Category Archives: Nature

Crocuses All-Around

I told some people we were going crocus hunting in the Sandilands area yesterday but in actual fact very little hunting was necessary.

There were crocuses a-plenty in the woods and ditches.

We were the guests of our friends Bill and Marie who have a cottage in the area and invited us out for a day of crocus spotting that included great wine, great food and great conversation.

We went for a ride on Bill and Marie’s pair of ATVs.

It was a sunny calm afternoon and Bill led us on a sightseeing trip in the area. It was great to be out in the woods and in the fresh air.

We stopped to check out some beaver dams.

There were lots of crocuses and Dave hopped off the ATV at a couple of spots to take some photos.

The crocus which brings colour to the landscape after a long, dreary winter is often viewed as a symbol of positivity, joy and youthfulness.

We’ve certainly had a long dreary winter in Manitoba and spending a day in the cool but sunny outdoors yesterday and finding crocuses in amongst the still brown and bare woodlands gave me a positive feeling that the green and warmth of spring may be just around the corner.

Other posts……….

Trillium Walk

Inspiration to Speed the Coming of Spring

Flowers Appear on the Earth

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Bird by Bird

This puzzle is called Avian Friends but I ordered it because it reminded me so much of the title of Anne Lamott’s famous book about the craft of writing Bird by Bird first published in 1994. The title of the book comes from a piece in Lamott’s book that reads…….

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table, close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”

Anne’s father’s advice rings true for writing projects but also for almost any task that seems overwhelming. You have to start and take one step at a time and eventually the task will get done. That was certainly how I felt when I wrote my novel and how I feel when I am preparing to learn all the material for an exhibit at the art gallery or when I have to clean my whole house. But if I go ‘bird by bird’ it gets done.

Another thing I liked about this puzzle was the way the birds were pretty easy to put together they were so bright and unique in their colour and design but it was the pieces that connected them that took so long to figure out.

And isn’t that true? Figuring out how to bring together diverse people at work or in a family or figuring out how to take the diverse aspects of your life and bring them together in a way that is meaningful and manageable is always a challenge.

I loved the puzzle Avian Friends. But I would have called it Bird by Bird or Coming Together.

Other posts……….

A Different Kind of Puzzling

The Missing Piece

Hugo Bartel’s Puzzles

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Filed under Books, Nature, Writing

Cedar Memories

The other day the word to solve in my daily Canuckle word puzzle was cedar.

That got me thinking about the gorgeous Chi Lin Nunnery in Hong Kong with its sixteen huge halls all built out of thousand-year-old yellow Canadian cedar without a single nail. You can smell the cedar the moment you walk on the grounds.

And the cedar at the Chi Lin Nunnery got me thinking about these towering cedar trees we saw along our cycling route in Croatia. They were so tall they dwarfed the church’s bell tower.

And the cedars in Croatia got me thinking about the cedar waxwings we saw a couple of years ago at Moose Lake where my brother now owns the cottage that has been in our family for three generations.

And those cedar waxwings got me thinking about the colorful cedar boards we had on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 2016 made by artist Jordan Bennet who is from Newfoundland.  They were inspired by stories he heard about the land and the history of his people. 

And thinking about those cedar boards at the art gallery made me think of the beautiful yellow cedar tree the artist in residence last year at my church Lynda Toews painted when we were doing a worship series about trees.

And Lynda’s cedar got me thinking of the grade three class I visited at John M. King School where the children had painted replicas of Emily Carr’s masterpiece Red Cedar.

And thinking about the cedar trees the children had painted made me think about the Cedar Hill Golf Course in Victoria where Dave and I played nine holes last fall.

It’s amazing where the word cedar in my Canuckle puzzle took me.

Other posts……..

Lessons From Trees

My Annual Moose Lake Fix

Imitating Emily

All Boarded Up

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Filed under Nature, Reflections

Lots of Creation Stories

Creation of the Animals by Jacob Robusti Tintoretto- 1550

The first time I realized that the creation story in Genesis wasn’t unique was at age eighteen. I had to read Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan by William Albright for my Old Testament class at Canadian Mennonite University. I grew more incredulous as I turned each page. 

