Friday, March 9, 2012

Don't blow it - good planets are hard to find.

I went for a walk today.  I left Chicken Little with DH and took my first baby – the great big black four legged mongrel I affectionately call an oversized rodent (this stems from a mis-placed play on the R.O.U.S.’s  {aka *rodents of unusual size*}  - anyone get the reference?.. no, I am not talking about the rats in Central Park.. . ok.  well I won’t go into it  - you can Google it if you are interested.)  
So where was I?

I went for a walk today... with the dog.  I love my dog and she is still a puppy at heart and has been moping about the house lately and chewing on things... mostly her own toys but it makes me nervous. 

Oversized rodent...
My conclusion is she needs to get out more.  I used to walk her almost daily.  But then along came Chicken Little...   Not that I mind putting him in a stroller and making it a family affair but the trails I used to take my oversized rodent on are not stroller friendly  and the Snuggli is not conducive to our special brand of weather.   It rains.  It rains whole oceans on this small town and it's always cold and damp and filled with green moss and black mildew.   It's been sitting right at the almost freezing mark for months slipping into snow and reverting back to rain and mostly just slush.  A form of solidified liquid not unlike a margarita… upturned in a hurricane.  It's a very strange variation of the snow globe.  The wind howls the ice chunks and slush slash sideways, and garbage cans go rolling along.  

Don’t get me wrong.   I have great rain gear and several pairs of rubber boots… and I don’t mind gearing up for the miserable weather but it has become much more difficult to bundle up an infant for this special kind of torture.  The dog... well she’s half fish anyway - right down to her webbed toes and otter tail. 

But today I got to don my slicker gear and take her on the trail without Chicken Little.   A little trail, unmaintained and likely established early in this town’s history before they bothered to put the narrow little road in that connects us to the rest of the world.  ( Fascinating fact of the Day: We got rail service in 1912, it took until the second world war before the town was ever connected to the rest of the province via road way)

It’s a little piece of green space in the middle of town, a miniature forest that borders the salmon creeks that run to sea.  It could be a Jewel in our community.  A beautiful green world of dripping moss and gurgling brooks,  the smells of leaf litter and damp moss.  Light filtering down through the trees and the gentle dripping of water.  

a disgrace
But today in the harshness of winter, where the branches are stripped of their leaves, the foliage pulled back to expose the uglier side of the human condition.  I found a disgrace.  A child’s bicycle half sunk in the creek, a tractor tire, pop  cans, plastic bags, beer cans, McDonald’s cups, bits of Styrofoam and plastic Freezie  wraps, bits of plastic in a myriad of colours, things I couldn’t identify that my dog happily picked up and brought to me tail wagging, Bic lighters, and cigarette butts (no they do not biodegrade very fast)  used condoms and a disposable diaper...  so much for responsible citizens... Are some people  really too stupid to work out how to place their garbage in a bin thus happily leave broken glass, sharp cans, dirty food containers and worse on the ground for my dog to find ???

I did in fact  come across something rather neat... a fort of a sort.

 Or rather it would have been neat IF... 

IF - the lattice work lean-to made of trees  hadn’t been cut from the immediate vicinity leaving dozens of 2-3 inch diameter stumps broken off at knee height
IF-  the lattice work hadn’t been lashed together with plastic zip ties – many hundreds of which were also laying all over the ground.
IF-  an old tattered plastic blue tarp wasn’t hanging in shreds over one end of the lean-to
IF-  there were not several garbage bags worth of crushed beer cans and other litter strewn around
IF-  it looked a little more like people cared.

So Actually it wasn’t so Neat... who wants a fort if all it means is more litter, more garbage, more irresponsible partiers...

But despite my disgust and contempt at those littering slobs who would desecrate what could be a very special place I did manage to exercise my oversized rodent, and she is laying at my feet smelling like a wet dog as I type this many hours later.  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ancient Drumbeats Rattle Anew

Strong Start is a program put on by the Province.  It’s a free program designed with activities such as stories, music and art, to help children grow linguistically, physically, socially, emotionally...  it runs every day and is open to parents and their pre-kindergarten children and while Chicken Little is still too young to partake in much of the fun it’s a great way for his mother to get out of the house and socialize with other mothers.   

