We’re headed for the season of rest when living things around us will be dormant for a while. They are so wise!

Molly Peacock wrote in her personal essay, “On Dormancy,” that “freezing and thawing are the necessary conditions of all creativity. Dormancy, the province of our irises, belongs to us, too. Every bit of flora – even a reliable juniper – takes its necessary nap. It has to. Though we easily say of our plants, ‘They want to rest,’ being out of season can scare those of us with stocking feet instead of roots. We’ve got an idea that we’re supposed to be ‘in season’ all the time.”

I was pretty agitated by the end of last year due to lack of rest and quiet solitude. This year I should fare pretty well after several weeks of rest.

Here’s what Trappist monk Thomas Merton said about rest:

Some of us need to discover that we will not begin to live more fully until we have the courage to do and see and taste and experience much less than usual . . . And for a [wo]man who has let [her]himself be drawn completely out of [her]himself by [her]his activity, nothing is more difficult than to sit still and rest, doing nothing at all. The very act of resting is the hardest and most courageous act [s]he can perform.

pebblesondriftwoodIt’s so true that we can be “drawn completely out” of ourselves by our activity.  There are many practices that lead us back in. Yesterday I was collecting small stones at the shore and creating collages of shells, stones and leaves on the logs.

Halloween or Samhain is approaching on Saturday, October 31st. The veil is the thinnest between the worlds on Halloween and dead souls visit their living relatives. I see replicas of those dead souls hanging about the neighbourhood already including miniature graveyards and lots of skeletons.

In Ireland and Scotland, people believe that the souls of the little people, or fairy folk, are about on this night. The invisible barriers are lifted, and they revel in the company of the living. When the kids knock on our door, as much as I don’t like to give out all that candy, the sweet gifts are to sweeten the future. The true stars of Halloween are the elderly. They represent the year, now worn old and gray, Z. Budapest has written in The Grandmother of Time.

dayofthedeadfigureIn Mexico and Latin America, November 2nd is celebrated as the Day of the Dead, El Dia de los Muertos. Special altars are created in memory of loved ones. I do like those clay figures of skeletons the sugar skulls given to children to eat.








My father, dead a year now, has already made some appearances in the form of animal and bird visitations. He could have been that bear walking down the street in front of his Kelowna home one night. Or when his wife, Jean, went to the waterfalls (also in Kelowna) where his ashes were scattered, there was a blue bird. It was completely blue Jean said, the size of a magpie. It may have been a rare bird or an “accidental” as birds are called that are outside their usual area.

bluecrowI’ve been having a look online and in my books about crows and there is such a thing as a blue crow as well as Western Jackdaws and jays. It’s more likely Dad would appear differently to me. The hummingbird on our deck is a possible visit from Dad. The Anna’s Hummingbird can survive short bouts of cold weather.

First Nations legends say that hummingbirds teach us to look back to our past but not to dwell there. Instead, to move forward. As well, the hummingbirds tell us to savour every sweet moment as they do when hovering over each flower.

By chance, I read a couple of books lately featuring birds: Lynn Thomson’s memoir, Birding with Yeats (Anansi, 2014), and Helen Humphrey’s novel The Evening Chorus (Harper Collins 2015), a gift from my friend Birdie. (It was shortlisted for a 2015 Governor General’s Award.) Maybe all this bird reading is because I’m feeling “up in the air” lately.

On Monday I met with my orthopaedic surgeon at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver. Dr. Clarkson said I’d be having surgery next week but his secretary who really knows what’s going on when it comes to scheduling, says that’s not the case. They need to find four hours for me at Vancouver General as the skin grafting takes most of the time. (That’s done by a plastic surgeon.)

theeveningchorusI like what Helen Humphrey’s character said about birds in The Evening Chorus: “Flight is not the astonishing thing. I have always thought that the miracle of birds is not that they fly, but that they touch down.”

The winter quarter of the year begins on November 1. Also called Samhain, the winter quarter brings the gifts of restoration and renewal. As the cooler weather closes in, so the soul is led to more reflective depths as Caitlin Matthews has written in Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers and Blessings.

“It is traditionally associated with the remembrance of the ancestors, with the coming of death and the conception of new life . . . Samhain is a good time to celebrate the lives of all wise elders, all those whose actions and ideas have brought resolution and peace, all holy ones whose sacrifice has brought new life and opened spiritual thresholds to all.”

May we all draw upon the peaceful sanctuary of the season.