About Me

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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A little winter beauty

We host a women's devotional gathering at our home twice a month. The devotionals have a theme, and guests are asked to bring something with them inspired by the theme. This month our theme is beauty. I shared two things that are beautiful to me. One was an abstract landscape painting called Mandarin Light, by Louise Mould. I will post a photograph of it here if I get her permission to do so (watch this space!). In the meantime, you can see a great deal of the beauty that she adds to the world here. I also shared a poem that I wrote a number of years ago, that is about PEI. It is called One Thing We Must Do.

One Thing We Must Do

Red sandstone cliffs tumble soft down to ocean
grasses lean, whisper against my legs. 
A heron pauses perfectly still on one leg, head poised.
It is June, and I have been here long enough to watch winter defeat rusty, golden fall, 
learn to move through snow, slide over ice smooth and bubbled beneath me. 

I have been here long enough to feel the cold slap of wind, see ice thicken over water,
trees become dark naked dancers twisting mournfully against a silvery white landscape. 

I have been here long enough to smell violent perfume of freshly harvested shellfish
that makes me gag and ache simultaneously; 
long enough to admire the awkward grace of the crow,
concede the defeat of the umbrella, feel frozen rain against my face.

I have been here long enough realize that calling this home means learning to co-exist with, open oneself to the elements, recognizing human fragility in the face of nature. 

Here I learn to appreciate simple things:
bright yellow finches outside my window,
aroma of earth from weeks of summer rain,
sensation of sun warming skin after surviving months on memory alone. 

I have been here long enough to appreciate the physical strength of people who at 80
still shovel snow, hands strong, breaths puffing in hushed January air;
to walk home through fields late at night, pale moon lighting the way fearless,
be able to trust darkness as I have not since childhood. 
This island awakens awe, each season has its own distinct boundaries
within which nature flourishes colourful and alive. 
Identity rests in endless miles of gently sloping potato fields,
fishermen who still know stories of discovery, shipwrecks, hidden treasures. 
Who sit and recount of ghost ships that went down, sipping tea,
enveloped in clouds of smoke. 

I have been here long enough to learn to navigate the tightly knit web
of community and judgement – cage and safety net for those not from away.
On this island ecological networks are mirrored in social structure,
everyone knows everyone else, everyone has a specific niche in the system,
individual movement and change resisted by the whole,
unspoken rules are respected. 
Size and isolation nurture a sense of belonging.
Those that stay become vital members of the community–
emigration slackens the taut network of interdependence, is felt by everyone. 
People and place mingle and blur,
inseparable hues of deep cold blue, red clay, sharp green. 
Icicles freeze over crimson berries in winter,
ice breaks too early, rains fall and fall, saturating spring air. 

When fish wash up dead on a beach
it is our food, our fishermen, our farmers, our waters that are sick. 
There can be no detachment, no putting things off ‘til later. 
This land is all there is. 
It is what we depend on for survival, is limited, must be protected.   
Cycles spin. 
Now sun, now snow that blinds, constellations of ice that climb my windows at night, now brilliant golds, mustards, firey blazes of autumn,
now cool pastel blues on ponds we skate on at night. 
It is time to recognize this is finite, delicate, unique. 
I may always be an outsider,
but I have been here long enough to know we must keep this alive. 
Keep the connection with land, with sea, with isolation, story. 
It is not too late if we start now.       


  1. I am so surprised there are no comments on any of your posts. You have a following and your writing is wonderful. Oh well I will leave my comment for I'm not afraid to air my views. I too have been a wanderer over this beautiful island we call Earth and agree we must keep it going for it is truly worth it. Loved your poem and wishing you a fantastic new year. Geoff.

  2. Thank you for your comment, fellow wanderer! I would love more dialogue with my readers -- perhaps yours will start a new trend! :-) Happy new year to you as well!