winter reflections + tidings

21 December 2012

since moving to a country environment, i have started to track the seasons in a way i never have before, even though growing up in the North i have always felt so intimately connected to, and affected by, their ebbs & flows. while i have always been detail-oriented, taking notice of the little things that often go overlooked, the past year has changed me. out here, away from the noise of the city, i have learned to slow down. to pause in the middle of the woods and simply listen, taking in my surroundings with every breath and sense in my body; to take a break from my research and writing and wander outside simply to stand in the middle of a snowfall, feeling the cold, soft flakes on the skin of my face as i look up—and not only once in awhile, but regularly, at every opportunity. slowing down and taking pause is something i deeply respect about winter, even in its turbulence when it snows us in, stranding or preventing us form going anywhere. it is a season capable of teaching us how to take small steps towards a slower, more thoughtful and meaningful life.

since the first snow last month, winter has started and stopped countless times, moving from cold temperatures back to warm ones before plunging once again into deep cold; from light snow barely dusting the ground to heavy snowfalls, rain, freezing rain, hail, and still more snow, creating sheets of ice and hardening the earth—what have become the frenzied characteristics of a bipolar Canadian winter. but in whatever form, winter is here (to stay) and i welcome it. just this morning we woke up to a fresh blanket of snow, renewing the winter landscape and prompting me to go outside and, as contrived as it might sound, take in the fresh beauty. to take a wonderful little moment to myself. 

while i know i will grow tired of the cold in the coming months, the magic has only just begun, making me feel like i am experiencing winter again for the first time. the startling, frigid beauty contained in the smallest of details: a delicate snowflake, soft snow adorning the branches of pine and spruce, a frozen bud or needle closed in on itself, frosted treetops, an icicle frozen in time like a distant memory, jack frost quivering on windowpanes, frost-covered eyelashes and beards, gently falling snow that seems to hang, unmoving in the air; the way that snow changes the light, producing a field of colours and the most amazing range of whites and greys in what at first seems to be a barren, colourless landscape.

and so maybe my photos are overdone or seem a little tiresome, but they celebrate something simple and yet monumental, something dear to those who live here: a still & quiet beauty, a wonder contained deep within the winter landscape, but that also shimmers so visibly across its surface as it reaches out with open arms. there is a strange comfort in winter, as if it wraps us up and gives us permission to slow down, even if only for a short while.

for those of you dreaming of a white Christmas, i suppose this glimpse into a winter wonderland is my humble gift to you. a gift of beauty & wonder as we nestle in to celebrate the holiday season with the ones we love. as we try to slow down.

i also want to take a moment to thank you for visiting my blog this past year, for sticking around and engaging with its original content as i have worked hard to construct something thoughtful and meaningful. i have been reflecting a lot on blogging and my relationship to it lately, on what i want this space to look like and where i fit into an evolving blogging culture.

to that end, i want to leave you with a few wonderful and evocative posts from writers whom I admire and respect on blogging meaningful. on producing more carefully curated and thoughtful posts that celebrate process and writing, and on building small, meaningful relationships based on respect and a willingness to accept constructive criticism:

 Erin of Design For Mankind's post on "slow blogging," with an emphasis on research, thoughtfulness, storytelling, and writing, on crafting a culture of blogging based on less rather than more. i am happy to see a commitment to this approach from a prominent blogger.

 Jane's thoughtful reflections on how we support each other in the blogworld, in which she criticizes the notion of "automatic support" and outlines the consequences of giving our support uncritically and too readily, proposing a new model of support that aims to be more meaningful.

 Hila's "Lesson's Learnt," a reflection on her experience of blogging in which she challenges the notion of an all-encompassing blogging community and revisits her thoughts about how little writing is valued in the indie blogging community since she wrote this landmark post together with Jane earlier this year.

wishing you love & warmth, and tidings of comfort & joy.



all photos are my own, taken with iPhone 4 and edited primarily with VSCO Cam.

fresh (paper) flowers

14 December 2012

with the fast & dirty arrival of winter, i find myself longing for the sultry days, greenery, and florals of summer. while winter, too, is beautiful, and i have been enjoying the transformation of the local landscape into a winter wonderland, i am not fully prepared for the impending deep freeze and long winter months.

