Branches…

…of government? What a couple of weeks in the news it has been! The OldPlaidCamper post this week is sponsored by the power of nature. He’d like to thank nature for being there, and quite understands how she might be a tad annoyed by certain executive branches…

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A branch reaches out, offers support and shelter – it isn’t a bully stick
In all seriousness, I hope you are safe and secure in the face of a looming and/or happening hurricane. At least you know any federal emergency response will be awarded a chief executive A+, if not higher.

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A bit fuzzy, a bit woolly – like a PlaidCamper thought process…
My goodness, some days, the news does not ever seem to get any better, or any more believable, and leadership responses that are thin-skinned and narcissist leave me slackjawed. Yes, this is where the healing power of nature is just the thing in our very strange and complicated socially constructed world. I’ve written it before, and I’ll write it again: If more people went outside (and hugged a tree) then the world would be a happier place. More of us might care for the land that is our mothership…

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Complex, but not so complicated
Being back in a working environment is fine, particularly when I can stop, take a walk during a break and find myself by the water or in the trees. Sometimes both! Then, at the end of day, or on the weekend, it is back outside we go, sometimes in need of a lift because I was foolish enough to scan the headlines, and even read on. When will I learn?!

Deep breath in, slow release out, and repeat until equilibrium is reestablished, or a bored Scout drags me off to explore more.

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“I welcome my imbeachment!”
Thank goodness for energetic dogs, understanding partners, and space to unwind. The other title I was thinking about for this piece was “Imbeachment or Impeachment?” but I thought better of it, mostly because imbeachment isn’t really a word, and because impeachment, fun though it might be to watch, isn’t really the answer. Do the right thing, midterm eligible people!

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“Don’t worry, Scout, you won’t face imbeachment alone!” “Yeah, ok, but promise me you’ll shut up about that stuff now…”
Time to stop – past time in fact – thanks for reading, have a wonderful and safe weekend, and if you find yourself imbeached, or imforested etc. then that’s a good weekend!

Back to school!

A very short post this week, mostly because for the first time in a year I’m doing a proper job, and consequently feeling rather more tired than usual. I can take a nap at almost any given moment, work or not, but this week I’ve been dropping off (after work, not in work!) very easily. I close my eyes at the end of a chapter, and then wake with a start much later. A normal readjustment to employment, not old age…

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The fog is lifting…

The last day of my shortlived attempt at early retirement was spent on Long Beach, a Labour Day Monday where the early morning grey of low cloud and fog – might as well get a job, summer is over – lifted, and the sun shone and skies were blue – should have tried harder at being retired.

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…let’s go to the beach!

I’ll miss the lazy days, like the ones spent waiting for a plumber to come and fix my renovations, but I’m looking forward to being a bit more purposeful, and Mrs. PC is looking forward to seeing me head out the door, leaving her in peace to get on with her research. Apparently, we can always get someone in to complete any unfinished works. Are there any?

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A lazy Labour Day

Why is the back to school week always warm and sunny? No matter where I’ve lived, or what age I am, it is always sunny in early September. The universe can sometimes be tough on those involved in education. Parents always seem happier than usual this time of year…

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The early retirement ship has sailed

Anyway, I hope you have had a pleasant week, whether you’re back to school or not, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Mud and silver – treasure!

A few weeks ago we wandered onto the edge of some Tofino tidal mudflats, wondering what we might see. Taking care not to disturb habitat, and squelching about, we uncovered riches in the mud – we discovered silver. An incredible trove right under our noses. We hit the mother lode! (I’d best come clean here, although you’ve probably already guessed…)

Faces in the mud?

What wealth was found? Silver? Yes and no. Not the fill your pockets and consider yourself materially wealthy kind of silver. The treasure was finer than solid silver – if your mind works that way.

What a world of wonder!

The early morning mist had cleared, and the tide receded. The sun shone down on the flats and they glittered and sparkled. The mud was dazzling! A silvery sheen and shine, and what was a beautiful sight became even more so. It almost hurt to look at it.

It is so quiet on the inlet side, a marked contrast to the constant surf sounds of the Pacific not so far away. You can hear the movement of water, the mud oozing and shifting. The air is rich, earthy and salty, full of life. The water rises, the water falls, and the landscape changes constantly. It is a fragile environment, one that sustains an astonishing diversity of life. It is Planet Food. Creatures wriggle, burrow, scuttle and buzz in, on, over, and under the mud.

