From Beside Quiet Waters

He leads me beside quiet waters,

He refreshes my soul.

Waiting for the Galena Bay ferry

Vacations are meant to refresh, and mine has. It has been a time spent beside (and on) many quiet waters, travelling and sharing happy times with our family.  From the coast, we towed our fifth-wheel to the Okanagan, then followed our son’s truck, camper and boat into areas of the Columbia and Kootenays. We shared in our DIL’s lakeside family reunion, and then had one of our own — the first time in years that all three of our married children and at least some of their children have been altogether with us. So far, we’ve had 100% sunshine, too, if you discount a couple nighttime thunderstorms. It’s been this vacationer’s idea of a perfect holiday!

Upper Arrow Lake, BC

Summit Lake, BC

Kootenay Lake, BC

Moyie Lake, BC

What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?

~

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.

True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

[Psalm 23 – The Message]

~  ~  ~

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Finding Solitude and Serenity (or… this writer’s ideal retreat)

In my books, solitude and serenity go hand in hand. The ultimate in peacefulness is a week spent at our lakeside cabin where the only sound to break the silence is the occasional call of a loon, and the only company is wildlife wandering through in search of breakfast.

For much of our week we were the only people anywhere near the lake… the only ones paddling or swimming in it, or enjoying an evening campfire by its shore. (And yes, those are S’mores we were making.)

It’s not all recreation, of course. There’s always work to be done, too – like clearing the overgrown pathway to the creek from which we haul water, cutting and stacking wood from a downed tree, or putting siding on the storage shed we built last summer.

DD Shari Green is as good at wielding a saw and hammer as she is a pen!

But in the stillness of this place, the pace slows. There is time to sit and stare at the nothing that is everything. It is a place of beauty and seclusion, ‘off the grid’, discovered by my parents almost seventy years ago. Four generations of our family have continued to be drawn here, mesmerized by the tranquility.

We eat when we’re hungry, go to bed when we’re tired, and sleep to the burble of the creek that tumbles just beyond our window.

That’s my kind of holiday, but I never quite manage to capture it accurately in a photo despite the hundreds of shots I take. No matter…  there’s always another day.

I know not everyone is able to take holidays, and ‘roughing it’ in solitude wouldn’t be everyone’s ideal if they could. What would be your getaway of choice?

~

And He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a secluded place
and rest a while.”

Mark 6:31b (NAS)

~

Being solitary is being alone well…
being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice,
aware of the fullness of your won presence
rather than of the absence of others.
Because solitude is an achievement.

Alice Koller

~  ~  ~

Time Changes Everything… in Life and Writing

An overused phrase says it all. Just like a new day, “I’m baaaaack!”

After two different vacation trips to two different lakes, spending time with two different groups of our family, I’m refreshed, rejuvenated and raring to get back into routine. Sort of. I’m not quite ready to rare yet. My brain is still in lake mode, savouring memories.

Daybreak on our lake. (I took this from the bedroom window and promptly went back to bed!)

This past week we trucked into our Cariboo cabin.  To get there we leave the main highway behind, then a secondary paved road, twenty-three kilometers of gravel logging road, several more kilometers of dirt road, before finally reaching the last few kilometers of the somewhat overgrown home stretch, where the guys (my husband, son and a grandson) had to cut out three downed trees with the chainsaw.

Old logging road.

The last leg of the road to our lakeside cabin.

Yes, this is part of our road.

For several days we lounged, read, ate lots, spent time in and on the lake, and still had time to build a much-needed storage shed. I also coerced DH to take a drive so I could photograph a favourite haunt… a derelict log building that has stood in the middle of our nowhere since before I began going there as a young child. (I refuse to specify exactly how long ago that was!)

I knew it would happen some day, but it was still a disappointment to discover the roof’s supporting log beam had finally collapsed.

Time brings changes… some good, some not. The inevitable disintegration of this wonderful old building hasn’t changed its beauty, only the way in which it is perceived. It can no longer serve its intended function.

