journey to the eagle’s nest

DSC_0339

DSC_0343

One morning this past weekend we went exploring a new-to-us trail in the Greater Madawaska Valley, the Eagle’s Nest, a trail which leads to an Algonquin sacred site.

Walking up the trail we saw signs of autumn’s arrival all around us, on the ground beneath us as well as in the sky above.

DSC_0345

DSC_0473

DSC_0359

The kids had so much fun spotting and showing me all the various and beautiful fungi and berries. It makes me so happy when the boys are the ones excited to show me their discoveries, rather than the always having it the other way around.

DSC_0403

DSC_0371

DSC_0374

DSC_0463

DSC_0370

DSC_0377

There were many wonderful, unexpected surprises too. At about the halfway point on the trail, we came across a community of inuksuit. How fun!

DSC_0474

DSC_0477

Don’t worry, Sam was careful. Did you know it is forbidden to destroy an inuksuk in traditional Inuit culture?

DSC_0482

As the trail wove its way through the woods we saw so many little holes and crevices that we imagined were the homes to all sorts of creatures, this one maybe for the chipmunks… I love the lichen covered “doorway”.

DSC_0394

DSC_0401

And can’t you just imagine a small litter of wolf pups peeking out of these rocks in early spring?… or, more eerily, a cougar slinking out for the hunt?

Our trail followed a ledge of cliffs and every now and then we would get a glimpse of the view below.

DSC_0398

Until finally, we reached our destination, the Eagle’s Nest.

DSC_0415

The entrance sign to the Eagle’s Nest sacred site reads:

The Eagle is sacred to all First Nations People upon Turtle Island (North America). Eagle soars in the sky and sees things clearly in all the sacred directions and colours; East, South, West, North, Below, Above and Centre. Thus, Eagle’s a bird of Great Wisdom and Vision and when we visit its nest to be nourished and inspired by all Eagle represents. When Eagle flies highest he transforms into Thunderbird, the Manitou or Spirit that flies closest to Kitchi Manitou – The Great Spirit. Where Eagle exists is considered sacred; a place of power and good medicines where people may come to see a “great view” or even “vision quest” for spiritual guidance not only from Eagle, but from ALL Manitous and The Great Spirit.

DSC_0419

DSC_0438

DSC_0439

What a view! I admit I will probably enjoy it better when the kids are older and not as likely to cause my heart to skip a beat with each step they take closer to the precipice… but perhaps that is part of my own spirit quest… in any case, this was an experience none of us will forget soon.

Thank you for joining me on our journey. Have you gone on any memorable adventures recently? What did you see? I’d love to hear about it.

Wishing you a wonderful day, full of discovery.

p.s. For any of you in the Ottawa Valley area interested in hiking this trail, you can find more information (directions, trailhead, alternate access etc. ) about it here.

food for thought friday

DSC_0394

Something happened to me yesterday that hasn’t happened in a very long time. I feel in love with a book, the one you see above, called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

I opened this book yesterday with my morning cup of tea and just like that, I was hooked. Every moment I could find, between errands, at lunch, at the park, after the school bbq and, finally, after the boys were all asleep, instead of knitting (!) I had my nose buried deep in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society until I finished it. It was that gripping.

I won’t tell you much about this book – in hopes you will read it yourself – but I will tell you that it is an epistolary novel (like Burney’s Evelina, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, if you enjoy that form of novel writing) and share a few favourite quotes from some of the characters’ letters with you:

“I didn’t like Wuthering Heights at first, but the minute that spectre, Cathy, scrabbled her bony fingers on the window glass – I was grasped by the throat and could not let go….I don’t believe that after reading such a fine writer as Emily Brontë, I will be happy to read Miss Amanda Gillflower’s Ill-Used by Candlelight. Reading good books ruin you for enjoying bad books.”   -Isola Pribby

“Later, I came to see that Mr. Dickens and Mr Wordsworth were thinking of men like me when they wrote their words. But most of all, I believe that William Shakespeare was. Mind you, I cannot always make sense of what he says, but it will come.

It seems to me the less he said, the more beauty he made.”                                                            - Eben Ramsey

Even the acknowledgements written by the co-authors had their share of memorable words, too:

If nothing else, I hope these characters and their story shed some light on the sufferings and strength of the people of the Channel Islands during the German Occupation. I hope, too, that my book will illuminate my belief that love of art – be it poetry, storytelling, painting, sculpture, or music – enables people to transcend any barrier man has yet devised.                                    - Mary Ann Shaffer

We are transformed – magically – into the literary society each time we pass book along, each time we say, “If you liked that, I bet you’d like this.” Whenever were are willing to be delighted and share our delight, as Mary Ann did, we are part of the ongoing story of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.                                                                                            - Annie Barrows

Don’t you just love when you come across a book that you can’t put down, a book that makes your heart swell with tenderness and eyes swim with tears? Has it happened to you recently? What book was it? Please share, I’d love to know.

