Tag Archives: serenity

The Wild Life of Living in the Country

But with farm land surrounding us, I didn’t expect to feel quite so unenlightened and “green” when it came to the animal kingdom. It’s like I turn into a kid again when I see or hear things for the first time.

Shortly after we arrived I experienced flying ants for the first time. It was a very weird sensation, as I had no idea an ant could fly, but out here they do. They are quite the annoyance if you are trying to get something accomplished and they persistently fly back no matter how many times you try to shoo them away. Fortunately, the wave of flying ants was over after about two weeks.

When taking a stroll or working outside, it’s not uncommon to hear cows in the distance, a sound that I haven’t heard in ages. It’s a sound that brings me great joy, as a reminder of our more peaceful surroundings. I never thought that a cow mooing would have such a relaxing effect, but it does.

Just down the street, one of our neighbours has a couple of horses. I don’t recall been near a horse since a pony ride maybe 50 years ago. One day I was driving by, only to see one of the horses relieving itself (#1) which totally blew my mind as I finally witnessed and understood the saying “peeing like a racehorse”.

I was surprised that we didn’t have more squirrels and chipmunks, but the ones we have are more than enough as they seem to be in a bit of a “West Side Story” turf war. My partner and I have both seen the chipmunk get very aggressive with the squirrel and even take a swipe at him. That chipmunk is quite a scrapper!

In the peak summer months, we had crickets… in numbers I have never seen before. At dusk, you can’t walk without having them clear a path for you. It’s a little unnerving as it’s like the grass is moving.

Around that same time, we spotted a skunk sauntering across our lawn, just the one time, as if it were using our lawn as a pathway with a definite destination in mind. We were relieved that it didn’t find cause to check out the house.

Similarly, as I was making lunch one day, from the kitchen window I spotted a baby-sized groundhog, lumbering by as if he had a lunch date somewhere.

I had heard that we had foxes in the neighbourhood, but it took a few months before I spotted them. I was returning from a socially-distanced grocery run, only to find a little red fox darting out of nowhere. I jumped and gasped, from the element of surprise. While I am not a speed demon by any stretch of the imagination, the abundant wildlife is even more reason to drive slowly on our little country road. I wouldn’t want a shattered eco system on my conscience.

When it comes to birds, we have had a day here and there that would make you think we were shooting an Alfred Hitchcock movie, just from the sheer number and variety we have. While some share their joyful songs of summer, others are seemingly squawking angrily at each other.

On one of the hottest, driest summer days, we had to break from our work day to observe a mother wild turkey and her “rafter” (or flock) of chicks walking around our property seeking shade and likely water. It was quite a fascinating sight and also a vocabulary-boosting experience as I didn’t know turkeys came in a “rafter”.

Our venture to the country also brought my sightings of an owl, bats as well as varieties of butterflies I had never seen before.

It has been one continuous episode of National Geographic, right in our own backyard. I really do love it!

Next year, when we aren’t quite so busy with home improvements, I look forward to getting the camera gear out and snapping some of those elusive photos of a day in the life of Mother Nature.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link. Sincere thanks for reading! Have a great day, André

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Savouring the Calm Country Life

When my partner first suggested moving to the country, I cannot say I was hugely conflicted by the question.

There were indeed a number of factors to consider and this move would be a pretty big change for this city boy. But the part that required no thought whatsoever was the prospect of having almost no neighbours… and almost no neighbour noise. That part sounded like heaven to me.

I could write a book about my dealings with noisy neighbours, having experienced the good, the bad and the ugly over the last 30 years.

When we pick a place to live, there is always a package deal of pros and cons to consider before signing on the dotted line. No matter how perfect a place may seem, there will be irritants for which patience and some degree of compromise will be needed on both parts.

And just like anything in life, nothing is really certain nor permanent. Great neighbours, as well as the lousy ones, come and go.

