Friday, June 20, 2014

Seven seconds of gratitude.

In 1846, Canadian painter Paul Kane, traveled through the Canadian North West, creating one of the most extensive pictorial renderings of the country and its its aboriginal tribes. When Kane encountered  Kakabeka Falls, near Thunder Bay Ontario he named it the "Niagara of the North." Even more beautiful, he claimed, because of its breathtakingly wild surroundings.

When Bill and I visited the falls earlier this week, it was impossible not to compare it with Niagara. Heavy spring rains had turned the falls into a thundering force of such power that we felt the ground shake as we stood overlooking the plunge it took to the churning river below. The spray from the falls whipped our faces and even soaked the boardwalk skirting its depths. The falls mesmerized us and we stood there, almost unable to pull ourselves away from the view

Bill and I visit the falls every few years but have never seen it churning with color like it was on Tuesday. Reds, browns, mother of pearl, gold, platinum.It resembled molasses taffy, I thought. If any of you have ever made molasses taffy at home, you'll know the wonderful luminous bands of color that steak the confection as it's being pulled and molded.

I recently heard a talk in which the speaker recommended spending at least seven seconds of gratitude when experiencing blessing. There's no better cure for depression, he noted, than living with gratitude. Even in times of darkness, blessings large and small surround us. We only have to keep the eyes of our mind open to discover them. Kakabeka Falls needed no prompting to inspire us to gratitude.Just remembering the sight fills me with wonder.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mating Rituals

Yesterday, as my husband and I sat enjoying an afternoon tea break on our terrace balcony, a sprightly dancer on the lawn drew my attention. Tail erect, white tummy flashing, grey wings flaring, he hopped up and down back and forth while courting a not-very-interested female who turned her back on him constantly. He kept working at it, occasionally popping toward her with subsequent in-air tussle. He worked his dance constantly for close to fifteen minutes and only gave up when several other mocking birds descended to join them. Such diligence, I thought to myself. He was so very earnest, so persistent, that I grew quite fond of him. Actually, I'm very fond of mocking birds which nest in some abundance around our condominium in Florida. Their presence could easily convince a snow-bird that the palms and shrubs host an entire conservatory of singing birds. They start their melodic serenading early in the morning, and sometimes even at night, needing only a bathroom light to trigger their rapid fire imitation of cardinals, warblers, jays, hawks, orioles, robins and keep adding to their repertoire throughout their lives.

In a few days, we'll be leaving our mockingbird friends behind and heading home to Lake Superior where they appear so rarely that their presence is a cause for celebration. As our home is still buried in snow, we're taking our time heading north and will travel through the south eastern states to enjoy the azaleas and rhododendrons in bloom. Perhaps we'll encounter a few mockingbirds along the way to bless our journey.



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kindle Version of The Scent of God Free for download today and tomorrow


I’m thrilled to announce that, after months of effort, the Kindle Version of The Scent of God now appears live on http://tinyurl.com/mexhv9v . I have made it FREE for download on Kindle today, April 12 and tomorrow, April 13. Click the above link and download it for free.

If you don’t have a Kindle but would like to read The Scent of God online, you can download an app at http://tinyurl.com/k59zxqe .

If you read The Scent of God several years ago, you might want to reread it again. I know that while preparing the manuscript for the Kindle Version I had to reread and edit it and actually found myself saying “This is a REALLY good book.”  I hope you will feel the same way after reading it.

Blessings and thanks,

Beryl

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch: A Review

Don’t let the size and weight of Donna Tartt’s 771 page novel, The Goldfinch, put you off.  My first reaction was “Oh Lord, how will I ever hold this, much less read it?” until I discovered that this novel does not need to be pried open page by page, but actually falls open to whatever page you might be reading. Unless you are a discus thrower, however, don’t try to hold and read this book, prop it up on something sturdy and let unravel itself.

That said, the book’s explosive opening – the terrorist bombing of a New York City museum—sucked me into the story. Carel Fabritius’ masterpiece, The Goldfinch, survives the blast (as it did in 1654 when a gunpowder factory next to the artist’s studio, exploded, killing the artist.  Also surviving is a thirteen year old boy, Theo, whose mother dies in the explosion. Theo awakens from the concussive power of the bombing buried in debris along with an old man who points to the dust-covered painting and pleads with Theo to save it. Before dying, he gives Theo a ring and babbles a name and tells him to ring the green bell. What begins as a surreal journey from devastation and loss, gathers momentum as Tartt thrusts us into future, pursuing Toby and the painting through years of suspense, terror and heartache.

While I'd have liked to read The Goldfinch straight through, it’s size demanded I stop more often than I wished. Tartt's eclectic cast of characters leap from page to life: Hobie, the gentle restorer of antique furniture under whose tutelage Toby learns the trade; Toby’s brilliant but gambling addicted father who drags him to Las Vegas where Toby befriends Boris--a Russian teen whose presence throughout much of the book drove me nuts with his unbridled euphoric, eccentric, and peripatetic personality. And then there’s the painting, both treasure and tyrant that drives the story to its violent yet satisfying conclusion.

The book was at least 100 pages too long and I had more than my fill of drug and alcohol abuse running rampant throughout the book  -- from Las Vegas onward. Would I read it again? Perhaps? It’s an amazing, complex, plausible, and gripping and wondrously written hulk of a novel. I wonder if you feel the same way.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Reflectiveness of a quiet lake



“When the pond mirrors the sky, Its soft blue sheen flawless, The pond will reveal its hidden life, A sign for you to dip your hand.”  --
Vic Klimosky, former director of the Benedictine Center at St. Paul’s Monastery, St. Paul, MN


The other day, while gazing out at Lake Superior, waiting for some sign of spring to arrive, I noticed a small flock of golden-eye ducks seemingly floating – one upon another—on the lake. It was reflection of course, but one rarely seen on our perpetually turbulent lake. Only the day before, the lake had been turgid with the runoff from wild rivers racing downhill, filled with snowmelt, mud, and debris. But that day, the lake was blue. The waters totally silent. The silt settled to the bottom, allowing the lake to reflect the immense sky above and the small creatures cruising upon it. Even more amazing was the clarity of the lake's waters. Each rock on the lake bottom next to our shoreline was revealed in all its amazing beauty and color. They were visible for a good 300 feet from the shoreline -- a phenomenon that I'd never witness before.  A perfect metaphor for the messiness of our lives, which … given room to quiet … can assume the same clarity reflective and reflective qualities.