Kayaking

I was on a kayak on the open ocean today. The plan was rather premeditated. In fact, it needed to be as the kayak was on property that is rented out to paying vacationers and to show up in the midst of their revelry would not be appropriate at all. I knew that between the check-out hour of 11:00AM and the check-in hour of 2:00PM I would be able to gather the kayak, hunt for a paddle and life-jacket, and trundle it down the way towards the ocean. Luckily for me these hours coincided with low-tide enabling me to enter and exit the kayak on a soft beach area. Attempts to do so on the rocky island shore I later paddled out to – not so successful.

Piling on the paddle, life-jacket, and waterbottle into my arms along with my rain jacket, I scoped out a pathway to tread down the slippery rocks. It had been raining for days and today’s mistiness, while keeping up the trend of 100% humidity, was a welcome change to falling drops. What it did mean was slick algae covering the rocks to the waterline. Upon reaching the shore, I put down my gear and headed back up to the grass to grab the kayak itself. Keeping in mind the path I’d found on the first trip down, I gripped the forest-green fibreglass body in my arms, resting it against my hip, and searched with my eyes for a secure place to put my feet. This was part of the adventure, I realized, ensuring that I could take this kayak trip truly on my own.

Getting into the water was easy. I stepped in and jiggled my way into the ocean, pushing with both arms, paddle resting precariously across the front of the vessel. Upon lifting off the sandy shore I made a few preliminary wobbles, feeble attempts to flip myself over. I figured I better see just how much give it takes now, inches from the sea bottom, before I got further out and didn’t have the luxury of standing ankle-deep to wade back to shore. Feeling secure I began to paddle, rounding the curve around the miniscule bay I embarked from, and nudging past the buoys of lobster traps. This was nice, I was getting the hang of it.

I’d wanted to go to Curtis Island, a place that, somehow, I hadn’t yet stepped foot on. I traversed the crossing and found myself momentarily lost in wonder, looking out at the Penobscot Bay. The mist obscured the islands I knew were further out beyond my sight. It held everything in a timeless capture, as if the air were preserved by the dampness hanging in it. Eventually I pushed through both the water below me and all around me, making it to the shore of the island. Unfortunately I do not have enough prowess to manoeuvre docking a kayak on a rocky shore-line with ocean waves brandishing me to and fro. After taking in a little bit more water that I would have liked, I decided to abort my island mission and remain instead on the open ocean.

Something happened as I pulled water towards me with each alternating row. I had positioned myself out towards the bay, only the right side of my panoramic view containing the mainland, and suddenly things started lightening up. Squinting from the change in lighting, I pulled my paddle close to me again and again, forcing the water between us to bring me further and further forward. Suddenly a swath of blue made an appearance before me. Blue! I hadn’t seen that colour in the sky for days! I pulled my paddle up, resting it in front of me. Arms limp from the effort of my first kayak trip in years. I sat and watched the ocean.

There I was, a being in a vessel, floating in the middle of the ocean. I looked out over the surface of the water filling with gratitude that I be so lucky as to have this opportunity to be here now. I’ve been coming to see the ocean as this giver of life in the same way that the Earth is. I find it odd that I feel the need to distinguish between the two, yet earth and water are so incredibly different. Here, crustaceans form their shells from the calcium in the water, growing and morphing as they expertly navigate the ecosystem they are a part of. This ecosystem is so foreign to me and yet in it I began to see hints of something that I am more familiar with.

Water is the element that rules and is ruled by the second chakra, svadhisthana. Water is feminine, it is flow and receptivity. The ocean, this enormous entity housing living and breathing beings is a form of Divine Mother Herself. Somehow sitting there in that kayak allowed me to tap into this depth of feeling and understanding of the ocean as this giver of life. I felt connected to the water in the same irrational way I’ve always felt connected to water. I’m an air sign. I grew up in Southern Alberta which, according to my secret scientific experiments, is more desert-like than the vast sandy reaches of Jordan! (OK, I’ll let you in on them – it’s that I get chapped lips in Alberta and never did in Jordan.) Just how is it that the water has always been such a beacon to me? I don’t expect to find answers to all of these rhetorical questions. Nor did I expect to feel this deep understanding for the barnacles on the rocks of the shore and how they were borne from the slippery stuff sloshing around under my legs.