As much as I enjoyed my last house for 19 years, it wasn’t without its moments of blaring stereos, roaring cars, screaming kids, disobedient dogs, industrial vehicles and 3:00 a.m. parties, but that’s life in the city when you have neighbours. Part of that package deal was ideal proximity to transit, shopping and an abundance of cultural events.

It didn’t matter if “quiet enjoyment of premises” was supposed to be a reassuring clause in each of my apartment leases or in the big book of condo rules, but someone’s urge to make noise always seemed greater than my craving for the calm to recover from the roar of city life. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, home, Humour

New Year’s Resolution 2018: Inner Peace (Again!)

When I look back on last year’s blog post “Resolution: Inner Peace”, I remember how tired I was with the status quo at that time. For someone who is usually seen as positive, upbeat and generally calm, cool and collected, something just wasn’t right. Even in life’s quietest moments, I found my core jumping into “fight or flight” mode and didn’t know why. Little stressors were sparking up stronger reactions within me and anxiety was starting to take over.

I also found myself having a hard time letting go of chapters that were seemingly concluded. This wasn’t me! As this prolonged over time, I found my energy was heading downhill.

Despite having a huge tool kit of stress management techniques that I had accumulated over the years, I just couldn’t keep these stressors in check and to get past them. Negative emotions were festering and growing. I couldn’t get the upper hand on the situation and I didn’t know why.

I felt like I was headed the wrong way down a one-way street and getting farther away from the more serene self that I aspire to be. My 2017 resolution for seeking out inner peace was probably the best declaration I ever made. I was prepared for change.

Three anxiety attacks into 2017, I had hit my limit. It was time to seek help. My referral to a psychotherapist was the catalyst that helped me begin to break the cycle of anxiety.

But it wasn’t easy. I would say this was one of the toughest projects I had ever undertaken, having to recall and relive many of the stressors throughout my lifetime to find out what they had in common. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, How to, Inspiring, mental health, Misc blogs

How Doing Nothing Takes Work and Discipline

Not too long ago, I booked off a day in the middle of the week, with my mind racing as to all the things I could get accomplished and how much I could get ahead in my to-do list.

Weekends can get pretty busy between social engagements and with the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, the laundry and trying to find a few minutes to recharge for the week ahead.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change a thing about my routine. It’s just that after a busy work week with all of its trappings and weekends that are bustling with activity, the prospect of a day off in the middle of the week is an offer with limitless possibilities.

But the question is: do I really NEED to do anything?

As much as I can be an extrovert who likes to be around people, if my environment delivers a steady stream of stimulating activities (even fun ones), I know that I need a break to balance things out to not get overwhelmed.

It is probably no accident that my hobbies have leaned toward quieter, more introspective moments, like writing, reading, nature photography, painting and running. The trick is to ensure I spend enough time on those recharging activities, to build up the energy reserves for the more extroverted side of me to come through in busier times.

But I think part of the problem is that I have been programmed for productivity. Having been brought up in a climate of “make hay while the sun shines”, “the early bird catches the worm” and “idle hands are the devil’s tools”, sitting still does not come naturally. As I hinted in my blog post “Being Bored Was Not an Option”, when I was young, if I ever thought to myself that I was bored, somehow, magically, my dad would show up with a broom or a rake in hand and a list of chores. That being the case, I never allowed myself to get bored. Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Inspiring, Misc blogs

How My Cat Convinced Me to Get Her a Water Fountain

When the season changes from winter to spring, I find that Ivy the Wonder Cat also seems to go through some changes. After being cooped up in the house with the windows closed for a harsh Canadian winter, those first blasts of fresh air with all of the delightful aromas of spring, seem to get her senses and her excitement levels running high again.

In doing so, she also starts shedding her winter coat and her tastes shift from heartier comfort foods to lighter meals (maybe I’m projecting a little on that last one), but true enough, she starts turning her nose up on some of the heavier pâté style cat foods.

