For the first time in possibly ever, I have no New Year's resolutions. No desperate bursts of will-power, no lists of deficiencies to correct - just a decision to leave my feet solidly on the ground and navigate the chaos, challenge and uncertainty of the coming year with ridiculous amounts of joy and optimism.
As we wound down the switchbacks of a sweltering southern British Columbia highway this summer, it was the dog that caught our eye, scurrying back and forth in his seat and clearly having the ultimate face-out-the-window experience. While I'm sure there are many reasons why this is technically Not A Good Idea, I am equally confident that almost any dog on earth would gladly trade old age for the chance to ride in a sidecar on the open road.
Speaking of boldly going places, I've gotten it into my head to embark on the educational process towards a new career. Actually, it's more of a parallel career stream to the one I left five years ago, but since their respective channels are carved very deep, there was no way to truly get from one to the other (and I am very very sure that I want to be in one and not the other) without going right back to the beginning. Thus, I'm presently working my way through a selection of senior undergrad psychology courses, preparatory to applying to a Masters program and hoping like heck that 15+ years of hard core experience in a related field will stand me in good stead. (Also that my brain works as well as it did 20 years ago, though based on my first final exam, I think that's reasonably likely.)
The plan (if all goes well) is to do undergrad and the first phase of grad school entirely by distance learning, to allow me to be present for my kids and (nearly) equally importantly, to continue the yarn business. Summer was challenging, but with the return to school day routines, I think the yarn/university duo is doable. Apart from the financial imperative, one of my prime goals in this endeavour is balance - to hold on tightly to the creative identity that was crushed insensible by the Other Profession. Remember the ridiculously cryptic Athena post? This decision was essentially the point, and I'm holding on tight to Athena's model of womanhood: textile artist, intellectual, warrior, and protector of heroes. It works.
The first day of school was only an hour, and it was the first decently hot day this "summer," so I squelched down my guilt, played hooky from a thousand and twelve urgent tasks and we took the kids up Whistler mountain for a picnic hike.
On the way to our favorite picnic spot, this happened:
It was a magnificent gift. What struck me most, apart from the unbearable cuteness, was that Mama was the one who took the initiative to play, rolling about and gently dragging her cub into the tussle. Even when she judged it time to leave the lovely cool snow and get back to the serious business of eating (and it is a very serious business, with winter approaching on the heels of a lousy berry crop, and males hogging all the best territory, as usual) she let him push her over every few steps in what was clearly a "just one more minute, Mom!" ploy.
I love my children more than life itself, but summer's inherent lack of routine combined with a return to university studies rather overtaxed my juggling abilities (as those of you who haven't given up on me may have noticed!)
Full school days resume tomorrow, as does the possibility of a predictable work schedule on my part. Schemes are afoot: a big colourway series with pattern support and other cool features is in the works for fall, a largish store update is planned for later this week, regular blogging is fervently envisioned....
But for now, I'm going to work the stress kinks out of my neck and indulge in the happy glow of possibility!
I never cease to be amazed and thankful for the trails on our very doorstep. The fragrance of the forest on a warm day, dappled sunlight filtering through trees, the buoyant spring of a pine needle laden trail, pillows of moss, babbling brooks.... it truly is luxury for the soul and the senses.
Cedar boughs reflected in a swampy bit filled with kid-sized skunk cabbage:
Caterpillar exploring the precipice of a weathered footbridge:
Little dogwood stars speckling the undergrowth:
Tiny flowers, barely noticeable until you lie down on the trail to peer into their bright pink faces:
Magical kingdoms of lichen and moss on every rotting stump:
Luminous red berries:
The aforementioned babbling brook, invigorated by the meltwater of a very snowy winter and unusually late spring:
And the squirrel. Because it wouldn't be a proper hike without a squirrel:
I have lots more to tell you about life and yarn and why I've been kind of absentish for a bit.... but that takes more brainpower than I've got today. Soon.
This morning was part 2 of the Grade 5 bear watching experience... though since the massive amount of snow we had this winter is lingering well down the mountain, there are actually more bears hanging out in places like the golf courses and our front yard than there are on the slopes.
Nevertheless, we spotted this handsome fellow striding across a ski run / meadow:
Our local bear expert and tour guide, Michael Allen, believes him to be one of the largest bears in the valley, second only to his massive father, Slumber.
Panting a little on the warm day, he appeared to be heading for a cool stream on the other side of the run.
To the delight of the class, he paused to relieve himself just before disappearing over the crest of the hill. I'm afraid I missed that particular photo-op, but in answer to the age-old question "does a bear s**t in the woods?" I have to say that I have only ever seen their scat in meadows and the middle of trails, usually those which are fairly open and well-travelled. It's purely anecdotal, of course, but they seem to show little inclination to disappear discretely into the bushes!