Nature is amazing – how it recycles itself and can come back when we stay out-of-the-way. I notice this mostly in the forest where new life springs up from old cedar tree stumps. But often it happens in unexpected places like today when I discovered an unusual plant growing in amongst the garden cuttings we deposit behind our garage.
We don’t have a compost pile but if I have over-ripe fruit or vegetables I sometimes toss them there for the rabbits, squirrels and raccoons. There amongst the dead branches, leaves and prolific periwinkle, stood a six-inch tall green and purple-leafed plant. I looked closer and discovered it was growing out of a rotting red cabbage. The old cabbage lay in a pile of wet leaves so it was easy to lift from its birthplace. With spade in hand, I dug a new home for the brave little plant in the sunniest place in our garden where I hope it continues to grow. Maybe this fall we’ll harvest a cabbage.
There are also strawberries growing in our garden that we rescued two years ago from a similar situation. Last summer we hoped to enjoy a pint of berries from the small plants but the squirrels had other ideas. Before the fruit had ripened they had eaten the every berry. The flowers are forming now which means luscious fruit will soon appear.We learned there is some kind of fencing we can install to keep the ‘critters’ out so maybe we this June we’ll actually get to eat those strawberries.
I love to watch any plant grow and blossom. One day all you see is the dark soil, yet only short days later a tiny spear of green appears. From that moment onward an amazing transformation takes place. I realize it can all be explained by science but I’d rather see the magic in it. When I paint I feel the same mysterious process taking place as the blank paper or canvas transforms into a painting, as though the brush and paint are drawing forth images hidden in the fibres.
In my next post I’ll attempt to walk you through my painting process with words and pictures. It’s not always the same but there are some things that occur consistently like the point I reach where I’m ready to throw the painting away. That’s when I need to walk away, take a deep breath and hang on because I’ve reached the turning point where the real painting begins.
* * * * * * * * *
Thank you to those of you who responded to my questionnaire. It seems you are enjoying learning about this creative journey I’m on so I’ll continue to write what inspires me.
If you ever have any specific questions, please email me at email@example.com.
© Wendie Donabie 2013 www.wendiedonabie.com
- Growing Your Own Strawberry Garden (proflowers.com)
- Essential Gardening Tips for Cultivating Ornamental Cabbage (gardening.answers.com)
Hello family, friends, fellow bloggers and those of you who have just stopped by for a visit!
I’m curious about what attracted you to Blue Heron Writes. Below you will find a few quick questions to help me ensure you find worthwhile content on my Blog.
N.B. Family & Friends — It’s okay to tell me that you are ONLY following because you love and support me. I truly appreciate your encouragement. Thank you. :)
The form is short – honest . . . and will only take a couple of minutes to complete. Please don’t sweat over it. Only two questions require an answer: how you found this blog and some final thoughts or comments.
Thank you for taking the time to give me some feedback!
Late last week I learned Art in the Heart would be cancelled for this summer. Apparently, they didn’t receive enough qualified applications for this three-Saturday, outdoor summer show in down-town Bracebridge. There are plans to revamp the show and re-launch it in 2014.
Coincidentally, a few days before receiving this news I had met a well-known local wildfowl carver, John de Lang. His Wood’s End Studio hosts an annual two-day art show with other Muskoka artists so I had asked if they had room for any more participants. John answered that his wife, Marilyn, handled those details and I should email her.
Excited about the possibility of a replacement event, I shared the information with my friend and fellow-artist, Janice Feist, who was also looking for other show venues this summer. She agreed we should enquire. We sent a joint email to John’s wife, Marilyn, and received back the application form on May 11.
We quickly completed and submitted our applications on May 12 and we each received confirmation of acceptance into the Enchanted Forest Art Show yesterday evening. To be part of such an amazing group of professional artists is thrilling and we both look forward to the weekend event August 10 & 11.
Here is a short excerpt from the Wood’s End Studio Website to tell you a little about it.
The Enchanted Forest is a fantastic backdrop for an annual celebration and art show. Like a studio tour, but without the driving, this artistic fair offers its guests a glimpse into the techniques and inspiration that create fine works of art.
Held in the scenic gardens, courtyards, and studios at Wood’s End, this event showcases talented professionals who share their enthusiasm for their medium as they display and demonstrate their craft.
Visitors can chat with award-winning artists, learn how their work takes shape, relax in the spectacular gardens, and explore The Enchanted Forest: a truly unique experience!
This year’s show features over 30 talented artists who make the event a true ‘woodland art experience’ by demonstrating their techniques. The quality and variety of the art make this juried show distinctive.
I admit disappointment over Art in the Heart being cancelled but participating in the Enchanted Forest Art Show more than makes up for it. This is a well-established art event, with great attendance providing an opportunity for a brand new audience to view my art.
