Life sure is moseying along, folks. By the way, if you are curious about the work we’re doing in our yard, please see my ongoing series Nova Scotia Wildlife. I should probably change that to Backyard Wildlife, but it’s my intention to eventually be able …
And I love it.
I’m back at work again and was so surprised yesterday to have a great talk with the dean in our school and one of the ops managers, who are supporting my academic presentations in early October for the World Summit Ecocity. This event happens every two years in a city around the world, and this year it’s being sponsored partially where I work and is, of course, happening in Vancouver. I worked hard earlier in the spring on applications to present a writer’s workshop and a paper. I was approved for both, and the program committee and dean approved my funding, so it was all solidified yesterday. I can’t relay how good it feels to have that kind of support. My workshop is here, but my paper presentation is conflicted time-wise so is being rescheduled. I’m pretty excited by it, really, because I only get a chance maybe once a year to speak in public and I like it and love meeting new people that way.
For all the crap I’ve experienced this year and last with medical things, which do seem to be clearing up now, this was really a welcome surprise. I explore and share ecofiction on my own time. I don’t get paid for it. I don’t want to get paid for it. It’s a passion, and I think some things in life just have to be free. I often feel like an underdog, which is good; it keeps me from being arrogant and snobby. But when people do have my back, I feel humbled and am grateful forever.
P.S. I am not knocking actual authors because we need their words. I mean, my dream is to write novels for a living–maybe someday. Stories are all we have.
Anyway, today, I worked on job things and later created an almost polished 19-page PowerPoint presentation for the summit. It gave me a chance to really plan out the workshop, though my abstract already had an outline, and it will help in finishing a 22-page thesis type of paper to accompany the academic presentation–which itself is only fifteen minutes long. I will be sure, in the end, to share my paper and presentation at the main Dragonfly.eco site! I’m also running a survey on social impacts of environmental fiction but will not use the data in my October report, because I want minimally 200 responses. If you are reading this, please consider helping. What it really comes down to, as far as cultural impact of fiction, is psychological–and these tests have already been done and are continually being offered. But I think I’m one of the few, if not first, to look specifically at readers’ thoughts related to all kinds of ecologically oriented fiction. I’ve had a few dozen responses so far but do want a better sample. A lot of the responses have come from older academics, mostly who are professors–which is great!–but I also really want to reach out to younger students, which is my goal for term start.
Between now and September 3, when the 22-page paper is due, I have a lot of things to do. Maybe just sitting down and writing it out will keep me focused.
- This Saturday we’re doing a southern BBQ, and I am so freaking excited by the apricot-bourbon drink I’m making, which went over really well before.
- Meanwhile, I am reorganizing Moon Willow Press because submissions are permanently closed and I’m transitioning things over to this site (so excuse the mess).
- Also, I have a new spotlight coming up at Dragonfly.eco, which I hope to have up pretty soon. I’ve already gotten a lot of content for it. It’s just a matter of putting it together.
- I have major stuff at work to do to get ready for students; it’s one of the busiest times of the year, but it’s also exciting with new faces and seeing new degree students come in.
- The weekend after this, we get ready for my mother-in-law, two of her friends, and my husband’s cousin and one or two of his friends to come visit.
- I have the whole week of August 6th off, and we’re all heading over to Salt Spring Island to tent-camp for three nights and four days. It’s just a quick ride to the ferry that heads to Salt Spring, and not too far for the camp site from there.
- The following weekend, my mother-in-law and her sister and maybe one other will be here to watch one of her nephews in an ice-skating competition.
- Back to work the week after, and I have two weeks to get ready for one of the registrations we have. During this time I’ll have to finish that paper!
- Also, though, Classic Wow starts on August 26th. I am definitely working that day but am trying to get the rest of the week off so I can get ahead a little in game, but right now it is not a high priority after all. I’m excited for it. It’s a way to have fun and some downtime.
- Then, autumn. Beautiful, beautiful autumn! Or it may be super hot then, who knows.
- From then to the end of year: I have the summit on October 8, we’re leaving directly afterward for a long weekend of camping near Lake Mead with my daughter and her boyfriend, and then I am also taking a long weekend near American Thanksgiving for the usual big dinner I do for everyone.