After my paddle I sat for a while on the shore generously offered by low-tide. I sat hoping for my pants to dry and I sat in meditation. Overall, I was satisfied with my experience of the day, knowing that nourishing and creating deepening experiences with Divine Mother is something I want to cultivate in my life. I’m beginning to see how much a relationship with the ocean can shape and form a person. I could certainly say the same of the prairies, but the prairies are something I know and the ocean is a form of Divine Mother that I am happy to be deepening a relationship with. Ultimately, the relationship that truly deepens is the one with myself. I’d wanted to mark the day with some occasion special for myself, turns out a trek on the sea was exactly what I needed.

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Questions

I’m sitting in the air-conditioned library. It’s only about 64 today which, as I learn how to read Fahrenheit, my body tells me is actually quite cool. Yet the air-conditioning is nicely welcomed in the thick humidity of a Maine Summer. Yes, it’s summer now, having reached the June 21st mark with rushing speed. What is it about time that seems to continue to rush forward leaving me unawares? It’s what lets me linger in bed ages after an hour that I would feel good about having got up at. Sure, I can blame the wet and the cold, but tenting in the woods through rain or not, I can still do myself the decency of getting out of bed at a decent hour to enjoy my day. Yet how I am still able to do exactly that. I wander down the hill, up the driveway, and towards the YMCA. Such a state-of-the-art building overlooking a scape of Lily Pond. This is the other side of Lily Pond now. I’ve moved to a place in the woods with the feeling of taking things one day at a time. Yes, the boat is happening, and it’s happening in a way that makes sense. (Mosquitos don’t make sense. Lord grant me patience with these winged creatures, with their counterparts crawling near my food.)

At the Y I’m looking for yoga. I’m also looking for plumbing and the potential of a sauna or hot tub but mainly I’m looking for yoga. Ok, so what is yoga? Is it in an 80 degree room? (about 26? Have patience with me, I’m learning.) Is it Vinyasa or Yin? Pay-as-you-can or 3H0? (Or is it 3HO?).

Perhaps it is these questions, this part of my mind that allows itself to come up with these questions, that speaks to the heart of what yoga it. I continually have this urge to rid myself of all these underlying concepts and ideas that seems to have insipidly creeped into my consciousness unbeknownst to myself. I currently have all of my worldly possessions widely distributed throughout the continent. There are things in my parent’s, brother’s, and friend’s houses in Alberta, things in the spare room of the trailer in the Kootenays, and things in the garage on Bayview Street. When I’m in one of these areas I usually go through these things, hunting for some treasure or another (in fact I’ll go to Bayview Street later today, looking for my soap). I keep all of these things, these reminders that perhaps ones day I be settled down in one place long enough to have things like shelves and walls to affix them to. What is this “settled down” business? Ah! More questions! Perfect! I’m succeeding at my definition of a practicing yogin.

The concept I can questions is that I will, one day, settle down. This gypsy life is so decidedly lovely. It hints at the possibility of creative happenings that root down into nourishing earth and allow for flowering after careful tending. Hints of whispers in my ear She lets me in on: Offer Satsangs, Teach Hatha Yoga in the park, Start Kundalini reflection classes. Ah yes, I will heed these whispers and I know they won’t interfere with my gypsy life but rather will enhance it. Is that what is means to settle down? To not think that I’m falling into this trap of a concept that I’ve previously defined as settling down that lacks any real life experience but to simply be present with what is happening in my internal landscape and allow it to flow out of me in a cohesive expanse of external manifestations? Yes, that seems a much more real way to live life. And a much more satisfying one at that.

These questions are what nourish me on my path of yoga, they are what allow me to find crack and crevice of those concepts and patterns I wish to shed. At the Y I find yoga classes. Through my journey there, I find more questions. I also find answers to some questions which, admittedly, are usually in the form of more questions. I am, after all, a Yasodhara Yogi.