It’s a lot like the effect of time and revision on a novel-in-progress. If you’re a novelist, think about how the perception of a manuscript’s early draft changes after we’ve left it and gone on to write something else. After only a short time, returning to it reveals a few weaknesses. Nothing that tweaking won’t fix, right? We’re convinced it still adequately conveys the shiny idea that originally inspired our creative hearts.

The longer we’re away from it, however, the more problems we notice. Leave it until after we’ve written three or four more novels and reading through it makes us blush. Our hearts begin to skitter in dismay as the amateur writing taunts us with its weaknesses. We cringe to realize others may have seen its meandering plot, common clichés, and one-dimensional characters. Our dreams for it come crashing down.

There’s a reason why established authors, editors and writing instructors suggest a first novel rarely sees publication. Its structure is often too unstable to withstand the major renovation it requires, but it takes time before we can perceive and accept that reality. Sometimes the best thing we can do is let it disappear into the ground, grieve its loss, smile a bit at the pleasure and experience its writing provided, and at the end of the day, move on.

Sunset on our lake

Do you agree with me, or not? What’s your experience? Was your first novel publishable, or, if you’re still writing it, do you believe it will be?

~

Refilled and ready to write again

.

What’s that song? “Back in the Saddle Again?” Yeah, that’s it.

.

I’ve been away since last Wednesday, taking the refreshment break I mentioned, trading the trickle of my deck’s water garden for the roar of the Similkameen River. My w.i.p. didn’t accompany me, but I wrote every day and took more than 150 photos, experimenting with my new camera.

Breaks are good and necessary things, especially when it comes to nurturing creativity.  We can’t keep drawing from the well without refilling it. Eventually we’re drained dry.

Each of us has our unique way of replenishing enthusiasm for the task. I’ve mentioned before how I like to sit by the ocean and hear the waves pound in.  There was no salty water in close proximity last week, but the wild river water was a wonderful substitute. Everywhere I wandered, clicking the shutter at all the wonders scattered about, the roar accompanied me – it overpowered all other sounds, including the arguments I’d been having with myself.

Creation’s beauty was everywhere but within the beauty was a reminder that it takes more than enthusiasm to get a job done. It takes hard work. Learning, dreaming, even planning, are all part of the writing process. But unless we begin getting the words onto a page, and keep putting them there until the whole story is told, nothing is really accomplished.

So yes, I’m back in the saddle again, renewed and ready to continue the task at hand. How about you? If you have a viable dream, are you working to make it a reality, or just daydreaming about possibilities?

~

“And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God.”
[Psalm 40:3a KJV]
“I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart;
I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.”

[Psalm 9:1 KJV] 

~

A Natural Kind of Beauty

There is nothing quite like the peaceful seclusion of a special place to bring refreshment to mind, body and spirit. Our lakeside retreat is remote. There is no public access and the nearest electricity is twenty kilometers away. Only one other home on the lake is occupied.

Thunderclouds

The only sounds we hear are from nature – most often it’s the loons. Their haunting call echoes over the lake at random times day and night.   It’s a nostalgic sound for me, reminding me of childhood vacations, family gatherings and annual hunting trips. Starting with my parents, our family has owned property on this lake for more than sixty years and I can’t recall a time when the loons weren’t there.

EveningSunshine

No matter what the weather, in fog, sunshine or pre-storm moodiness, the lake view is memorable. I have taken hundreds of photos and no two ever seem exactly the same.

Birchbark

Birchbark

It is a place of quiet beauty, accessorized with the peeling bark of birch trees, fluttering poplar leaves, brooding evergreens and an abundance of wildflowers — scarlet Indian Paintbrush, Brown-eyed Susans, lacy white Yarrow, the occasional nodding Tiger Lily, pale pink Wild Rose bushes growing between patches of glossy Oregon Grape and scatterings of Oxeye Daisy. Their splashes of colour stand out against a rusty backdrop of soil created by ancient disintegrating trees and deep layers of discarded evergreen needles. It is a natural kind of beauty… the kind that can’t be duplicated in my home garden… the kind only the Master Gardener can create.

 

LakeFog

The world is His, and all that is within. I am ever so thankful for His generosity in sharing it with me during these past two weeks of vacation in the wilderness!