Category Archives: Nature

The power of +1

Late yesterday afternoon, the COVID-19 statistics for Canada looked like this:

One person had died in my country. I tried to imagine who that one person was. Perhaps it was a mother from Newfoundland, or someone’s petite soeur from Québec, or a farmer from the prairies, or a former lighthouse keeper on the British Columbia coast.

Somewhere in my country yesterday a family was grieving.

This morning I checked the stats. At the time I started writing, there were +1481 new deaths worldwide.

I tried to imagine who those people were. Perhaps they were mothers from Florida, or someone’s petites soeurs from France, or farmers in Russia, or former lighthouse keepers in Australia.

Just now I reloaded the page, and it looks like this. In the last half hour the number increased by +1.

From https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Somewhere in the world a family is grieving.

The number +1 allows us to try to imagine that person. We can empathize. When the number is much larger, it becomes impossible to draw individuals in our minds. The empathy thins out or disappears. But we can’t forget that the large number is made up of 1s.

Here is what 1482 looks like in 1s.

11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 1111111111111111111111111111111 . . . 1 . . .

Each +1 of us can do our part to slow down and stop the numbers. We don’t want to have to try to imagine your family.

Just . . . know, or just . . . no

Do you ever hover between yes and no?

Saying yes can

  • suck away hours of time for a project you’re not passionate about
  • lead you to grand adventure, in the way of Shonda Rhimes
The book YEAR OF YES by Shonda Rhimes

Saying no can

  • save you from being used or abused, or from drugs as Nancy Reagan would have wished
  • deny you fun or a fantastic learning and growing experience

Some days, on the surface, it seems hard to decide. You have to dig deep before the answer is clear. When you do, you discover you just . . . know.

Other times the answer is spelled out.

In my cottage area, garbage must be protected from wild animals. Waste management workers need to access the containers, so parking in front of them is a definite NO.

I love the simplicity of the sign. One word. No explanation required. If you’re the person thinking of parking in that space, just . . . no.

You just know, or just no. The answer is always clear.

Odd but beautiful

One white birch tree in a green forest, trilliums in bloom around it.

A lone birch amongst other deciduous trees, hundreds of trilliums at its feet.  

To me, the picture represents . . .

. . . determination to be authentic no matter what is going on around . . .

. . . a white tree being applauded by an audience of trilliums . . .

. . . alone, but not lonely. . .

What does the picture bring to your mind?

A spark of light on the path

Wooded path with one tree with white leaves

On Sunday I walked in the woods near my home.

Last autumn’s leaves have not yet composted, so they cover the parts of the path that aren’t muddy. The trees in my Ottawa, Canada climate are budding, but branches are still bare of leaves. Muted colours of grey and brown and dark forest green dominate.

I rounded a corner in the path. Up ahead, white leaves fluttered on a single tree. With branches stretched out in a triangular shape, the leaves resembled the flickering lights of a Christmas tree.

I stopped to appreciate it. I walked closer to examine the leaves. I thought about another of Robert MacFarlane’s words: marcescence. It can refer to trees that hold on to leaves through winter, or people who wither but don’t fall.

Others might have passed by without noticing the simple gift of nature. I’m glad that I walk mindfully, on the lookout for sparks of light on my path.

If we’re watchful, we can perceive those little boosts to the spirits. They help us during times when we’re withering, so we don’t fall.

Close-up of a white leaf

Temenos: Are you in your sanctuary?

I might have been a hermit in another life, I think.

This time of social distancing is easy for me. I’m in my home. I love my home. It is my sanctuary.

Or one of the anyway. I also find sanctuary in other places: the woods, friends’ houses, and, yes, church.

Are you in a sanctuary? Which sanctuaries do you miss?

Woods in the spring