A Harbour Scene

Cobbled paths. Buildings on stilts.
Wafts of wave petunias framing benches built on bridges.
Tall masts reach to foggy haze.
Salt, escaping ocean’s grasp, hangs furtively. Unsupported, suspended until massaging deep into alveoli, tickling olfactory bulbs along its path.
Standing on haphazardly constructed corners. Gaze steady, covering appearance of directionlessness.
Direction is of expansion.
Directionlessness is false.
Crispness of humidity uncovered by alacrity of sights.
Union Street. Main Street. Bayview Street. Comprehension.
Expansion.

 

Hunting For Mussels

For my going away dinner in Nelson my dear and wonderful roommate implemented her culinary expertise in creating a fabulous meal for those of us gathered. Naturally, it had a seafood theme in order to pay homage to the place I have ventured off to. The entree of choice was mussels – steamed in a delicious white wine sauce and sauteed to perfection. It was my first time ever having mussels and, as we figured, it was a good time to start getting used to the idea of seafood. That is, of course, after I’d decided to begin eating sentient beings in the first place. I suppose my years of vegan and near veganism did what I needed them to and I’ve since been eating “happy” animals. How much more happy can you get than a life swaying with the ebbs and flows of rhythmic tides? Yes, seafood, I will be fain to eat you.

It befits the occasion of moving on to a new place here that a last meal be of mussels. Only this time these won’t be of mussels garnered in the frozen foods section of Save-On-Foods. No, these mussels will be ones harvested fresh from the Ocean Herself.

A couple of days ago I participated in a ocean walk with a group that started at the library. I’d heard about it in my gathering of facts, tidbits and events that I’ve come to do upon entering a new place. I head to information boards, whip out my day-planner, and write down anything that is of interest to me. Somewhere I came across this talk and walk that would lead me to the direction of the sea. I was happy to make it down to the beautiful library and slip in on a group discussion. The leader, a retired middle school teacher, was guiding the motley crew of us through a brief history of the area. There were older, retired folks, young women with children, and a general good smattering of tourists interested in learning about the sea. After handing out cards with the various seaweeds, birds, and crustaceans we would identify, we headed out to the harbour for some adventuring.

The card I had was for Blue Mussels. I patiently waited until we would locate some in order to flip it over and read out the information tidbits on the back – I always was a stickler for rules. Mussels – growing randomly in the sea, attaching themselves to sturdy areas so that the ceaseless waves don’t toss them around too much. I am so fascinated by the fact that food simply grows in the ocean. We found some soon enough, after learning that snails are actually called “periwinkles” and that there are two kinds, one brought down from Canada in the 1800’s and another native species. But wouldn’t it of eventually made it’s way down here anyway? Was it really brought down here in a way that is different than usual migration and dispersion? A mountain will eventually wear away to flat stone. Perhaps it’s the same sort of concept. Though I digress, and, as I read the card for information on Blue Mussels to the group ,became intrigued with the idea of eating this food from the sea. Upon my questioning, the person facilitating the event suggested that mussels near the inner harbour located as we were would not, in fact, be a good idea to consume though entirely possible. My mind shifted and spun. “Hmmm, I’m currently staying at a place on the ocean. There is an amazing beach right outside my door, I”m sure to be able to hunt for mussels there.”

The talk over, I said goodbye to my new friends, some of whom I would connect with later for some volunteering opportunities, and went back home to a home that was not to be my home for very much longer. For my last dinner there, I was going to harvest some mussels and serve them for the entree.

I went out at low tide which, perhaps simply to be a convenience for me, was also the loveliest part of the afternoon. Adorned with adventure shoes I set out to fill my plastic bag with shelled protein as much as had been advised would make a good-sized meal. Now, given my eating companion, this amount was a lot larger than I would have thought myself and certainly a lot larger than what was consumed by the five women present at my going away dinner in Nelson. But hey, these were free, a delicacy, and some men can simply eat!

