For the Birds (and a bunny)

Healthy Mindset – Week 15

Being in the right place, at the right time, and then paying attention to what’s around you….photography is a really great hobby because it’s the paying attention and then focusing on whatever has caught your eye that makes it relaxing (at least for me anyway). It’s a great reason to get outside and go for a walk, to look for small details, and appreciate what’s around you. I’ve taken a lot of pictures during the last few months and it’s one of the major reasons I’ve been able to keep a pretty even keel during this period of time.

Yesterday’s “let’s just what we see” walk at Nicolle Flats was pretty awesome… (also I’m not a bird expert, so please let know if I get any of the names wrong!)

Wood Thrush
Red-winged Blackbird
Look at that face!

raindrops

Finally….rain!!!! I snapped these pics about an hour ago after it had stopped raining. It was a pitiful rain, and I thought, “that’s it”?. We need a good long rain here, and now I’m typing this as a thunderstorm is brewing, and a steady rain is falling. Perfect.

“Around us, life bursts with miracles–a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life’s daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Late Spring in Saskatchewan

Healthy Mindset – Days 74-79

I haven’t been posting as much lately as I’m in the final stretch of finishing my business website (it’s been quite a process to get to this point!), but I have been out taking a lot of pictures. Here’s this week’s collection:

I think this is the prettiest colour in nature
late afternoon in my office
I’m not seeing as much sidewalk chalk art lately…this seems to be the latest thing!

The Wisdom of Trees

Healthy Mindset – -Days 68-73

With so much to take in right now, I wanted to share a little bit of inspiration.

One day when you wake, you will find that you have become a forest. You have grown roots and found strength in them that no one thought you had. You have become stronger and more beautiful, full of life giving qualities. You have learned to take all the negativity around you and turn it into oxygen. A host of wild creatures live inside you and you call them stories. A variety of beautiful birds rest inside your mind and you call them memories. You have become an incredible self sustaining thing of epic proportions. And you should be so proud of yourself, of how far you have come from the seeds of who you used to be.

Nikita Gill, You Have Become a Forest

On Saturday’s morning’s walk around the Nicolle Flats Interpretive Area, a guy who was running with his dog stopped to talk and said the Nicolle Homestead was his favourite place. He was quite excited to talk about it and I thought to myself how exciting can an old homestead be? It’s not an unusual thing on the prairies.

But it was pretty special. The Nicolle Homestead dates back to 1903. Surrounded by hills and trees, it’s a beautiful, protected spot in the middle of the prairies. The tree is a perfect place for a swing, to climb, to sit and daydream or read a book and look up at the prairie sky. What an inspiring place to grow up in.

When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying, “You’re too this, or I’m too this“. That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.

Ram Dass, on Self-Judgment

Downtown After the Storm

Healthy Mindset – Day 66-67

Yay! Finally, something that isn’t cancelled! A summer storm! The storm hit downtown at about 7pm tonight, and the clouds afterwards were amazing!

Cherry Blossoms on a Sunday Afternoon

Healthy Mindset – Days 62-65

Things are really starting to bloom and grow here now, and a yearly rite of passage is photographing the cherry blossom collection in front of the Mackenzie Art Gallery. I’ve said it before, but my favourite part of Spring this year has been to actually take the time pay attention to all the signs of the season. With so much still uncertain, it’s reassuring to know that some things are still constant.

Summer in the City

Healthy Mindset – Days 59-61

Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

Dalai Lama

Over the next few months, the challenge is to find that someplace close to home! I’ve lived in Regina for a long time now, and never walked around Wascana Marsh until about a month ago. It’s a beautiful spot in the middle of the city (from some angles you would never know this) and a great place to go for a walk to escape busy Wascana Park. And, who knew the marsh is full of painted turtles? (pics are from Victoria Day).

One of the things I’m finding challenging now is thinking about the summer events that won’t happen this year – like the Canada Day festivities and fireworks in Wascana Park, baking in the hot sun at an afternoon Saskatchewan Roughriders game (or a more rowdy evening game), and listening to the sounds of the Folk Festival in Victoria Park takeover downtown the second weekend of August. However, there have been a lot of really great virtual events and concerts, and I’m sure there will be some innovative ideas in the coming months to keep people “together, but apart” to help keep our spirits up. I’m excited that in likely mid to late June, restaurants (and their summer patios) will be open for in-person dining.

Some pics from last year’s July 1 Roughriders game and the infamous storm that had people packed liked sardines on the concourses waiting for it to pass until the game could start again. (I’ve thought of that game often in the last two months when there has been talk about when it will be safe to have fans back in stadiums again – that’s just one of the reasons it will be impossible!)