Look down, and it is delicate and intricate immediately under your feet. Look up, and it is vast and seemingly unending as you stare into the distance. What a place to be!

The silver disappeared as the sun moved through the sky, changing angle. It became less silver, but no less of a treasure. Two children were exploring the flats, perfectly immersed in their tasks and surroundings, unplugged yet completely connected. Imagine seeing such finery and it isn’t artificial, superficial, gaudy or brash. A huge treasure you can’t (or shouldn’t) keep and covet, or own in an acquisitive way. It isn’t for that.

Still treasure

Natural treasures large and small are all over the planet and never that far away for most of us. They have a value and importance beyond financial numbers. They aren’t possessions, but responsibility for them belongs to all of us. Imagine if we changed our thinking about what value means, what wealth means. Is it possible we could already be rich, living on this giant ball of amazing value? It’s there if you choose to see it.

Treasure hunters at play – can you see them?

Treasure beyond measure! I know, I know – there are harsh economic and political realities for billions on the planet – but allow me some out of touch tree-hugger wishful thinking. It doesn’t have to be this way. Must’ve inhaled something leaking from that mud…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

 

River Song

A very short post this week – I’m being swamped by report cards. (To be honest, I do quite enjoy writing them, and exploring my ability to stretch the truth without falling into fiction…)

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“Shouldn’t that guy on the other bank be working?”
Instead of spending a Sunday working on report cards, and demonstrating my dedication to education, we decided to take a short drive out east. Tough decision, howls of protest, but in the end I went with it. Meaning to take a short hike up and down the river banks in Wyndham-Carseland Provincial Park, our hike turned out to be very brief. The scene was so captivating, and the sun was so high! We ended up sitting by the flowing Bow, in a shady spot on a warm afternoon. The river was up after recent rainfall, and the sound of the rushing water was soothing to an old fellow dozing in his camp chair.DSCF4979

I didn’t fall asleep completely. The wind in the trees added an extra layer of sound that was very pleasant. The breeze was enough to take the edge off the heat in the valley bottom. The best sounds of all? Bird song! Tree swallows, warblers, red winged blackbirds, robins, cormorants, ducks and geese. Those were the ones I did recognize, although my lack of bird knowledge has left me with generic rather than precise recognition. Need to work on that! Pretty sure we saw a yellow warbler – it was pretty for sure. Far in the distance, a hawk wheeled and climbed until out of sight. Ducks splashed on take off and landing, and geese flapped by, honking along the river.

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“Why is he taking our picture? Shouldn’t he be working?”
Those swallows are acrobats! A few wing beats to get above the water, and then a steep or shallow dive to snag a bug, over and over, up and down. I swear one did a ninety degree left turn on a dime. What a display, all speed and grace, and an occasional flash of iridescent green. A joy to watch.IMG_20170528_140250Sometimes the best way to tackle report cards is to leave them at home and go take a nap. Rest your eyes, stare off into the distance, empty your head, or fill it with something else. Be lulled by the river song, rest and recharge, and then head back for an early evening beer. A beer? But what about those – never mind. I can’t write under the influence. Have to finish them another day.

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“You down there? Get back to work!”
A short post this week. Did I mention I seem to be swamped by report cards? It’s all about time management and priorities. Fortunately, I am a professional with focus. Hold on! What’s that sound? I think I hear the call of the river…

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Distraction…
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

PS I finished the report cards earlier today. I know you were wondering…

Signs of spring (and a little rant)

The rant comes at the end. It’s not much of a rant, but it is a bit incoherent, so there’s that. Enjoy it if you get down to that part.

We’ve been looking for signs of spring this side of the Rockies. So far, not too much success. There are one or two hints of green beginning to appear on trees and shrubs, a teasing glimpse of what’s to happen (soon, please!)

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Tuesday morning walk to work

My morning walk to work on Monday was through sleety rain, and that wasn’t much fun. It was more fun than the Tuesday morning walk through wet snow. Snow that fell on and off throughout the day. It settled for a few hours, but I guess solace could be found in that it mostly melted away by early evening. That thaw, the suggestion of green, and a rising river level is about it for spring to date. Yes, the daytime temperatures are above freezing, but not significantly so.

