Songs and spells

I feel wonder this morning, as the sun rises. Sparrows flick by the east facing window but my eyes are glued to the clouds – they shift and change colour like a living watercolour painting. Then they part as if to make space and it’s all blindingly gold for just a few seconds. For a brief spell of time I can see nothing else in the world.

Now the sun’s tucked away, back behind the heavy October blue-grey so I can see my coffee mug again. Reassuringly, the keyboard, the table, treetops above the houses there, some with yellow leaves and just one with branches revealed and articulate, like bone structure.

The flash of sun that suspended all else stays with me though, tucked away behind the calls of time and tasks, a golden light behind a half-closed door.

40 years of watercolour palettes, reclaimed. These three are inherited from my Dad.

Turns out I will not travel north this week, to do a round of back-yard check-ins, to tarp off the cabin deck against the snow, to deliver a commissioned piece. These things will happen mid November now, which seems a lifetime away in these times. Whether it’s because of isolation from CoVid-19 or the work I’ve taken on, or these flashes of wonder, or all that and more, I find the quality of time has changed, quite profoundly, in 2020. Every day feels simple at the beginning and end, but contains full chapters of observation and insight, lessons and epiphanies, choices made.

Was it just yesterday Lisa Koop and I put together a plan for two Wassail winter solstice gatherings at Heartwood Hall?

Yep. Just yesterday, not last week. Huh.

bone structure.

Two days ago I logged in to a Zoom course with David McEown, a superb plein air watercolourist from BC, along with folks from northern US, across Canada and an artist from Sweden. We painted together for three hours, across oceans and borders and time, and I realized I have a great deal of work to do, to reclaim the skill I had at watercolour painting 40 years ago. Daunting. But clearly none of these things are impossible.

The day before that I graduated from an online Adobe After Effects class with Karen from Toronto, Mirelle and Jacinthe from Ottawa and Gatineau. We learned how do to previously impossible things with video and text. This was a simple thing from the first day:

Wonders never do cease, no matter how you hard may resist the cliche. I’m still spellbound by the flash moment with our rising sun, and will be all day now, through the homework in watercolour painting and video animation, the building of Wassails for 2020.

I’m feeling a song or two rising as well, since what the heck? Nothing appears to be impossible, and this little video could use something. Maybe xylophone.

To whomever is reading this, wherever and whenever you are: All my love, truly. May your day be full of wonder and delight.

PS “The Lost Spells” is the name of a new Robert McFarlane book, which is on its way to my door now.

time folds

Somewhere after the second sip time folded in on itself. It was 7am only a moment ago when I put my second coffee down to cool. 


I’ve done many things but 6.5 hours has felt like a moment. It has only become clock time again because my feet are cold. As is my second coffee. I’m a bit disoriented – is this flow?

Dad’s ball of selenite, yellow roses, family lantern with tealight lit

Now it’s 5pm. The two hours since I wrote the above have been filled with practicalities – dishes, cat, misc attendings-to, another coffee. Children and dogs loud and active in the apartment below, sunlight and wind outside. All in a moment.

trees at a stoplight on Gage Ave, north of Barton

The studio calls and I’m eager to get there, via some soup & exercise. The plan is to put the final wash and finish on one portrait and get the base drawing for another onto its wood panel. Play around a little more with the triptych – (final decision re adding a wood panel or not). Build the certificates for all six pieces.

Quite possibly that will just feel like a moment and take six hours. 

After another moment it is 9:30pm and I wake into clock time again because I’m exhausted. I’ll take my copy of Beresford-Kroeger’s To Speak for the Trees to my horizontal place & surrender myself back into the time fold of sleep.


A multitude of tasks and their stressor partners slow-dance around my house like dust motes in the sunlight; I am happily, if overwhelmingly engaged in the actions of living.


Every so often pressures collide with sensibilities and swirl the dust mote dancing into a frenzy. Through and over all of this a thin cicada song of anxiety – I’ve mostly learned to ignore this, like the writer who works beside a busy train track.  Some days are better than others.


I am doing my utter best to lay solid groundwork that will take me/us somewhere new, satisfying and truly relevant in these times.  To connect need to need in a way that can reveal surprising, intersected solutions.

To make functional use of art and music, in valuable and valued service.


Need to need, like bee to flower. Then honey, more flowers, a resplendent spring.

I seek nothing less than an active, challenging, collaborative peace.