The story of creation as it was told in Genesis contained elements borrowed from earlier Mesopotamian and Babylonian creation stories, had things in common with Egyptian creation accounts, and there were many similarities between the Israelite’s god Yahweh and the Canaanite god El.

I barged into my professor’s office and asked him if it was true the Israelites had just cobbled together a creation story using material from other sources. I remember him telling me that the purpose of the story was more important than the story itself.

Fast forward some fifty years and as part of my job as a mentor for university education students, I am visiting a grade nine class where the students are learning about the earth’s origins. Before they examine scientific theories the teacher shows a beautiful video where Canadian Indigenous elders tell the story of Sky Woman and the creation of Turtle Island.  

Pangu separates the earth and sky

He uses slides to introduce the Chinese story of Pangu who pushed apart the earth and the sky.  Then he invites the students to do research on creation stories from other cultures around the world and share them with the class. The kids discover all kinds of creation stories.

Those teens will not head off to university as naive as I was, having only been exposed to the Genesis account in the Bible.

It’s Earth Day today and it may be a good time to remember that there are many different creation stories about how our earth came to be.

I believe their purpose is to teach us there is a life-giving creative force at work in the world and the world was made for people to care for and enjoy.  

Other posts……….

For the Beauty of the Earth

Was North America Created On The Back of A Turtle?

Visualizing God’s Creation Gifts in Sculpture

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For the Beauty of the Earth

It’s Earth Week and so here are some of my favourite photos from our albums that celebrate the beauty of the earth and its’ creatures.

A crab photographed on the Black Sand Beach in Hawaii
Cherry blossoms photographed in Kyoto Japan
Bee collecting nectar photographed in Jamaica
Waterfall photographed in Cox’s Cove Newfoundland
Orca whale photographed on our kayaking trip in Johnstone Strait British Columbia
A flamingo photographed near Merida Mexico
Cactus photographed in Phoenix Arizona
Wild grasses photographed near Napier in New Zealand
Kangaroos photographed on a walk in the Hunter Valley in Australia
A quetzal photographed in San Gerardo de Dota Costa Rica
Tree photographed in the Algarve region of Portugal
Orchid photographed in Phuket Thailand
Mountain and trees photographed in Zion National Park in Utah
Rainbow photographed near Vik Iceland

Our world is beautiful indeed. I hope to be able see many more of its wonders in my time left on this amazing earth.

Note: A number of the photographs in this post were taken by my husband Dave

Other posts…………..

Nature’s Artwork

David Driedger Nature Photographer in Mexico

Lessons From Birds

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I Felt Sorry For the Geese

Yesterday afternoon we decided to brave the blizzard and walk from our Exchange District condo down to The Forks.

I could hear the Canada geese honking plaintively as soon as we reached Stephen Juba Park. They didn’t know what to make of the wintery world.

Despite the fact that I had my grips on the bottom of my boots I wiped out royally once and almost fell a bunch of other times. It was very icy under the snow and you had to be careful. We only met two other people on our walk.

Everything was beautifully and artistically etched in snow.

The neighbourhood statues all had a different appearance with their snow coverings. The young boy in the middle of the Selkirk Settlers’ sculpture at the end of our street looked like he was wearing a white coat.

We made it to The Forks but virtually no one was there. Only three businesses were open.

It wasn’t that cold on our walk to The Forks and it was kind of neat to check out the neighbourhood through a snowy lens.

On the way back home the wind picked up. At times I felt I’d be blown over or off the sidewalk onto the street. I was glad when we got back to our cosy condo.

I felt sorry for the Canada Geese who had no cosy refuge in the blizzard.

Other posts……..

Winnipeg in Winter

Sheila’s Brush Is Coming

Has Spring Come Yet?

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Filed under Nature, Winnipeg

Sheila’s Brush Is Coming

Sheila’s Brush by artist Dominique Hurley

Yesterday I was chatting with a group of friends about the storm headed Manitoba’s way. One of them remarked, “Sheila’s Brush is coming.” I asked her what she meant. My friend has a son-in-law from Newfoundland and when folks in that province are expecting a spring storm they say, “Sheila’s Brush is a-coming.”

