Friday, September 25, 2015

Of Orion, Pumpkins and Fall Leaves: Autumn Equinox 2015

Tuesday, so early in the morning there was no hint of dawn in the night sky, I was walking to the garage to drive myself to the airport. A brief, two-day trip up to Fort McMurray for my day job was my itinerary. With carry-on in hand, I made my way across the backyard, past the squash and pumpkin vines that in successive bursts of unhindered growth had wondered far from their garden confines to criss-cross across our lawn. I didn’t have the heart to beat them back. When allowed to grow with wild abandon, how far would those vines creep? Turns out several meters. And although their spread made mowing the grass around them difficult, my husband humoured me and worked around them. My goal was to wait until equinox to finish harvesting and cut back the jungle of leaves and vines. There might even be fruit in all that. Guess what I’m doing this weekend?

That Tuesday morning the clear night sky afforded a view of the city stars. These stars are the brightest in the sky, managing to holding their own against the always-on lights of the city. For the last several weeks, I had looked up in that night sky to catch the first glimpse of the season of my favourite constellation, Orion. The celestial Hunter comes back every fall and stays throughout the winter. Tuesday morning he was there. And the Wheel of the Year turns.

The view from the air of the boreal forest in fall colours.
I got to watch the sun rise from 24,000 feet that morning. As we started our descent, the clear skies and sweet light provided ideal conditions to view the expanse of boreal forest in her fall glory. Yellows, oranges, reds, browns and greens blanketed the ground below. It was one of those views you wished you could capture with paint and brush, to mimic the beauty and elegance of nature on a canvas to revisit again and again. But some things can only be experienced in person. No photo, no painting could recreate the powerful feeling of beholding such an innately beautiful, natural sight. It’s not just the view, it’s the experience. Still, on the flight back on Wednesday late afternoon, I snapped a photo from the air. It doesn’t hold a candle to the live experience, but it is what I have to share with you.

How do you welcome fall? Do you look for Orion in the night sky? Do you consciously harvest the fruits and vegetables of summer? Do you bask in the beauty of fall colours splashed across the outside world?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Taking Writing to the Mountains: Rocky Mountain Writing Retreat 2015

View from my balcony writing space at Baker Creek Lodge
 at the 2015 Rocky Mountain Writing Retreat
This morning while making tea in the kitchen (sometimes I drink tea instead of coffee ;)) I had a vision flash through my mind of standing in the kitchen, warm, with tea steeping, while snow was gently falling outside, adding to the thick blanket already on the yard and trees. Incongruent, I know, we just welcomed September and it is a perfect late-summer day out there.

So on this day of the first flash of winter to come, let me share how I kicked off summer. In early June I attended the Rocky Mountain Writers' Retreat. I had three days of writing in a beautiful lodge, in the Canadian Rockies, in Banff National Park, minutes away from Lake Louise with thirty other writers and one of my critique partners as my roommate. I had attended one other writing retreat a few years ago and knew the potential for serious headway on my manuscript. I also knew the power and magic that happens when you gather with one of your tribes. It feels good. There is the sense of friendship and belonging and hanging out with other people on their own version of this same crazy writing experience/journey that I am on.

The view a few steps from my
writing retreat door was this view.
Feeling the flow of Baker Creek
in between writing sessions.
I stayed holed-up in my room (or the balcony) writing, coming out only at meal time and at the evening social events. Well, that and gabbing with my roommate when we need a writing break. :) Okay, and when I needed to go for a quick explore. I was in the Rockies along the gorgeous Baker Creek, after all.

I had hours of uninterrupted writing time in a natural setting. I loved it! Happy kick-off to summer!

Do you attend writing retreats? Where do you like to go? What are your favourite ones? Do you set aside a weekend with a couple of writer friends or do you go on more formally organized ones?