Giving winter a chance…

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Winter light on barn

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How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year.

Thomas Wentworth Higginson

I live in a little town called Almonte, Ontario. I moved here six years ago, from Canada’s capital, Ottawa, but I’ve never really lived here. Why? Because for these last several years we’ve always been away for the winter and spring, down south on our sailboat, Windsong II, which I adored, and which we have now sold.

You may have seen a few of my pictures and posts (smile) of our adventures crossing to the Bahamas from Florida and enjoying an active, exciting and relaxing life on the water. I feel so alive when I am always outside, feeling the warm sun and wind on my skin. I hate the expression “living the dream,” but it kinda was…

I make no secret of the fact that I am NOT a winter person. I do not enjoy being cold and I’m not really into outdoor sports. I used to skate on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, but after a nasty experience with an icy bump and a broken elbow and another with bruised knees my enthusiasm for skating came to an end.

When we decided to spend this winter in Almonte, I wondered how I might survive this period. Then I stopped thinking about it. Christmas was coming and there was much to be done and lots to occupy my thoughts. The grandkids were back from the North and this was the first Christmas we would get to spend with them in a good while. Then my family arrived to spend a few delicious days.

When my sister and I get together, we always try to get out together and do some photography. This time it was friggin’ cold! And there was an Alberta Clipper that arrived on December 31.  We decided to go out anyway to see what we could see. We started by checking out the Almonte Falls, which were coated in ice. Then we drove around the back roads to see what this picturesque area looks like under a blanket of white snow. We came upon the Auld Kirk, a church established in 1836. It’s a beautiful stone building that I have photographed at other times of the year. But in a snowstorm it was magical.

My sister says that my time in the south has softened me up for winter. (I think I was always pretty soft.) I admit I wore the wrong gloves and was cursing my frozen fingers the whole time. But I thoroughly enjoyed getting out there with my camera, so much so that I went out again a few days later when it was a bit warmer.

So what inspired this change of attitude? A realization that has been dawning lately that opening to life means opening to what we don’t like and what we resist as much as what we do like.

As Jack Kornfield says:

True equanimity is not a withdrawal; it is a balanced engagement with all aspects of life. It is opening to the whole of life with composure and ease of mind, accepting the beautiful and terrifying nature of all things. Equanimity embraces the loved and the unloved, the agreeable and the disagreeable, the pleasure and pain. It eliminates clinging and aversion.

I’m not saying this is easy, just that it feels necessary.

Also, I’ve been deeply influenced by John O’Donohue, so these words of his rang true:

At the heart of things is a secret law of balance and when our approach is respectful, sensitive and worthy, gifts of healing, challenge and creativity open to us. A gracious approach is the key that unlocks the treasure of encounter… A reverence of approach awakens depth and enables us to be truly present where we are. When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty of things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and the arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace. Beauty is mysterious, a slow presence who waits for the ready, expectant heart.

Maybe if I walk on the earth with greater reverence, including in winter — being truly present to where I am — the concealed beauty of things will be revealed to me. I don’t know, but I’m willing to find out…

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Beyond one’s grasp…

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The most beautiful moments always seemed to accelerate and slip beyond one’s grasp just when you want to hold onto them for as long as possible.

E.A. Bucchianeri

For other images taken around Lanark County, click here.

My little town…

almonte post office2

Almonte’s old post office, designed by the same architect as Canada’s Parliament Buildings in Ottawa

When I was away this winter living on our sailboat Windsong II, I thought about what kinds of photographs I wanted to make when I returned to Canada.

And it occurred to me that there was so much beauty right around me — in my little town of Almonte, Ontario — that I really didn’t need to go far to find delightful subject matter.

And so out I went recently with my friend Sona to show her my little town….

My friend enjoys the falls down at the foot of Mill Street

Here’s what she saw with her iPhone 6.

sona pano

And then I went out just this past weekend with my camera and came back with these…

vines

I love the vines on this house in all seasons.

 

View from the Riverwalk as night falls

I love Almonte in colour, I love it in black and white, in the light of day, in the golden hour, in the blue hour. So many different moods and sides…I’m hoping to capture many more of them this summer!

Still and All…

Happy Canada Day!

Canadians from coast to coast to coast today are celebrating being Canadian and living in one of the greatest countries of the world. In large cities and small, in rural areas, in large and small groups, we are expressing our affection and gratitude for this unique country of ours.

Fror many years we lived in the nation’s capital, Ottawa, and spent many Canada Days surrounded by hundreds of thousands of joyful people near the Parliament Buildings. And watching the amazing fireworks in person. It was loud, it was fun and it was a bit crazy.

This Canada Day, we’re going small and simple and spending time with our neighbours and friends in our small town of Almonte just outside of Ottawa — a town we have come to appreciate deeply.

almonte canada day

Here, it’s calm, it’s quieter and it’s just as much fun.

This morning our downtown main street was lined with vintage cars and turned into a pedestrian thoroughfare. People were in great spirits checking out the cars, eating ice cream, visiting the shops and chatting with friends.

girl and flag

Now I’ve never been a huge fan of cars as vehicles, but I do love old things, and especially old beautiful things with great lines that have been lovingly taken care of.

I gave myself a challenge to find a set of images I loved from among the huge collection of vehicles that graced our main street.

This afternoon features music and a feast in the park — unless it’s rained out of course (hope not) — and then fireworks. Hope I can catch those.

But for now, the cars…

It’s really the details that I love most and really say vintage to me.

almonte vintage

white walls