Category Archives: winter walk

Invitation: Living into “An Economy of Abundance”

Hawthornes-  the haws are still  available in Winter (my substitute for a photo of Saskatoons in winter)

Prelude

Early in December I was invited to take a meditative walk and see if something in the natural world caught my attention. What I especially noticed was how many Saskatoon berries were still on the bush. Most were dried like raisins. I ate a handful and found them full of taste. What a sweet surprise, I thought…after all, the birds, the squirrels, the bears and we humans ate our fill of Saskatoons in the summer, and yet, there were still some left over!! What abundance! How marvellous – to savour this summer taste as the days grow darker!

A few weeks later, Robin Wall Kimmerer, published “The Service Berry: An Economy of Abundance” in Emergence Magazine. Wouldn’t you know it? The service berry is also called the Saskatoon berry! This excellent essay celebrates the abundance and gift of this “best of the  berries”.  Wall Kimmerer also explores gratitude, reciprocity and the gift economy using the Saskatoon bush as guide and teacher.

This essay struck me as beautiful medicine for the next decade, as well as a call to action or perhaps (worded differently) – an invitation to respond creatively and “live into” the community Robin Wall Kimmerer envisions. While some of us are anxious to return to “normal”, I think many of us would qualify “normal”. The pandemic has enabled us to see ever more clearly how our culture of excess has not served us well, and how it has favoured some at the expense of so many others and so much else (including care of the earth). Robin Wall Kimmerer is a  wise visionary and leader,  who so clearly articulates the need for a change in our priorities and direction. She does so poetically. Even better, we can read the essay or listen to her read it to us, or both!!

Here’s the invitation:

Please consider accompanying me as I read and listen to Robin Wall Kimmerer’s essay “The Service Berry: An Economy of Abundance”  over the next few months. I have divided it into 4 sections, simply because there are many ideas here and reading over a longer period of time allows us to sink into these ideas. We will take approximately a month to read and respond to each section.

I invite you to comment on a particular quote (or quotes) that stirred something in you.

I also invite you to respond creatively, if you feel called to do so. You might feel called to respond to one section and not another. Or to all four. Or to none. All are good.

A perfect example of a creative response

What do I mean by responding creatively? Think of some of the creative people you know – people who decorate their homes with that special touch, poets, make up artists, beaders, ice lantern makers, cooks and bakers, welders, tattoo artists,  wood workers, dancers,  music makers,  knitters and crocheters, story tellers, leaders in ceremony, healers, potters, sewers, seamstresses and quilters, entrepreneurs, song writers, mothers and fathers, aunties and uncles, graphic artists, tic toc creators, gardeners, worship leaders, cake decorators,  photographers, people who dress with flair, nail artists, sculptors, gardeners, snow fort builders…the list could go on and on.

A creative response could also be an action –  sharing a gift,  taking care of a piece of land, nurturing a small garden, writing a letter, “paying it forward” in a way that nurtures connection. Receiving a gift could also be a creative response – for many of us receiving well is harder that giving or sharing. As Wall Kimmerer notes, we are receiving gifts all the time and sometimes we become alert or especially aware of a particular gift we have long taken for granted.

To some extent, we are already living into “an economy of abundance”. It feels to me that doing this together in response to Robin Wall Kimmerer’s essay brings a degree of intention and community which  will make a difference  for each of us, and perhaps ripple out.

Sharing Our Responses and Comments

Your comments and creative responses will be shared on a dedicated website (with your permission). I hope to get this website up this month (February 2021).  I will send you the link to the website when it is available, and regular updates or reminders now and again. You can send your responses to me by email.

Other ways of becoming community may emerge naturally as we accompany each other in considering and living into Robin Wall Kimmerer’s ideas. If you have thoughts about how we might share our responses  with each other, please send them on to me.

How To Join In

E- mail me at poachedeggwoman@gmail.com if you are interested in taking part in some way or have questions. You will receive an e-mail with a link to each section we are reading, and subsequent e-mails with links sharing how people are responding.

Feel free to share this with others who may be interested.

Here is a  PDF of Section 1 of the essay – Robin Wall Kimmerer SECTION 1

Here is a PDF of Section 2 of the essay – Section 2 – Reading Robin’s Essay

Photo used with kind permission of Chantelle Bonk

 

 

What I Notice

I notice that I love this slowed down world, even as I sometimes feel grief and worry, or even guilt for appreciating the leisurely pace of life.

I notice that I am breathing more slowly.

I notice that after a week of steady Covid 19 news, I had to shut off the radio and social media for a few days to let my head and heart clear, to give myself time to really take this in. I felt too full – of information, of statistics, of black humour, jokes and diversions, of helpful philosophical takes.

I notice in a new way how deeply grateful I am to live where I live, to have discovered the richness of a small piece of land across the road made up of shelterbelt and wetlands, marsh grasses and willow, ruffed grouse, rabbit, fox, coyote, deer and more. My “noticing walks” take more time because I don’t have to rush off anywhere.

I notice new tracks each day.

