July has been a wet month so far here in Alberta. Walking my little rescue pup, has left us often soaked, but when we do manage to escape a thunder storm and finally catch a break in the clouds, we enjoy the sunshine to the fullest. Sammie is an enjoyable addition to my life – my step count have gone through the roof! Another good point in our writing life – bum off seat for exercise.
The weather can affect our writing too. Sunny days draw us out into the warmth away from our usual writing spot. A patio or deck, balcony or beach or mountain retreat become our new inspiring spot. Cold weather has the opposite effect – cozy in front of a fire, huddled in blankets and fluffy socks. Whatever the weather, our writing changes ever so subtly. We may not even realize it.
Do you write more in the colder months or does creating outside in the sunshine increase your word count?
Do your character’s situations reflect how you feel? Frustrated not to be outside in the warmth? Or happy not to have to trek through snow drifts?
Are your characters experiencing your weather or climate? Does it change how you write the scene? Or does it inspire you to accelerate their situation to extremes of weather?
With the effects of COVID19 across the world, we have either found writing to be an escape or a block on it. Maybe, we cannot find the inspiration for a narrative but our journal writing has increased. A record of our experience for future reference.
Have you written a scene a certain way because of the weather you were experiencing at that time? There are ways weather can be used in a narrative. It can give a mood or be symbolic, or even complicate the character’s situation.
I have currently returned to a manuscript, where the main protagonist escapes into the wild and the current storms helped set the mood. I could feel the intense foreboding, the expectation, the fear of the next thunderclap.
What weather inspired writing have you experienced in 2020 so far?
When we first came to Canada it was a trial run over Christmas – not the time you would think is best to get an idea of the country. However, we were thinking of moving to Alberta, where the winter’s are harsh and temperatures drop to ridiculous lows -40 at times. Yes you read that right!
So why come in winter? Because we thought if we came in the most harrowing season and liked it then the rest of the year would be a breeze. Little did we know. The decision was made and we immigrated – there were many obstacles to overcome, too many to go through here that’s for sure – but we arrived in September 2007.
My first morning the sun was shining, the leaves were golden and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. If you have ever been to England we always have clouds. Then the next day it was the same, and the next. It was unusual to me but also pleasing. By the beginning of October we saw our first snow and it was a novelty. Big piles of snow (at that time) were rare in England so we took advantage of all the winter themed activities available. It was fun but as the years passed and the snow came early and stayed, the novelty soon wore off. Vacationing in a winter wonderland is very different to living in one – that was our lesson learned.
There are so few green trees during the greyness of winter and that is what I miss the most. The green lushness year round of England. Albertan seasons are not like ‘home’ – spring is almost an overnight experience – a faint green flush one morning and then the grey sticks of winter suddenly become vibrant emerald and lime green. Summer creeps in and heats up the land in some cases +40 (yes it is a land of extremes). Then fall (autumn to my English friends) comes turning gold and red but only staying for a brief while before the leaves drop.
The snow arrives normally before Halloween and leaves sometime in April or even May – it is a winter gripped land for a long time and we have to live with it. There are many devices that make the winter’s easier – winter tires (tyres), auto-start for the vehicles, so you can warm it up before getting in, in-door shopping malls, winter sports and events, fire pits and Jacuzzi’s.
It has been an adjustment for us all and over time we have found ways of coping but we all wish for one more day without snow! We know it is coming and cherish the time without.
This week most of my time will be dealing with the planning of future events, for instance I have a meeting with the local transit director tonight. This is to discuss shuttle buses to the Heritage Day event hosted by the Arts & Culture Council of Strathcona County in June. I also have to create a schedule for performances for the event too. One of the disadvantages of all this pre-planning is how quickly the year goes by! With an AGM and conference in April, a writing retreat in May, the Heritage Day in June and the upcoming Words in the Park event, which is part of Alberta Culture Days in September – poof the year has almost gone!
I have to take a step back sometimes and look at what month I am actually in. The years pass quickly enough as it is.