I scampered among the rocks and seagrass, heading to the large boulders that protrude out of the mass of sea water even at high tide, beginning my search. The thing about rocks that are usually covered with seaweed is that adjusting that seaweed is going to uncover temporary homes for sea creatures.

Maine is a state with a majestic and rocky coastline. Unlike the long sandy beaches of the West, rugged islands are marked by Lighthouses keeping watch over sailors and blinking their steady lights into my window at night. At low-tide these rocks would become exposed were it not for the scads upon scads of seaweed nestled into each crevice. My task, then, was to tear aside these tendrils of green stuff – three different kinds in all, as I learned from my tide walk – and reveal the rocks beneath where mussels attach themselves to. The real fun began when crabs and other creatures would emerge out of the protection of the sea weed and scuttle along, falling from rocks and onto my toes.

I’d taken off the adventure shoes to get a firm grip with my own skin on the boulders I was climbing around. Leaving them at a place I hoped wouldn’t be susceptible to the rising tide I moved aside green slimy stuff and found one of three things: crabs, a place to put my feet to walk further along (stepping on the seaweed itself is rather dangerous and slippery. Who knows how deep it is until reaching it’s attachment to the rocks beneath?), or, and this was ideal, a grove of mussels. The crabs themselves were an unexpected part of the adventure. They varied in size from about the breadth of my thumbnail to a particularly uppity one that reached the width of my outstretched hand – pinky finger-tip to thumb-tip. He fell out of a particularly gnarly swath of rockweed that was growing up the steep cleft of a boulder and, upon seeing the size of his foe, immediately struck a threatening pose to oppose me. He scuttled from side to side, pinchers up, ready to attack. I myself jumped right into the match, with bent knees and lifted arms, mirroring the crustacean I saw in front of me. After a few side to side movements I laughingly dropped the game, picked up a few pieces of seaweed and playfully covered my adversary, knowing he would be so easily placated to have a layer of protection around him. The hunt for mussels continued.

I began to fill my bag. Eventually I made it back to my shoes which, I was glad to see, were not washed away into the sea. I wanted to go to one more spot and galloped over the sea grass and pebbles, finding Whale Rock and its friend Shark Rock. I looked around for a moment before asking myself “If I were a mussel, where would I grow?” I decided it would be right under Shark Rock and, upon lifting the weeds away was shocked to discover a veritable mussel-town. Since my bag was already relatively full I pulled only a few more choice shells from their bearded attachment to the rocks and considered my hunt a success.

The mussels were prepared with a lovely white wine sauce and complimented the ocean view on the porch nicely. Overall it was a very successful first mussel hunt and a great way to celebrate the last night in the cabin on Bay View Street.

Diversity in Action

Creeping up on me is an expanding understanding of the differences between Canada and the United States. Some of these differences are rather obvious and have been known by me for an extended period of time. The plethora of American flags, for instance, gracing homes, stores, tops of masts and gardens, or the lower prices of consumer goods, are not-so-subtle ways in which I know I’m not in Canada anymore.

There are other ways as well. I think what I’m feeling now, as I settle gently deeper into this country, stems from the simple difference in population density. Yes, Canada is unique in its swaths of land that stand barren and alone once one ventures a little further North of the 49th parallel. Yet even nearer along it, in Southern Alberta particularly, is no match for the density of people that comes in other parts of the world.

I often regale people who have not much of an idea of the space and sprawl of pancake-flat Alberta the tidbits I picked up one day with a Wikipedia search: Calgary has one-tenth of the population of London, a city that itself is one-tenth the size of Calgary by sprawl. What a bizarre inverse. Given the kind of person that I am, one that isn’t very fond of motor vehicle travel over the much more enjoyable possibilities that walking and biking offer, this characteristic of Albertan cities to be wildly unmanageable without a car is not one I endorse.

And so I enter the culture of Maine. Maine, with it’s New England charm and European ancestry seemingly seeping out of it. Well, to a native Western Canadian, anyway. The harbour of Camden pulls at my heartstrings the same way that Rethymno, Crete, that picturesque town on the largest island in Greece, did. Not only are there cobblestones lining the gentle slopes to the water, the next town over is only about a stone’s throw away. In fact, I’ve nearly inadvertently ran there in my morning jogs. Another flush of motivation would have me winding down the road to Rockport’s library and relic opera house.

