Monday, April 6, 2015

for tenderness

Against Travel

by Charles Tomlinson

These days are best when one goes nowhere,
The house a reservoir of quiet change,
The creak of furniture, the window panes
Brushed by the half-rhymes of activities
That do not quite declare what thing it was
Gave rise to them outside. The colours, even,
Accord with the tenor of the day—yes, ‘grey’
You will hear reported of the weather,
But what a grey, in which the tinges hover,
About to catch, although they still hold back
The blaze that's in them should the sun appear,
And yet it does not. Then the window pane
With a tremor of glass acknowledges
The distant boom of a departing plane.


I'm sure I've shared this poem a couple of times at least. Because I do love the quiet change of my house, the half-rhymes of that quiet. Last year at this time we were in New York, but this year two days in Jasper was more in the realm of the possible, and also seemed right. The sort of balance between home and holiday that we wished for.

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” 

- John Muir

"Poets are always taking the weather so personally."

- J.D. Salinger

It was spring break here last week, and we spent the first couple days in the mountains, at the Jasper Park Lodge, which is always a treat. We had ALL the weather. One nice day, one rainy day, and then snow, also. (Including a rather nerve-wracking stretch of driving on the way home in white-out conditions). Usually the rates at the lodge are beyond what mere mortals can offer, but on the first couple of days of the week, not bad.

So, we'd brought rain boots, winter coats, toques, umbrellas, everything. A lot for two and a half days. But I enjoyed my walk in the rain more than anything.

We've been coming to Jasper at least once a year since Chloe was four years old, usually at spring break, but sometimes in the summer, too. It's a ritual I love. If I ever win the lottery, I'm going to stay there for a month, in a sweet little cabin at the JPL.

Just driving out of town, I felt my head clear, the voices subside. One begins to look forward to seeing the mountains, the lake, the lodge. My breathing becomes more even, and I'm able to concentrate on just my family. One feels more tender, somehow. One's enthusiasm, does indeed return. The self recedes as the mountains enlarge. And soon you - small, and beautifully insignificant - are in the midst of them. You are new and mortal and they are old and holy and knowing.

"We have to be militants for kindness, subversive for sweetness and radicals for tenderness." 

- Cornel West

{click here to see an image using the quotation}

A little Debussy, perhaps, to go with the remaining photos.

Below is Lac Beauvert, the lake beside which the JPL resides.

Next, a quotation that I found in a book I bought for Chloe upon our return, titled "You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life," by Jen Sincero. Obviously humorous, but also chockfull of great references for the angst-ridden artistic teenager. (Possibly adults, too!).

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!

- Audrey Hepburn

My own personal go-to, for when doubts creep in, as they always do, is this:

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.   

- Virginia Woolf

This always works on me, helps dispel or at least helps me become more ready to live with the doubt, because if Virginia Woolf felt this way, well.

So here, you can see the rain falling on Lac Beauvert.

The chairs that are always in front of the lodge and around the property. The arms a perfect place to balance a glass of wine.

And though you can't see that it was misting and drizzling etc in some of the following shots, it's this that made the lovely background atmosphere.

I usually make it all around the lake a couple of times but this spring because of the weather I didn't attempt it. Still, had a few good wanders along the path beside the lake, visited my favourite rock bed, saw elk, many geese, some deer. Enjoyed the perfect combination of clear lake, mountains, tall trees.

Below is the main lodge, taken from just a little way around the lake.

We enjoyed some good food and drink in the lodge. I really had no great luck taking food photos this year. The light wasn't generally working with me....or I couldn't get myself in the right frame of mind. 

We spent a couple of nice afternoons lingering in the Emerald Lounge in the main lodge. 

And then, this betrayal :)

We'd left Ace in a kennel for the couple of days. But look, the lodge has their own dog, Stanley. Apparently you can take him for a walk etc which was weirdly tempting! But no, we were on holiday even from dog walking. He's a very sweet creature though and extremely popular.

So, these guys were sweet. We kept the recommended 'respectful distance' and in fact there's a fence between me and them, and the photo is super cropped, so perhaps not the best, but the looks on their faces made me laugh.

The day we were leaving, following the day of rain, we woke up to the lake newly frozen, so blue and full of expression.

And I found some trees to lean against while the light streamed down upon me.

The sun came out at last, as Chloe and I were having one last wander before hopping in the car to drive home.

And there she is, leaning against a tree herself.

It was a quick trip, but refreshing. Just what we needed.


  1. These images are incredible! I love the tones and the peacefulness in them.

    1. Thanks, Staci! It really is so peaceful out there. I'm glad that comes through.

  2. We have a place that we've been going to since before having the little one and have continued the tradition since she was born. I love going back again to my favorite places on large lakes (in this case, Lake Superior). I like the opportunity to learn more details about a place and the chance to feel like more than just a tourist. Our trip is coming up again in May. I think the photos are lovely, as always!

    1. I will look forward to yours in May! I think revisiting these places is an opportunity to measure ourselves, too. You know, where were we last year at this time, or five years ago. I love that you do this too!

  3. Thank you again Shawna for a lovely post. The photos, poems and your observations are so nurturing and inspiring. And the accompanying Debussy was perfect. After weeks of editing possessions, getting ready to move to parts unknown, and selling my house it was the perfect way to spend some time trying to fill my well. These posts are such a gift. Thank you again.

    1. Thanks so much, Elizabeth. And wow, moving! Exciting! Wishing you all the best on this adventure.

  4. So beautiful. So beautiful. N.

  5. This was a beautiful photo-essay. We haven't gotten away this year, but I felt transported somewhere else, particularly by your photographs. Thank you, Shawna.

  6. Oh my, what a glorious break you had! This post and your beautiful images, a feast for all my senses! So wonderful!!

  7. So many lovely thoughts, quotes and pictures. Thank you.

  8. Thanks for looking, everyone. You're all good for my ego :)

  9. What a beautiful time away - thank you so much for sharing it, I feel refreshed myself! It really is a wonder, that someone so great as VW, who I believe even had some sense of her greatness still struggled with doubt - what a terrible thing that must have been to live with. xo p.s. love the blog header p.p.s. I wonder, novice "pinner" that I am, are all of your images "pin-able"? I certainly would love to keep many them for both image and colour inspiration on my pinterest boards.

    1. I really wish I could be transported back there at will :) But the photos help.

      Thanks for the kind words! As for pinning, I'm totally okay with anyone pinning. I've pinned some myself. Thanks for thinking they're pinnable :) xo

  10. That lake, so green. The damp, so damp! Beautiful.

    1. Thanks, Theresa! The damp was a nice change from our dry cold, lol.


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