tropical dreams


If plants had feelings — and who says they don’t? — they would feel very sad at being neglected in a dark corner of the house. You know they are feeling sad, because they literally droop with sadness, moping in the shadows, turning pale and dropping leaves, trying desperately to catch your attention.

And when you relent and place them in a sunny window, giving up your own sunny table to make your plants happy, oh my, what an improvement to their spirits and yours! You can almost see them purring with pleasure as they bask in the light, leaning in to the window as close as they dare and even sacrificing the tips of their leaves in quest of the sun’s life-giving rays.

And if plants had dreams — you know they do — they would dream of mountain slopes and steamy jungles, hot breezes and drenching rains, the call of parrots and the rainbow shimmer of butterfly wings, a tropical paradise where winter is banished forever.

Photo taken on January 20, 2011


watching and waiting

neighbourhood watch

I used to wish I could be a cat, to have nothing more to worry about than whether to sleep, eat or play. I’d watch the family cat saunter from one cosy corner to another, leaping effortlessly to the back of the couch to watch out the window, tail twitching, then on to the floor to stretch luxuriously in a patch of warm sunlight. To our current cat, playtime is as important as sleep. As I write this, I can hear him chasing his foam jingly spool up and down stairs, the floor over my head resounding as he pounces and leaps and races across the room.

One of the things I admire most about cats is their ability to watch and wait, as patient as a rock (except when they think it’s meal time). Outdoors, they will do their watching from a hiding spot — a shaded blind under a bush or the back steps — but indoors they are bold, they know the window protects them and they do not hide their curiosity at the comings and goings of the world outside. Like these cats, I spend a lot of time looking out windows, watching the changing sky, the people walking by, the wind in the trees.

I used to think that a cat looking out the window was longing to be outside, but now I’m not so sure. Like me, they are watchers; they just want to see.

Photo taken on February 21, 2011

frosty weather


Saturday was sunny and 17 degrees (celcius). Today’s temperature is down to 10 degrees with 20 mm of rain forecast. Friday will be only 2 degrees and windy. And I wonder why I have half-a-dozen different jackets competing for space on the coat rack!

This abrupt change in weather tells me that I need to get the car switched over to its winter tires today or tomorrow. I was glad I still had my summer tires on to drive through the 140 mm of rain — and lake-sized puddles — we got the previous weekend. But when the road starts to freeze, there’s nothing like winter tires for keeping you safe on the roads.

When I bought winter tires a couple of years ago, I did some research to see if all-seasons would be all right for New Brunswick. We could have mild temperatures all winter, but it’s more typical here for the thermometer to bounce up and down between minus 20 and plus 5 or so, creating bone-jarring potholes and icy roads. A lot of people (my dad included) don’t bother with winter tires. But all-season tires don’t grip the road as well as they age, and the rubber hardens as the temperature drops, resulting in reduced traction even on dry surfaces. The compound of a winter tire is more pliable and retains its grip in cold temperatures. So, there you have it: if I have winter tires on the car, I won’t lose my grip… or at least, that’s what I’m hoping!

Photo taken on November 13, 2009

through the window

through the window

New England has sent us a storm today; the forecasters predict upwards of 50mm of rain. I heard it beating in waves against the windows last night, along with a wind that howls up from the valley and thrums under the eaves. The city is dark, and the black-paved streets and deep puddles swallow light and create bizarre reflections; down the street I see a bright yellow school bus leading a parade of cautious cars. Drivers hunch over their steering wheels, their windshield wipers just out-of-sync with those of the car behind.

I am heading uptown in an hour, knowing the rain will drive sideways as I scurry around tall buildings, knowing the water will pour in rivers down the steep alleys and my feet will get wet. I will wear my yellow rain jacket and walk quickly. When I come home again, I will run inside, dripping, rain-tossed and bedraggled. My glasses will steam up from the warm house and there will be fresh homemade bread and baked beans. And I will be grateful that it is not yet winter.

Photo taken on October 24, 2009

cat eyes

I’ve noticed that fancy decor magazines like to pretend that people’s homes are museums or galleries. For example, instead of discussing curtains or drapes, they talk about window dressing. Window dressing?

“It has come to my attention that many of you are in a quandary about how to dress your windows. Even friends of mine who are top notch designers are often terrified of window dressing…” – from a Home and Garden article (“Window Dressing 101”).

Terrified by window dressing, eh? Well now, I’ve seen two windows with wolf-blanket curtains; maybe that’s what they’re talking about. A wolf in the window probably sends the wrong message, it scares away the meter reader and Girl Guides selling cookies. But replace the ferocious wolf with a sweet-faced domestic cat, and suddenly your window dressing is not so terrifying. How purrfect, the neighbours will say, that little house down the street has cat eyes.

Taken on October 2, 2010

the wolf at the window

Such a beautiful animal. Just look at those eyes. This is what it looks like to be at the top of your game. I’d like to be a wolf. Wolves are free to roam and make their own way in the world. They are strong and independent, a symbol of unspoiled wilderness. I love the way they howl at the moon; it sends a delicious shiver up my spine. Well, no, I haven’t heard a wolf for real, or even seen one, except for in the movies of course. But they are all over, in the news, on t-shirts and screensavers, and did you see those cute little wolf pups on the World Wildlife campaign? They are such beautiful animals. Just look at those eyes.

Taken on August 23, 2010

the open window

There was nothing remarkable about this house, no reason to stop and look. It was right next to the curb, looking well loved and more than a little tired. It was a sunny evening and I was looking for something interesting to photograph. My camera was in my hand, the lens cap off, my finger on the shutter release. I was ready… but nothing happened. No flash of inspiration, no bright shaft of sunlight pointing to a perfect image in an ordinary neighbourhood. But I was taking photos anyway, hoping that my camera would see something that I didn’t, knowing how easily my own expectations and biases get in the way. So when we walked by this house, I looked up at this window for a moment, my camera shutter snapped, and I continued walking. At first glance, there was nothing remarkable about this house, but I’m glad my camera gave me a chance to look again.

Taken on April 22, 2010