Who knows what possibilities lie beyond this newly opened door!
© Wendie Donabie 2013 www.wendiedonabie.com
Tonight I’ll be reading at a special annual event to honour mothers. Walking in My Mother’s Shoes involves musicians, visual artists and writers, all contributing their unique talents. In addition to my written piece, I created the painting, Mother Earth – View of Africa, (featured above) for the event.
This year as I thought about what to write for Walking in My Mother’s Shoes, I didn’t consider human mothers. Instead I turned my focus on the mother of us all, Mother Earth.
The concept of Mother Earth is common to many indigenous people. She represents fertility, presides over planting and harvest and in some cultures controls earthquakes. Algonquian legend says that “beneath the clouds lives the Earth-Mother from whom is derived the Water of Life, who at her bosom feeds plants, animals and humans” (Larousse 428). (8) She is also known as Nokomis, the Grandmother.
From the website, greekmedicine.net I learned that the first Greek god was actually a goddess. She is Gaia, or Mother Earth, who created herself out of primordial chaos. From her fertile womb all life sprang, and unto Mother Earth all living things must return after their allotted span of life is over.
In the 1960s, James Lovelock formulated the Gaia hypothesis. It states that all life, and all living things on this planet, are part of a single, all-encompassing global entity or consciousness which he named Gaia. It is this global consciousness, Mother Gaia, that makes our planet capable of supporting life, while our near neighbors in the solar system are barren and lifeless.
We call our planet, Mother Earth, but how does this relationship actually play out in our lives? In what ways is she like those women we call, Mother and how does our treatment of her compare? Do we recognize Mother Earth as a sentient being or simply as a thing we live on that we only feel obliged to take care of – for our own self-preservation? What could it mean to walk in her shoes?
Mother Earth, like our mothers provides us with all that we need – air, food, shelter and physical touch – the most basic human needs. If we pay attention to her, we can learn from her – through her changing seasons, movement of weather systems, and behaviour of wildlife. Our own native people share with us what Mother Earth teaches us. From the rock we learn faith, wisdom, strength and endurance; from the trees honesty and uprightness- as the sap flows through them, so must honesty flow through us. When we trod upon the grass, it bounces back teaching us to be resilient, kind to ourselves and others. And animals provide the greatest gift and lesson. They give us their lives – so we may live. In these ways, Mother Earth teaches us to be human. As her children, our job is simple – take care of her. Many cultures still honour parents but in Western society we are less inclined to respect and care for our elders. Perhaps this is why we have begun to so easily take Mother Earth for granted.
We think of her simply as rock, water and air – a place filled with abundance for us to exploit until there is nothing left. Some of us treat our mothers this way as well. Taking and never giving, expecting everything to be handed to us. Human mothers often put up with this behaviour for endless periods of time. They continue to forgive and forget. But will Mother Earth do the same? As we strip her of her wealth without putting anything back, we are most assuredly killing her and eventually all life on the planet.
Bolivian politician and activist, Juan Evo Morales Ayma, popularly known as Evo, who has served as President of Bolivia since 2006, says this “Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, . . . What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.”
So, how can we have a relationship with a huge chunk of rock, water and air? Well, let me ask you this. When was the last time you took a moment to listen to Mother Earth? If you’re like me you don’t do this often enough or perhaps you’ve never done it at all. When I do, here is a little of what I experience.
While walking through the forest, I feel her support beneath my feet as she responds to each footfall. Feel me, touch me, embrace me, she says.
Her scent wafts through the air filling my nostrils with the living smells of the earth, water and plant life. Breath deeply, I hear her say, fill your body, heart and soul with my abundance.
From quiet lakes, gurgling brooks, rushing rivers, roaring waterfalls and mighty oceans, I hear her enduring heartbeat. She tells me, We are one, each a part of one another. What effect one, effects all.
Her voice travels on the wind, through the calls of birds; her messages are seen in the movement of wildlife and heard echoing through her canyons and valleys. Know me, know your brothers and sisters. Care for each other. Everything you need is here for you to use but not abuse.
This is my experience; it’s a spiritual one. My Mom and I shared a spiritual connection as well; I’m sure many of you do with your mothers. But just as each child relates in a different way to his or her mother, your connection with Mother Earth will be unique. I encourage you to develop a relationship with her, if you haven’t already. She’s a wonderful companion, wise advisor, an unconditional friend and . . . we need her.
One question still remains. How do we walk in Mother Earth’s shoes?
I think that’s quite simple really. Just as human history teaches us what works and what doesn’t, Mother Earth does the same. If we take the time to examine how nature functions and learn to live by her rules, if we start putting back and not demanding more, we just might have a chance of saving her and saving us. This is how we can learn to walk in her shoes.