so when i happened upon these clever fresh (paper) flowers from design studio Itunube, i couldn't imagine a more delightful way of passing the Canadian winter. a collection of 32 flowers printed on newsprint, Fresh Flowers was designed by Sandra Bautista not only as a format to catalogue a series of photographed flowers, but also as a way of having a display of flowers on your table everyday, with a different flower for each day of the month. you simply choose one of the flowers, place it as the cover, make a roll with all the pages together, and display it in a vase. brilliant, right?

there is also something wonderfully practical about displaying paper flowers in a vase. not only do they not require water and will not wilt (although i think wilting and decay are part of the beauty of real flowers), but they are also safe for our feline friends. i've been reluctant to bring fresh flowers into the house ever since our cat, Hunter, was poisoned from eating lilies last year and lost one of his nine lives (although he was deathly sick, thankfully he pulled through and recovered!). if you have a cat like ours who will eat any fresh or leafy green thing, bringing fresh flowers into your home can unknowingly put them at risk if they turn out to be toxic. short of finding the perfect non-poisonous flower, perhaps Fresh Flowers is a good solution? 

the newsprint book would also make a lovely gift and is much easier to send by post than natural flowers. it would certainly brighten my day!

all photos courtesy of Itunube

a poem for the night

12 December 2012

it’s been snowing steadily all day. and all day, as i looked out from where i sit at my writing desk, i have been waiting with the best composure i could summon to share this poem. i discovered it through an excerpt beautifully illustrated by Éireann Lorsung, writer, poet, and designer/creative director/editor of MIEL books (who also has a doctorate in Critical Theory!). as darkness falls, a crisp quietude unfolding across the land and pressing up against the windows, i am poised, now, to welcome the night with this wonderfully solemn and deeply felt poem by Wayne Dodd:

Of Rain and Air

All day I have been closed up
inside rooms, speaking of trivial
matters. Now at last I have come out
into the night, myself a center 
of darkness.
Beneath the clouds the low sky glows
with scattered lights. I can hardly think
this is happening. Here in this bright absence 
of day, I feel myself opening out
with contentment.
All around me the soft rain is whispering
of thousands of feet of air 
invisible above us.

from Sometimes Music Rises (Georgetown Press, 1986).

photos are my own.

seven years

07 December 2012

andrew and i celebrated our seven-year anniversary yesterday! it was the day of our first date seven years ago, and we have been inseparable ever since. now that we are (newly) married, i wondered if our new anniversary date would replace our old one, if our wedding date would somehow take precedence as our "official" anniversary. but that original date holds too much magic and significance in our lives that we decided to keep both, giving us two anniversaries to celebrate. that means at least two romantic dinner dates and two special bottles of wine to share, just the two of us, every year (we have a reservation at our favourite local fine dining restaurant tomorrow night for a quaint five course dinner—our first in a long time). i hope that we maintain the tradition even as we have children and grow old together, our lives getting even busier before slowing down to a time when it will be just us again. andrew + sara and all the years made of love, of all the little things that fill us. 

i had been saving a bottle of Domaine du Clos de la Procure Côtes de Provence 2010 that i bought in Montreal for a special occasion, to enjoy with my love when were together again (we were living apart at the time, andrew in the country and me in the city). last night finally seemed like that perfect occasion. the wine—a wonderful blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, and a hint of Syrah—was exquisitely woody, with a light spice and subtle floral undertones. and it had the most beautiful label and cork imprinted with the silhouette of a moose. if there ever was a wine to celebrate our love, this was it.

the photo of the two of us is an old one, and one of my favourites. it was taken by photographer Johann Kwan at my graduation from The College of the Humanities in 2007, capturing our spirits at the time perfectly. Johann has always had a way of doing that and his original photography is truly gorgeous (i should note that the quality of the digital copy i have is not very good, and i both cropped and added a filter to the photo). you should really have a look at some of his more recent photo work.

so here is to celebrating long and lasting love. here is to you, my sweet & rugged andrew. and here is to all the romantics; thank you for indulging me.

wishing you a wonderful weekend, full of... love.

deux choses

03 December 2012

1. "Hi-Lo" Hudson Bay Axe by Best Made Company.
2. White Axe + Wood, a collaboration between porcelain artist Aleksandra Pollner and woodworker Emmett Smith. available at Object.

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