But for the last two springs I also noticed that she seems prone to short periods of kitty constipation. Without going into too many details, when I finally do see the nuggets in the litter box coming at 3 or 4 day intervals, I think that passing those little rocks mustn’t be fun for my feline friend.

Last year, I tried adding pumpkin puree to her food to add a bit more gentle fiber to her meals, but Miss Ivy sees right through my mixing and masking. My little carnivore would rather eat more dry food than eat something from the fruit and vegetable food group.

The issue is that no matter how many times I clean and freshen her food bowl, I never see her drink much water, at least not on my watch. If she eats more dry food, that interval between trips to the litter box could get longer and get me more concerned. Continue reading

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Filed under Cats, How to, Humour

Why I Love Nature Photography

PhotographyOn my last day off, I couldn’t have asked for a better day weather-wise. The sun was shining, the sky was a stunning shade of blue, there was a gentle breeze and the temperature was a picture-perfect 20 degrees Celsius.

When deciding how I was going to spend this precious day off, I knew that grabbing the camera and spending an hour or so around a nearby creek was at the top of my list.

Upon my arrival, it took less than five minutes to get completely absorbed into the creative bubble of this enchanted forest, focused on a world of tiny subjects in their intricate detail.

Thoughts of the real world had completely suspended. It was like I had jumped into vacation mode, yet was still just minutes from my house.

On this quiet morning, I appreciated the peace and solitude of the moment, even though I was surrounded by many species of wildlife pursuing their business of the day. I marveled at the soothing effect of just being there, bearing witness to nature’s gentle pace.

I noticed that my usually hurried steps gradually slowed down as if to not disturb nature’s ebb and flow. My breathing slowed as well, as a calming effect took over.

I scanned through the tall grasses and plants surrounding me, looking for my next subject. My senses were fully tuned in, trying to spot those moments that we miss while rushing from commitment to commitment.

Thoughts of my to-do list drifted away as I followed a monarch butterfly floating from plant to plant, posing and preening in the sunshine as if to say “Take my picture, take my picture!” I happily obliged and then thanked her for the opportunity. Continue reading

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Filed under Inspiring, photography

How the Feline Barricade Saved Me from Myself

Shortly after the arrival of Ivy the Wonder Cat, when she started dropping her guard with me, it was a wonderful thing.

Those first few times that I was quietly watching TV only to find Ivy inconspicuously walking into my lap, plopping herself down and making herself comfortable, were heartwarming moments.

When trust and comfort conspired to become her naptime, I knew that I had succeeded in creating the right environment, that she was comfortable with me, and that we had truly bonded.

The only pitfall of that was getting locked into a couch or armchair and not being able to get up. I hated the risk of disturbing her peaceful sleep.

Fortunately, I caught on early and made sure that if I was sitting down with plans to watch TV for a while, to make sure I had gone to the bathroom first, had a beverage next to me, my remotes by my side and a pen and note paper, in case moments of creative inspiration should happen to strike me during my immobilization. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Humour, Inspiring

Enjoy the Silence

One of my all-time favourite songs is from Depeche Mode, “Enjoy the Silence”. A quick Google search seems to reveal two predominant schools of thought as to its true meaning. Some think it has a relationship connotation while some think it is about heroin addiction. Either way, the take away for me has often been just the title itself.

At the moment I am writing this, I have the windows open, a gentle breeze is billowing through the curtains, I can hear a choir of birds singing while only the occasional car drives by. It is one of those magical moments of serenity when no one has their lawn mower running, the neighbourhood kids seem to have vanished temporarily, the neighbours’ dog has not barked yet, no one’s air conditioning has clicked on yet and no one is doing home renovations. Everything is still and calm. I have some gentle baroque music playing, but the volume is so low, it is just punctuating the moment with a little rhythm to set the pace for my writing while providing the perfect background music for the concerto of birds.

I look at my to-do list and Continue reading

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