Friday, March 25, 2011

Of Spring & Sun & Skunk Cabbage

There is nothing that reminds me more of anicca (imperm anence) at this time of year than the weather. Lots of grey and wet on the west coast this winter, so when the sun shone Wednesday we knew just what we needed to do. We tied on our hiking boots and went in search of the waterfall that we've heard so much about. Just down the road, you'll hear it at this time of year, we'd been told.

There is nothing quite so restorative as a walk in nature, a place where it is easy to "just be", a place to slow down and experience a contemplative state of mind. Too often we forget these simple pleasures, the smell of outdoor air, the feel of our muscles as we walk, a little bird song, the sound of a woodpecker working away on a dead tree.

And when the sun has been MIA for some time, as it
seems to have been this winter, we really notice our
appreciation for the small pleasures of it's return(like a good friend who has been on a long holiday). So we savoured the warmth of it on our backs, silently admired the pleasing way it filtered through the trees, the way it lifted our spirits with it's simple presence. This week it was one of the things to mention when you chatted with people. Did you get to enjoy that sunshine on Wednesday? Someone did qi gong outside, someone else picked nettles for pesto with her kids. It was an occasion for varied and delicious celebration.

So here is a little taste of Spring emerging on the coast. In my mind there is no colour as divine as Spring green, the lusciousness of the deep moss that has thrived in the winter rains, that incredible pungent, startling green that is the calling card of Spring.

A little skunk cabbage for your olfactory delight. What, no smell on blogger? It's like a little forest glade of skunks, really. How could something so striking and beautiful smell, so, well, stinky? Nature offers us another koan.

And there it was finally after a few over anxious false leads, once along a stream that at first, seemed promising but held no waterfall. Another trail off the road led to a tiny snag in the creek but no waterfall. A little like spiritual practice, don't you think? Sometimes we start following a trail that just leads off into the woods. If we're persistent and go back to the road we might just find what we're looking for.

And how is Spring emerging in your part of the world? Spiritual thaw and blossoming or just the good old smell of the earth ready to welcome new life?


  1. lovely post. it is so refreshing to walk in nature and you have a beautiful place to walk. and I might add, i see no snow. Here, my short walk y'day was soooo cold, and snow still covers some of the ground.

  2. no snow. it mostly never lasts for more than a few days in these parts, but grey and wet, that is the nature of winter here.

    wishing you a spring thaw soon!

  3. So nice to read your blogs. As you know, we have everything beautiful here too (in the neighborhood) except a forest. The islands have to be some of the most beautiful locations in the world.

  4. so beautiful, everything here, carole... there is something incredibly moving and powerful about wet weather waterfalls, i think. when i come across them i sit (or stand) and grin and grin...

    spring is coming, i know, but we are still having many snow showers daily. it seems that we have been having approx. 50 snow showers per day for 2 months now...


  5. On that beautiful sun filled day, I took my granddaughter outside to play with sidewalk chalk for the first. She make colorful marks up and down her large driveway. There was much joy in that moment. I do enjoy the beginning of spring. I love the pink and white blossoms on the flowering plumbs, and the return of the robin who calls our yard home. I love to watch for the ferns as they begin to uncurl, reaching toward the sky. The forsythia bursts out in yellow flowers, and the deer come around looking for new growth to nibble on. I love all the seasons for different reasons. Fall is my favorite, but spring is a close second.

  6. Oooouuu - magical wet waterfall - love the luscious imagery of the greenery. Everything still brown and dry here. We are 3 ft. behind in snowfall this year and no rain so far. But I am imagining the pungent smells as you describe them. According to reports on the "hubby" front, they are still getting snow in Minnesota...

    Delightful post! Thanks :)

  7. David - I think I might be familiar with your neighbourhood??

    Lynne - yes, you and the creek people at the waterfall, I can see a whole crowd of them mingling around. Soon it will be snowing cherry blossoms instead of that white stuff!

    Miki - Forsythia and fern fronds, yes! Haven't spotted either yet. And fall is my favourite season as well. Something about the coolness of the air and the warmth of the sun, the leaves. It's true each season has it's special feeling.

    MeANderi - it has been a long winter everywhere, it seems. And I remember that brownness that precedes the magnificent Spring green on the prairies. I grew up just north of Minneapolis, in Winnipeg, so I know those winters well!

  8. I so love where you live. My mind opens up just looking at these photos. The woods, water, nature and moss are calming just to look at so I can imagine how good it felt to be walking through it all.

    I hope to get up to the mountains this summer. In the meantime, I get to enjoy the outdoors on a bicycle:)

    I've never seen/smelled that skunk cabbage. What an interesting plant.

  9. Oh... talk about triggering my afflictions! :-D These pictures are amazing! Not to mention the guided tour of your neck-of-the-woods!

    I find myself trudging along this path no longer wondering about the waterfall I set out to find. Just hoping I will make it out of the scrub moderately scathed. The spiritual process is ironuically unforgiving of those who wander aimlessly.

    However, you have reminded me that before I left for parts wild and windy, the magnolia were budding and George, the xmas light polar bear, was wobbling in the garden without the support of the snowdrifts.

    Life is good, indeed.


  10. Gallery Juana - And many of us envy that warm California sunshine! Where will you go to the mountains?

    Genju - I have gotten lost in aimless wandering myself! You are a blur on the horizon lately, not to be kept track of! Wobbling polar bears can never be a good thing!?

  11. I know! Wondering if you can tie me down to the skunk cabbage... it would smell better than the stuff of humans I have been wading through! 30 more days and I am free to me me again!

  12. What a wonderful walk you've taken us on, such opportunity to tune into the many ways that spring surely does spring forth...I miss Skunk Cabbage. The leaves unfurling in the boglands...such a great sight...we don't have them here except in a few hidden places deep in the Cypress swamps... I just traveled to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio where Skunk Cabbage will be exploding in the next month, along with the Blue Bells...what a glorious combo.

  13. I enjoyed your walk. Your pictures are inviting as our weather in Atlanta changes from day to day. Excessive warm, then it's been cold and rainy the past few days. Spring is having a hard time claiming her season.

  14. Beautiful post, and love the photos you captured on your journey. Meditation - and life - is really like that: sometimes there's a waterfall, sometimes not, but you always find something interesting along the way.

    Toronto has struggled to find spring... just when you think it's here - poof! it's gone. But regardless of the temperature or the snow, the daily sunshine is gradually luring me back into the world feeling alive and refreshed. My birthday is also in spring, so I associate spring with re-birth and new beginnings.