Sheila’s Brush by artist Helen Gregory

According to folklorist Philip Hiscock, the term is used to reference the last snowstorm of the season, one that falls after March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. Apparently, Sheila was a saucy girl St. Patrick met while wandering around driving the snakes out of Ireland. Patrick asked her for a drink of water and she threw her dishwater in his direction and the soap bubbles in it transformed into a snowstorm. There are many different versions of the legend but in each Sheila is said to brush out the winter season with a big snowstorm so the spring season can begin.

I just looked out the window and Sheila’s Brush is no longer a-coming……it’s arrived!

Other posts………..

A Perfect Afternoon in Gambo Newfoundland

Home Grown In Newfoundland

The Highest Snowbank- Grandma or Me?

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Filed under Canada, Nature

Has Spring Come Yet?

We took a stroll down to the Forks in Winnipeg yesterday and although spring is definitely on the way there are still signs that Old Man Winter is hanging around.

The warming huts which usually sit on the frozen river for skaters and walkers and skiers to use are now dry docked up on the land. That’s a sign of spring but………

there is still lots of ice and snow on the river.

The Canada geese have returned so that’s a sign of spring but……………….

there is still plenty of ice that needs to melt.

Some of the pathways are pretty clear and dry so that’s a sign of spring but……………..

the river walkway is still frozen and impassable

and there are still lots of high snowbanks beside the paths that need to melt.

It was sunny and warm enough to enjoy our chai lattes outside so that’s a sign of spring but…………

we were all alone on the outdoor patio everyone else thought it was still too cold and were enjoying their beverages and food indoors.

Some of the outdoor seating areas could already be used so that’s a sign of spring but……..

other sitting spots in the park still aren’t accessible.

Has spring come to Winnipeg yet?

after our walk at The Forks yesterday I’d say…………..not quite!

Other posts……..

Inspiration to Speed the Coming of Spring

Spring in the Exchange District

Winter in Winnipeg

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The Highest Snow Bank- Grandma or Me?

I have a photo of my grandmother taken in 1956 on the front yard of her house in Drake Saskatchewan. The winter of 1955/1956 Saskatchewan received a whopping snowfall of 195 cm. The snowbank on my grandparents’ front yard is almost as high as their front door.

On Monday when Dave and I took our granddaughter for a walk he took this photo of me in front of a high snowbank near our home. It almost hides the apartment block behind it from view. Winnipeg has had some 156 centimetres of snow so far this year.

It seems like we’ve had an awful lot of snow in 2022 in Winnipeg but it can’t compare to what Grandma experienced in 1956.

Other posts………

Family Tragedy- Thawing the Ground for Burial

A Tipped Caboose, A Black Eye and A Wedding

Winnipeg in Winter


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Out with the Birds on New Years Day

On New Year’s Day, it was a chilly -30 degrees in Winnipeg. Despite the Arctic temperatures Dave and I decided to bundle up and went for an hour-long trek in Kildonan Park.

I thought we might be alone on the trails but I was surprised how many other hardy hikers we encountered. It was hope-inducing to hear our cheery New Years’ greetings to one another ringing through the crisp cold air.

I thought it might be too cold for any birds to be out but I was wrong. We had just closed our car doors when a huge bald eagle soared right over our heads, flying so low we could clearly see its bright yellow beak.

We took detours when the incessant pounding of two different pileated woodpeckers caught our ears. We spotted both of their bright red heads but weren’t fast enough to get a photo before they flew off.

No such problem with a group of chickadees in some pines. Dave held out a peanut from his pocket and one of them hopped right over to have a snack.

We spotted some crows too, their inky silhouettes stark against the white of the snow-covered trees.

It was mighty cold in Winnipeg on New Years Day but not too cold for the Driedgers or the birds.

Other posts…………

Lessons From Birds

A Bird on the Hand

I Kissed An Owl

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Filed under Holidays, Nature, Winnipeg