 

 

 

 

 

I notice my joy in the easy companionship with our two old dogs, Lady Lucy and Hercules, who are the reason I walk here. Noses to the ground, ears alert, tails awagging, their body language reminds me that I am missing so much.

I notice the male ruffed grouse who has lived here all winter, successfully avoiding the fox, and who is drumming for his mate. I haven’t seen her yet! I notice the pairs of hungarian partridge who I disturb as they sit together near where I walk. I notice the magpies, the ravens, the  spring call of the chickadees.

I notice the marsh grass and the brome grass and how the posture and bearing of each is unique. I spend longer than usual looking at dried weeds and I take some home to paint. I become completely captivated by their forms and paint dead plants and their seed heads for several days.

I have always wanted to paint plants at this time of the year, but I have never taken the time to do so before this quarantine. I like to befriend wildflowers and plants – getting to know them better in all seasons and stages is an investment in this rich friendship.

Each day I notice things that I have given a fleeting glance to before, but which I have never before given my full attention.

It’s a little like my gradual understanding of Covid 19 and being quarantined. The other night I dreamed that I was at social gatherings and no one was social distancing. I didn’t have the right language to tell them they must. In this way, Covid 19 has entered my dreams and my sub-conscious world. But in so many other ways, it feels surreal.

Each day, I learn about how the threat of Covid 19 is affecting others – the homeless, those in prison, those seeking shelter from abuse. The cracks in our society are more evident – people being paid minimum wage, losing work with nowhere to fall. The moms who are working at home, and homeschooling, and holding it all together – or not. How this might feel for those in poor or compromised health. Businesses on the brink of shutting down. The grocery store  and pharmacy workers, some elderly, going to work day in and day out. The cleaners and laundry workers, care workers, nurses, lab technicians, nurses and doctors who are keeping our hospitals and long term care facilities open and safe. Just yesterday, I read about a woman with breast cancer whose scheduled mastectomy has been cancelled, and who cannot learn how her breast cancer is progressing. I hear these stories as if through a layer of fuzzy wool, distantly. Somehow, these realities are not fully penetrating my being.

My sitting chair in the marsh. Wonderful place for long phone calls or just to sit

Noticing the weave and colours of this chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suspect that this will change with time. It will most certainly change when  I or someone I know contracts Covid 19, or is affected in some direct way by this pandemic. We learn by degrees. Our minds are absorbing so much. It takes a long while for our bodies to catch up, to fully take in all that this pandemic means. In the meantime, I will accept the gift of time to truly notice the beautiful world just past my door. To be truly here.

It seems fitting to close with this beautiful poem by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer called “Here”.

Even as the snow was falling,
the birds in the branches
kept singing into morning,
easing their bright notes
into the thin gray spaces
between snowflakes.

There are days, imagine,
when the birds go unheard.
And it isn’t for lack of song—
the single note chirp
of sparrow, the bass of raven,
the chickadee’s hey swee-tee.

Some gifts come only
when we stay in one place,
come only when we are alone,
come only when we stop praying
to be somewhere else and instead
pray to be here.

 

Y0u can receive a poem a day from the wonderful Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. Go to her website and subscribe at the bottom.

WinterSoul #1 – “The Ache”


Sometimes, small changes in routine or the weather alert us to new beauty just around the corner or across the road. In my case, right across the road! Our aging and arthritic dogs are no longer content to sit and watch me skate on a winters morning, and I imagine that it is not very good for their sore old hips to sit outside on a cold day. So, before a skate, we go for a walk, and have discovered a treasure trove across the road. For years, we have called this area the “Mooney Trees” after the Mooney family who planted the shelterbelt and once had a farmstead here, but the area includes a small wetland as well as woods. For the dogs, there are so many wonderful smells, tracks to follow, holes to dig. A veritable feast for the nose!! This small area is alive with grouse, partridge, owl, mice, foxes, deer, and coyotes – to name only a few.

Last week, Southern Saskatchewan was bathed in hoar frost for several days running. As I explored the Mooney trees with the dogs, I was amazed at each turn, each new vista and view. The Smart phone photos do not do my morning’s walk justice, but will give you some idea of the beauty that is right here (but that I almost missed!)

I was reminded of my discovery of artist Emily Carr in my teen years. Reading a book about Emily Carr, I came across a few pages describing “the ache”. As I remember it, Emily Carr would often be silenced and stilled by beauty, her hand going to her heart. Sometimes tears would come. She was often overcome. Something she called “the ache” filled her, and oftentimes after experiencing the ache, she would paint or write. As a teenager, I read about Emily Carr’s “ache” with recognition and also with great relief knowing that somebody else felt this way at times when experiencing beauty.

The dogs’ excitement is expressed in wagging tails, alert ears, noses to the ground….moments where they forget about arthritis as they bound energetically through the snow. As for me, I feel achingly alive and alert, rapt in wonder.

The old balsam poplar, now fallen, who is teaching me to balance

Mia (not one of the arthritic older dogs) loving to balance!