How about you? Do the seasons come and go at an alarming rate?
Other local events:
March 30, 2017 7:00 pm Whitemud Crossing Library (Whitemud Crossing Shopping Centre, 4211 – 106 Street)
The WGA and EPL present an evening of new work from six multicultural, multilingual writers in celebration of the completion of the 2016 Borderlines Writers Circle. Join Nermeen Youssef, Tazeen Hasan, Mohamed Abdi, Kate Rittner-Werkman, Asma Sayed, and Aksam Alyousef for poetry, short story, historical fiction, memoir and nonfiction.
As an expat myself, I know the trials and tribulations of moving to another country. I moved from the lush green of England, where I could easily travel to the sea in a mere forty minutes. Days of dull and grey weather were the norm and we were used to the rain! However, my family, the centuries old history, and the glorious countryside are what I miss the most.
I now live landlocked in Alberta, Canada, where the winters are long and extremely cold but the summers are hot and we have sunshine a large amount of the time year round. It was so unusual to wake up to sunshine seven days running that my body was in shock. Now when we experience a dull cloudy day, we refer to it as “English’ weather! To get to the ocean requires a flight or several days driving.Canada has enabled me to pursue a passion for writing; given my children an advantage in life and the people have warmly embraced us.
Let’s look at the Pros and Cons:
A new country means new experiences for you and your family, such as different cultures, customs, laws, and often languages. You will taste unknown foods and get to experience day to day life that may be a polar opposite of what you are used to. Meeting new people from other backgrounds will broaden your horizons and give you an insight into their culture.
Language may initially be a barrier, although it is best to learn the language before moving. It will make the transition easier and lessen misunderstandings. It can also enable you to find work quicker and benefits your resume/CV when relocating.
Financial benefits can be an incentive to move as many countries have a lower cost of living enabling you to stretch your finances. Although initially there maybe a financial burden due to the extra costs of moving, monthly bills and required purchases, such as vehicles.
A common reason to move is to have a fresh start giving the feeling of freedom and possibilities. You can also form new friendships and interests, which benefit you socially and emotionally.
Actually uprooting yourself from all that is familiar and comfortable is a stressful endeavor. It is best to research, investigate and meticulously plan everything prior to moving. This will lessen the culture shock to some extent while you find housing, and work.
There is an element of risk that must be considered. A job may fall through or you have not had confirmation of a position. You will probably have to sell all your belongings or spend a considerable sum on transporting them. Your accommodation may not be as expected. Again with careful planning these risks can be minimized.
The largest toll on you will be the emotional one. Living far away from family is the hardest burden to bear. You will miss the simplest of moments, like popping round to a family members house for a quick chat or taking part in seasonal celebrations. There is technology available although it is not the same as being there.
It will take some time to get accustomed to the new country and you need to be patient with yourself. Accepting the ‘new’ and embracing it will help.
I will give you a couple of instances of things I encountered and had not realized prior to moving to Alberta. One the price shown on the item you purchase is not the price you pay! There is 5% GST (tax) added at the check out. Also unlike the English 2-3 week’s vacation per year for each employee, here you do not automatically get vacation until you have worked one year with a company. When you change jobs you start again!
What has been your experience of moving to a new country?
Perennial 1) present at all seasons of the year 2) continuing to live from year to year 3) recurring regularly: permanent
I have inherited some of my Mother’s expertise when it comes to plants but in no way, shape or form, am I, as green thumbed as she is. From a handful of seeds she can nurture a whole garden of flowers, vegetables and shrubs, which are healthy, vibrant and productive. My gardening is limited to digging a hole, placing the victim, umm plant, into it with a generous helping of plant food, watering for several days and then letting nature take its course. As for in-door plants I do tend to have them growing happily for many years – so I must be doing something right. Case in point, a friend gave me a sleigh shaped planter three Christmas’ ago and it’s still lush and green. Real plants are a treasure in the dark winter months, just their aroma can transport you to summer warmth. We all know the benefits of having real plants in the house – oxygenating – but they are so much more. As you can see from this list from http://www.bayeradvanced.com
5 Benefits of Houseplants
When you embellish interior spaces with houseplants, you’re not just adding greenery. These living organisms interact with your body, mind and home in ways that enhance the quality of life.
