Essays

  • The Alchemy of Hope in the Age of Loneliness - “The dark is rising,” I say to my friend, Vanessa, a photographer who has called to tell me how a bird fell out of the sky and landed at her feet, dead, during her morning walk. She is obsessed with birds. She has hundreds of them in her freezer. Songbirds collected and given a second life captured in chilling, beautiful tableaus where they appear piled and presented like a cake, falling lifeless around the figure of a woman, or held in hand, the colours persistent, their forms perfect, even in death. “The birds are dying. They will continue to die. Like the canaries in the mines,” my friend says. As I write this the CBC is on in the background reporting on the “overlooked biodiversity crisis” represented by the 2.9 billion birds lost in North America alone over the last 50 years. When miners took canaries into the coal mines with them, the birds were to act as warning indicators: the presence of methane or carbon monoxide levels rising would kill the canaries giving the miners enough time to escape before they too succumbed to the toxic air. Here we are, watching the birds die, a warning of things to come, and yet we can’t seem to find our way out.
  • Thoughts on Home - It’s a Very, Very, Very Fine House In the life I lived before coming here, I dreamt of this home. Not precisely this little house perched on rock hanging over the ocean, but nearly. I want there to be space for family and friends, I want water, I want land, I prayed and somehow—in ways more magic than real—here we are.
  • Photograph by Vanessa Filley In Search of the Practical Life - The are mornings where the sky turns orange and then pink and the ocean becomes so still it appears that it is the stable force and the sky is the tumultuous one. On these mornings, I am drawn like a sleepwalker, only awake, out the door and into the ocean. I stop for shoes. Rocks and oysters and barnacles will wake a person up from their dream life faster than coffee and far uglier.
  • Fog. Light. Life - The fog lays over our little island like a child tucked in the bed for night. It’s as if we are all being called to say our prayers and retire the day’s events. There is nothing surrounding us… there are no little rock islands to which to paddle, neighbours to greet, or mountains to reach. Will there even be a tomorrow? Everything that came before is soft like yesterday’s dreams. Some of it vaguely menacing, some of it not.