Writing in Summer Solitude

Last spring author Debra Purdy Kong blogged about her need for solitude. She said, “scientific research has shown that creative people need solitude. An article in Quartz revealed what many of us writers have known for some time. Solitude has nothing to do with being bored or being lonely. In fact, it’s an essential component for any type of creativity.”

DSC09480The creative person’s desire for solitude isn’t limited to summer, but for many of us that’s the time we’re most likely to find some. School’s out. Organizations put their meetings on hiatus. Employees take their vacations. It’s the best time to escape … or, at least, that’s what we seem to think. Maybe we’re brainwashed to believe that, when we should really be looking for periods of solitude throughout the entire year — any time our well of inspiration is in need of replenishment.

A solitary stroll on an crisp fall morning or a snowy weekend evening might be all it takes to let fresh ideas break through what I call a cotton batten brain. A rainy day spent at the museum or art gallery does it for some, while others find refreshment pouring through shelves in a library or bookstore. Personally, I’d never turn down the opportunity to spend an hour in any season, sitting on a log at the beach or by the lake, emptying the mind to ready it for refilling.

My writerly sub-conscience needs that, but so too does my spirit. Solitude and stillness help me open myself to God and let peace and renewal seep in.

I saw this graphic on the (in)courage website recently with the words, “May you have the chance to be still, to hear His voice in the quiet spaces.” I’ve borrowed it to use here as a summertime reminder. I’ll be absent from the internet during portions of August as I focus on experiencing stillness and refreshment, and on redirecting my creative efforts. I hope you’ll make time to do the same.

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The Before and After…

“On budget and on time” … yes! Four weeks to the day, our bathroom renovation was complete, and we’re very pleased with the result. We didn’t dislike the original decor, but after twenty-five years an update was definitely called for.

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Our desire for the new look was classic white on white, and we chose bianco carrara tile for the tub surround, floor and baseboards, highlighted with a metallic and glass mosaic trim. Counters are a dark-ish grey quartz installed on medium grey cabinets, and all fixtures are now white. I still don’t have the window covering made, but it’ll come eventually. There are only trees beyond the window; it’s not as if we need curtains for privacy, but a bit of fabric might be nice to soften the look.

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So here are the “before” and “after” photos. The serene white and grey monochromatics won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s what we were looking for. A fresh new spa-like look for spring 2016.

The next renovation will be our en suite bathroom, but at the cost of renovations, it won’t be something that’s going to happen anytime soon. Maybe in another year or two. Maybe.

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My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.

[Isaiah 32:18]

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Spring Things – 3

A whim took me down our trail to the marsh late yesterday afternoon. I hadn’t ventured in that direction in months, but a few weeks ago my hubby had been given a tiny fir seedling at a special event. He’d planted it in the woods near the edge of the marsh, and today was heading there to water it. I grabbed my camera and went along. (With both bear and cougar in the area these days, it’s nice to have his company.)

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The marsh is a transitional mess of lingering brown and gold slowly submitting to new green. Lily pads have already emerged from their winter depths and unfurled over the surface in still places.

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A pair of mallards squawked briefly at our presence (it really couldn’t be called quacking) and disappeared into the grasses.

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I’ve occasionally heard geese flying in, but there was no sign of them today. It was disappointing to discover bushes shooting up from their old nesting spot atop the abandoned beaver house — an end to their unique and safe mid-marsh maternity ward.

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A lone blackbird silhouette was the only other presence. At least, the only one we saw. What lurked in hidden places stayed hidden.

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For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause
righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations. 

[Isaiah 61:11]

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Birds of a feather…

Chickadees! Zillions of them flit back and forth, snatching seeds and passing each other on their fly past between the feeder and nearby woods. Well, maybe not zillions, but certainly millions. Oh, okay, at least a couple dozen at a time.😉

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It’s hard to catch good shots of chickadees because they don’t sit still for long. This one was taken on a snowy morning at our daughter’s home. I sat at the family room window with camera poised and took several shots, few of which were in focus. Not until I uploaded them to my computer did I discover that (not counting the Common Redpoll’s little butt), I’d caught two different species of them in one shot — the Black-capped (right) and the Mountain (left) Chickadee.

The Black-capped are common where I live on BC’s south coast, as are Chestnut-backed Chickadees that often travel with them, but the Mountain Chickadees are new to me. Maybe I should say I haven’t noticed any on previous visits. A white eyebrow distinguishes them from the other species, but as they dart back and forth, that minor difference isn’t easy to spot.

One thing I find interesting about the birds who visit our feeders is the variety that often arrive together, especially in the winter. Here at home the Chickadees usual travel with Juncoes, and the occasional Varied Thrush or perhaps two or three Steller’s Jays join them. At my daughter’s, the chickadees arrive with Common Redpolls and Pine Grosbeaks. First a bird or two arrives then the rest swoop in for an early morning feed, and leave for destinations unknown until it’s time to return for the next meal. They always make one last visit at dusk, stocking up extra calories for the night.

I don’t know the origin of the “birds of a feather flock together” phrase, but in the avian world it’s certainly true. Doesn’t matter their colour or size, they have feathers in common and many are happy to hang out together to share the benefits, (assuming we’re not talking about predatory kinds such as hawks).

People are a lot like that, too. We like to hang out with those who think like us, or have a love of similar activities. Even writers, who spend much of the time in solitary creating mode, like to interact occasionally with other writers. We know they understand our quirks and won’t question our eccentricities. They’re generous about sharing experiences and helpful information. And best of all, they commiserate without judgement over our query rejections and writing failures.

It should be like that for Christians, too. According to comments and articles I find on Facebook, however, not everyone has a positive experience in church. I read of discrimination, criticism and exclusion, and that boggles my mind! I haven’t observed that in the churches I’ve attended, but obviously it happens.

When it comes to sharing God’s love, we could learn a lesson from the birds! “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” [D. T. Niles]

“Evangelism is not salesmanship It is not urging people, pressing them, coercing them, overwhelming them, or subduing them. Evangelism is telling a message. Evangelism is reporting good news.”  [Richard C. Halverson]

Next time I see joyous wee Chickadees flocking to the feeder, I know I’m going to remember this.

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As Sandra Heska King’s “Still Saturday” winds down and merges with Lisha Epperson’s “Give Me Grace”, I link up for today’s transitional posts…

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