Yes, this place sure has a denser population that what I’m used to. I knew that about the place before I arrived, though. And jumps in the number of people living near and around me aren’t a completely foreign experience – I have spent about 4 years total living in British Columbia which, with it’s temperate weather and appealing scenery, attracts a heck of a lot more residents than barren, cold Southern Alberta.

What’s interesting to me is what it is that comes out of an increase in population. I don’t know if it’s that I drove by Don Mclean’s house or the sheer fact that there’s so much to the arts scene here they talk about it in the paper for pages and pages, but the word to describe my experience here is the lack of distance. There isn’t this separation from life. It’s all happening. And it’s happening right here.

Canada sometimes feels like an appendage added onto the myriad of countries that form it’s multicultural heritage. I would hear snippets of things that have significance that weren’t quite able to penetrate the foggy haze through which I groped around to experience the world. Exciting things happened over there, a group of people did stuff in that place, this tradition has meaning because of something a long time ago in a far-away place. Coaldale was certainly not a epicentre for cultural and progressive events or ideas.

Here I get this sense that there are actually things happening, there are actually people living. Ok, ok, I’m a big cynic that seems to have this hate on for Alberta; I am the first to admit that. Yes, I can concede that people are also living in Southern Alberta. They just seem to be doing it in a way that, to my eyes, looks more like surviving than thriving. There is a dullness that emanates out of each giant pick-up truck roaring by, a pale yearning that seeks its voice to be heard with each cookie-cutter dwelling erected in another sprawling suburban neighbourhood, miles from the nearest corner store. The search for life is sought after in different ways than it seems to be done here.

Fullness and vivacity in my internal landscape is easier for me to rifle through when my surroundings hold that same fullness and vivacity. Having experiences of fullness and vivacity is what makes life satisfying and enjoyable and is found in each mundane moment. Yesterday I saw a pink lady slipper in the forest near the shop where the boat is being repaired. This wildflower from the orchid family is a rare and protected plant in the Eastern United States. Its delicate and soft flower graces a plant that takes years to grow from germination to flowering and can last up to 20. The ability to house delicacy’s of nature gives a place more impetus to house the corresponding personality delicacy’s of compassion, understanding and presence. In my experience having diversity of plants, animals and geography extends into a culture giving it a more expanded view of life.

That’s what it is that I find here – diversity in both nature and culture. Diversity in nature that somehow leads itself to allow for diversity in culture. With more people to find what it is they are seeking there are more ways to do so. That exponential increase of ways of life sought introduces this delicious element of people attaining meaning in their lives both a respectful and absolutely different way than others around them. It makes it feel as though life is truly happening, and, not only that, but happening in a way that invites others to do the same.

ladys-slipper-flower

Plans

I’m sitting on the porch watching the way the waves swirl around the rocks as the tide comes in. The larger, protruding ones became an island ages ago and now the smaller rocks closer to shore get alternately covered and revealed with each heaving breath of this living mass that is the ocean. I was walking along those rocks earlier today. My morning adventures took me down the stone steps to the shoreline where I’d been told if I followed it towards town I’d make it to a park.

I scavenged and hunted along, revelling in the shells and creatures I found. A tiny crab finding shelter in an intact clam shell, snails slugging along. “I’m at the freaking ocean!” I kept internally exclaiming. If my eyes couldn’t confirm this fact my nose sure could. The rains from the last few days have settled opening to a sunny and warm day. With the clouds allowing the canopy of the sky to be exposed the true scent of the place wafts through the air, mingling with the lilacs: salt water. Salt water and all the masses of life that call the briny stuff home.

In the early morning hours I’d awoken to the clouds just beginning their retreat from the sea. The Eastern sky was ablaze with fiery red indicating the birth of a new day. The sun itself had already floated up into the slowly receding clouds leaving a thick band hovering above the ocean to boast its temporary stunning outfit. A magnificent ocean sunrise.

