A Bit of Spring… as We Wait… and Wait…

A Bit of Spring for Heidi

Ronald Kok, A Bit of Spring for Heidi, 2018

Last week in this space I posted a small painting I had made for my wife for Valentine’s Day. It was a grouping of six red/orange tulips against a white background. A dear and long-distance friend of ours saw the painting online and commissioned a similar one for herself, only this time with yellow tulips. As she put it from her similarly wintry surroundings, “I am in great need of spring (in my heart and in the weather!)”.

Winter does that to those of us who can’t escape to Cuba or the Dominican Republic or some other such exotic and warm locale. At first, I enjoy Winter. When the snow falls and the skies turn bright blue in the cold, cold days, I really don’t mind. In fact, I love so much about it. But after a few weeks, usually near the end of January, you realize that Winter has come to stay. And it lingers and lingers… The season becomes like a relative that you’re happy to have stay with you for a few days because they’re fun and fresh and provide a distraction… but then they end up staying with you for about four months instead, and start leaving underwear on the floor and peeing on your toilet seat. Winter can be fun and different and enjoyable for a time but then the bad habits of the coldest season show up – Freezing rain (or worse freezing drizzle – the combination of those two words just sounds awful), huge brownish-blobs of heaped up snow along the roadside like a forbidding and ugly mini-mountain range, cars filthy with salt and dirt. Recently, I saw a van so covered in crap that I literally couldn’t tell what color it was originally though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t “River Silt Brown”.

Winter brings its charm but also brutalizes. And it can wear you down as you wait… and wait… and wait. For what? For change. For thaw. For Spring.

I appreciated the chance to revisit tulips in watercolors (thanks, Heidi!). Hopefully, if you are also dragging your feet along, tripping and shuffling through the most dire days of Winter, my simple offering of the promise of Spring gives you hope and a bit of renewed energy. Always at about this time of year, I have to remind myself that, to quote Oprah Winfrey, “A NEW DAY IS ON THE HORIZON!” I know she wasn’t talking about Spring but I hear her voice in my head as I’m thinking about it.

As I know what’s coming, eventually, every year as we go into Winter, I’m beginning to see that I may need to paint more Spring flowers come February. It is a good way to beat back the blahs and bring in the joyful expectation.

So enjoy this bit of Spring as you wait… and wait…. and wait…

 

Falumphingly Me

frozen footsteps

Falumphingly Me

Frozen footsteps falumphed in snow
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Signs of resistance to suburbian flow
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Like some wandering Jew it seems
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Deep creviced steps under sun beams
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Who forged this new path in winter’s ice?
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Avoiding a sidewalk that shovelled so nice?
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Be it child, or teen or wayward accountant
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Like a rebel she strode, her own course she went
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Why does this deeply impress itself on me?
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Why stop to snap what I happened to see?
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Perhaps my own path in the snow I saw
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Purposely falumphing, breaking unseen law
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Never a straight line, curving this and that
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Effortful, fun, frustratingly unpat
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Am I going anywhere, is there an end?
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Walking a way to somewhere which bends?
Falumph, falumph, falumph

I really have no clue, and there’s the key
Falumph, falumph, falumph
So best to keep being falumphingly me
Falumph, falumph, falumph

 

– Ronald Kok, February 4, 2018

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 68: Winter Haiku

A couple of years ago, after the coldest February in Ottawa ever recorded (daily low average temp was a frigid -21 c) I posted this article containing Winter Haiku. As we endure winter’s last gasps here in Canada, I thought it appropriate to share these pithy poems again…

Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry, three lines of unrhymed verse, normally in the pattern of five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables respectively. There are many ways we try to keep winter at bay in this part of the world but perhaps poetry is the least prosaic way of all. I have included a few written by my wife Monique (noted in the text). The rest are my own.

May these simple lines assist you to awake from your frozen slumber to a Spring that will undoubtedly dawn… sometime… we hope.

winter claw

Winter Haiku

Shovel snow today
Shovel tomorrow; repeat
Sisyphus digs it

Frozen face and hands
Imagine how cold I’d be
If I was outside

Groundhog is sleeping
Just leave him alone already
He knows nothing
(Monique)

Hundred words for snow
They say the Inuit have
They only have four
(Monique)

My butt is frozen
How’s that even possible?
It’s insulated
(Monique)

DSC_0222

Chickadees thrive here
Tiny feathery fluff balls
Without furnace heat

Too cold for the geese
Though Canadian they be
Is too friggin’ cold

The lake is ice hard
But soon we’ll cut through it with ease
Doing the backstroke
(Monique)

We skate on a lake
Where just a few months ago
We were swimming
(Monique)

Layers of flannel
Wool socks, three blankets, too
Makes making love hot

Winter’s grip is hard
Its breath is sheer bitterness
It needs to chillax

We gripe and complain
Yet without Jack’s Frostiness
There’s no Great White North

O R 7

When comes the icing
The ponds and lakes and rivers
Become hockeyland

My cold car won’t start
But it’s tough to get upset
It needs a day off

You can see my breath
The only visible sign
That I’m still alive

The days get shorter
While frigid nights get longer
Sun is so precious

Shimmering display
Nature crowned with white glory
Beauty can be cold

It’s hard to believe
Beneath the snowy stratum
Lies Spring awaiting

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 51: A Gallery of Ice

Today is the final day of Winterlude 2017 here in Canada’s capital city. One of the privileges of living in Ottawa is being able to easily access special events like these. 2017 also happens to be the year of Canada’s 150th birthday. Ottawa will be at the center of that celebration and I am looking forward to all that is in store.

