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Archive for the ‘gardens’ Category

Click on the link for superb drone footage of Canada.

Listen to the Scientists!

What is the point of going to school if we have no future?

Our earth is burning!
The posters flashed their messages as we drove through Vancouver’s on Friday. 120 thousand people took to the streets, many of them children. They swarmed out from schools and colleges and eventually gathered at the City Hall. Many took the day off  to let their voices be heard and this certainly sent an earnest message to us adults. The message was clear. We need to get serious about protecting their future!
It was with a heavy heart that I drove back to the north shore over our scenic Lion’s Gate Bridge. Vancouver is beautiful!
The mostly calm sea with the islands in the distance, the majestic mountains that frame the harbour and the forests that stretch into infinity. These children had really hit home and I valued my beautiful surroundings as I pondered its future.
This theme continued to plague my thoughts over the weekend.  I came across a research scientist from the UK who was expounding the merit to your health of spending time in the garden. Francis Williams used a term called ‘forest bathing.’ Don’t you just love that term? I think I fantasize about the other kind of Forest Bathing!

My Lady Anne Barnard moment…..

 While at school I came across the character, Lady Anne Barnard, who supposedly partook of this rather scandalous act of  bathing in a forest pool in Cape Town, South Africa. She was the wife of an English governor during the British occupation at the Cape. She was somewhat older than her husband and was not too concerned about being a demure Georgian wife. This was in the late 1700’s! But I am getting off track….
The ‘forest bathing’ that Francis referred to was the practice of spending time outside surrounded by nature. It did not have to be a forest walk. It could simply be a stroll through a park or time spent in a sunny spot in a garden. In expounding on the merits of this activity, she added that you get to experience all the senses…..the smells, the sounds and even perhaps the feel of the breeze. Just 15 minutes of being outside daily can lower your heart rate, your blood pressure and your cortisol levels  It can be explained like this…… by being present in your experience you relax your cortex,. that is your thinking brain. It is no wonder that this has become a popular practice in Japan. Doctors even prescribe ‘time outside’ to their patients who struggle with various ailments including stress and pain management.

Forest bathing at the bottom of my garden….

My garden continues to draw me in. I play in it and tend it for hours. While I might not be adding much to climate change, I can take care of and manage my small piece of this magnificent world here in Canada.

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Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Music stirs my soul and I have such fun finding just the right piece for my blog. Sometimes it is the lyrics that resonate but other times it is just the voices that make it pertinent. The rich sounds waft through my house as I listen and enjoy. This recording is no exception as these voices really do justice to Queen’s famous rendition. They just add to the Hygge in my house on this beautiful sunny day in Vancouver.

I recently came across the term Hygge. It fascinated me as it is something that I have always practiced without giving it much thought. This also explained my endless preoccupation over the last year with getting my house cosy and inviting. It is a difficult concept to translate as it vague and has many interpretations but here goes….. It is from a Norwegian word meaning ‘well being.’ The Danes, who are regarded as the happiest country in the world, practice this concept in their homes and in the way they live. If I was to give you a practical example you could imagine this…..I am sitting in front of a roaring fire on a cold Canadian winter’s night with a glass of red wine in my hand and my dog curled up at my feet. That is Hygge! Another could be sitting in a steaming hot tub on a cold January evening with the snow lining the trees and an equally satisfying beverage in my hand. This is Hygge!

You could be curled up under your duvet in your apartment, watching your favourite television programme while you chomp away at a decadent box of chocolates. It could be as simple as lighting a candle just to create the right atmosphere. Or having friends over for a relaxed potluck. These are all Hygge!

My garden, a cup of morning coffee and Josh…..my idea of Hygge.

It is about being kind to yourself, indulging in simple pleasures and not denying or punishing oneself because of it. I like the sound of that. What is life all about if we can’t have a little bit of what you fancy?

But it has wider applications too and not just confined to the comforts of home. Certain aspects have been introduced into the workplace to reduce stress levels. I noticed on a recent visit to the Amazon headquarters in Seattle that principles of the idea were being implemented. Amazon staff were encouraged to bring their dogs to work. Special areas were created to accommodate their needs. There was an outdoor play area where they could socialise with their canine brothers and do the necessary ablutions. These dogs have added another ‘Hygge’ dimension to an otherwise stressful day in the life of a software engineer. It makes you think……

Leo catching the number 9 to work…….

As far as I am concerned, a little piece of Denmark is alive and well at La Ravine …..our home in the forest.

Rhododendrons beckon you to draw closer…..

 

You might like to read the book The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russel

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Been rusting in the rubble…..

Goats are not one of my favourite animals. They smell and are often bad tempered. This is certainly the case with the ones that I have encountered. They do however, have a talent that I covet……the ability to climb up steep and rocky mountains. It is another grey Vancouver day. I am lying on my back among our trees with the Mission Creek stream snow- melt pulsing in my ears. In usual Vancouver style the water is falling from the skies as well as from the mountains. The world appears magical from this horizontal position.

When last did I just gaze skywards here? Probably on another occasion that I came scooting down on my rear on La Ravine! I seem to exercise this involuntary move a great deal lately. I scurry around along our steep river course in the quest for removing the previous owner’s building rubble and garden waste. This is when I covet the acrobatic ability of the humble goat the most. His prowess would be such a valuable asset on our steep river bank. We are fortunate to be surrounded by a forest of tall conifer trees so my tumbles go unnoticed. My red face goes unnoticed.

I am learning from the news……

According to the weather bureau we had the grand total of 75 hours of sunlight for the whole month of March! This rainy weather accompanied by the grey skies is getting to the most experienced locals. They assure us that this is not the norm. I think I have heard that somewhere before…..when we moved to Toronto and we endured temperatures of minus 40 C. Torontonians assured us that this occurrence was most unusual too. So what are we to do when a garden beckons?

Nothing quite like mucking about in a garden….

Fall like the rain…..

My short fashionable all weather trench coat just did not cut it anymore. One walk to the bus stop and I was soaked! On a recent trip to a consignment shop, I found a long, very long red raincoat. It was probably relinquished with glee when the previous owner moved back to Toronto……no rain there, only deep snow! Once donned it looked a bit like a bag lady until I accessorised it with a pair of shiny navy blue Wellie boots. Now I can take on any storm.

Now I am hypnotised……

There is nothing like a garden to ground you and to keep you present. I while away the hours as I dig, make new features and discover lost treasures under the soil here at La Ravine. The steep slopes have their challenges and the miserable weather a test of patience. But slowly I chip away at my Canadian soil and carry my Canadian rocks to new corners of my garden. With each spade full of earth, I feel that I am getting closer to making Vancouver my home. I am most grateful for my red raincoat!

 

The light is what guides you home, the warmth is what keeps you there. Ellie Rodrigues

There are rocks to be carried……

 

 

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