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and while we focus our attention on the mothers who birthed us or those who took us under their wings in some other special way, can we each take a moment to think about the mother of us all? What better time than Mother’s Day to pay tribute to Mother Earth. She who provides us with a home and fills our every need, from the air we breath, the water we drink, the food we eat, the clothes and buildings that protect us – all these begin with her. She is nature in all its forms. Just as we thank our mothers for bringing us into this world, for caring for us, nurturing us and supporting us, Mother Earth could use a little appreciation too. How can you commit to being a more devoted son or daughter?
Wallace Earle Stegner, American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist said, “Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed … so that never again can we have the chance to see ourselves single, separate, vertical and individual in the world, part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil, part of the natural world and competent to belong in it.”
Happy Mother’s Day to each mother here tonight and a special Happy Mother’s Day to our Mother Earth! Thank you.
Copyright Wendie Donabie 2013
Next Saturday, May 11, I’ll be participating for the third year in an event known as Walking in My Mother’s Shoes - a multi-disciplinary arts celebration of our mothers held annually for the past seven years at the JW Marriott, The Rosseau Muskoka Resort and Spa. Musicians, writers and artists will use their talents to express their thoughts and feelings about mothers.
Last year I wrote and presented a piece honouring my mother-in-law (please click if you
would like to read it) and I created a small painting, Sheltered from the Storm - A Mother’s Love . This time I want to come at the subject of mothers from a different angle. My spouse suggested I talk about Mother Nature. I found the idea intriguing and pursued that avenue for a few days, racking up research from the internet and recording my own thoughts. But it didn’t come together until two days ago when I realized what I really wanted to talk about was Mother Earth – our shared mother. I’m taking a look at what she has in common with those we call, Mother, and how we treat her as compared to our own mothers. The piece isn’t finished but is well on its way. Next weekend, I’ll post it along with a small acrylic painting I created for the event.
The painting I call Mother Earth-a View of Africa. The image honours both Mother Earth and the amazing African grandmothers who, as a result of Aids, are raising their orphaned grandchildren. I’m a member of a volunteer organization known as Grandmothers to Grandmothers, an initiative of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Our the sole purpose is raising funds to assist the African Grandmothers in caring for the children. At Walking in My Mother’s Shoes, our Muskoka chapter will sell products made by us and by African women.
Now, as Mother’s Day approaches, I think about my own mother who’s been gone for over thirty years. Although we’re very different women, there are times when I look into a mirror and see her looking back. To honour her memory I’m sharing the piece I wrote in 2011 for Walking in My Mother’s Shoes. Thank you for reading; I’d love to hear your comments.
Walking in My Mother’s Shoes
When I volunteered to read at this event I wanted to present a piece related to the theme of Walking in My Mother’s Shoes. That seemed simple enough until I sat down to write. Both the blank page and empty computer screen stared back as mute reflections. Our lives have not mirrored each other’s, so how could I talk about walking in Mom’s shoes. Besides, my mother could walk in 4 inch spike heels . . . not me . . . I’m in flats all the time.
My mother and her siblings lived through the depression. Winter coats were made out of blankets and toys created from whatever they could find around the house. I grew up with new clothes for each season and all the toys a child could ever want.
Maybe it was going through those tough times that developed some of Mom’s innate skills. When I was much older, she shared her unrealized dreams of owning and running a fashion or catering business. But like many of her generation, she had opted for a career as a housewife and mother. She remained a housewife, stay-at-home Mom, and a community event organizer until my father’s death when I was fifteen. Then she went back to work . . . not because she had to but because she wanted to. Compared to my mother, I’ve worked full-time most of my adult life while maintaining a home, being a stepmother and for a few years owning and operating a business with my late husband.
So how could I talk about walking in my mother’s shoes? I continued to ask myself this question and then I it came to me.
As a child, I loved to write and draw; my parents responded with gifts of John Nagy, Learn to Draw, and paint by numbers sets. They didn’t discourage my interests but neither of them had leanings in the creative arts so there wasn’t a lot of encouragement either. When I went on to high school, I wanted to enrol in art class but lacked confidence so my curriculum focussed on academics. My parents did support my plan to study journalism but when my Dad passed away, my belief in my ability to express myself creatively died with him. My mother didn’t see my dreams shrivelling up before me. When I spoke of what I wanted to achieve in my life, she would not so much encourage me, as bring some point of reality into the discussion. Don’t dream too big or you may fall hard when things don’t work out. Adjusting to life as a single mother, she didn’t push me like my father had and I finally chose another easier, career path. Unfortunately, just like my mother I locked my dreams away for years. I followed other paths, never feeling fulfilled.
More times than I can remember, I’ve reflected on my mother’s walk and attempted to learn from it and adjust my life direction and focus so that I could work towards achieving my abandoned dreams. Over and over again, I’ve set off on a new path only to discover I was wearing the wrong foot-ware for the journey. A wall of doubt would rise up before me and I’d be stopped in my tracks.
