Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thirst



Learning to write well, and growing in my poetry writing mean finding balance between asking for help and trusting my instincts.

Sometimes, I search for water before I have taken the time to know the depth of my own thirst. At those times, my longing outstrips my patience and I make mistakes. It is necessary to gauge both the depth of what I need and what I can hold, before seeking, before opening my mouth to drink.

When I do not trust my instincts, the flood gates burst open. I get in over my head and nearly drown. Tidal waves carry me away from where I really want to go.  It becomes a question of survival and adaptation ... grow gills, swim, develop another row of teeth.

It is hard to accept that it may take more years to acquire a sense of wholeness in my writing, more years than I had hoped. But I have learned this: My writing requires learning to live with the tensions of my own evolution, learning to quiet my doubts, and yet to proceed.

It requires trusting myself to know what I need to quench my thirst.


This blog post is a part of my reflections from an online retreat study I followed with The Prayer Bench offered by Janice MacLean.  You can find out more about her online retreats at:
http://www.prayerbench.ca 



Sunday, March 22, 2015

Monday, March 16, 2015

Stoney Creek Memories




To help me grow in my writing,  I study the work of others and often find a line or a poem which resonates deep within me.  

The line "Only a picture from a blue tin box" and the poem it begins are such inspirations.  The poem is "Cape Enrage"  by Lynn Davies, from her first collection of poems, The Bridge that Carries the Road, published by Brick Books in 1999.

This photo of me and two of my younger sisters was taken during a stay at our grandparents' home in Stoney Creek in 1954.  They looked after us while our parents were moving our household to another city.  

Lynn's poem evoked this memory.  I appreciate Lynn Davies for the beauty, inspiration, education and challenge her work offers.  I learn much about how to write better, examining the way a poem is created by another person.  In this instance, her first line brings a memory and her poem gives me a guide, by which to write this prose remembrance. 

This is my memory-

Stoney Creek

"Only a picture from a blue tin box." The week we stayed while our parents moved to Belle River. My grandfather steadied a brownie camera, told us, "Hold still." The July sun warmed water in the steel tubs, heated the galvanized walls which held us. My little sisters splashed and jumped; drops flew to my grandfather's trousers, 'til he shook with laughter.

In the picture, I wear a red bathing suit, my grandmother found in the attic, a gaudy orange flower sewed to the strap. This tub held Peggy's drinking water when she was alive, whinnying, running the pastures. Grandfather told me she had been a handful. After a drink, she'd hold water in her mouth. When he turned, she'd dribble a shock of cold down his back.

In the slow afternoon, soaked in water and laughter, we worked wonders: raindrops on the stiff gladiolas behind us; magic liniment on bites from black flies; wet-ghost hand prints on grey cedar shingles. We were water sprites spitting water onto a gravel driveway, watching it dry, disappear, dreaming of that horse full of tricks, all mischief gone.


Words in coloured ink will take you to another site with additional information, if you click on them.  I continue to grow in my writing, am aware that I have much to learn, and am grateful to work which shines a light for me.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Place




I am attached to the place I live; sometimes to the extent of forgetting it is not the whole world. 

I live among maple, birch and spruce, in the company of chickadees and jays, ducks and deer in an old residential area of Riverview, NB. Here, it is easy to forget that the river, the bay, the Acadian forest and mountains so close to me are not the whole world for everyone.

Last weekend, we went to Halifax, Nova Scotia and stayed in a hotel where the scenery was office towers and apartment buildings.  This photo is an elliptical-shaped building, The Martello; the penthouse is offered for $860,000. plus the monthly condo fees.  The other view was the snow covered uprising slope of The Citadel, topped with white masts; it looked like the whole hill might be ready to set sail.  Of course, there were trees and parks within the city, and as always, the gorgeous harbour.

It was unlike what I am used to, that’s all.  Not better or worse, simply different.  And that was good.  My poetry writing mind and my photo seeing mind were piqued and stimulated by those changes.  It was a challenge and gift to roam the city because it was not familiar. 

I realized that I am stuck in my love of the place I live.

It is helpful and nourishing to get away to unfamiliar surroundings, to get unstuck and be invited to walk streets shaded and squeezed by sky scrapers, to notice an abundance of seagulls, oak trees six stories tall, myriad bistros and cafes, all as inviting as our own, but different.

We drove out to Peggy’s Cove on Sunday.  The granite boulders and the ocean were strangely soothing.  The Cove has never disappointed; ice, like thin frosting offered the same visual warning to stay off as did the wet, black rocks in summer.  And like summer, people still walked out to the edges, despite the cautions.




I enjoyed the trip away.  It was good to be free of responsibilities, to do what I wanted, when I wanted.

But, coming home, I relearned something I’ve always known. The damp salt air, the stony beaches, the salt water marsh, the muddy Petitcodiac River, the deciduous and evergreen forests of Albert County, New Brunswick are where my roots stretch deep into the earth and hold me in place.


They are my home.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bohemian Waxwings






Bohemian Waxwings

Nomadic
you follow the fruit
swallow your pleasures whole.


Photos and words copyright 2015 Carol Steel

Snow and Ice





The bird feeders wear ice lace, snow hats and icicles. 

My neighbour told me we've had over
twelve feet of snow this winter.

The ducks sit on the snow banks waiting for breakfast 
and are nearly eye level with us, as we sit at the kitchen table.

Our yard is waves and troughs of snow, a seascape of white.

It's all lovely but I'm weary of wading through snow 
and snow and snow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Come See



Blue Jays lunch on cracked corn leftovers scattered on spruce. In discovery and discussion, they are screaming children at play. Come see, come see.