Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Icy Tears


Winter would stay forever if it could.

It's worked hard to establish itself,
building layers upon layers of ice and snow,
determined to become a permanent part of our landscape.


It's understandable then,
to see the long, sharp, icy tears of sadness
when warm winds blow in
and it must relinquish its grip.


Rings of memory,
frozen in time,
wait anxiously to be released
to rejoin the story of the seasons.


Stripped of Winter's decorations,
the forests are left dark and empty,
save for the icicles
that twinkle like haunted chandeliers,
a memory of happier times.


The ground swells with unfamiliar waters;
milky-grey and ice-cold,
not ready yet for life to begin.


Ice touches gold.

Winter and Autumn, old friends,
reunite for a brief moment.
Together they transform bare fields
into treasure-chests brimming with jewels.


In the same way Winter arrived,
it leaves us breathless, sparkling
with a beauty we won't forget.


And then, with one swoop of a wand
the seasons change. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ice Bubble Magic


Need a reason to venture out into the cold?
How about something that will fill you with a sense of wonder!

If you'd like to watch a mini Ice Age planet
form before your very eyes
scroll to the bottom of this post for the video.

If you want to create an Ice Bubble yourself,
continue reading for instructions :) 


First, you must be brave and head out into the cold.

  • Yes, the VERY cold.
  • It should be no warmer than 30 degrees Fahrenheit/-1 Celsius! The day I took the video it was 0 Fahrenheit/-17 Celsius.
  • So, #1 - dress warmly; hat, gloves, coat, slush pants if you have (just like your mother made you dress as a child) because you will be staying still and the cold creeps up on you when you're not moving.


Other conditions you will need:

  • Sunlight (for photos)
  • Little or no wind
  • Some snow or a soft-ish outdoor surface to blow the bubble on.


Supplies:

  • Bubble solution: 3 cups water, 1 cup liquid dish soap, 1/2 cup corn syrup (stir gently, do not shake to mix!)
  • A straw
  • Patience
  • Wonder



I suggest blowing your first bubbles just to watch and enjoy.
The first few are tricky. Don't be discouraged if they don't last long.
Keep practicing, blow very gently and adjust your technique until you get the hang of it.


For taking photos:

  • I use my Canon 6D with my favourite 100mm macro lens which allows me to catch the fine details of the ice crystals but really, these bubbles are so beautiful I think any camera you use will not let you down! Your phone camera will do very nicely too.
  • I often shoot in Automatic setting (or use Aperture Priority, depending on the light) with manual focus.
  • Manual focus is a must because the bubble and the ice crystals that form on it are constantly moving. The trouble you'll see in the video (which I filmed with my iPhone) is the ice crystals often begin to form on the far side, then when the crystals form on the front, the camera doesn't adjust its focus and the final image has a haze on it.
  • With manual focus you will focus first on the far side of the bubble and then adjust to focus on the front side (closest to you) as the ice crystals develop.


Bubble tips:

  • The temperature outside will play a role in the speed and quality of the bubbles you get.
  • The colder it is, the faster the ice crystals form, sometimes I barely have time to blow the bubble and pick up my camera before the whole bubble is completely frozen over. (Yes, in Montreal, where I live, it is often VERY cold and I just love it!)
  • It's nice to catch the ice crystals as they form with a lot of free space around them if you can.
  • Fiddle around with the blowing technique until you find what works for you.
  • I make my bubble solution in a mason jar and keep it indoors with a lid on it for the whole winter.
  • If possible, put the jar outside to cool down a bit while you get dressed for outside.
  • Find a spot to set up, somewhere facing the light with a flat surface you can blow the bubble onto. You should have somewhere to brace your camera arm so you can remain still (or set up a tripod.) I use a banister on my backyard deck.
  • It's important that there is almost no wind. The bubbles don't stand a chance in the wind and you will be eternally frustrated when they keep popping. If you have an outdoor shed with a window, going in there might be a good alternative for you.
  • To blow the bubbles, I dip the straw in the bubble solution and gently exhale, rather than blow like we do with summertime bubbles, about an inch over the place I want the bubble to land.
  • Depending on the temperature, wind and humidity, the bubbles can last anywhere from seconds to minutes. Either way, start snapping pictures as fast as you can. For a more stable, long-lasting bubble, it's best to blow a smaller sized bubble than a large one.
  • Experiment with positioning the camera toward the light to create contrast and bring out the details of the ice crystals. This was extremely difficult for me at the beginning and took a lot of turning the camera every which way before I figured it out. It's times like this that I'm happy cameras today are digital and I'm not paying for rolls of film :)

I do hope you get the chance to give it a try.
It's not every day you find something that fills you with such wonder!






Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017!


Let's cheer to a brand New Year


To a fresh start with a full heart


To 365-days of fun as we journey around the sun


To cherish all we treasure and love without measure.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Delightful December


Last night the snow fell.

Scampering around like a family of frantic field mice,
we pulled shovels from the back of the shed,
removed forgotten items from the yard
and added twenty minutes extra to
tomorrow's travel plans 
to deal with the
"weather."


After everything was done,
I stayed to watch the snow coat the branches of the trees
until they were as beautiful as a freshly iced cake.


The plunging temperatures caused some
to pull up the collars of their coats
and stamp an annoyed dance
onto the icy ground with their heavy boots.


I chose to watch
the golden light spill from the windows
of the houses onto our street.


It looked so cozy;
all these families gathered for a hot evening meal,
while their humming furnaces
sent soft plumes of smoke
into the darkening sky.


This frozen, wet stuff...
It's just rain, really.
Is it more annoying
because it's going to stick and stay?


Surely snowflakes
are a form of enchantment;
falling, frozen stars,
light as air,
each one sculpted, unique, miraculous.


They gather here and there
with an artist's flourish
and make something new from what was old.


Or, they melt and freeze again,
allowing us glimpses into other worlds
that only winter can help us find.

Whichever way you choose
to view it,


I welcome the snow
and all its wonder.




Saturday, November 12, 2016

Love Trumps Hate




Oh Donald Trump.

I was in shock, like much of the world, to discover that he won the election. I mean how in the name of all that is good, sane, decent, civilized, honest, intelligent and human did this happen? Especially at a time when our floating blue and green planet needs our care and protection the most.





Fortunately or unfortunately (depends how you look at it) I was in an unusual situation when I heard the election results.


I was hooked up to several monitors in the intensive cardiac care unit in one of our city’s most wonderful hospitals while doctors searched to find the source for the “heart attack” I appeared to have suffered last Saturday night.

Yes, this was before the election results
so I can’t blame Donald for that!




Luckily, strangely (just like life) the enzymes in the blood test that declared with almost certainty that my heart had suffered a traumatic event and been injured were proved wrong by the best tests science has to offer.

Five days later, on a sunny Wednesday afternoon
I walked out of the hospital, heart-healthy and free!




The first thing that struck me, waiting outside to be picked up by my children, was how blue the sky was. A crisp November breeze rushed up to fill my lungs and the setting sun caressed my cheek with a mother’s love.

This world is so beautiful.





I wanted to skip, jump, sing, dance.

I was healthy!
I was home.
I was loved.




My husband never left my side in the hospital (sleeping the first 2 days in a chair, and the rest in a cot) and my children spoiled me each day with their time, homemade meals, fresh clothes, board games and stories.


My epiphany: Donald Trump’s win changes nothing.

The world existed before him and the world will exist after him
because there are billions of people who know and cherish
what really matters...

* LOVE *

Family, friends, health, home, nature, the sun, moon and sky.




At home, looking out my kitchen window, it felt like I’d never left, never been terrified for my heart, my life. I watched the giant yellow maple in our backyard shower the ground with its sunshine-yellow leaves…




With everything that had just happened to me I followed the urge to be there, right under it, head turned up to watch the leaves
dance through the air on their way to the ground,
to be part of that beauty.




We are surrounded by magic…every day.






Donald Trump can’t ruin that.

I, and billions of others, won’t let him.

And whatever he does ruin, we will fix.




Continue to believe in magic and magic will continue to exist.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

You Had Me At Hello




Summer...
You had me at hello

You swept me up in your intensity


And the crazy-hatted party goers
you brought to my garden


You arrived dressed in eye-popping colours


Against a backdrop of glorious greens


With the summer comes the sun
And with the sun comes the heat


June, July and August whizzed by
in a colourful, shimmering mirage


Trumpets blared sweet summer's song
filling my senses with their heady perfume


While the fish grew fat and happy
in the pond


So many moments to enjoy


So much beauty to drink in


Some scenes almost too beautiful to believe


That this is reality and not just a dream


In my garden, summer has been gentle,


Fluttery


Feminine


Fringed


Filled with colourful hues,


Stately colour shapes


And bold colour wows!



Autumn is on its way
and when I look back


This will have been a Summer
I will never forget!

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