Monday, 17 December 2012

Good Medicine. Blog 8.

Medicine Beach

Great Blue Heron
For Tekla

We search the hours for solitude,
the quiet of herons in their sleep,
a fisher on the wing who falls
into the waves in search of silver
or a woman making her way through mist
in early morning, delicate as water.
We search for this, a small stone
in the tide, a broken shell, a crab
so still we think it prays, its claws
raised to our hands as if
what we wait for is return.
What do we do with our hours?
We reach for what comes to us
in quiet. There is in us a need
for silence. Look at the woman
who is heron in her mind.
She has made of life a silence.
See how she holds all her life
in her eyes. She walks among stones.
Far from her in the tidal reach
birds rise into the light.
Who goes to her but herself?
What she has held is hers and hers
alone: to watch the quiet of herons,
a kingfisher falling from all the sky
there is upon this quiet
she gives only to herself, a beach
whose medicine is hers and hers alone.

Of Songs and Birds


Tekla and her birder friends.
My mother was an ardent environmentalist and occasional birder. The proceeding poem was written by Patrick Lane, poet and friend, in support of Medicine Beach, a fragile beach adjoining a unique salt water wetland area on one of B.C.'s gulf Islands, Pender, where my mother spent the last 30 years of her life. This poem is published in my father’s book “The Laughing Falcon” in honour of his wife and “tireless” editor.  In the poem, my mother, to whom it was dedicated, is both woman and heron.

The Medicine Beach/ Pender Chorus fundraising t-shirt became two blocks: the frog like creature drawing on one, almost complete, and the words: “Join the Chorus” on the other block. Good Medicine, singing and saving the beach... good medicine, sewing and writing... good medicine, healing my broken foot and heart... good medicine, celebrating my mother’s uniquely rich life. Good medicine indeed.

The medicine frog

Chorus sings to support Medicine Beach

The Point of Brooks Point


I struggled with this t-shirt. It’s thick plastic-y screened image, bright and beautifully executed by Pender Island artist Frank Ducote was difficult to work with, apologies to Frank. I originally had intended to make it into 3” squares but accidentally cut them much smaller at 2”. The image is in extremely vivid colours on black, I was hoping that breaking it up it would blend into the other colours and layouts of the other blocks. I’m not sure that it’s working. 

My inner dialogue with my mother, which I often have while sewing the quilt blocks, “this is my difficult child, unruly and awkward and contrary”... she would laugh at my minor frustrations and then encourage me, as she always did, to work it through. The block is uneven, some of the plastic image is melted, everything is crooked and puckered, my iron has a gummy melted mess on it. Like all difficult children, it should not be neglected.

Silhouetted at Brooks Point
Brooks Point was one of our favorite walks. There was always a special trip out to Brooks Point on South Pender for beach combing, whale watching, barking at the seals and balancing along the driftwood when we would visit. The children would build forts from the bleached wood and there would be a simple picnic of cheese and crackers and my mother’s pickles on logs near the water’s edge. Through the efforts of people like my mother in the Pender Island community, the Capital Regional District in Victoria completed the purchase of Brooks Point in 2010 making it a regional park for all to enjoy in perpetuity. I do not believe in heaven and yet, there, amongst the wet pebbles, the wind, the gulls, and the salt water is a heavenly place where I will always find her.

An unruly block

Browning Bombers

Climbing the Totem
At the local Pender Island Browning Harbour pub, where many, many years ago I saw an unknown band called “Spirit of the West” (link to song, have a listen), it was there that music, guffaws and spilled beer was, and still is, shared by the locals and intermittent weekenders and tourists with great gusto, merriment, and small town friendliness. Local legend has it that my mother was the first to climb the totem pole which stands in the middle of the bar room holding up the roof. Not sure where the fine folks who made up the Browning Bombers Blues Band have gone but, I imagine, a few of them might still be found picking out some blues on a wet coast night just below that famous totem pole.

Browning Pub Blues

Just Mom and Me


Mom and me through the years.


Last photo together, love delivered.
It’s funny the small moments one remembers, the almost insignificant beats of a too-busy life that can wake you from a fitful sleep. When I first learned about my mother’s terminal cancer I struggled like a drowning person, gasping and grasping for all the moments I had had with her, worried that I would lose all memory of them... all those everyday moments, not the special holidays or birthdays that were made famous through photographs and family lore. One morning I woke with great clarity and I remembered with vividness how we would walk, my mother and I, holding hands and making small farting noises by suctioning our hands together. A silly thing that we did from the time I was a little girl until we were both way too old to know better or even care... our little secret. I remembered us walking through a West Vancouver shopping mall and making little farts behind a very uptight and proper ‘blue rinse’ lady, acting shocked, and then suppressing our giggles like the naughty little girls that we were.

Just a thing that we did, holding hands. 

Anticipation and Progress


A few days away from walking without crutches on my once broken, now fixed, foot. My left foot, at least it almost feels like my foot again, goes by the nickname: Liz Frank. Tingling with anticipation and the ever-so-slight feeling of a plate and a few screws inside it... I am trying to get as many quilt blocks done as I can before I will busy myself with the effort of learning to walk again. Although, I am sure a ten minute walk seem like a marathon and the comfort of sewing will draw me back to the smaller yet impressive stack of remaining t-shirts. And, yes, I am still saving my favorite t-shirts for last. 

With such an eclectic mix of blocks and images, I became worried at how it would all work. I set up a template in Adobe Illustrator to contemplate the potential final look, the simple solid colours and borders that I may use to pull all these disparate blocks together. I am pretty happy with the result. No idea how it will all fit, but pretty happy nonetheless.

The queen-sized quilt layout, a loving work in progress.

1 comment:

  1. I Just had another look at the Blog. Proud to Farm. By Tekel Deverll. No award. The True side of Tekel Deverell. Has no right to farming Glory. In reality the opposite Total Abuse of farming as disguise. And behind that Mis use of Justice, with a so called Social Worker