Each year Winterlude provides a great context to enjoy the season that must be embraced to be survived in our part of the world. By that I don’t mean you are necessarily in any physical danger (we do have central heating, wooly socks, Tim’s coffee and other Canadians to keep us warm). What I mean is that winter can drag you down with its short days, cold temps, seemingly endless shovelings, ice pellets, and potholes… lots of potholes. But to only focus on the negative of the season is to miss the magic and the beauty, the fun and brilliant sunshine, the sheer joy of the bracing cold that makes you feel wondrously alive. Embracing it is key to making it through.

Thank God, then, for Winterlude. The city of Ottawa puts on a wintry party every year with lots of opportunities for fun, music, food and, the annual highlight, sculptures of ice. Last week Friday evening, my wife, son and I went downtown to take in some of the festivities and to enjoy the skillful and creative work of sculptors from all over the world.

Below is a gallery of these impermanent masterpieces (they will all melt, after all). If you aren’t able to be in Ottawa to enjoy Winterlude or have the misfortune of living somewhere where there is no winter (poor you), here’s a chance to see the beauty of this frigid season captured in ice…

dsc_0328

“Surfing with Dolphins” by Ross & Antonio Baises, the Philippines

dsc_0332

“Dew Drop” by Kevin Ashe & Nathan McKeough, Canada

dsc_0335

“Sweet Dreams” by Lawrence MacFarlane & Scott Harrison, Canada

dsc_0337

“To a Lucky Star” by Valeriy Batalov & Eduard Ponomarenko, Russia

dsc_0340

“Liquid Dream” by Angelito Baban & Fermin Jr. Gomez, the Philippines

dsc_0346

“Dream Come True Bird” by Junichi Nakamura & Hideshi Terada ,Japan

dsc_0349

“Wish for a Fish” by Egor Stepanov & Alexey Andreev, Russia

dsc_0352

“Whale in the Wind” by Stephen Koch & Heather Brice, U.S.A.

dsc_0361

“Dream Weaver” by Dean Murray & Michael Stoddart , U.S.A.

dsc_0354

“Peace and Love in the World” by Samuel Girault (France) & Michael Mizula (Poland) – Grand Prize winner

Winter Haiku

We just got through a February in Ottawa that was the coldest ever recorded in this part of the world. Our daily average low temperature was a frigid -21 c. It seemed appropriate to me to put a long, cold winter in its place with a terse form of verse. I chose Haiku. Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry, three lines of unrhymed verse, normally in the pattern of five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables respectively. There are many ways we try to keep winter at bay but perhaps poetry is the least prosaic way of all. I have included a few written by my wife Monique (noted in the text). The rest are my own.

May these simple lines assist you to awake from your frozen slumber to a Spring that will undoubtedly dawn… sometime… we hope.

winter claw

Winter Haiku

Shovel snow today
Shovel tomorrow; repeat
Sisyphus digs it

Frozen face and hands
Imagine how cold I’d be
If I was outside

Groundhog is sleeping
Just leave him alone already
He knows nothing
(Monique)

Hundred words for snow
They say the Inuit have
They only have four
(Monique)

My butt is frozen
How’s that even possible?
It’s insulated
(Monique)

DSC_0222

Chickadees thrive here
Tiny feathery fluff balls
Without furnace heat

Too cold for the geese
Though Canadian they be
Is too friggin’ cold

The lake is ice hard
But soon we’ll cut through it with ease
Doing the backstroke
(Monique)

We skate on a lake
Where just a few months ago
We were swimming
(Monique)

Layers of flannel
Wool socks, three blankets, too
Makes making love hot

Winter’s grip is hard
Its breath is sheer bitterness
It needs to chillax

We gripe and complain
Yet without Jack’s Frostiness
There’s no Great White North

O R 7

When comes the icing
The ponds and lakes and rivers
Become hockeyland

My cold car won’t start
But it’s tough to get upset
It needs a day off

You can see my breath
The only visible sign
That I’m still alive

The days get shorter
While frigid nights get longer
Sun is so precious

Shimmering display
Nature crowned with white glory
Beauty can be cold

It’s hard to believe
Beneath the snowy stratum
Lies Spring awaiting