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“Spring” as seen from the train, Tuesday morning.

What’s with the complaining PlaidCamper? Don’t you like winter? Yes, but not when May is here on Monday, and not after our recent west coast trips – we were (are?) spoiled by those warmer, sometimes wetter, but oh so colourful and verdant days…

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Vancouver, six days earlier…(I spy green)

A few days in Vancouver last week, at a conference and “working” hard on the coast. The theme was nature and outdoor education. I had to smile at us all shut in a windowless, air conditioned hotel events room, earnestly discussing the importance of being outdoors in green spaces, and the benefits of connecting to nature. To be fair, many of the sessions were outside and hands on. Just as well, because they weren’t likely to contain all those tree huggers in a large room with Stanley Park only a short walk away.

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Hugged this one

After a morning of fine speeches, impassioned presentations, and information overload, we went on a guided walk through Stanley Park, looking for trees to hug.

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I was working, honest

Vancouver has a lovely setting, on the water, and surrounded by forests and coastal mountains. Stanley Park is an urban jewel, with pockets that feel wild in between more traditional city park patches. Our guide pointed out many restoration projects centred on the Lost Lagoon, and the balance park officials are trying to achieve between urban dwellers and wild animal inhabitants. Not an easy task, particularly because there’s no overall consensus as to what restoration really means. Restored to pre-nineteenth century habitat? Or even earlier, to before European contact? And how to restore a wilderness that is never in stasis anyway…

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Get me, I live in Stanley Park

It was a wonderful walk, and an example of how a city can aim to be a greener and more pleasant place through thoughtful planning – even if there are no simple solutions. Given that humans are more likely than ever to find themselves living in cities (regardless of whether that is a first choice for many of us) it seems sensible to expect nature to be included as an essential part of urban planning.

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Pleasing

Common sense suggests that we are happier in pleasing and greener environments, and research presented at the conference supported the idea that children (and everyone else?) are more successful in their learning and in themselves when they have ready access to green spaces for play and learning. Simple enough – pleasant environments promote positive physical and mental health. Have we really forgotten that so easily and in a few generations? Are new roads, malls and parking lots more important than play spaces and green places for city dwellers? Dollars before deeper contentment? What’s the real and necessary investment here?DSCF4816

Oh, those recent announcements – regarding the future status of protected wilderness spaces south of the border – have me wondering if (so called) leaders can honestly say they care about or are planning for the longer term health of the planet, or the health of future citizens. I don’t know, is extract, extract, extract, and burn, burn, burn, really the best path forward? Can we talk about a healthy society and a vibrant economy when the air is unbreathable and water is undrinkable? Should we drink the bad water through a straw made from dollar bills and call ourselves wealthy and wise?

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Calming

I think I’d best stop now, take a deep breath (while we still can) and wish you all a wonderful weekend! I’ll be out looking for signs of spring and calming myself down. I know, it wasn’t much of a rant, but I feel better for it…

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Also calming (a very good west coast pale ale – had a second pint, just to be sure…)

Cheers, and thanks for reading!

Disjointed…

…and tilted. Disjointed? Like many a PlaidCamper post this past winter? Maybe. This one is all over the place – best keep it brief.

dscf4260At school, we’ve been learning about the Solar System. Heads were spinning as students grappled with the idea that our Earth rotates on a 23.5 degree tilted axis. The fact that we live on a speeding ball, traveling at thousands of kilometres per hour had heads tilting in thought. Learning why we have seasons, why they are opposite in each hemisphere, and about the intricate celestial dance that stars and planets have been engaged in for many millennia has been a cosmic experience. More stars than there are grains of sand on a beach. Far out.

dscn7376We’ve been measuring the increasing daylight hours, and slowly shedding some of the winter layers. Evidence that seasons are changing. It’s a long winter, and you take your fun where you can find it. Like watching in amusement as twenty-five students stumble around a murky cloakroom designed for fewer and smaller children. They bounce off the walls and each other in their attempts to pull on snow pants, snow boots, bulky coats and assorted knitwear. Gloves and mittens are dropped and lost underfoot. It’s a brave student that falls on hands and knees to try and find a missing mitt. It’s grim in there. They do this several times each day. I stand well back…

dscf4374Studying the sky puts things in perspective. Grains of sand, and all that. Maybe you feel that the world is off balance, tilted somehow, especially since the turn of the year and all the dreary noise and nonsense. All that extra unpleasant hot air and bloated nastiness emanating from the DC area. Still, maybe we’re only experiencing a bit of a blip, if you take the longer view. Yes, the air will be less clean, and harder to breathe. Water will be more contaminated. There will be fewer trees and more greenhouse gases. People will be marginalized, discriminated against, and freedoms and environmental protections will be curtailed.

