Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Spring Everyone!!!!

Winter had a hard time accepting that Spring now has the centre stage, so we had one final blast of snow and cold on the eve of March 20th.

I spent our first spring morning – as I usually spend my mornings – with Koly, outside in our backyard. The last dusting of winter snow was shining in the morning sun. By noon, this snow would be gone. Koly was making his rounds around the yard, sniffing where all the squirrels and raccoons had been, the night before, and I was enjoying a warm cup of tea.

A sharp ‘tat-a-tat-a-tat’ started sounding off in a neighbour’s yard as a colourful Woodpecker searched for food. Then a small group of Starlings landed in the back of my yard to look for bugs in the sprouting grasses. Just a few seconds later, a small Chickadee whirled right past my head and landed a few feet away, in my garden flowerbeds. I watched as it plucked dried grasses out of the ground, getting ready to build its nest. A short moment later, my eyes were pulled in the direction of another chirping sound and I noticed that a bright red Cardinal had just landed on my cedar hedge. It was fantastic to be sitting in a chair, drinking my tea with an entire backyard full of so many different entertainers – putting on this show for me!!! And then there was the finale…

I looked up and saw my first Robin of 2009. Now, I knew that Spring was here!

I’ve always regarded the Robin with respect and I’ve always thought of them as ‘the bringers of glad tidings’, but a few years ago I became aware that they are now ushering in a new age in our world – one that will be filled with much hardship and challenge.

In August of 2006 I spent two weeks in Canada’s arctic. I was visiting Rankin Inlet, Nunavut to complete a portion of my National art project ‘Canada: Glorious To Be’ ( During my stay, I had arranged to go on an afternoon adventure with a local guide.

Our mode of transportation was a four-wheel ATV, which allowed us to go anywhere there was solid ground beneath us. We visited many interesting places and he shared stories about the history of the Inuit people – as they had been told to him, by his elders. At one time, we were at a lookout point and he was telling me about how the herds of caribou and polar bears migrate through this region. Then he started telling my about his passion for understanding birds.

He explained that all Inuit children learn to have one specialty, when learning about ‘the wild lands’ of the tundra and that strong hunting groups rely on the combined knowledge of ‘the group’ for successful hunts. He shared with me stories about how understanding birds can tell hunters about the animal herds that are in the area. Then he told me a story about a bird that had brought a great mystery to this arctic region.

The first time that he had ever seen this new and strange bird was in 2002. He and many others were filled with wonder as this exotic species appeared for the very first time. I asked him to describe this bird to me and he did, with great detail – he was also a very talented artist. I listened to his description and I smiled with a knowing… he had seen a Robin! He was very interested to learn all that I could share with him, about this bird – which wasn’t very much and he nodded with understanding that this was a very unusual event.

Our conversation drifted naturally, to the topic of global warming and climate change and he shared many other stories about occurrences that were beginning to change in this northern environment. We both agreed that the appearance of the beautiful bird, simply known as the Robin, could be a warning of disaster on our horizon. We looked at one another and smiled faintly, cleared our throats and then peered off into the distance for many minutes of silent contemplation.

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In the mid-nineties, when I was begining to understand the problems facing this world’s first global civilization, I had the ideals that we could change the world to stop the acceleration of environmental climate change. It is becoming more and more obvious that the changes cannot be stopped and now my ambitions are more focussed on learning about and preparing for these changes. Although the solutions that are needed are still very unclear, it is important to know that these solutions will be realized once a deeper understanding has been established between humanity and our Earth to recognize the value of our mutual relationship.


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