Wishing you a wonderful first weekend of autumn! Hope you get to spend some of it with the words you love.

blog hopping

As some of you may know, last week I was honoured to be tagged by my sweet friend Andi from My Sister’s Knitter to participate in a little Q&A blog hop. If you haven’t already read Andi’s blog hop post here I encourage you to check it out and, while you’re at it, have little visit over at the other two remarkable blogs she tagged here and here as well, they’re really awesome.

Here goes:

1. What am I working on?

DSC_0436

working a stitch pattern that is found in both Estonian and Canadian folk knitting

Right now, I am working on a pair of mittens for my son. Knitted mittens might possibly be my favourite woollen things to own as well as to see on other people. I am particularly drawn to traditional folk mittens. I love to see beauty and usefulness combined to both protect and decorate one of our most precious body parts, our hands. Where would we knitters be without them?!

2. How does my work differ from others its genre?

I don’t know that my work does differ from others. I suppose my knitting reflects my own personal interests (like Fair Isle and other cottage industry and folk crafting traditions) and affinities (like colour). To be honest, I don’t really think much about what makes my work different, I focus more on what I enjoy working on and what makes my work good.

DSC_0430

a collection of folk knitting pattern books

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

Like so many “makers”, my drive to create is really an more of an impulse that happens to express itself in knitting.

DSC_0355

milk weed pod I came across on one of my walks

a favourite stand of pines

a favourite stand of pines

As a blog writer, I write out of a real desire to share and connect with others who share a similar passion for family, nature, words, beauty and for making beautiful things. I feel so incredibly blessed to have “met” so many warm, fascinating, talented and like-minded people here in the blogging community.

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

As corny as it sounds, my creative knitting process always starts with love – if it doesn’t my project quickly dies on the needles. Sometimes this process begins because I’ve fallen in love with a particular pattern, while other times it’s the yarn that starts it all. Of course, it goes without saying that most of all, knitting involves loving the people I’m knitting for. I think we can all relate to that.

DSC_0447

DSC_0448

DSC_0451

I struggle much more with writing, though I also find the writing process easier to start with something I love, wether it’s a quote, a photo I’ve taken, a project or an event in my life. For me, the writing process is still very much a learning process too.

     *****

Thank you, Andi, for inviting me to join you on this blog hop. I have asked the following bloggers to keep the blog hop moving along:

1. Sustainable Mum

2. Clover

3. Mandarine’s (so happy Melody has agreed to join me!)

All of these blogs offer what I believe to be a unique space where you will find beautiful photos, thoughtful perspectives and creative inspiration. I hope you will find a moment to visit their wonderful blog “homes”.

Of course, I would also be thrilled if any of you would like to take part and share your answers to any of the questions above with me here. Bloggers feel free to be tagged – there are so many of you I wanted to tag but I either felt too shy and/or that I didn’t know you well enough to pester you. I would love to know what you are working on, what makes you different, what drives you to create and how your creative process works!

Wishing you a lovely start to your week! Happy blog hopping!

biased

DSC_0405

 Today I’m joining Ginny’s lovely yarn along, sharing a little bit about what I’m reading and knitting right now.

While I’m still plodding along with Wade Davis’ The Wayfinders, I am really excited to be also reading Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants with the boys. We first read this book with our son, Sam, when he was about five or six (now just shy of ten) and Eric and I have re-read it with him a couple more times before reading it again now with all three younger boys snuggled up together.

Needless to say, Odd and the Frost Giants is a family favourite that tells the tale of a unfortunate Norse boy, Odd, who chances to meet the gods Odin, Thor and Loki, who, as it happens, have been banished from their realm of Asgard and trapped in Midgard in animal form. Odd helps the gods return to their rightful place and form in Asgard thus saving the world from destruction by the frightful Frost Giants at the same time. This book is a wonderful adventure story that highlights the saving graces of hope, determination, courage and compassion. I love this book (as I do all of Neil Gaiman’s books) and I’m so happy to be reading it once again. A great book for boys, especially (but not exclusively).

DSC_0344

As for knitting, you can see that I’m still avoiding my weaving-in task (I’m giving myself a week to do this before I need to mail it out to my eldest).  Besides, weaving-in isn’t technically knitting now is it?

Instead, I’ve cast on a hat meant for Tim (below) with the Peace Fleece yarn I brought home with me from our last trip in Vermont (it begged and pleaded to come with me, I swear). This pattern is inspired by the Skyping Beanie (free on Ravelry). It’s a simple pattern that I’ve adjusted to be knit in worsted-weight and sized for a child’s head though I fear it might be better sized for a youth’s or adult’s head. Sigh, oh well, Tim hinted that it was a bit scratchy anyway (must be the mohair content).

