Category Archives: Nature

On being Mrs. McGregor: Bunnies

This bunny hopped into my backyard early Saturday morning.

small bunny on the snow
March Hare?

Cute bunny, right? But my reaction to the furry friend was not charitable, because last year this bunny, or one just like her, ate the tops off all my tulips. My Canada 150 tulips, no less. I was not impressed.

close-up of the leaf shape in the centre of the Canada 150 tulip
Canada 150 tulip – 2017

And my front garden has become her favourite place to poop. Yuck.

bunny poop in the garden
Bunnies poop is cute, but still . . .

As my tulips come into bloom this year I will be keeping a close eye on bunnies. My red and white blooms will be guarded, and I posted a comment to that effect on my Facebook feed. One of my friends commented: “Okay, Mr(s). McGregor.”

I laughed out loud, because I did sound like Mr. McGregor chasing Peter Rabbit about the garden.

cover of The Tale of Peter Rabbit

I laugh.

But, I love my tulips.

Bunny, I’ve got eyes on you. And I’m not afraid of being called Mrs. McGregor.

The Seven Grandfathers Teachings

Lago Titicaca - According to ancient cultures, it is the birthplace of the sun.

Lago Titicaca – According to ancient South American cultures, it is the birthplace of the sun.

In honour of National Aboriginal Day in Canada on Wednesday, June 21, I am sharing the Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers. This traditional story, given to our First Nations early in their history, applies to all people in all times.

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The Creator gave seven Grandfathers, who were very powerful spirits, the responsibility to watch over the people. The Grandfathers saw that people were living a hard life. They sent a helper out to spend time amongst the people and find a person who could be taught how to live in harmony with Creation.

Their helper went to the four directions to find a person worthy enough to bring to the Grandfathers. He came across a child, and he tutored the child in the “Good Way of Life.” Each of the Seven Grandfathers gave to the child a principle.

Wisdom: To cherish knowledge is to know Wisdom.

Wisdom is given by the Creator to be used for the good of the people. In the Anishinaabe language, this word expresses not only “wisdom,” but also means “prudence,” or “intelligence” or “knowledge.”

Love: To know Love is to know Peace.

Love must be unconditional. When people are weak they need love the most. This form of love is mutual .

Respect: To honor all creation is to have Respect.

All of creation should be treated with respect. You must give respect if you wish to be respected.

Bravery: Bravery is to face the foe with integrity.

This means “state of having a fearless heart.” To do what is right even when the consequences are unpleasant.

 Honesty: Honesty in facing a situation is to be brave.

Always be honest in word and action. Be honest first with yourself, and you will more easily be able to be honest with others.

Humility: Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of Creation.

This can also mean “compassion.” You are equal to others, but you are not better.

Truth: Truth is to know all of these things.

Speak the truth. Do not deceive yourself or others.

 

 

 

Community in mud and flood

footprints in a mud puddle

A walk in the mud.

A few weeks ago I began a blog post entitled “Veering toward the mud.” It was a whimsical piece about a mother with two toddler children I passed on my walk home from the bus stop. All three played with joyful abandon in a deep puddle. Her refreshing lack of concern about how dirty and wet the children became with each passing moment struck me as so rare in these times of overprotective, germ-fearing parenting. I imagined her returning home after to wring out wet socks and turn up their rubber boots to let the water run out. I thought about how, as adults, we veer away from puddles but every child veers toward the mud. At what point, I wondered, do we lose that childlike enjoyment of getting wet and dirty?

I didn’t finish the piece because busy life intervened. I thought, “I’ll get back to it. I hope I manage to do that before our spring mud clears up.”

I needn’t have worried, because then came the flood.

All nature’s forces combined to create flood conditions in the Ottawa River valley and surrounding area that haven’t been seen in the living memories of inhabitants. People didn’t need to veer toward mud and water in the Ottawa-Gatineau area; it veered right into their living rooms.

I took the picture below on Saturday at a local park. This area is usually grass and park benches. The bird in the distance that looks like it’s sitting on a log? That bird is perched on the back of a park bench.

This is a picture of the same area on Sunday. The park bench where the bird sat is now submerged.

park submerged in water

How could I write about playing in water when people a few kilometres from me had to wade through waist-deep water to get to their homes, if they could get to them at all?