img_20170118_162429It is bad, yet it helps to remember the planet really is tilted, and that part is ok. The sun does come up and go down each day. The real dance has been going on for many years, and will continue past the next four (or eight – heaven help us) years of irritating sideshow, and then far, far, beyond. Our young people are truly interested in the big picture, and their small part in taking collective responsibility for the speeding ball they inhabit. The students I’m teaching this year are (amongst other things) Canadian, First Nation, Somali, Indian, Lebanese, Russian, Pakistani, Tibetan, Haitian, Afghan and Ethiopian. These little Earthlings love to look up at the sky. And even if they drop a mitten and are looking down, they can be tremendously resilient and good natured. After all, how many of us could emerge unscathed and happy after nearly six winter months of the cloakroom dressing challenge? They are stellar.

dscf4322A tilted and disjointed piece this week, and an attempt to recognize disequilibrium is in fact part of a greater pattern. Groovy.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Best to disconnect…

A few disconnected thoughts – or maybe not – before disappearing for the weekend. I really, really do not want to be near any form of news these next few days. Childish? Absolutely. Would I encourage wilful ignorance in the students I teach? Absolutely not. However, I’ve completed my latest round of report cards, I’ve been in the city for too many days in a row, the weather has been unseasonably warm, and I’m not prepared to witness a petulant, thin-skinned, and self-serving individual assume the presidential mantle. Tetchy? Yup. It’s off to a cabin in Yoho I go. Yes, I can be petulant, thin-skinned, and self-serving, but I’m not a liar on a grand scale.

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Chinook arch, Monday. Yuck.

Phew, I think I need the break! It has been horribly warm in the city, with temperatures rising from -30C to plus 9C in a few days. A chinook wind has been blowing and the snow has been melting, and with it all my hopes of a classic Canadian winter. To be fair, chinooks are a common feature of a Calgary winter. I simply detest slush – the early morning frozen slush and icy patches, the late morning semi-slush, and then the afternoon wet slush once again. Repeat ’til depressed. All with a wearying west wind dragging me down and inducing lethargy and a headache. (Well, this really is a whiny and petulant poor me post this week!)

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Yuck. Headache.

On the final day of our learn to ski/snowboard adventures last week, a student managed to wipe me out in spectacular style. Didn’t feel it at the time, and nor did I feel the consequences of students hanging on to my arms and hands (with a steely death grip I’d no idea children had in them) as they begged and pleaded for me not to let go. (Good man that I am, I assured them I wouldn’t let go – I simply loosened my mitts and enjoyed the stunned look as they realized they were holding empty mitts and riding backwards. Success. Payback for my untrustworthiness has been in the form of bruises, aches and pains all this week – back to my whining again…)

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Please refreeze! Whiny voice.

Time to end on a positive note! Before we took the students skiing/snowboarding, they researched a few of the usual suspects when it comes to role models on snow. Nothing wrong with that, but we’re not all going to be pro-boarders and Olympians, although have at it if that’s your goal. We did discover a far more interesting individual. If my whining and negativity here has you shaking your head – and I don’t blame you, haha – please check out the link below. It lifted me out of my mini “poor me” slump, and delivered an exhilarating kick in the pants. This guy is simply wonderful and for so many reasons. His philosophy has been well and truly tested. Check this out (you’ll be glad you did!):

Powder Philosophy

Did you watch it? What a guy, what a role model – I’m looking forward to aging gracefully and maintaining positivity and equilibrium. Or trying, anyway. Can’t wait to get to Yoho and disconnect to reconnect. Tetchy? Yes, a little – but as George says, life is good. Not Disney, but good!

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Oh, Yoho! Good.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend! I’ll try and write something less childish next time…

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Double Mountain. Double, you say? Oh, go on then!