DSC_0345

DSC_0349

My only hesitation in raving about this yarn (because it is really quite beautiful) is that it still has lots of active twist in it, or, at least this skein does. This active twist has resulted in the hat biasing to the left – a result likely compounded by the fact that I’m knitting in the round, continental style, to boot. I don’t know if you can see the biasing in the photo with Tim but you can certainly see how unbalanced the yarn is in the photo beneath it – see how it twists back onto itself?  Frankly, it’s kind of annoying to manage while you’re knitting.

Who knows? Perhaps it is just this one skein. In any case, I’m about to find out because I have two more skeins waiting in the wings. Also, as you can see, I couldn’t resist ordering a new project bag from Fringe Association. As if I need another (!) but I seem to have a weakness for all things lunar related. I must say, I am really pleased with my first experience ordering from Karen; I love how quickly it shipped, how neatly and smartly it was packed and, most importantly, I love the bag. Just thought I’d share that with you.

DSC_0356

What about you? What are you reading? Knitting? I’d love to know.

Happy Wednesday to you, wishing you a wonderful day!

quick change

DSC_0351

In the span of about 36 hours last week, I went from summer sandals and shorts to full on fall boots, socks and pants. It was a bit of a shock, but a happy one as far as I’m concerned (just don’t tell my neighbours I said that, okay?).DSC_0339

We had a big, blustery fall-kind-of-storm and I couldn’t resist getting outside to feel the fresh, cool air on my face. I thought maybe you would like to join me…

DSC_0343

DSC_0347

DSC_0349

DSC_0350

DSC_0354

On my walk, I thought about calling this post An Ode to Red, but then, there were just too many other colours calling my name, too, like yellow, for one.

DSC_0362
DSC_0372
DSC_0373

DSC_0383

DSC_0382

I caught a red squirrel working on a little walnut collection, can you spot them? My squirrel friend declined my invitation to be photographed, I think he was a little miffed by my attention to his stash. Red squirrels can be like that.

DSC_0380

I was quite surprised to find so very many leaves already on the ground… a conversation for another day, I think…

DSC_0400

Now, there’s no denying the stunning beauty of red maple leaves, but if you’ve ever had the privilege of walking through a fall forest of yellow hued maples just after it’s rained…well, let’s just say it’s a sight you will not soon forget. Maybe someday I can show you.

DSC_0399

I found some wild grapes growing near the sidewalk leading home so I took a bunch (sorry birdies) in hopes I could convince the kids to pull some sour faces for me (they didn’t bite).

Now that fall seems to be really here, or at least looming large, I’m in hat-knitting mode, mostly for my boys. This Shwook Hat (did you know there’s going to be a fun KAL soon?) by Hazel Tindall, absorbed most of my attention last week though I admit my attention has started to drift now that I’ve got all this weaving-in waiting for me – which is why I usually try to do it as go…

DSC_0347

It’s not that I dislike weaving-in ends but, I think I get hung up on the fact that it’s just not knitting. Any suggestions to make this process a little sweeter? Podcasts? Music? Television series ? (I just finished watching Endeavour for the second time, LOVE it) What about you, do you enjoy the process of weaving-in? I’d love to hear about it, either way.

Wishing you a wonderful start to you week!

after the weekend

DSC_0362

DSC_0372

Feeling happy (and brave, hence the selfie) waking up this morning to find it cold enough to wear one of my favourite alpaca/silk scarves -(it’s like wearing a thousand kisses around your neck).*

DSC_0351

DSC_0349

Walking about the house trying to figure out where to start, wondering a little how it could get so messy so fast.

DSC_0344

Then I remembered it’s probably because I spent so much time knitting this** and going on Secret Beach treasure hunts, that I ignored the laundry-folding and mess-making, happy to curl up in peace with my wool or find sanctuary with the boys down by the water.

DSC_0357

At least there are a few areas of beauty and order left in the house, maybe I’ll start there and move outward… slowly… one basket of laundry at a time, listening to this favourite song of mine while sending big virtual hugs to a special birthday girl today.

Wishing you a wonderful start to your week, I hope you have a great day easing back into work.

* It’s Ginkgo Crescent, a pattern I first saw on Viffla’s lovely (and fun) blog, also on Ravelry here.

** It’s Little Arrowhead Shawl by Pam Allen, a great quick knit and stashbuster!

food for thought Friday

DSC_0380

DSC_0345

Saying goodbye to my eldest this week and sending him off to follow his own adventures has me thinking a lot about change, about how much I resist it and about I how I might learn to embrace it and possibly –  maybe – even encourage it. Change is hard and for me, quite honestly, terrifying at the best of times, especially when life seems to be sailing smoothly and happily enough. Why mess with a good thing? I say.