There is no joy in that. There is no joy in this mud-ville.

The only solace to be found comes in the goodwill of people. Neighbours who might have only nodded in passing before are now bonding as they work together to fight back the tide. Countless volunteers are spending hours hoisting sandbags for people they don’t even know. The Red Crossas always, first on the scene to give comfort, compassion and the bare necessities for survival—a ledge for people to cling to by their fingernails in their time of crisis.

The only solace comes from community, in mud and flood.

 

Our vast universe: Powers of Ten

The Sunday school lesson I teach this Sunday focuses on the vastness of the universe. our place in it and how spirit fits with the infinity of it all. During my lesson preparations, I found this film by Charles and Ray Eames: Powers of Ten.

To put any petty problems into perspective and to open yourself up to awe, watch it. It’s nine minutes long, and I bet you won’t be able to stop watching it once you start.

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? —Isaiah 40:26

Extraordinary is just ordinary done over, and over,and over again

This post I first wrote in June 2012 might help us to approach September with new vigour. Summer is winding up, and soon our routines resume. Oh, sigh. But wait. Maybe our ordinary routines are more extraordinary than we think.

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“. . . I think there might be some presentations that go right over my head, but the most amazing concepts are the ones that go right under my feet.” —Louie Schwartzberg

Louie Schwartzberg has been doing time-lapse filming of flowers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for more than 30 years. It takes him a month to shoot a 4-minute roll of film. His subjects are ordinary. He shoots things we pass by every day with barely a glance: a bee landing on a flower, a strawberry, or a drop of water on a leaf. When Schwartzberg focuses on the flight of the bee, the ripening of the berry, or the movement of the water drop, he does so intensely and over, and over, and over again. The ordinary becomes extraordinary. Watch his work at the link below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQXaap6owZE

The same is true for professional athletes.

Wayne Gretzky’s DNA blessed him with many natural hockey gifts, but if Gretzky hadn’t passed pucks on his backyard rink until his toes froze night after night from a young age, he would never have become the hockey legend that he is. He focused on the ordinary and did it intensely over, and over, and over again.

Andre Agassi’s book, Open (which I highly recommend), tells of his hours spent returning tennis balls spit at him by the “dragon,” a ball machine modified by what he calls his “fire-breathing father.” Agassi didn’t return all those balls by choice—he desperately wanted to quit—but the ordinary act of returning tennis balls over, and over, and over led to Agassi having an extraordinary return of serve.

Even extraordinary parenting arises from the ordinary. Provide your children with nutritional food over, and over, and over. Squeeze your children with warm hugs over, and over, and over. Wash their dirty socks over, and over, and over. All these ordinary acts add up to extraordinary lives together.

Does the routine of your life feel ordinary? Place an imaginary time-lapse camera on your day and marvel at your simple, amazing, extraordinary acts.

Parenting

Parenting (Photo credit: Adventures of KM&G-Morris)

Re-discovering red clover nectar

red-clover-daisyOn my walks lately, I’ve noticed red clover in bloom beside the path. I can’t help myself. I have to stop and taste the sweet nectar at the bottom of the florets. When I was a child on the farm, my brothers and I whiled away many an hour plucking daisy petals (He loves me . . . He loves me not . . .) and tasting clover nectar, and when I taste it now, it takes me right back to childhood.

I have written before about my Wonder Walks with the Sunday school children. We go to the field beside the church, because wild things grow there, and there’s plenty to wonder at or about. On our most recent walk, I saw the red clover in bloom, and I couldn’t help myself. I had to stop and taste the nectar. Before I did, I looked around at the group of children with me. They didn’t grow up on a farm. They didn’t even know about clover nectar. I felt absurdly pleased to be the one to introduce them to the joy of red clover nectar. I taught them to peel away the tiny florets and suck the sweetness from the bottom.

A mind, once expanded by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions” (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

My mother and father taught me  how to taste clover nectar, and I never forgot it. Now those children have tasted the sweet nectar, and they’ll never forget it.

Sometimes simple things bring the greatest joy.

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To see beautiful photographs of red clover, follow this link: http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/indexmag.html?http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artjun06/bj-clover.html