Our family is fortunate to share a large pond with our neighbours which is home to herons, ducks, geese, turtles, fish and frogs, beavers and even an otter I think.
A few days back our son had been out walking the dog and mentioned that he thought we had a couple snow geese on the pond. I didn’t cross my mind again until today when my better half and I decide to get out and enjoy the sun with a walk to the pond to check out the state of the bridge. I always step onto the bridge with a little trepidation in the Spring because the ice has a way of pushing, pulling and shifting things over the winter. Although the men of the family had done repairs last weekend I was still a little skeptical as I stepped onto it this afternoon. However, I quickly forgot my concerns when I looked out onto the pond and spotted two large white birds.
We quickly made our way back to the house to collect camera and binoculars and set back out to get a closer look.
As it turned out the birds were in fact two Trumpeter Swans – not snow geese at all. In the 15 years we’ve had our property this was a first! The long-necked graceful birds are stunning though I must report they are kept in check from being unworldly beautiful by their loud and less than elegant “trumpeting”.
As we stood looking on we were granted a late afternoon show of herons soaring and swooping, and Trumpeter Swans craning and paddling about along side a pair of Canada Geese. It was a fresh new wonder offered up freely by Mother Nature which we gratefully accepted. (I’ve always thought of Canada Geese as sizable birds but the two swans dwarfed them!)
Our fingers are now crossed that the swans will decide its a nice enough neigbourhood in which to raise their little ones.
This evening, after some investigation, we learned that the presence of Trumpeter Swans on our pond is extra special. Although the swans are native to Ontario, they had almost completely disappeared due to over hunting. Efforts to re-introduce the swans in Ontario began in 1980s and have been successful at re-establishing the population.
You maker, you shaper, you mover of things
I hear all your voices
whispering to trees, telling lies to the hills
hollering down valleys and screeching your name
you tickle the funny bone of my barn
and rattle this house
poking and punching like a 9-year old boy
you’re constant, forever, but nowhere to be seen
hands-free sculptor of fame
go on, go on screeching your name
Middle River, Cape Breton – March 19, 2015.
I was posting this photograph because I liked how much it looked like I had taken it in black and white mode when in fact it was really how the world looked around here yesterday morning. It was the calm before, yet another snow storm.
It wasn’t until I had typed the words of the title for this post that I saw a whole other story being told in this photograph.
What story do you see?
…or maybe someone you know?
Mental health challenges are a big deal, a really big deal, that often seem to hit with a bang, seemingly sneaking up from nowhere. But look closer.
I’m fine thanks. How are you? is a piece I worked on last year when mental health weighed heavy on my mind for many reasons. I started and worked on it under the tutelage of Anna Hergert at Art Quilt Campus in Saskatchewan last July. For the piece, I needed a face and mine was conveniently located so it’s me you see but it could be the face of anyone.
When I started working all I could focus on was the dark, dark side of mental health. However, an inspiring and creative woman whom I consider both a mentor and a friend, reminded me that there is always the hope of good health. Her words guided me as I continued.
The result is not a masterpiece but I share it for two reasons.
First, it’s a not so subtle opportunity to discuss a subject that’s hard to talk about and that makes people uncomfortable. The reality is that there’s a lot of shitty feelings, and anger, fear, pain, sadness and despair that goes along with poor mental health for those dealing with it directly and for their families, friends, and colleagues. But we can’t do much about it until we recognize it. So, this is my effort to get you to stop and look closer. Don’t choose to be blind to it. See it, think and talk about it, and act positively however you can. It’s better than doing nothing and could help lead to understanding, joy and healing.
Second, in making this piece I learned that creating helps. It can help when all the thinking, talking, analyzing, yelling, crying, or silence in the world can’t. I don’t know why but it does. Try it.
(For those interested…I made the piece using cotton, wool felt, transfer paper, synthetic thread and vinyl mesh screen.)