Gathering Strength Canoe Journey
North Coast  2009
Here in the rain capital of the universe we are fortunate to have a rich First Nations culture.  The beating of drums, pounding of feet and the accompanying vocables  is a part and parcel to this place.  I have lived in witness to the hypnotic sounds of the aboriginal drums my whole life, and a couple years ago I was fortunate enough to participate in a canoe journey .  Six Canoes each capable of carrying up to 12 people from the communities of the Nisga’a Nation, the Haisla, Gitgatla and the Gitga’at came together to renew their heritage and build community networks.
Gathering Strength Canoe Journey
North Coast  2009

An exquisite example of form and function, the canoe is inextricably twined with our nation’s story.  For Canadians, to canoe is to be moved.    In one of those canoes I paddled 115 nautical miles in 6 days.  We stopped in the evenings to camp and sat around fires on the beach – singing, drumming, dancing and listening to the legends of the First Nations people. 
Gathering Strength Canoe Journey
North Coast  2009

Some nights the tents rubbed up against each other in the small spaces we could find flat enough and clear enough to make camp.  Other nights we sank into thick moss softer than any feather bed, tents spaced randomly like so many hobbit holes tucked in among the trees and the moss covered old growth stumps. 
Gathering Strength Canoe Journey
North Coast  2009

At the end of our long route we were welcomed with feasting and drumming and dancing in a small isolated community called Kitlakatla, on Dolphin Island, off the coast of northern B.C.  We were honoured with the traditional foods of the community including seal, roe-on-kelp, eulachon grease, smoked salmon and heaps of boiled crab.  We called ourselves the mighty paddlers, the people of one nation.  Chanting, singing to the pounding drums and dancing in the traditional fashion, bare feet slapping on the floor. Dancing and celebrating late into the night.
Gathering Strength Canoe Journey
North Coast  2009

Ok ok... nice story and all that... but what the heck does to do with Strong Start??
Well the lady who runs one of the local strong start programs is from that tiny little community of Kitlakatla and she decided to bring her culture to our Strong Start group.  The project... traditional  Elk Hide rattles. 

This of course peaked my artistic side and I jumped all over like my dog upon seeing a mud puddle!   I cut out  my circles of hide and soaked and stitched and Voila! A Rattle..   and of course I couldn’t leave it at that.  I insisted that the rattle needed to be painted much like the First Nations paint their drums.  But since I can’t claim the traditional art of the First Nations with it’s unique and stylized forms, colours and subjects.  (for a better look at the local art styles see :  or   I decided to put the little hand prints of Chicken Little on my rattle...   and so while he slept – at strong start – on the floor - on an old shower curtain appropriated for the purpose -  I painted his little hands and took hand prints.  Then transferred the best of them onto the rattle using acrylic gel gloss medium... the result...fabulous!!!
A Child’s Rattle
©RiverWalker Arts

“Life is the sacred mystery singing to itself, dancing to its drum, telling tales, improvising, playing”

Missing Paradise..

Rain, storm, snow and hail whipped and battered us today.  A potent post vacation reminder that March is not the end of winter.  But then I think our poor little groundhog blown away in a vicious hurricane force wind back at the beginning of February – so weather predictions by rodent are off the forecast.  

I have spent the last 10 days in paradise.  A lazy lounging of beach reading and pool side drowsing.   Don’t get me wrong I did my fair share of snorkelling, swimming, and exploring.  Chicken little spent time on a boogie board and got to eat his first fist full of sand.  Amazing how the sand can be so tasty and yet the pabulum is met with tightly sealed lips and a violent turn of the head and ends with more of the goo stuck in his ears than in his mouth.

While I did not touch paint or put pen on paper.. I did drag my camera along and managed to capture  a few memories of paradise...  

Hawaiian sunset in sepia.... at the Kalahuipua'a Fishponds
©RiverWalker Arts
Moorish Idol
©RiverWalker Arts