Category Archives: Island Life

Snapshot of a Salt Spring Saturday

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Sometimes the stereotypes all seem to be true. I just read through the Salt Spring Exchange’s events for today and had to shake my head. Bookended by development and tourism, we have early morning meditation, a group cleanse and detox, a multi-media art show from the Centre for Loving Inquiry, a local referendum vote that has everyone riled up (re. the new proposed fire hall), the Saturday Market, and places to take in branches and exchange leaves.

And apparently nothing to do in the evening, on a Saturday night.

Ah Salt Spring! I must go now and take my daughter and her friends to yoga… and while they’re there I’ll sit at the library and read angry letters to the editor in the Driftwood. Or not.

See the original Exchange post here.

 

Laid-back Friendly Saltspring

DSC08096 - Version 2Considering they’re living in an island paradise, I’m always amazed at how CRANKY Saltspringers are.

One Year Later

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Two days ago we celebrated the one year anniversary of moving into our little house in the woods. They say it takes the first week of a vacation just to start to relax and enjoy yourself. I’m wondering if it takes the first year of living on Salt Spring to unwind all the inner springs and let the watch finally run down.

Who knows if I’m actually at that point yet. What I do know is this: over the last two weeks I feel like I’ve acheived a perfect balance of work-life-fun-chores. Over the last two weeks I’ve settled into a workday ritual that ends abruptly at 3:00, at which point dilly-dallying and puttering take over. The weekend – and we have three days of it here – is given almost entirely to household chores, but done in a meandering, highly distracted way. And when the sun shines, that supercedes all previous plans and we head outside.

Only over the last two weeks have I started to implement 30 minutes of staring idly into space (while sitting outdoors) into my productive workday. And, most importantly, I regard it as a necessary activity!

Neither of us has acquired a taste for kale yet, but my little yogini consumes vast quantities of seaweed snacks. I, on the other hand, do not. She has set up a “yoga oasis” in her room and invites me in to do relaxation poses, complete with eye pillows. That’s my kind of yoga!

I am extremely fortunate to have a seven-year-old who adapted so effortlessly to such a big change, and who makes friends so readily that within days of starting grade one she had found 4 best friends. (They continue to be giddy, silly buddies into Grade Two.) As a result of this social circle, I get to hang out with a pretty fantastic collection of moms.

Lots of quality Grandpa and Grandma time, mild (soggy foggy) winters, blindingly gorgeous summers, greenery and silence, and wonderful friends.

We’re doin’ all right.

the dizzy dames

the dizzy dames

the moms

the moms

Tiny Things

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Two little intruders on our deck. They look like they’re just passin’ through…

And this Anna’s Hummingbird was zooming around Mom and Dad’s place, so I got my camera and waited…

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B.C. : the Basics

Last week my publisher, Dundurn, asked me to write up a little something for their blog about life in B.C. I’ve also posted it on my official ‘author blog’ but I suddenly realized it fits even better here:

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Perched on a mountain in B.C.

Eight months ago I lived in the west end of Toronto in an old brick house with a yard so small I could cut the grass with scissors. Today I’m in a wood frame cottage surrounded by mossy trees, perched on the side of a mountain on Saltspring Island, B.C.

A bit of a change.

I haven’t been here very long but I’ve noticed a few basic things about British Columbia:

1.     It’s green. Freakishly green.

2.     And damp. If you stand still for too long moss will grow on you.

3.     Ravens’ wings make a loud whooshing sound.

4.     This is the only place where I have ever been asked in casual conversation if I own a chainsaw.

5.     Everyone backs into parking lot spots.

6.     Raccoons in the wild are only half the size of their cheezie-bloated Toronto cousins.

7.     Everyone’s got a bear story.

8.     Santa Claus travels by float plane.

Saltspring Island is a weird, unique little place, but in many ways it lives up to every B.C. cliché. Nobody is on time for anything. Nobody locks their cars, and many actually leave their keys in the ignition. The guy at the next table in the coffee shop could be a millionaire, or he could live in a cave. When you meet someone new here, you have absolutely no idea what outfield world-view they’re about to throw at you.

As for writing in B.C., I now stare out my office window at trees instead of buildings, and my concentration is shattered by ravens flapping around instead of sirens. My brain is still settling into the new rhythm. For a long time I found the energy of the city invigorating. The buzz and hum of people doing things – working, hustling, rushing about, and talking talking talking – carried me along for many years, but lately I realized that the city was just making me resentful, stressed and antsy.

I needed to find a quiet, green, bird-twittery hideaway and this place fits the bill. I don’t know much about the writing community in B.C. yet, though they tell me you can’t throw a rock on this island without hitting a writer. And I haven’t been here long enough to have a full B.C.-inspired novel in my head, but my next book will probably include at least one character covered in moss.

The Perfect Birthday

In past years I’ve tried to cram all kinds of indulgences into one day, on my birthday, resulting in fatigue and general frazzlement. This year, however, I finally found the winning formula to absolute, total, birthday perfection.

First, you play hookey from all work, duties, chores.

Next:

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And later, when the sun comes out:

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I read books for six hours straight. It was fantastic.

No music, radio, tv or internet. Just silence and bird twitters.

Yay for simple pleasures!

Just Today…

A splash of sunshine at noon inspired a picnic lunch in the yard. (Actually it was all my co-conspirator’s idea.) (She has recently objected to being called ‘the Boss’. Searching now for a new moniker.)

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It turns out that our mossy grassy yard is extra spongy and comfy to sit on. Prime picnicking real estate!

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Rainbow’s End

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So on Friday, just as we were behind schedule dashing to yoga class (of course), and I was muttering about how we’re always running late, the sun broke through the rain and we beheld a spectacular rainbow over Ganges. As we drove into town it was still hanging on – it was like we drove right through it. It faded by the time we got to our destination. Soooo… if we’d been organized and on time we would have missed the whole thing!

Sometimes the universe has to resort to the most obvious symbolism and beat you over the head with it before you notice.

Photographic evidence that the rainbow ends at Mouat's Hardware.

Photographic evidence that the rainbow ends at Mouat’s Hardware.

Step 93: Tuning Out

English: January 15, 1938. Mt. Kilimanjaro: Th...

Mt. Kilimanjaro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

March is officially no-facebook and no-twitter month for me. I was in desperate need of a Brain Cleanse, and my days are much more serene without all that online blather.

Downside? Not seeing immediately what distant friends and family members are up to. (ie. sister who’s just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro!)

Upside? More time, less distractions. More time for reading books. And actually playing the piano sometimes. Plus the sudden realization that if I miss a few posts (and even the latest hilarious “meme”) the world will not come to an end.

Is isolation from the outside world a good thing or a bad thing? When you’re young it’s nothing but bad bad and bad. Everything worthwhile is happening elsewhere, and (as Neil Young put it) everyone knows that this is nowhere.

But… as you grow older the cultural white noise starts to make your head hurt and the little house in the deep dark woods starts to look like a pretty good option.

Is this part of my country lifestyle slowdown? I suppose so. I still like the hum and buzz of activity, but this month the hum and buzz is coming from me instead of my newsfeed.

Become a fan on facebook

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daily Visitor

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… or Why We May Not Be Putting in a Garden…

(I know, cute and all, but if Bambi here chews off my daffodils or crocuses, things are gonna turn ugly.)