Category Archives: winter

This life, a blessing come
by turning to and from the star
that gives us morning

Excerpt from the song Morning
~Carolyn McDade, (c) 1998

Went to Carolyn’s song circle this spring – so much wonderful nature imagery!

The Rattle

The water running in the river
Is the sound of the rattle

The wind blowing through the trees
Is the sound of the rattle

The dry leaves fallen to the ground
Is the sound of the rattle

And even in the winter, when the leaves are gone and the water frozen,
The wind blows across the hard crust of snow, scattering loose icy crystals across the surface,
and that, too, Is the sound of the rattle

When you are feeling disconnected: lonely, despairing…

Take the rattle and some sweetgrass,
Go out, sit with it, and listen
And you will be reconnected with creation.*


These sounds in nature have a profoundly moving and soothing effect on me, every time I experience them. This teaching is a gift – giving a new way to relate and connect with these powerful aspects of this earth when I experience them. It is a gift to have a meaning (especially a nature-related one!) associated with the rattle when I encounter it in life now.  Connection with nature here is a means of personal healing and integral wellness, which makes good sense to me.

*A half-remembered paraphrase of the rattle-maker’s lesson,
Given through the film, Gently Whispering the Circle Back, by filmmaker Beth Wishart MacKenzie
Set at Blue Quills First Nations College in St Paul, Alberta

Spring Showers

Woke up this week to a winter wonderland – snowed all night and all day.
The world made new. Again.

A mouse lives near the entrance to the neighbourhood park. In the fresh snow on the remaining snowbanks she is busy tunnelling; across the bank, popping up and burrowing down again, leaving tiny holes in the snow. The fresh snow so soft and shallow her tunnel falling in behind her, leaving a path of churned up snow. Terminating at the heart of a leafless bush, stems offering protection from avidly curious snouts of canine folk passers-by.

A Blue Jay calls in the morning from the oak tree in a low buzzing rattle, ending in a middle-pitched *click* – a mating call?


When I heard this poem on Bob Chelmack’s The Road Home recently, the imagery of the falling snow filling the air so aptly captured the extraordinary experience of the warm-weather great fluffy flakes that filled the space between me and the mountain in Jasper that I had to share it.

Last night, an owl
in the blue dark
an indeterminate number

of carefully shaped sounds into
the world, in which,
a quarter of a mile away, I happened
to be standing.

I couldn’t tell
which one it was —
the barred or the great-horned
ship of the air —

it was that distant. But, anyway,
aren’t there moments
that are better than knowing something,
and sweeter? Snow was falling,

so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more

than prettiness. I suppose
if this were someone else’s story
they would have insisted on knowing whatever is knowable — would have hurried

over the fields
to name it – the owl, I mean,
But it’s mine, this poem of the night,
and I just stood there, listening and holding out

my hands to the soft glitter
falling through the air. I love this world,
but not for its answers.
And I wish good luck to the owl,

whatever its name —
and I wish great welcome to the snow,
whatever its severe and comfortless
and beautiful meaning.

From the book, “What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems” by Mary Oliver (2002).

Snow drifting in the air

Tracks around home

Around home, besides the plethora of bootprints, there are dog (canine accompanying bootprint); coyote (canine not accompanying bootprint!); squirrel & hare a-plenty, to my dog’s delight; magpie, chickadee and other small seed-eaters; occasional mouse; and, least commonly, so most interestingly, striped skunk.

I am still surprised when the tracks lead boldly right up a front walk, though of course, near the human-dens are where the goods are, and the scavenger-types’ reason for frequenting the area.

Last week we had a light snowfall, which made a perfect blank canvass for spying on the abundant nightlife (of the furry variety) in the neighbourhood. A night-time skunk prowler came from the central park, trotted right up a neighbour’s front walk, and came out the back into the alley. My new teacher Mark* told me that skunks — in open spaces and slow to a walk to check things out under cover, which is just what this fellow had done.

That same morning a track of a nighttime cat came up our front walk, followed along between our front snowbank and house, into the backyard. The next morning, a lone canine print followed the same path up the walk and along the snowbank, but walking over the top of the bank instead of stealthily behind it – right outside the window where I slept, oblivious to the nighttime highway the front yard had become.

*Elbroch, Mammal Tracks and Sign: A Guide to North American Species


A pale owl flapped to the top of a spruce tree in the park this morning, and sat there, stone still. Very rare sighting.

Eleven crows flying northward, chatting. (close attention to their silhouettes this time, plus it’s lighter now for morning walks – yay (solar) spring! – definitely blunt-tailed, smooth ruffed crows, not V-tailed craggy ravens.)

> It’s somewhat warmer today, after a week of chill-you-to-the-bone, and lots of deep snow remains everywhere.