Our lawn isn't exactly in the running for any landscaping prizes, but sheesh, unless you're planning to make dandelion wine, is it necessary to have a lawn that looks like the one above?

It's the same every spring. It's only this one yard in our neighbourhood that looks like nobody's home, even when they are. And it's not just in the spring (when the dandelions come out like an announcement to remind us) that they let their yard look so rundown -- this will go on all summer. It's hard not to think they don't give a damn. Harsh-sounding judgment, I suppose, but it sure seems true.

About the only positive spin I can conjure is to think that they're happy to share -- with everyone's yard in the surrounding area. It's just too bad that what they're sharing is dandelions. Something for the rest of us to pick or dig out.

Monday, April 15, 2019

History matters

Even though he wasn't the first, Neil Gaiman reminded us that Art Matters. And I certainly have to agree.

But today I am thinking that History Matters. The people of Paris know all too well the fact of this. For over 800 years, whether under construction or celebrating its full glory, the Cathedral of Notre Dame has stood amidst the citizens of Paris. Now, that's history.

I remember the shock that all of us felt when the Twin Towers came down, almost 20 years ago. I'm sure the shock to Parisiens today with their beloved structure so damaged is every bit as palpable.

Because I've never been to Paris, the image above from Montreal will have to suffice as my small commemoration of this Ides of April.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

I is for...

...irreplaceable. The tree that's now a stump will not be replaced while I'm on this earth. We counted 92 rings, so I'm guessing it was a century tree. And, judging from the clear surface of the stump, the tree wasn't diseased or infested with anything nasty. It appears the only blight it experienced was  the all too prevalent blight of greed, as the site where it stood (on the front of the property where it's unlikely it would have impeded construction of any new structures) is slated for development.

I is also for ironic, as the property long served as the home of the Birthplace of BC Gallery, an institution whose owner was instrumental in preserving the heritage of the town of Fort Langley.

There was further irony involved, as the group of us who discovered this (in Fort Langley to participate in a poetry reading at the Fort Gallery) had all been participants in the Han Shan Poetry Project, an arts celebration that managed to bring about the preservation of a nearby forest grove.

It would be easy to go on with the list of "I" words the tree-cutting represents: insensitive, idiotic, insane, intolerable... But I think I'll go outside instead to glory in the presence of the trees that remain around me.