Monday, March 31, 2014

Less is More

Spring continues to elude us in the Great White North. I, with my naiveté, thought that after a few days of warmer weather and less snow that it would be over, that winter would fade gracefully into spring. I wasn't expecting a winter hangover where melted snow only reveals lifeless, brown grass and soggy lost mittens.

It's still cold most days. But there is a forecast for warmer weather by week's end, and for this I am grateful. Already, I've been able to go out wearing less. On a good day, I can wear a t-shirt and bunny hug. I've even dared to go out in clogs as opposed to boots. Either I've gotten a little more use to it, or I, like many, secretly believe I can coax the warm weather in simply with a wardrobe change.

In other news, I've been thinking about how I want to live the second half of my life. I spent a lot of time in the first half trying to achieve lofty goals, reaching for the American Dream, but at this point, I know I just want a simple but interesting life. I'm not interested in things. In fact I'm infatuated with the idea of getting by with much, much less.

Luckily, modern media devices make this possible. Movie collections can be replaced with Netflix and the library. I find I watch a lot less this way, and by not being submitted to advertisements it is easier to understand and seek out my own satisfactions. I also read a lot more, nothing heavy or even literary, but always interesting.

I think the more I let go of things, the closer I will get to a truer version of me. I don't need a lot, in fact I want to need less. I want to feel a little more freedom from requisite expectations. I want to be OK with who I am without the trappings of a "successful life."

Less is more. Let's hope so.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Neither Here Nor There

The first day of Spring was almost inspiring. The sky was blue with a few scattered clouds. I heard bird song when I opened the front door, and then got blasted with a nice gust of arctic air; -23 with the wind chill.

Early Spring is an enigma in Saskatchewan. Consecutive days above freezing spawn hopes of warmer weather. Snow melts and ice thins, leaving swamps of dirty slush everywhere. Roads that were once smooth layers of ice topped with snow become crumbled, pot holed obstacle courses. But despite all this, Saskatooners seem to take it in stride.

I've noticed more bikes on the road, teenagers wearing shorts, and a subtle change of wardrobe as many switch from snow boots to rubber galoshes. Early spring here I think, is about patience.

But I'm running short on patience. I was fine with winter and negative numbered temps, but this in between stage is driving me a bit batty. Clearly, the worst of winter is over. Sure, we still see the odd snow flury and have to scrape ice off the car windows in the morning. But the cold is different now. It's fueled by humidity from melting snow, creating a miserable, San Francisco in the summer, Angela's Ashes kind of cold. I'm not a fan.

As I wait for a more recognizable version of Spring to arrive I can't help but see the conditions as a metaphor for my current situation. I've applied for a work permit, as an Artisan Baker. I'm excited about the prospect. But, it will be several weeks until I know if I will be allowed to stay. As I wait for Canada's decision, my visitor's visa is quickly running out, so I'm forced to consider an immediate future back in the U.S.A. Like the season, I feel neither here nor there.

I am anxious to see nature's renaissance here.  I am equally anxious to find what my immediate future will entail. I'm ready for some growth and colour to fill my world. Here or there, I will make the best of it. I always do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What Are Ides Anyway?

It's well into March here in Saskatchewan, and suggestions of hints of spring are starting to materialize. Finally, the temperature is peaking above freezing almost daily. It's like a switch was flipped. Piles of dirty snow are quickly becoming pools of dirty slush. Ice sculptures are beginning to wain, and birds are beginning to reappear.

It's as though everything is coming out of stasis. My mind that was previously focused on the windchill and which socks to wear, feels as though it's been set free. My imagination considers shades of green, flowers and how soon I should start seeds for my deck top garden.

The promise of spring this year also brings anxiety. My current visa is set to run out in June. If I fail to obtain a work permit by then, I will have to leave the country. I have a few contingency plans in mind for the summer should that happen, but the multiple of variables is causing me unease, and making me feel like I'm losing focus on what I'm trying to accomplish here.

Within the Burning Man Community, March is when we celebrate the Burnal Eqinox. It's the midpoint of our year, and for a lot of Burners it's the point at which we start planning for the next Burn. Not unlike the ancient celebrations of Ides of March, it's a time to welcome the new season and whatever it may bring.

I don't know what this new season will bring for me right now. There are a lot of possibilities. All I do know is that I at least feel rested after this long winter's nap, and a little more ready to face whatever comes next.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Yesterday was Mardi Gras.  Without the motivation to find a local celebration, I opted to celebrate by making gumbo and listening to WWOZ. The gumbo turned out great, although I got a little over zealous with the rice. I had every intention of making beignets as well, but opted out since I had baked an apple pie just the night before.

As a recovering Catholic, there are still things I miss about the Church. the ritual of Lent is definitely one of them. I don't know why I enjoy celebrating meatless Fridays, and denying myself something for 40 days, but even now, it appeals to me.

Of course any celebration of the Lent season I partake in now is only sentimental at best, but I still spent a while thinking about what I would give up for 40 days, were I devout. The thought of forgiveness came to mind.  Not that I would give up forgiveness, but perhaps resentment. There are many things I have never forgiven, things that go back decades. At this point it seems silly to carry around a grudge for something that happened more than 20 years ago.

But how do I let go. How do I make it ok in my mind and heart to forgive an I reconciled wrong? It is this question I think I will explore for the next 40 days. I don't know that I will find an answer, but seeking it seems like a good idea.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Winter can be tough in Canada. Right now, as California celebrates more water falling from the sky, their patience is rewarded with an explosion of colors. Spring comes early there. Trees blossom, flowers bloom, and on a good year, hills turn electric shades of green. It's beautiful, albeit pretty hard on the allergies. But I'm not in California. I'm in Saskatchewan, and we still have several weeks of winter.

It's cold here. After multiple days of -20C and below (that's before the windchill folks), I'm beginning to understand why bears hibernate. Living in these temps can be exhausting. It's not just being cold,
 it's getting ready for the cold. Getting ready to go outside involves multiple layers, down overcoats that poke you with the ends of goose feathers through the lining, the right socks, the right boots, a hat scarf and mitts. Forget about gloves, your fingers stay warmer in mitts.

If properly attired, it's not so bad outside. The brisk air almost feels refreshing, and on most days, there's a good amount of sunshine too. It can be very odd to look outside on what is a seemingly beautiful day, only to step out into blasts of cold air that literally take your breath away.

There's more cold than snow here. We've had snow on the ground since October, but rarely get more than 5 to 10 centimeters in a single storm, which are few and far between. Most of the snow we see on a daily basis is in dirty piles on roads and in parking lots. Some of it is combined into the 3" layer of ice that covers residential roads. It makes winter driving interesting at best.

With so much cold weather this year, reportedly the coldest in 20 years, I've taken to indoor activities. I read, binge on Netflix, keep house, cook and bake. The latter is becoming more and more of a pastime. I've found I love the smell of yeast. Making bread is the very act of creation. You give it life, it grows, you foster it, kneed it, let it continue to grow, shape it for it's intended purpose and then fire it into an ideal stasis, ready for consumption. It's a full cycle, that it repeat a couple of times a week, reminding me that winter too is part of a cycle, and soon no doubt, we go onto the next step.