Just how is it that I can be in this place? I sat at the table this morning, nursing my toast, wondering if there would have been any way that I could have guessed this life up for myself even a year ago. A leisurely meal after a hatha session on the porch with a panoramic view of the ocean. Nope, I didn’t think this would be in my cards.

A few years ago a friend recounted a story of walking into a Starbucks with a good friend of theirs. It doesn’t matter that it was a Starbucks. It could have been any type of store. They walked in and the friend looked over and said, “You know how they made this place? With a blueprint. There’s no way anything’s going to be made if there isn’t a plan so what’s the blueprint for your life?”

The person recounting this story to me does in fact have a clear plan – he did at the time and he continues to live it now. In fact, part of our interactions included writing out our goals, personal and professional, and opening them later to see what had emerged. How are we to get anywhere unless there is a plan involved? I’m not always so lucky that my plan includes blissful ocean-side time. Though as much as I’m surprised at the magnitude of how awesome it is here, I do know that I thoughtfully included this possibility into my life and took the appropriate steps to get me here. Yet only a relatively little time ago I had absolutely no idea this would even be a possibility. I didn’t know I’d be a short jaunt out of one of the most sought-after vacation spots in New England.

My walk this morning took me along the beach and into town. Naturally, as there is in a place like this all over the world, the town is dotted with souvenir shops and eclectic bistros with scads of tourists flanking the streets. Well, it’s not even yet mid-June, they aren’t quite flanking the streets yet but they sure are present. It was actually a little much for me and I ducked into a visual arts gallery. The used book shop that had been pointed out to me last night in a much less populated jaunt into town was closed. I was disappointed. The stacks of books lining the windows of the second story shop were just waiting for me to rifle through them. As I didn’t immediately find any sign indicating hours of operation I simply turned around and meandered towards the harbour, eventually finding my way into the peace of a singly staffed gallery.

The plan had, in effect, been the bookshop. But that was just the very small vision of the morning walk. There are many layers of plans that exist and co-exist simultaneously. What can be said about all of those plans?

It is through deliberation and action that events make their way into the fabric of our lives. This is both a freeing and a chaining thought. With reflection and action I can create exactly what it is that I want for myself and my life. Yet the responsibility is profound. No one else can do it for me. Like the people directing the myriad of boats wafting past my view, I am the captain of my ship. I am held in this space in order to create and enact my plans.

Running for Cows

Where I sat eating dinner last night I could turn out towards the window and see a watercolour of five Belted Galloway cows. They are standing in a meadow with a pond in the background. Of the four resting in the field one is standing. Three have their attention turned to the fifth cow, the cow jumping over the moon. Dinner was delicious and savoured – fresh garden greens topped with vegetables that must have fallen off of a truck at a traffic circle. The vegetables were a fine gift from the gods of randomness, dirt and bruised sections taken off, and complimented the gifted ham from a “happy pig” nicely.

Beyond the window is the bay which currently has a three masted sailboat pressing forward determinedly out of my view behind the lighthouse. I can see it in front of the haze that smears the islands dotting the scape out to the open ocean. The wind rustles the leaves of the trees that line this cabin’s edge. I have to keep pinching myself to ensure that this is real.

I awoke this morning and went for a run. This is what Maple, the demure yet resolutely friendly black canine currently sleeping in front of me, seems to be dreaming about. I had decided I would go as far as the Belted Galloways. The spring on the green screen door behind me protested as it snapped shut upon my leaving. I descended the two or three steps off the porch and wondered if I should stretch first. Later I was to see Maple leap over these steps from the grass below up to the wrap-around porch, forgoing them completely.

As my feet alternately lifted and connected with the road I admired the lushness I now find myself in. Yes, it’s been raining. And yes, the moisture is appreciated even more after the week I was in desolately dry Southern Alberta. Somehow I’ve managed to move backwards in time with still-to-bloom lilacs gracing the banks of the road I advanced upon. More often than lilacs are these amazing clusters of flowers that boast different colours on each bush. They line the drives of the estates I passed. Estates with separate and clearly marked ‘entrance’ and ‘exit’ driveways and long, meandering swathes of ocean at their borders. I breathed in the moist air as rain dropped towards me, ever eager to find refuge from the mercilessness of gravity compelling it down.

