Saturday, June 30, 2012


I was afraid of the rain, afraid of what
I’d find in the infinity of drops, at the edge
of language.
mediocrity is not an option instead
we flail, looking for red sea glass looking for songs made of rain looking for children airships compasslessness
Time lurches forward, jerky -
yesterday I was 17, today 28
and all the beach glass is tiny blues
that’s still rare they say
I’ve never found a blue one.
But losing love hurts and so
does rain where it doesn’t belong
We end up in parking lots watching
sunsets on purple water
here it is, love
a lost bird a lost feather
words strung together
a girl without a home but with wings enough to fly.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Toronto's mulberry's

It's mulberry season here in Toronto, all though not many people know it.

Every year around this time, our mulberry trees become heavy with sweet mulberrys, and birds and squirrels can often be seen feasting on this abundance of fruit.  A lot of it, however, especially from the city's public trees, simply goes to waste.

I went to a park today, behind the community centre near one of the places I work.  Ziploc bag in hand, I spent a good half hour happily picking all the ripe fruit within arms' reach, while a squirrel occasionally scolded me from up higher in the tree.  When I had gotten everything I could that way, I stood up on a small metal parking barrier and pulled branches down so I could reach the fruit a little higher up.

What I found very interesting was peoples' reactions as they walked by.  A young boy stopped to stare at me for a few minutes before continuing on, only to keep turning his head back to look at me again.  Mothers holding hands with young children sped up as they passed me, presumably to protect their children from the crazy lady picking wild fruit.

One man on a bicycle slowed and came to a stop, asking "What are they - cherries?"
I replied, "No, they're mulberries!"
"Oh - what do you do with them?"
"Eat them!" I replied cheerfully, and continued to pick.

He then asked what they tasted like, and I said they were sweet when they were fully ripe.  He seemed fascinated, and said "I'll try them next time" before continuing his ride.

Others ignored me entirely, in typical Toronto fashion.  Another man reached up and picked one to pop in his mouth, mid-walk.

Last week, I took the 18-month old I babysit for a walk in this park, and when we passed the tree, I reached up and popped one in my mouth.  She stared at me as if I'd literally sprouted horns out of my head, and looked uneasy.  "Yummy!" I said and smiled, trying to reassure her.  I reached up and picked one more, offering it to her.  She hesitantly smiled and shook her head, saying "No - Ana" so I ate it as well, trying to show her it was safe.  I picked a third, offered it again.  She smiled a little more, still cautious, but again shook her head and said "No - Ana", and seemed amused as I ate yet another one.  (As we continued walking, she pointed to another tree and gestured as if she wanted me to eat something from it as well, so then I had to explain that it was different and not a berry tree!)

While some would say it is sad that we have lost touch with the natural world around us, so much so that we pass by good food literally falling from trees without a second glance, the baby's alarmed reaction to my eating something straight from a tree is also quite fascinating to me.  It highlights how early on we learn how to relate and respond to the world around us, even without language.  Even infants pick up what is good, or bad, safe or not safe, desirable or undesirable - simply from observation.  It really makes you think... but I'll save that for a future post.


If you live in Toronto and have a fruit tree in your yard that you don't have time to harvest and the fruit is going to waste, consider registering your tree at Not Far From the Tree, and a group of volunteers will come and pick your fruit, give you 1/3, keep 1/3 for themselves, and deliver 1/3 to food banks and shelters.  Everybody wins!  Or, if you don't have a fruit tree but want some delicious free fruit, consider volunteering as a fruit picker.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The sounds of Salzburg

Sunday, May 27, 2012

For those not aware, I am currently in Austria, on a tour with my choir.  We are performing nine concerts in Salburg, Linz, Vienna, and Paris.

(I´m writing on paper and posting when I get a chance, but original dates are always included.)

My first two days in Salzburg I was recovering from an apparent food poisoning (likely from airplane food), so I didn´t really get to explore very much.  Today, however, I felt much better, and decided to take advantage of our last morning here by going on an early morning walk.

Last night we had dinner at a "Sounds of Salzburg" show, which included live singing and dancing from the Sound of Music, as well as some Mozart, and Austrian folk music.  It was entertaining, but very touristy and not something I would have gone to on my own.

I wanted the real Salzburg.  I woke up around 7:30 in the morning, had a quick breakfast in the hotel, and made my way down to the river.  I found a park with a playground, where a few people were taking a quiet Sunday morning walk.  Birds sang in the trees, and I tried to take their picture.  As I continued walking along the river, all I heard was birds, a few locals riding their bicybles, the river lapping the shore, and church bells, loud and deep, echoing in the hills.  I breathed in deeply and walked slower.  Here were the true sounds of Salzburg.

As I made my way down the riverside, I went past the turn offs for the town centre and continued walking along some sort of riverside trail.  I kept seeing birds that looked (somewhat) like black-capped chickadees and that sounded (somewhat) like chickadees as well, so I dubbed them "European chickadees" and entertained myself for a while by trying to take their picture as they flitted about.

Even though the trail beckoned me further, I reluctantly turned back, wanting to find the famous Fürst chocolate shop and get original Mozart Kügeln.  After asking for directions about seven times, I finally found it and got said chocolates.  All the while, the bells donged loudly through the square.

When I realized I had more time left than I thought, I decided to go exploring around some smaller, out of the way streets.  I soon found myself next to an inviting staircase, and how could I resist?  Up I climbed, higher and higher into the mountains. There was an extensive trail system through the woods up there, so I went for a hike, with the woods on one side of me and a stunning view of Salzburg on the other.  I was deeply happy up there.  And of course, just as I was musing to myself about the lack of mammals in this country, a small brown "European squirrel" appeared from behind a tree and chirped impatiently at me.

These woods and trails called to me even more than the others, but I had to force myself to turn back, lest I be late for my bus transfer to Linz.

This was my Salzburg.