The exercise of writing this piece for tonight has brought new understanding to my life. Even though I thought I wasn’t walking in my mother’s shoes, I was. This is how I learned what worked and didn’t work for me. I kept those shoes on until one day very recently they felt just too tight; they were cramping my toes. It was time to step out of my mother’s shoes and into my own.
Those new shoes of mine appeared when love unexpectedly entered my life again a few short months ago. With the encouragement and support of my partner I began to write and paint and am for the first time in my life I feel truly fulfilled. I don’t regret the years of walking in Mom’s shoes. All those years of following other paths, of avoiding trying on my own shoes have made me rich in experience; they’ve made me the person I’ve become. Now when I think about Walking in My Mother’s Shoes, it’s not so much about the actual walking as it is learning from her walk, examining how her shoes wore down, learning what fit, what didn’t and then finding the right shoes for me.
No, my life has not mirrored my mother’s; it was never meant to do that. Her walk and her life taught me about me. That’s what our mother’s shoes do. So in closing here is what I hope for each of you.
May you discover the gifts in your mother’s shoes,
the love in each scuff mark,
the tears in each tear
the patience in each well-worn sole
the resilience in every broken and re-tied lace
and from that learning
may you step into the perfect shoes for you
and walk before your children
leaving gentle footprints on their hearts.
© Wendie Donabie 2013
My painting papers and canvases are talking to me! Well, maybe not literally but these day I sense more easily what I need to do and I’m not trying any longer to copy or reproduce photographs when I paint. Today, as my artistic journey continues, I am more interested in communicating my impressions of a subject rather than creating photo-realistic images. And I’m having more fun. It’s like I’m having dates with my paints.
I’m working on a new Artist’s Statement to capture this change. In attempting to describe the experience I’ve written that I find the process of transforming blank paper or canvas into a painting almost magical as if the paint is drawing forth images hidden in the fibres.
Part of this change I’m sure relates to having learned so much over the past three years from my main teacher and mentor, Pat Fairhead, and other art friends. Also, I find some skills are becoming unconscious and more intuitive. Still every painting presents new challenges. I often catch myself talking aloud to the canvas and my Muse asking, “How do I do xxxxx?” That’s the joy of any creative endeavour – it’s an endless, mystical journey.
When I began painting seriously in 2011, a blank paper or canvas would terrify me. Now, I am excited to discover what will appear as I apply the paint. My actual process remains the same. I most often use a photo (usually one I’ve taken) for reference and create one or more small sketches to lay out the painting composition and determine paint colours. But once those tasks are complete, the magic starts.
Now, I can’t wait to see the results of my next date with my paints!
Does this resonate for any of you? I’d love to see some comments from fellow Creatives!
Here are two of my most recent paintings. Please visit my website to see more www.wendiedonabie.com
Please take a look at Richard Radstone’s new project, Operation 365 and consider participating. http://operation-365.org/
We have a shared humanity…let’s talk about it!!
We're happy to share our second response to Interview-365, Wendie from Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada. Thank to all who are beginning to take part in our survey. As soon as we hit the first fifty responses, we'll publish the link to the demographic statistics. That way we'll begin to see the scope of the community we are creating.
Operation-365... the power of one voice is remarkable!
High water levels are expected to continue for several more days on the North and South branches of the Muskoka River in Bracebridge. Many roads are still flooded, several closed to vehicular traffic. Yesterday I met one resident who has decided to remain in her home. She and her husband have five pumps running to remove water from their basement. So far this working. To get into town, they use a canoe. Their home is heated with propane but electricity is disconnected and they are without fresh water.
Neighbours and strangers from the community volunteered to sandbag homes along the river but for some the water level has exceeded the height of the sandbags.
The photos in this post were taken on April 23 of the River Road flooding here in Bracebridge. The extension of River Road, known as Wilson Road is completely flooded forcing residents to walk through the bush to reach town.
Here are two pictures of Bracebridge Falls taken last year – one during the 2012 Spring Run-Off, the second one in mid-July. For comparison the third photo was taken this past week.
Once the water does recede, the real work will begin for the town and for residents as they try to put their lives and homes back together. Some support will come from the government to assist in repairing infrastructure damage. The Salvation Army is providing accommodation to families in need and products donated by Canadian Tire to aid in the clean-up. It will be weeks or months before any degree of normalcy returns to their lives. To make things worse, the Media reports that insurance companies will not cover damage and loss due to natural floods. Many people will not have the money to rebuild. I can’t imagine being in their shoes; my heart goes out to them all.
Photos & Text © Wendie Donabie 2013
Do you like Rembrandt? Have you seen his painting The Night Watch recreated by a flash mob yet? It's worth it and it is something that can definitely get kids interested in his work. Try it.