Eventually I made it an open field that could only be a pasture for the cows. Sure enough the barn was soon to follow, peeking its way out of dappled leaf-laden trees and hugging the edge of the winding road. I found not only the barn but a small historical placard alerting me to the fact that Lily Pond was used in the winter as a place to harvest ice for summer ice boxes. So I was on the right track, I’d found the same Lily Pond the watercolour in the dining room hinted at.

Another turn opened to the creatures. I regret not counting them – I wonder if there were five? Sitting in their peacefully stoic way like the ones in the painting, even after begin fresh from the large leap over the moon. Ok, so the colours were right, Lily pond was right, but the artist had clearly taken some liberties. Sure the cows have markings that make then different but not so different that I could see them taking the jump over the moon any time soon. Black heads and front legs abruptly end around their middles with a thick white band around them. Their back legs and tails then switch just as startlingly back to black. Oreo cookie cows.

I stood for a while, catching my breath, watching both them and the car stopped for a photo of the unique beings. Eventually I turned around and made my way back to the cabin – the haze alternating between condensing drops falling to my skin and its disparate smear along the headstones of the cemetery.

My errand complete I wondered if I should have made more of a note of where exactly it was that I had started from – arriving in the dark didn’t exactly make for the best of landmarks. Luckily I made it back to the stone rockway off the road that leads to the window-lined cabin. The clouds extract deep blues out of the sea and the wind continues to rustle in the leaves.

Moving On

I was in Alberta for just over a week. Or, about 198 hours if you’re into that kind of thing. If I could sum it up in one word it would be flat. Alberta is decidedly flat. Sure, there were some mountainous parts in the early morning hours on the Greyhound bus from Nelson to Lethbridge. Though that part of the trip is more viscerally characterized by the drunken passenger across from me who ultimately got kicked off the bus. Why yes, I do have a nice ass. And no, you don’t get to talk about it with me. Maybe this encounter holds a better way to characterize my feelings towards Alberta – smelly and abrasive.

Coming back to the place I’ve spent the most amount of time in my life certainly shows me just how much changing I’ve done. Ironically the most amount of change I recognized was in my driving habits. Ok, maybe not the most, but certainly in a way that stood out to me. I’ve been the kind of driver in the past that planned ahead. I don’t mean this in a positive, constructive way necessarily, more in a fear-based way how I would be in the correct lane to exit off on my desired intersection approximately 3.7 kilometres before I encountered said intersection. Just what exactly was I worried about? I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get in, that there would be a car in the place I wanted to be and space wouldn’t open up when I needed it to.

I’ve begun to let go of that kind of mentality. There’s no need to worry that I won’t be able to get what I need when I want it. This concept spreads widely across most areas of life. I’m starkly seeing how my driving habits reflect it. Through working with dream symbolism I’ve come to see car dreams as symbols for my life – as symbols for incarnating onto this plane of existence. Naturally driving in waking life provides much fodder for applying symbolic interpretations of concepts to life.

So what does it mean to be in the exit lane when I need to be instead of outrageously far in advance? It means I can save all that energy previously spent on internally haranguing myself into pre-preparation and spend it on much more enjoyable pursuits. Like speedily weaving through traffic or rocking out to my cranked tunes. Ahhh fun. What fun it is to have fun instead of nitpicking my way through life in mortal fear of there not being enough of something in some distant future. There’ll be enough space in the lane I need. I know I can trust that.

As it is I’m putting that trust into action. I trust there will be enough. I’ve entered the exit lane from Alberta and have begun to make my way across the continent. My future includes time and space to be creative and see what else wants to plop into my life. I know that whatever it is I’ll be ready for it and that surely, there will be enough space.

