Apple-picking – an autumn highlight

Willowviewfarms Abbotsford, BC

Perfect apples at Willow View Farms in Abbotsford, BC

When we moved from Vancouver to the Fraser Valley almost 5 years ago, I remember asking a friend who lived here what moms do out here with their young kids. I was trying to find similar entertainment for myself and my toddlers to what I had been used to in Vancouver and Port Moody. Her response was to name one of the local orchards.

What? I thought – what is this place, that it could be the thing to do? I think I was picturing things more like weekly library children’s programs or other such programs.

It’s funny because over the years, it really has become that sort of an experience for our family and friends each fall. We go to the orchard every week or two to pick apples and buy fresh cider, squash and pumpkins. Our kids love playing on the playground there and visiting the farm animals. Once in a while we get a coveted caramel apple or go on a hay ride. And every year since my daughter started preschool, we’ve gone on at least one field trip here.

Some seasons, we’ve tried to make a weekend ritual of going to the farm and then hosting a brunch at our house, or serving up a huge stack of pancakes while the kids play at our house and then hitting the orchard afterward. It really is a great excuse to gather, and is a highlight for our family.

pumpkins and plums

Camping at Chilliwack Lake: nature therapy

Chilliwack Lake, BC

Chilliwack Lake, BC

This is another ode to the summer that was, the epic, endless summer of 2014 in British Columbia where the teachers’ strike added an extra 5 weeks to summer. Now that is all over but I haven’t quite caught up here on sharing my summer highlights. We went camping for a few days at Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park. We camped there over 10 years ago, and have hiked there a few times, but it’s been ages. It’s quite a drive past Chilliwack, and well beyond cell phone service. But it was a wonderful experience for the kids, who biked that campground every daylit moment like only a gang of 5-to-7 year olds can. They found castles and kingdoms of rock.

Driftwood

The lines and contrast of driftwood

A highlight for me, other than the quietness of the campground, the complete lack of mosquitoes and insects at this time of year, and the company of friends, was the hike to Lindeman Lake. It’s a beautiful turquoise lake that took about 45 minutes for us to hike up to. It’s fairly steep but I made it, despite being barely into my second trimester of pregnancy. The kids were champions. Of course it always helps when they have friends to play with and they motivate each other onward.

Hiking and camping pals

Hiking and camping pals

I love finding patterns and art that naturally occurs in nature. Check out the pattern on this drifting log:

bug paths on log

The beautiful pattern was drawn by some kind of bug, creeping around under this tree’s bark.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll mention it again: there is nothing more relaxing and fulfilling to me than time spent in nature. These pictures from another day’s hike sums it up. The icy clear water rushing over my feet just washes away the stress or difficulties of the week. And finding all those colourful rocks – honestly they aren’t that colourful when they are scattered all over the riverbed. But with a goal of making a rainbow of rocks, it’s amazing how the colours stand out.

river stones

Cold river water and brilliant river stones

So while summer is officially over, I will try to revel in it a little longer! We try to hike as much as we can, and I’m thankful that is possible almost year round here in British Columbia.

Symmetry

open book and symmetrical mugs

Day 10 – Symmetry

Symmetry is a calming, static element in composition. On day 10 of the artsy forager’s instagram challenge, #artsydefined, I was enjoying a relaxing Family Day holiday, so I enjoyed an easy start to the day with a good book and coffee (above). 

Later in the week, I took a better photo representing symmetry at work. Symmetry is a key element in First Nations art, as seen in the example below.

Kwantlen First Nations artwork outside Sxwimele gifts at Fort Langley National Historic Site

Symmetry: Kwantlen First Nations artwork outside Sxwimele gifts at Fort Langley National Historic Site

 

Juxtaposition

old and new books

Day 9: Juxtaposition

Juxtaposing things is a big deal in art and photography. I can’t imagine an artist talk that doesn’t at some point juxtapose incongruent things: an impoverished person seated in front of a sports or an elderly person holding a newborn infant. So I was surprised that I was having trouble thinking of things to juxtapose. I tried old and new books, and also a large and small spoon.

So the true artsy story today is probably more about what two girls, 30 years apart, were doing whittling spoons in 2014.

spoon carving party

My daughter and I carving spoons.

Here I have juxtaposed my six-year-old and I carving spoons at my friend–and old college room mate’s–party. I love that my friend brought together a bunch of people of all ages to make spoons and then eat a big pot of soup together. I love breaking bread with people and this was a great way to bring creativity into daily life.

This is a big part of what I value about a community: to live life together in a creative way with the people who live near you. My friend has been living this way for years, although not always easy, she is breaking down barriers and walls in her neighbourhood. Living as much as possible without a car. Bringing about life-giving change.

I hope that our family can also start inviting more people near us into our creative lifestyle. For me, that is integrated with enjoying nature together, and just maybe hosting a carving party (or not, I don’t think I’d like cleaning up after that, but maybe a painting party).

In conclusion, I offer up this modern blog chronicle in juxtaposition to the ancient nature of gathering with neighbours to carve spoons and eat from a communal cauldron.

Angle

Angular shadow of soccer net and playground

Day 7: Angle, as measured at the schoolyard.

I love the way the soccer net and its shadow play with angle! And the way the two photos I took on Day 7 for the art element, angle, play together. The composition between the shadow and the chain in the other photo worked out well.

Shadow

shadow of plants and blinds

Shadows at home.

Shadows: what an unusual sight in British Columbia in winter. Perhaps this daily photo challenge is a good way for me to notice how many sunny days we are actually having, to bolster me for the current forecast (rain until February 20). I liked the beautiful morning sunshine in our living room, and this untouched photo of the shadow of a few jugs and dried plants on our piano.

Noticing: that is what this series is all about for me. I have a very busy life right now. I work full time in a somewhat demanding job. I’m a mom to two young children and a wife. It is not always easy to find time for art and creativity, but it is one of my key values. I love being able to have this little key word to look for each day to “notice” life; to experience it.

If I was a high school art teacher, I think I’d make this one of the assignments.

Line

barrel staves leaning on Fort Langley palisade

Walking into work, this line of barrel staves caught my eye.

The challenge on Day 4 was to photograph the element of line. As I walked into work on a beautiful sunny morning, I noticed the line of barrel staves leaning against the palisade.

The palisade itself is such a symbolic line in the course of Fort Langley and BC’s history: it is a line of logs standing to mark a line, by definition, to communicate property between past cultures. Today, it stands and is maintained because of the significance of British Columbia’s proclamation which occurred within its enclosure in 1858.

Here is the railing of the Big House, where the event happened, as well as a bird’s eye view (at least from the office) of the palisade. Both of them create beautiful lines in stark winter sunshine.

Fort Langley railing and wall

Railings and palisade create lines at Fort Langley