Poplar - theHumm June 2020
Poplar - theHumm June 2020
By Susie Osler
A Poplar round supports my weight. Its dying body lies here, sprawling in pieces around me. Rings of honey-coloured carbon circle in around dark, decaying heartwood that Woodpeckers have already begun to investigate in search of larvae. We sit here together, Poplar and I, on the tenuous, thin layer of unfolding life that is happening between our bodies and the eons of sand lying beneath us.
An accumulation of debris has fallen over decades — an offering to the Earth from the sanctuary of other Poplars around us. Leaf litter, twigs, branches and other detritus have ever-so-gradually collapsed into a matrix of humus, creating a home for the intertwining lives and deaths of microscopic beings that inhabit this little patch of place.
35 years ago you, Poplar, saw potential in what was an empty and exhausted bit of sand between plantation and slope, where after a century-and-a-half of human affronts — logging, extraction and over-grazing, the holy trinity of traumatic tactics inherited from the old country — nothing further remained for us to take. Seizing your moment, you settled in, quietly yet tenaciously holding ground through the conditions that icy winters and droughty summers posed, and slowly surrounded yourself with community.
35 years later, what I sense while sitting here with you still speaks of disruption, in spite of the sheltering presence the grove of you has created. There is a weariness and clutter to the surrounding space that feels incoherent. The debris left by those branches felled by ice, plagues of caterpillars, wind, or my human efforts to “tidy up” your diseased kin on this knoll is unsettling me. It feels like something coming undone.
I’d rather not sense the struggle here that the land presents to me — the death, the disease, the damaged — the litany of small and large traumas that pile up like memories around my feet on this patch of sand and decay. My impulse is to sidle home to the cushions and comfort of the fireside — the regularity and security of those domestic walls — and never return. Or to seek a spot somewhere else on this land that feels less of a slight to my senses. Or, were it possible, to just find finer horizons to belong to; to fill the almost imperceptible but ever-present longing for something else — something without the shadows, the baggage, the discontent. Something instead less burdened and more beautiful, more vibrant, healing, exciting. I’ve seen it on Instagram. Surely such a place exists?
But in the midst of such flights-of-fancy, I can’t help but be irritated by the presence of a subtle yet niggling “moral-monkey-mind” which reminds me that such escapes simply measure up to something akin to abandonment.
How to resist the temptation to turn away, and instead turn more patiently and tenderly towards all that is here, in front of me (or is it within me?), right now, with a clear, steady and loving gaze? I grapple with the felt sense of suffering this place holds — an ache that echoes in my bones. Grief surfaces and perhaps even guilt, especially when, occasionally, trails of causal breadcrumbs lead back to my own door. What troubles, dear Poplar, need to be tended?
As a global pandemic washes over the planet, I think of the billions grappling with the challenges of isolation and staying put. Fear, hardship and very real trauma are being experienced in the face of illness, death and great uncertainty. The world seems to be experiencing an epic pause. I can hear the Earth sighing. It feels like a global reckoning may have landed on our collective doorstep.
After more than two months into self-isolation it seems as though many of us are getting a taste of what it’s like to stay in — and with — place. Travel plans, socializing, unnecessary movement anywhere has been prohibited. Our lives have stilled and become confined to more humbling boundaries than many of us are used to. There is no longer anywhere to run — except perhaps down virtual rabbit holes! Conversations about staying put, slowing down, simplifying our lives and just being, rather than doing more, are getting a lot of airtime for a change. We are now beginning to sense the resilience, discipline and endurance — as well as the spirit, heart and generosity — that will be required to see us through to the proverbial “New Normal”. Can we begin to imagine what that New Normal might look like?
They say that every challenge presents an opportunity. And while studying the leaf litter around my feet, I see the tiniest shoot of green poking out of the duff. I wonder if what is being offered in these surreal times is an opportunity to be “composted” ourselves! Perhaps old worn skins and structures that are past their prime need surrendering in order for a novel reconstitution to arise that better supports life for all. Perhaps too, in the shadowy unraveling of these times, we will find the space and the courage to listen closely to the murmurings of the Earth and to glean some wisdom from her that will inspire the journey to come.
The Poplar says “Stay put”. The Poplar says “Look into my heart. I am dissolving. But already I am nourishing the birds”.
Where to Find the June Humm - theHumm June 2020
We’re heading out to deliver the June issue of theHumm! Because things have changed a wee bit since the last time we did our distribution, here’s a list of the places we will be trying to deliver to. Hours and more information can be found at the links. Happy Humm hunting!
Dandelion Foods dandelionfoods.ca
Don’s Meat Market donsmeatmarke......
By Sally Hansen
Art… and Soul
A new artist is blossoming in our midst. Rising to the COVID-19 challenge, Burnstown artist and businessman Jeff Wallace is discarding his anonymity and charging into the fray, determined to make a positive contribution. But first, introducing:
Jeff Wallace — Artist
Wallace has only recently arrived in a place in his life where his first love, art, is able to play a bigger role. As Forrest Gump’s mama always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You......