Moving

I’ve never been laid off from a job before. Luckily I was only planning on working there another day and had known the week I’d been there that the task us general grunt labourers were completing would be finished by week’s end. Still, there was a different sort of attitude amongst the workers. Not a feeling of loss or fear, it was more of freedom and release. A convivial attitude emerged from my colleagues. One spoke of leaving to go for a hike in the afternoon before needing to go and pick up her daughter. Others simply left. I went into the lunchroom after I’d decided to not continue the afternoon labour rustled up for us and made a few calls. They’d promised us a full days work and they were going to deliver. Another three hours of random tasks was not my idea of a fun afternoon.

The task I was there for had been tree thinning. Thousands upon thousands of styrofoam blocks had been seeded with trees ordered by tree planting companies. My task was to ensure that each small hole in each block had only one tree in it as opposed to the anywhere from zero to seven or eight that had germinated in it. It was simple work, piecework so the faster I moved the more I could count on making it’s way into my bank account. I was happy to have been called in for this seasonal, temporary work.

I’d been feeling like a glass of water poured out of the ashram onto a large slab table. Sure, there were chunks of ice holding the atoms of sections of my being tightly together but most of me was thinly spread by gravity’s unyielding pull, moving wider and wider across the expanse of the table. Nelson is a great place to sidle into cracks and crevices. I had some great experiences and met some great people. I was, however, beginning to feel as though a blob of water with quickly melting ice cubes was not the metaphor I wanted to describe my life as for much longer.

Shortly thereafter the Proctor Nursery called asking if I could come into work the next day. I happily agreed and found myself hitchhiking in the rain at 6:15 the next morning. I was sure I would find a carpool to hook up with but still needed to get there in the first place in order to ask around for who did the half hour drive in from Nelson. I made it on time, I got my reflective safety vest and was escorted across the property to the “range” where I’d be working. We passed by the 32 or so other greenhouses on the way, my orientation facilitator rattling off details of the place and scurrying across the hiway, reminding me to look both ways before I crossed, “It’s the mother in me,” she said. Tina, the supervisor, is the kind of woman who calls people sweetie and genuinely means it. Except for occasional interactions with her I enjoyed working mostly alone. In fact I kind of made it a point to. There were ten rows in the green house we were working and each one took two people about two days to finish. With everyone spread out within the place it was easy to not have sustained human interaction. Plus we were too busy pulling out inch tall trees as fast as we freaking could to talk much.

Tina would come by every so often and check to see how we were doing. Bending down low to get her eyes at the level of the trees she’d look for multiple stems poking up out the same hole as she’d taught me to do. With transplanting tool in hand she moved skillfully, like a seamstress hemming a dress, and it was clear she’d done this before. The way her hands flicked out the notched small metal rod that would pull the roots of a double down into the earth of an empty hole with such ease and grace, her eyes already moving along to the next block. Excess trees threading into her fingers.

I enjoyed the mental space for myself and the trees. I had time to chant mantra and reflect. Time to watch how my imagination can so often run far away from myself and then time to bring it back in to reality. I’d wanted to have another day, hoping that once we finished the giant greenhouse there would be other trees amongst the throngs of greenhouses ready to be thinned. We got laid off anyway, the bosses promising to hire back around the second week of June. I knew by then I’d already be long gone from the west.

Upon telling Tina I wouldn’t be back I gathered up my things and headed to the short ferry ride that would take me across the West Arm of the Kootenay lake to head back into Nelson. I’d had luck getting rides into town by going from car to car on this ferry before and today proved no exception though the neurosis of someone questioning whether or not I would sue them if we got in an accident is an interesting thing to share a car ride with. Luckily I’m used to neurotic.

My time in Nelson has wound to a close. I’m grateful to have spend this time in diffusion in a place I love so much. I’m excited about the next stage of my journey. I remember learning about this type of algae or moss that, once it dries up, gathers it’s cells together and turns into an organism. I feel like that algae. I’ve been poured out of the container of the ashram and am now gathering myself up, dying out and moving on to the next step. I’ve mastered the grocery store and doing the dishes and now I’m ready for the next challenges that post-ashram life has to offer. I’m ready for the extraneous to evaporate away and the bulk of what’s left to gather together leading me on into the East.

om om