Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Square 27: Dream room

Square 027

I need to recreate a little piece of Lake Fletcher here in Guelph. It wasn’t the place’s salubrious effect that surprised me–over the years it has hit me that way many times. What always surprises me is how badly I need it, how far and how blindly I’ve wandered down the wrong path when the bright water, rich forest and clear air snap me suddenly home.

It is home, more than any other place will ever be; the place where my spirit knows its own name.

Over the weekend I conceived the idea of setting aside a dream room when I move into the new apartment on August 1, with a plaque on the doorpost saying, “Leave your troubles at the door.” I love my old office with its bright windows, but it’s cluttered and full of trouble, the easiest place to sit and worry.

I’m imagining a new work space where bills and forms are not allowed, a place reserved for writing, knitting, drawing, meditation, staring out the window, sleep and dreaming; a door I expect to pass through every day, with reverence and self-respect.

When I think of room to dream I'm reminded of my friend Ziggy, who has kept a dream journal for as long as I've known her. I can see how she has derived insight into the workings of her own mind. In my dream room I would resume exploring the adventures of my sleep, too.

Somewhere else I’ll have a desk for dealing with the burdensome trivialities of life.

Maybe this room itself is a dream, impractical, but I would at least like to try. I created this square of hope using burgundy and lilac yarn; purple is the colour of the dream world. For the stockinette rows, slightly hidden, I used a variegated yarn in jewel tones, representing the treasure that waits to be uncovered when I have time and patience.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Square 26: Solstice bacchanal

Square 026

It is the longest day of the year and even at dawn the air is bursting with music. I have to arrive in Dwight a half hour before sunrise—when the birds are most active—to run my annual route in the Breeding Bird Survey. Near the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 60 I pull off and get out of the car. As the eastern sky is turning silver to apricot, the air rings with trills of pine warblers in the tall white pines around the village. I take the air temperature: 17C, the warmest morning in a decade of surveys. Then I start my stop watch and begin counting birds, as many as I see and hear in three minutes.

In this dense forest it is more hearing than seeing. As I progress through the fifty stops along 40 km of highway, the forest composition matures and changes. From the broken woodlands frequented by chestnut-sided warblers and American robins, I move into nature maple stands where scarlet tanagers sing deep in the green shadows. This year I even hear a boreal chickadee in a conifer stand atop a rock face. I pass wetlands inhabited by swamp sparrows, yellowthroats, alder flycatchers and sometimes American bitterns. Altogether I must be able to recognize the songs of more than a dozen warbler species and scores of other songbirds. This year I count 56 species in less than five hours, my highest tally ever.

There is only a brief window of weeks in which to do the count. Migrants from the tropics arrive on their summer breeding territory by the third week of May. After the first week of July most fall silent as they grow busy and wary feeding their fledglings. I choose to run my route on or about June 21 to celebrate the Solstice, my midsummer bacchanal.

I used two variegated yarns from Malabrigo and Wellington Fibres to evoke sunrise in the forest.

The blue thread represents bird song, particularly the pure, clear song of the white-throated sparrow. For many people the sound is an icon of cottage country. The bird has an unnerving habit of vocalizing suddenly in the middle of the night.