COVID, Kids, & All the Feelings - theHumm June 2020
By Nicki Gallo
There’s this exercise that I like do when I work with kids. It helps us to explore how our feelings are something that we experience in our bodies as well as our minds. First, I give the child a piece of paper with the outline of a person. I ask them to colour the location on the body where they feel certain emotions and match it with a colour. For example, they may feel red/anger in their hands: “I’m so mad I could punch someone!” Or feel yellow/nervousness in their bellies: “I have b......
By Miss Cellaneous
The good news for area art lovers is that many local galleries have been able to re-open — most with reduced hours and all with extra safety precautions in place. We highly recommend a visit to Almonte’s General Fine Craft generalfinecraft.com and Sivarulrasa Gallery sivarulrasa.com , Riverguild Fine Crafts in Perth ...more
Michael Rikley-Lancaster is the Curator of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum and a member of the group that was planning to launch the first-ever Mississippi Mills PRIDE Week this June. We contacted him to find out how both the Museum and MM Pride are faring.
theHumm: Since becoming Curator, you (with the assistance of your staff, board and numerous volunteers) have made many improvements to the Museum and have hosted incredible exhibitions by artists from......
Noé Charron is a 22-year-old non-binary trans woman (who uses both she/her and they/them pronouns) who started her transition while growing up in Almonte and working at Baker Bob’s. We contacted her to find out how her transitioning was perceived and received by the community, and what advice she has for people who want to try and foster a more welcoming and compassionate atmosphere.
theHumm: As an employee at Baker Bob’s, you were one of my only examples of someone who......
Embers of Hope Embracing Life in an Age of Ecological Destruction and Climate Chaos - theHumm June 2020
By Kris Riendeau
Bonita Ford is a co-founder of Permaculture Eastern Ontario and author of the new book Embers of Hope: Embracing Life in an Age of Ecological Destruction and Climate Chaos. We contacted her to find out how this book came to be, and how she hopes it can help us all to “nurture the small forces that may radically transform our world”.
theHumm: You had me from the title, because hope seems to be one of the most precious “commodities” — albeit one that isn’t for sale ......
By Sarah Kerr
Hello again friends! I hope you and your littles are ready for a 3-month summer “vacation”. But one from the ’50s without camps, daycares or programmed sports… and for many, juggling working from home. Sounds idyllic, right? Okay, this doesn’t exactly sound like vacation, but if there’s any advice that I can offer it’s that the summer of quarantine begins now!
Yes, you may be wondering if I’m the minister of education to declare something like that, and to be clear… no I am not. But as the d......
John McQuarrie is a photographer and publisher of the recently released book Almonte, Spirit of Place. We contacted him to find out how his most recent book came to be, and how the current lockdown is affecting its reception in the community.
theHumm: Your photos are stunning — can you tell us a bit about your training and background?
John McQuarrie: Like many working photographers, I simply consumed print and online tutorials along with each advance in imaging......
KITCHEN at Sivarulrasa Gallery An Exhibition in Partnership with the Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum - theHumm June 2020
Until July 10, Almonte’s Sivarulrasa Gallery is pleased to partner with the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum to present KITCHEN, an exhibition that elegantly combines wo......
Just as we were going to print, stories about the death of George Floyd started hitting the news and social media. theHumm doesn’t report on breaking news, but we thought this information about a......
By John Pigeau
Following a national trend, business at local bike shops is booming.
“A hundred percent, absolutely,” says Pete Wood, owner of Heritage Bikes in Perth. “A lot of people are finding that......
By John Pigeau
In the midst of this dreadful pandemic, people are having to cope with all manner of new challenges. We’re a resilient bunch though, and so far many of us have improvised rather well. Meeting up ......
By the Fulton’s team
When Shirley Fulton-Deugo, owner of Fulton’s Pancake House & Sugar Bush, got together with the team from Almonte’s Dairy Distillery, little did she know great things were in the makin......
Sep 1 - Oct 30 Transition: Ginny Fobert, Judi Miller, Dayle VanAlstine
Oct 26 Bon Evans & Dave Bull
Oct 28 Al Lerman
Oct 29 Matt Dickson
Oct 30 Chris Murphy
Nov 2 Eric Uren
Nov 4 - 18 Jazz Night w/Spencer Evans
Nov 6 - 7 Itty Bitty Arts & Crafts Show
Nov 6 John Wilberforce
- Keith Busher — Art Advocate & Provocateur, Gallery Owner and Curator
- Romp, Stomp & Chomp! Thanksgiving Art Tour in Mississippi Mills
- One Day Only Open Studio Art by Catherine Orfald and Rita Redner
- More Music at MERA!
- From Quiet to Concerts Almonte in Concert Returns to Old Town Hall This Fall
- Leave the Leaves (and other counter-intuitive suggestions)
- Rural Root Goes Fishing! The Great Kooshog Lake Hollis McCauley Fishing Derby
- Fall Colours Walk at Blueberry Mountain
- Red Trillium Fall Tour
- Pumpkins-Plus in Perth Ghost Walks, Pumpkin Carving and More!