About half the fans returned to their seats after the storm passed

Here’s a pic walking by the dragon boats at Wascana Marina on the way to dinner on the patio of Bar Willow last summer, and a pic of the sunset from their patio.

favourite weekend of the year

Healthy Mindset – Days 53-58

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.

May Sarton

The May long weekend is usually one of my favourites of the year because it’s the unofficial beginning of summer. Usually, I’ve gone to a garden centre (or two) and picked out my flowers and tomato plants, maybe a few herbs and then had my hands stuck in soil for a few hours planting everything I’ve bought. This year, honestly, it hasn’t felt that much different than other years. The only difference is that on the weekend in March when everything shutdown, I ordered a whole bunch of vegetable seeds, thinking I wanted to have a summer project in case everything was shutdown for a very long period of time.

Garden centres are open in Saskatchewan for browsing (with limited number of customers at one time and physical distancing, of course) or you could choose curb-side pick-up or delivery. I’ve been to two garden centres this week and just the normalcy of browsing through the rows of bedding plants was such a relief. My weekly trip to the grocery store is fine. I’m used to all the protocols by now, but I wouldn’t call it normal. Maybe it’s being out in the fresh air or maybe it’s because there is a lot of hope associated with planting season, but this week I’ve felt like a certain weight has been lifted.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that that it is not over, but we are in a new phase. The intensity of the first two months is lifting. All along, I’ve been writing about keeping a healthy mindset while living through this period of time we’re in. A big part of that is “staying safe” but I much prefer the proactive message of “being healthy” going into this phase. None of us controls the circumstances we are in, but there are things each of us can do to not only stay safe but to also maintain our physical and mental health. The obvious way to do that right now is gardening! Whether you have a backyard with a garden plot (or room for one), a tiny balcony with room for a few pots, or a bigger balcony/patio with room for more, watching something grow is really satisfying! I’m planting some things I’ve never tried before like cucumbers and peppers, some different herbs, and a few different varieties of tomatoes and lettuce. I’m not sure how they’ll all do (I’m sure I’ll blog about as the weeks go on), but this sure seems like the summer to find out what kind of gardener I am! If not now, when?

At the very least, there’s a farmer’s market a few blocks away that will open in June if I want to buy some fresh, local vegetables!

Happy planting!

(The pic at the top is of the petunias I bought this year)

standing amongst the clouds

Healthy Mindset – Days 50-52

I’ve been thinking a lot about Maui lately as somewhere I would like to go when it’s “safe” (I’m very tired of that word) to travel more widely again, and when I feel ready to get on a plane again (there will be some time in between the two). It was an otherworldly experience to visit Haleakala National Park and take photos amongst the clouds at the Summit. Next time I would like to go at sunrise – Google “sunrise at Haleakala” – the pictures I’ve seen are amazing!

When we look up, it widens our horizons. We see what a little speck we are in the universe, so insignificant, and we all take ourselves so seriously, but in the sky, there are no boundaries. No differences of caste or religion or race.

Julia Gregson

Be smart and be healthy!

Spring in Colour

Healthy Mindset – Days 47 – 49

This is my favourite time of the year, and I’m happy that despite the uncertainty that still surrounds us, the one thing we can count on is that Spring will come. (Although as I type this, it sure doesn’t feel like a warm Spring day).

The deep roots never doubt spring will come.

Marty Rubin

Getting outside, digging your hands in the soil and getting dirt under your fingernails will always make you feel better. Like so many others, I’m going to try growing a few vegetables this year. Not a full-blown garden, but instead of mostly all flowers in my containers, I’m planting a couple of different kinds lettuce and cucumbers, peppers, various herbs, and of course, tomatoes! Why do they taste so much better than store-bought tomatoes?? I had a problem last year with crows picking at my tomato crop, and since I’m going to buy a few more plants than I normally do, I’m going to have to rig up some kind of deterrent to keep them away. What’s your favourite veggie to eat straight from the garden?

Some colourful Spring pictures for a day that’s a bit too chilly for digging in the dirt (all taken in May from previous years, mostly around Regina – except for the poppies in Jardin du Luxembourg and the pansies in a restaurant window in Paris two years ago).

The first real day of spring is like the first time a boy holds your hand. A flood of skin-tingling warmth consumes you, and everything shines with a fresh, colorful glow, making you forget that anything as cold and harsh as winter ever existed.

Richelle E. Goodrich