Well, the best I can come up with is that change is always an opportunity to further define who we are. Change is a chance to say: I am the sort of person who chooses to follow the light, the bright side – if you will, no matter how sad or scared I might also feel inside, too. Change is what makes life interesting, it’s what makes the shadows dance their dappled dance on the wall and in this way, makes something plain and static come to life. Change makes life beautiful and gives it strength of character.

However, change is also a time when I feel a little lost, not sure of who I will become and a feeling a little shaky, too, about who I have been. So, when I came across this gem of a poem over at Shawna’s blog, Calm Things, earlier this week, I couldn’t help but feel grounded again, reminded how to best move forward. I wanted to share this poem with all of you here, just in case you aren’t a regular visitor over at Calm Things – though I would like to highly encourage you to join Shawna and take a recent virtual trip to Banff National Park with her. Oh, those Canadian Rocky Mountains!

Here’s the poem:

Hokusai Says

by Roger Keyes

Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.

He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself
as long as it’s interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child,

every one of us is ancient,
every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.

He says everything is alive -
shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive.
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.

It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
are life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.

He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.

Wonderful don’t you think? You might remember that Hokusai is likely most famous for this painting, The Great Wave at Kanagawa, which also seems rather appropriate for today’s post. Of course, I would want my eldest to remember this poem, too, as well as these words from his sappy mama: Live well, be safe (study hard), be happy and know that you are loved.

DSC_0369

DSC_0373

 

Wishing you a wonderful first weekend in September! Thanks for reading.

 

a return to routine

DSC_0410

In the past, September has always felt more like the start of a new year than the 1st of January. However, this year feels a little different, it feels more like I’m returning to my old familiar routine than starting a new one. While this feeling lacks the shiver of excitement associated with starting something fresh, I must say, the comfort I’m feeling about getting back into my usual routine with the boys back at school is quite wonderful in its own way, too. I won’t get into all the mishmash of emotions I feel due to my boys returning to school, especially about the one who is flying far, far away from home to do just that. I’m sure many of you understand those feelings quite well (or can at least appreciate them).

Of course, regardless of summer holiday or back to school times, thankfully some things, like knitting and reading (I’m joining Ginny’s Yarn Along today), are a constant “ritual” in my daily routine. These days I’ve been working away on my little projects (and my yarn stash, too, bonus!), still loving the sense of productivity that comes with making lots of projects in a short amount of time.

DSC_0341

DSC_0339

It seems I’m on a bit of a hand-warmer kick, they are so fun to make. Knitting these Noro stripes made making this pair all the more so and I couldn’t resist adding to the stripy  goodness by pairing them up with a striped Rowan fabric project bag. I can’t decide which side of the hand warmers  I prefer, the inside or outside, as I like the woven look of the purled stripes. What do you think? In any case, I hope my friend will have as much fun kicking about in them as I had in making them.

DSC_0345

Presently on my needles is a lovely handwarmer pattern by Leila Raabe, Nalu, while on the bed stand is the Wayfinders, by Wade Davis. The subtitle of this book, Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, sums up this collection of Massey Lectures better than I ever possibly could. Reading, and re-reading, the first lecture in this book, I find Davis offers a fascinating perspective and argument for the value of and need for present day anthropological studies of both ancient and modern cultures. So far, a favourite passage from early in the book inspires me to care and investigate more about our shrinking cultural world.

Together the myriad of cultures make up an intellectual and spiritual web of life that envelops the planet and is every bit as important to the well being of the planet as is the biological web of life that we know as the biosphere. You might think of this social web of life as an “ethnosphere“, a term perhaps best defined as the sum total of all thoughts and intuitions, myths and beliefs, ideas and inspirations brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness. The ethnosphere is humanity’s greatest legacy. It is the product of our dreams, the embodiment of hopes, the symbol of all we are and all that we, as wildly inquisitive and astonishingly adaptive species, have created.”

Compelling, don’t you think? I will admit this is not an easy read for me (did I mention I’ve had to re-read it several times?) but I find the topic so interesting (dare I say necessary) that I’m determined to make my way through it and learn it, no matter many times I have to go back to page one!

What about you? What’s on your needles today? Reading much? I’d love to hear about it!

Wishing you a wonderful day, can you believe it’s Wednesday already?!

food for thought Friday

DSC_0406

DSC_0399

DSC_0393

 

 

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

- Robert Frost

End of summer days, shadows growing longer, a hint of autumn in the air. These days are all bittersweet for me and I find myself trying to drag them out and savour them completely. At the same time, I’m making every effort to embrace this new season that stands before me, a season I love so very much. This weekend I hope to spend lots of time out of doors, letting these last days of summer work their magic, trying to soak up these last dregs of summer sun and all the family-at-home love – enough, I hope, to keep me warm all winter long.

What about you? What will you be doing in the coming days?

Wishing you a wonderful Labour Day weekend ahead, safe travels to those who are travelling, and time well spent with those you love best. See you in September!