For the Love of Open Space

The_FieldColder weather has returned and flurries fill the air. Even so, the snow and ice are increasingly found only in the deeper woods. The maple sap is running only intermittently, although perhaps we will have a strong run later in the week. There is some talk of snow for Easter.

This post, like so many of mine, is firmly rooted in the Nature; the Natural World is a crucial part of Jennie and my lives and spiritual practices. Yet, as the Natural world collapses under the stress of human greed and malice, we find ourselves struggling to stay positive and useful.

Jennie and I have been speaking about documenting the beauty, and perhaps fates, of some of our favorite open spaces in the city. In prior posts I’ve mentioned some of the development threats that face open space here. I’ve been trying to understand how to address these issues in a positive way, to allow myself rage and not give in to hopelessness. I spent much of Saturday thinking about these things. Continue reading

Teaching Across Borders

SAMSUNG CSCThis morning I have been considering the challenges of teaching. Now, as I look out my window I can see that most of the snow is gone from our front yard. Hopefully this means early spring flowers will soon appear on our south-facing neighbors’ lawns. Given our house is north facing, our flowers usually appear a couple of weeks later. Teaching so often reminds me of spring’s uncertainty: we do not know when, or even if, our best efforts will eventually flower in the lives of our students.

I have spent most of my life teaching. I have taught undergraduate and graduate students, friends, and others who have asked. I have educated clients and their families, and of course my own children. I have taught academic courses, the arts, and traditional ways of knowledge about life and the world. It used to be that I saw all of these as distinct disciplines, but those days are long gone. Continue reading



In our woods the snow is hanging on and the sap is slow to rise in the trees. The deer have grown less cautious, especially the young ones.

Friday evening we sat down with friends for ceremony, food, and great conversation in which the stories were flying thick and fast. As fit the equinox, many were laugh inducing tales of balance lost, and only sometimes found. Anyway, although the weather remains terribly cold, the evening sped all of us on our way towards summer.

Here is a report from Harvesting Hectate about the season’s progress in her heart and woods.

Originally posted on Harvesting Hecate:


When I leave the forest, part of me stays there: the part of me that is like the deer, slipping silently through the trees, glimpsed if you’re lucky.  The deer are usually elusive here, but when we arrive, a doe is nonchalantly grazing a few metres away in the early evening glow of the sunset.  For four days, deer grace us with their presence at dawn and dusk, their cotton fluff tails like beacons in the half-light.


Before the equinox, it’s not uncommon for life to seem chaotic as nature fights for balance.  And for me, events conspired to enforce an unexpected pause from blogging: a virus that gave me blurred vision, dizziness, nausea and fatigue; a bereavement and family illness.  There were stories to be written, pictures to be painted, blogs to be read, but I found I couldn’t act.  I followed the spiral down, deep into the doubt…

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Shimmering world

Lake_SunsetYesterday was cloudy and damp, one of those days when spring and winter touch. The air was moist, although not warm, the day a bit foggy as the damp breeze touched the remaining snow. Watching, and feeling, this moment of transition brought to mind another way of being in the world, the path of, as David Abrams called it, the sensuous. So we stopped for a moment and let ourselves join that dancing space between winter and spring, warmth and snow. Continue reading

Finding Balance

SunsetSpring is near, although the weather remains cold and snowy. The maple sap is flowing intermittently and, on warmish, sunny days, birdsong fills the air. The equinox arrives Friday, and Passover and Easter follow.

This morning I had coffee with a dear friend who is Mohawk. He was adopted into a European family and, like me, came to his Native identity late. He’s fiercely proud of his heritage and excited about the return to traditional values that underlies the rebirth of the Mohawk Nation. He and I have been asked to speak, together, about Native America at the upcoming community Sedar, and met this morning to consider what we might say. Continue reading

Spring and the Post-Human

Paws_In_The_SnowI am drawn always to the presence and processes of Nature, seeking each day to notice the play of the living world. Yesterday was warm and sunny, a truly ecstatic, early spring-like day. The recent warmth and sun have melted back the snowbanks, and the ice on the lake is looking a bit slushy. We can finally walk on most of the sidewalks; perhaps we have truly turned the corner on winter! Perhaps this is indeed spring!

The West has long understood Indigenous people as close to Nature, or even, as Nature. This has meant that we are seen as primitive and childlike, as resources to be ruthlessly exploited, and as obstacles to the advancement of civilization, barriers which must be removed at any cost. We are also imagined to be pristine and moral, the holders of high human consciousness, and the voices of the land. There seems little room for us to be visceral, complex people. Continue reading