September Clouds and Shadows

Clouds and sunshine, light and shadows… September’s weather can be an unpredictable mixture. Often the first week of school is summery, making it hard to be closed into a classroom. This year it hasn’t been, at least, not here. There have been clouds and showers every day so far, with occasional sunny breaks. Any clear skies seem to appear only in the evenings. We’re hoping for sunny days towards the end of the month with a family wedding in the offing, but you never know.

Clouds 1

 

Clouds 2

(A click on either photo will enlarge it for a closer look.)

This month of new beginnings has its pros and cons. It elicits enthusiasm, but it can also overwhelm. So much happens, and all at once. Holidays end, school starts up (well, everywhere except in BC’s public schools where the teachers are still on strike!), clubs and meetings resume, and we suddenly come face to face with all the tasks and commitments we put aside at the end of June.

We stumble into September with good intentions, maybe even with fresh goals, but without much forethought as to how they will be accomplished. As the proverbial snowball gets rolling and the calendar squares start filling, the highest priority activities get the attention they demand while the less obvious ones slip quietly into the background. Too often they turn out to be the ones we subconsciously think of as self-indulgent and expendable.

Does writing fall into that category? If we consider it a hobby, then it’s okay to relegate it to leftover fragments of time. However, if we’re aiming for a writing career, be it primary or secondary, it must be treated as a serious commitment and given its due time in our daily schedules.

If we don’t give serious thought to our needs as writers it won’t be hard for life’s storms to build up, envelop us and devastate.  Self-preservation isn’t an indulgence!

When we finally acknowledge that we can’t do it all, and a grey cloud of discouragement begins to hover, what can we eliminate to keep from being overwhelmed?

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It’s September!

Yes, it’s September. We’ve all had our fill of long, lazy summer days and are more than ready to dive into fall schedules now… right? Ha! If you’re anything like me, you’re staring in disbelief at the calendar and whimpering, “What happened to June, July and August?” I’m still in mañana mode. 

Garden Flowers

Our summer baskets continue to bloom happily, beckoning me out onto the deck and into the garden. I’m not ready to settle down indoors and face the many tasks I’ve unintentionally ignored for the past several weeks.

The baskets were planned for their hardiness and cheery colour, with plants that included long-lasting shasta daisies, hardy geraniums, trailing golden bidens and tiny white bacopa. With a little slow-release fertilizer and a drip system of watering that my husband concocted, they’ve survived my normal summer neglect surprisingly well. I was quite pleased with them… until last weekend’s discovery.

On our recent journey over the Gray Creek Pass, somewhere around the 5000-foot level, we came across lush drifts of gentle colour and occasional splashes of vibrancy. Unplanned and untended, those wildflower displays rivalled the most beautiful of domestic gardens and far exceeded anything a gardener of my calibre could have created.

Alpine Floral copy

 

Indian Paintbrush

They made me wonder at the point of all my spring gardening efforts at home. That led to thoughts of other forms of neglected creativity, such as my well-intentioned writing efforts. Oh, I have been writing — a little — sometimes working on my new(ish) W.I.P. and other times fiddling with revisions on an earlier manuscript, but the results haven’t been very satisfying. Only a short piece that I wrote in a burst of unplanned enthusiasm feels like it has any real value, and I wonder why.

Maybe… is it because I try too hard to force the words I believe ought to go well together, instead of allowing wildness to invade the page?

This has nothing to do with plotting versus pantsing, but everything to do with inspiration and the freedom of true creativity. I’ve concluded that I can’t tell my brain what to dish up; I need to let it do its own work. As I slowly slip back into September’s familiar routines, I’m going to experiment more with free writing, and see if my creativity will respond favourably.

Does a new season provoke you to try something new? What are your September goals?

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Summer Snapshot: Butterflies

“Butterflies are self propelled flowers.”

R.H. Heinlein

~

Butterflies are fascinating in their ability to be transformed via metamorphosis. I also admire their gorgeous colours and their fluttering flight, but seldom spend much time trying to figure out their names or habitats. Three years ago an attractive yellow and black butterfly — a Tiger Swallowtail — captured my attention in our garden, and I ended up photographing him (with great difficulty) and using the experience for a writing analogy.

During this summer’s travels I encountered two other flitting beauties that were impossible to ignore, one at our younger daughter’s rural home in the Kootenays, and the other at our cabin in BC’s Cariboo country. I think I’ve determined their names, but feel free to correct me. I present them for today’s summer snapshot(s).

Butterfly

Zerene Fritillary (Speyeria zerene)

 

Butterfly 2

California Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica)

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“I tell of hearts and souls and dances…
Butterflies and second chances;
Desperate ones and dreamers bound,
Seeking life from barren ground,
Who suffer on in earthly fate
The bitter pain of agony hate,
Might but they stop and here forgive
Would break the bonds to breathe and live
And find that God in goodness brings
A chance for change, the hope of wings
To rest in Him, and self to die
And so become a butterfly.” 

Karen Kingsbury (Oceans Apart)

~  ~  ~

Summer Snapshot: 4×4 Adventure

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

[Jawaharlal Nehru]

~

 

I’d like to say we went mountain climbing, and in a sense we did. In a four-wheel drive pickup truck we drove somewhere we’d never been before — over the Gray Creek Pass in southeastern BC. The road is open for two months of the year… July and August. It’s only 56 km up to the summit and 16 km down the other side, but the journey took us five hours. The views were worth it!

Sign 1

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View 3

We climbed to 7000 ft., almost to the tree line, on a mostly rocky, pot-holed, one lane road. We saw two other trucks and three motorcycles during the five hours.

View 2

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View 6

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View 7

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View 8

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Sign 3

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At our destination, we spent an hour on the beach at Gray Creek where it empties into Kootenay Lake, and then returned home via the highway. We were gone for over eleven hours… a day-long adventure during which we could constantly exclaim,  “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire. He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved.”

[from Psalm 104]

Kootenay Lake

Kootenay Lake, BC (A click on any photo will enlarge it)

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Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

[Mother Teresa]

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Summer Snapshot: Fireweed

 

Fireweed1

 

“This burnt land was an exceedingly wild and desolate region. Judging by the weeds and sprouts, it appeared to have been burnt about two years before. It was covered with charred trunks, either prostrate or standing, which crocked our clothes and hands, and we could not easily have distinguished a bear there by his color. Great shells of trees, sometimes unburnt without, or burnt on one side only, but black within, stood twenty or forty feet high. The fire had run up inside, as in a chimney, leaving the sap-wood.
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“Sometimes we crossed a rocky ravine fifty feet wide, on a fallen trunk; and there were great fields of fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) on all sides, the most extensive that I ever saw, which presented great masses of pink. Intermixed with these were blueberry and raspberry bushes.” [Henry David Thoreau]

 

Fireweed2

 

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Summer Snapshot: Lichen

“Life is an intricate pattern of simple designs;
we see the intricacy,
but once awareness is raised,
we can then see simplicity in all things.
Start with nature – get outside and embrace it today.”

[Unknown]

 

Lichen

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For by him all things were created,
in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—
all things were created through him and for him.
And he is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.

[Colossians 1:16a]

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