When you breathe, your body takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This opposite pattern of gas use makes plants and people natural partners. Adding plants to interior spaces can increase oxygen levels.
At night, photosynthesis ceases, and plants typically respire like humans, absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. A few plants – orchids, succulents and epiphytic bromeliads – do just the opposite, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Place these plants in bedrooms to refresh air during the night.
As part of the photosynthetic and respiratory processes, plants release moisture vapor, which increases humidity of the air around them. Plants release roughly 97 percent of the water they take in. Place several plants together, and you can increase the humidity of a room, which helps keeps respiratory distresses at bay. Studies at the Agricultural University of Norway document that using plants in interior spaces decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs.
Plants remove toxins from air – up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours, according to NASA research. VOCs include substances like formaldehyde (present in rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke and grocery bags), benzene and trichloroethylene (both found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents and paint). Benzene is commonly found in high concentrations in study settings, where books and printed papers abound.
Modern climate-controlled, air-tight buildings trap VOCs inside. The NASA research discovered that plants purify that trapped air by pulling contaminants into soil, where root zone microorganisms convert VOCs into food for the plant.
Adding plants to hospital rooms speeds recovery rates of surgical patients, according to researchers at Kansas State University. Compared to patients in rooms without plants, patients in rooms with plants request less pain medication, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, experience less fatigue and anxiety, and are released from the hospital sooner.
The Dutch Product Board for Horticulture commissioned a workplace study that discovered that adding plants to office settings decreases fatigue, colds, headaches, coughs, sore throats and flu-like symptoms. In another study by the Agricultural University of Norway, sickness rates fell by more than 60 percent in offices with plants.
A study at The Royal College of Agriculture in Circencester, England, found that students demonstrate 70 percent greater attentiveness when they’re taught in rooms containing plants. In the same study, attendance was also higher for lectures given in classrooms with plants.
How Many Plants?
The recommendations vary based on your goals.
To improve health and reduce fatigue and stress, place one large plant (8-inch diameter pot or larger) every 129 square feet. In office or classroom settings, position plants so each person has greenery in view.
To purify air, use 15 to 18 plants in 6- to 8-inch diameter pots for an 1,800-square-foot house. That’s roughly one larger plant every 100 square feet. Achieve similar results with two smaller plants (4- to 5-inch pots).
How is your green thumb? Any tips for a lackadaisical gardener?
When I read the definition for perennial, I was struck by how my writing and the love of words stays with me no matter the season or my location. Even on my Palm Springs vacation, you could find me typing away in the early morning before our various excursions and then again in the evening, recapping our day. It is an addiction to write – wanting those words to flow onto the paper or computer screen and flourishing.
As each year passes, I find new styles, genres and skills are added to my repertoire, each a new stem, branch or flower to the fundamental root system of my passion for the written word. Every segment has a part to play and makes a wonderfully intriguing and enticing whole. Some work may bud and flower quickly, then fall to the way side, others will form into significant pieces and grow strong and robust.
As I was searching for some nice photos for this article I happened upon an interesting Wikipedia site, detailing The Perennial Philosophy. I must admit I had no idea of this research and so detoured for a read. One quotation struck me:
“If one is not oneself a sage or saint, the best thing one can do, in the field of metaphysics, is to study the works of those who were, and who, because they had modified their merely human mode of being, were capable of a more than merely human kind and amount of knowledge.”
My interpretation on this philosophy is, we all have the ability to modify ourselves and grow beyond our self imposed expectations and capabilities. We can develop into a many faceted and established writer, with or without the publishing contract. After all we can survive and flourish without the plant food but if given it we are able to bloom.