- We usually don’t do a lot around Christmas. We do a dinner with some friends everywhere; we are all Christmas “adoptees” since our families are so far away.
- Sometime soon I also have to finish up my novel Up the River!
The featured image is just of some guy on horseback we saw when we went on a rafting-grizzly bear tour on the Atnarko River a few years ago.
I haven’t blogged for a while, because life is hectic and full. I was just reading this poem by JRR Tokien, credit to LOTR Fandom. Reading it has always made me feel good inside. What was written so long ago still rings true. Also, enjoy a photo of the forest when we last sat by the fire.
I Sit by the Fire and Think
I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies
in summers that have been;
Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.
I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall ever see
For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.
I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago,
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know.
But all the while I sit and think
of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
and voices at the door.
Though not technically summer solstice yet, we’ve been warned by Environment Canada that we’ll have a warmer summer than last year’s, all across the country. I thought, wow, last year was a heat wave and drought for 4 months straight–will we really be warmer than that? Here I sit today, exhausted from a late night (I thought I was having an appendicitis attack, but it went away–yet not until the early dawn peeked through the windows). It is in the 30s (90s) already, and we have no AC, so I’m just a little tired after 2-3 hours of sleep and will not run today as previously planned.
I did have two wonderful runs earlier this week, though, both a bit longer than usual. I also had a third outing with my friend Courtney, a 3 mile walk to lunch and back, eating the typical “rabbit food salad” followed with an ice-cold mojito with no cane syrup (very good!). On Thursday I was headed to the west Deer Lake woods when another jogger stopped to warn me that peace officers were there due to a cougar sighting. I begged off those trails and ran a ways down Deer Lake road itself before turning back and romping through the trails closer to campus.
My friend Jessica, a biologist and nature writer living in Peru, republished an article she had written a few years ago about seeing a jaguar on the trail. I love reading her blog–and, in fact, am reminded that she and her husband built their own cabin in the woods–my dream. I hope to start making concrete plans with my husband doing something similar.
Jessica had encouraged me to apply for the International League of Nature Writers, which I was recently accepted to. This has inspired me to once again be more active in conservation rather than just writing thoughts about my interactions while on the trail. I spent my first few years in Canada working for a river steward non-profit, actively working to clean up shorelines here in Vancouver and stand up for wild salmon and against oil sands and pipelines. I also volunteered with a salmon nursery and tested local salmon creek waters. My current volunteering effort is with the Great Climate Race, which is a wonderful thing–crowdfunding and running for solar energy projects in the lower mainland–but my real interest has always been more Arcadian, getting away from city/energy sources, rewilding, and preservation of natural habitats. I will talk more later on those thoughts.
But for now the wild animals are foraging close to home, on the trails, and so on. Blackberries have flowered, and fruit is just a hair away from blooming–they usually bloom in late July or in August, but in warmer, earlier summer weather, they are ready in June. The blackberries here are not native and are considered quite invasive (though there is also a native trailing blackberry, seen less in the metropolitan areas). Of course, we love the berries, and so do the deer, bears, birds, foxes, coyotes, and so forth. We have the Himalaya Giant species, which was brought here over a century ago from the UK. They are thorny, wildly growing plants that do well in the lower mainland due to the winter not being cold enough to kill them off. The plants take over, quite literally, spreading through root and stem fragments. The lot next to us is empty and a jungle of weeds, brush, and blackberry plants that are not trimmed at all. We have a mess of an area beyond our back yard, which we desperately need to tackle after vacation–it’s covered with blackberry brambles and ivies. We have already started fighting the plants, but I noticed new shoots up by my cedar planters along the fence this weekend. Despite not being native, and being an invasive weed, ripening blackberries remind me of summer–and, oh the pies and jams to make!
When summer solstice does arrive, it will be on June 21st, and we will be in Ireland then (we are actually leaving in six days, and our mothers arrive on Thursday and Friday!). It looks like, while there, we will be seeing some variable weather, ranging from all sunny to rainy, and from 13-20C (mid-50s to high 60sF), which is really perfect weather for the running we plan to do. If summer in BC is anything like last year’s, it will be a cool break for us to get away, and I’m really excited.