I do this every year on the blog: figure out which memories of the past year stand out the most. I woke up early this morning and walked to the skytrain. It was still dark and very clear with stars blinking from the far beyond. The pavement below was icy in places, and the cedars rose around me. We had a wild windstorm yesterday, which left 150,000 without power in the lower mainland. But this morning it was as if to say, on this winter solstice, we were past the storm, and look at the clarity of the morning…the darkest day of the year. It’s a good time for reflection.
- The year started quite literally when my second cousin Linda died, and a couple weeks later, so did Ursula K. Le Guin, an author I’ve always admired deeply. She is also one of the authors I spotlighted over at eco-fiction.com as an early pioneer of writing fiction about climate change.
- This brings me to a good memory. I had been colleagues with some of the folks from Artists and Climate Change, who decided to syndicate my series on authors tackling climate change at their literature portal. We decided to name it Wild Authors. The original series at my site is probably going to go on infinitely, and AACC will continue to pick it up.
- I guess it’s nice to develop good relationships with others working in the field, because I found a great new book publisher to partner with as I made the tough decision this year to close down Moon Willow Press. Stormbird Press is picking up some of my old titles, and I’ve been consulting with them about the book publishing process. Running a small press by oneself is pretty hard. I did all the formatting, editing, cover design, book-keeping, and acquisitions. I was ready to find an investor or partner who would run it with me, but after talking with Stormbird, decided that once the current author contracts have run out, I want to really just get out of the publishing business. Though I did open up Dragonfly Pub in Canada to self-publish my ongoing series. Can I just admit that it would be cool to open up a pub someday too, and I’d already have the website for it!
- Before the publishing partnership happened, I’d been in touch with Margi at Stormbird about a new book she was doing called Tales from the River: An Anthology of River Literature. She invited me to contribute as well as ask around from any of my authors if they’d be interested. This is an absolutely breathtaking book, from the cover to the stories inside. While I had worked with several of the authors, Ron Melchiore, author of one of Moon Willow Press’s best-sellers, Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness, also contributed a chapter about Hockley Lake, where he and his wife Johanna spent a few decades–this is in the wilds of Saskatchewan, with no road access to anywhere. Ron and his wife have since moved to Nova Scotia to build a new off-grid home, and it’s coming along now. My chapter is about the Atnarko River, where my husband and I, and our moms, rafted a few years back looking for grizzly bears coming up the river for salmon.
- Speaking of stories, I remember when younger, I would often get completely thrilled while awaiting an upcoming movie. This year, I was wildly anticipating Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation. I had read the books in the Southern Reach trilogy–as well as some of his other novels and anthologies–and loved the writing. I had also talked with the author a few times, once in an interview that focused on the Southern Reach. Jeff turned out to be a completely kind and down-to-earth person, but the reason I liked his novels was because they were just sort of out of the world and wild, bringing new depth to the entire field of eco-fiction. Even the New York Times recognized that. I saw the movie Annihilation four times. Three times at the theater and once on Netflix. It was not an exact adaption of the novel, but interesting just the same. It felt good to get that excited about a movie again, considering a lot of movies these days are just not that great. (I have seen a lot that are, though!)
- In April this year, we went to a nearby farm and worked with Harris hawks for an afternoon. We got to hold them on our arms (with a leather wrist band) for hours–both on a rainforest walk and then in a training exercise to have them fly to a perch and then back for food. I worked with the youngest hawk, which was the least trained and the most excitable. I will always remember that day as so much fun. My husband and I loved working with the hawks, and some of their behavior (purring) kind of reminded us of our two cats, who are just a lot of fun to watch.
- This was the first year of not running (much) since I began running again three years ago. It was and still is a tough thing to deal with, but I’m okay with it. I’m still dealing with a very week left foot and ankle, however, and it’s all I can do to hike some fairly easy trails. We’ve done some hiking this year at White Pine Beach, Dog Trail, and Mundy Park–but nothing like the kind of hikes and runs we had been doing. Healing is happening, though I’m unsure if I ever really will run again regularly. I think life would suck if we couldn’t be happy with what we can do rather than always regretting what we cannot do, so I stay positive and happy, regardless. In the meantime, I spent my spring and summer tending to another garden, this one on our balcony, where I was able to grow to maturity three sugar pumpkins, along with various herbs and veggies and flowers.
- This is the perfect transition into the holiday celebrations this year. On Canadian Thanksgiving, we had our annual big dinner for friends and family. My mother-in-law came up for a few days, and we went all out making pumpkin pies and a pumpkin cheesecake with my pumpkins. During American Thanksgiving, we celebrated with my kids and had yet another huge dinner, and did some fishing and hiking as well as a big puzzle of men with beards. We have a couple more parties coming up and a Lord of the Rings marathon on New Years. I treasure these times with good friends and family above all things in life.
- In other news, it’s been another year of watching my home country seem smaller than it had been to me while growing up, where every single great memory I have feels like that of an old world. Trump brought out the ugly America–not saying that good people don’t exist there; they do, and they are still fighting the good fight. But it feels unsafe there to me now, thanks to the growing Trump-god-guns trilogy that’s going on, along with “America First”. Uh, no. Your country is not more important than others. You are not more important than anyone else. Arrogance is horrible. We are tentatively planning a trip to the big island of Hawaii this summer, but have no real plans to visit the USA mainland anytime in the near future unless there’s an emergency with someone in the family.
- Last but not least is a confession to a guilty pleasure. I am somewhat of a video gamer, when I have time. Lately I have not had much time, but this year it was announced that the classic vanilla version of World of Warcraft is coming in the summer of 2019. This may be surprising that I like the game, but to me it makes sense. WoW is full of lore and beautiful natural places. My favorite version of WoW was the original classic one. My favorite class, the druid, comes from a Tolkien like elf forest. It’s just another way to immerse into a story.
The featured image is of Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden.