Sunday, August 31, 2008

The place where Thunder Birds Rest Part IV

This afternoon I baked blueberry and peach muffins; yesterday I had wild blueberries for breakfast.

My husband and I drove up to the lookout at Mt McKay. In the spiritual and territorial geography of the Anishnawbe this sacred mountain is known as the Place where the Thunder Birds/Beings Rest/Nest. No matter how many times I go to this Place, there are new gifts that I receive. Although originally my husband and I were going to hike up the Chimney on the Sibley Peninsula (that is by the feet of Nanabijou aka the Sleeping Giant), instead we thought, why don't we hike up to the top of the Place Where the Thunder Birds Nest? We weren't quite sure where the trail was, but we went searching behind a field, and sure enough we saw a path opening into the forest. The trail runs up the back of the mesa.

Yes, it is very steep. Going up is not bad, but going down is a bit tricky with the scree and stones and slope. The thunder storm and heavy rains the day before would've made of the trail a raging waterfall. Evidence of the water's sculpting power was at your feet. You need good shoes with excellent lateral support for this climb. If you have bum knees, don't consider the climb as going down would be hell. It was about 27 degrees C. On our way down we met a niece and her uncle going up. They were sweating profusely.

This is the flat rock top of The Place, looking southeast towards Nanabijou. There were junipers creeping about the rocks, jackpines gnarled by the winds, saskatoon shrubs,

and blue oh-so-blue blueberry bushes.

It was an amazing morning. A blue translucence shimmered from the lake. Pie Island was wrapped in blue, too. Looking out across this spectacular vista, I see why so many people love the colours blue and green. They are soothing, rich, majestic, earthy yet supranatural. The ridge on the right is very close to the hidden cove I've already told you about, which is also part of this thundering territory.

A conspiracy of ravens circled and soared along the cliff edge. A few flew off to battle with some hawks vying for control of the skies in front of the cliffs. The steady beat of the ravens' powerful wings cut the air, whoooosh, whoooosh, traveling with the wind to where I stood. Where I stood, you can see across Thunder Bay to the feet of Nanabijou where the Chimney is. That's another hike, for another day. Another direction.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Abha Dhayal and me

Abha and I dancing in Seda's kitchen in Hanover, Germany. That night Abha was preparing a large Indian feast for 20 plus women.When I was in Hanover at the International Feminist University for 3 months, I met and fell in deep sisterhood with a bevy of wonderful, wacky, intelligent, funny, generous, supportive, perplexing, honest, achingly beautiful women. Abha Dhayal, a filmmaker and poet from India was one of my closest IFU sisters. One weekends, a large gang of us women would party together, eat together, shop for food together, laugh together, dance together, make music together....our Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings were filled with amazing things to do, and we did everything together.

Abha and Samira (from Tunisia), my other heart-close IFU sister. Below, is a poem Abha wrote. It is about women sharing time together to help each other be strong.

Let us go laundering sister

the day is warm and the sun shines hot and unsmiling

the wind is not like melted butter today.....

we have a lot of washing to do.

Take out all your dreams sister

take them out of that dark cupboard

smelling and musty,

crumpled and torn,

beautiful, adventurous old dreams

that kept you awake

when you were a child...

I will take out mine and you take out yours

we'll wash them together

in a big, yellow, plastic tub.

We'll rub them and scrub them

till all their colours stand out,

squeeze out all the dirty water,

rinse them clean

till they smell of lilac

and all their colours shine like

they would hurt our eyes....

we will put them out to dry

on the line sister


you and I

your dreams and mine

all mixed and tumbled together

We will sit on the grass

still wet with last night's rain.

I will spread out my scarf

so you won’t feel the wetness.

You hold my hand while

I cry softly...

Waiting for the washing to dry

always takes

a long, long time...

We will fill this time with

our laughter sister,

and mix the colour of our skins

yours white, mine black.

we will churn it together

and make it the colour of the sky

while our dreams hang on the washline


drying together.

We will pull out our veins

still throbbing and pulsating,

red and alive,

warm and hot,

full of pain,

full of love...

We will exchange them sister,

so you can feel my blood rushing through your body

when the winter is harsh and

the frost settles on

the grass outside your window, and

I will feel your warmth

when I lay down my head on the cold stone floor

back home.

We will lie on the grass together sister

and dream of another day

like this...

warm and sunny,

like a new born child.

We will hold the day in our arms,

cradling it to our chests

caressing our hair together sister

while our dreams flutter in the wind



And when the sun comes down

like a big ball falling beyond the earth

and the grass begins to turn dark

we will take down all our dreams

one by one

dry and crisp

we will fold them

one by one sister.

We will laugh

joyous and sad.

We will mix them all together in a big heap

and then share them.

You take half and I will keep the rest.

We will need each other’s dreams

when the sky is full of snow

and the earth turns hard

like a stone.


At the moment I need all the dreams i can share


Friday, August 29, 2008

Mummo ja minä

In this photo, Katja and I had just returned to Juonikylä having spent 3 months in Sweden. I know this because now I have my "new hairdo". I wanted to get a trendy new Swedish haircut while in Stockholm, but was disappointed when I looked in the mirror and saw the same haircut I knew so well from Canadian hairdressers.
The photos from 1974 are beginning to lose their colour. I read once that all colour photos turn black eventually; in essence, disappearing from sight. There are few pictures of me with my mummo Fanny. Here I am with my favorite red sweater, wearing the clock that she gave me. Her grey woolen stockings reminds me that she used to send us packages of knee-length wool underwear when we were little girls. They used to itch like crazy, as I have a sensitivity to wool. I used to boil up in them. Feel like a hot furnace. This was in the days when girls could not wear pants to school; you had to wear dresses. There was no such thing as snow pants in those days, so in the winter, walking to school and back and during recess, you really needed wool underwear. But in class, I died of itch and heat. Trying my best, of course, to not show that.

I still have the clock my grandmother gave me, but it never worked. Mummo told me that when she gave it to me, that it doesn't work, but here it is anyway.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First visit to Finland 1974

At one point, when everyone was still alive, I had about 63 cousins. Both my maternal and fraternal grandmothers were fertile and had lots of children. Fanny, who you can see on the right of this photo, had about 17 children. The last time I saw my cousin, Ari Laaksonen, was 1974 when my sister Katja and I went to Finland together. I was 18; Katja was 20. In this photo, I'm behind the camera, Katja is sitting between Ari and our mummo Fanny (our mother's mother). This is Fanny's tupa [living area/home]. You can see her muuri [heavy stone oven] on the left. The hella [range] part of it is out of the picture, but you can see the luuku [door] where Fanny would bake her ruis leipä [rye bread] and pulla [Finnish sweetbread], and make casseroles. Maybe kaalilaatikkoo [cabbage casserole]. Or perunalaatikko. Or porkkanalaatikko. [or potato casserole. Or carrot casserole]. Fanny cooked us a very large pot of klimppisoppaa [dumpling stew] when we were staying with her. She got really mad at us two girls when we couldn't finish the whole pot and accused us of saving our appetite to go and eat up the road, at our father's side of family.

Of course, we had an idea what Ari looked like because his mother, Helena (our mother's sister) had sent photos of her family to us in Canada. This may be Ari's rippikuva [confirmation photo]. I'm not sure, as I haven't seen Ari since I was 18, but maybe his hair is not so blonde and not so thick anymore? Just a guess. For sure he has a new style! Ari reminded me that his sister Paivi did not and has not lived in his mother Helena's house (as I mentioned last post). That Paivi has a separate house.

That summer we went to Finland we met a lot of our relatives who we had never seen before. Me in my halter top (I was an avid sewer as a teen!), Katja wearing a scarf, standing behind the counter of Maen Kauppa. The store, which is celebrating its 100th birthday in a few years, is up the road from where our mummo, Fanny's, tupa was. Fanny's farmhouse is torn down now. Gone.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Saaran Paapan Sauna on Sacred Lake

Another small red building. Saaran Paapan sauna. It sits on the shore of Pyhäjärvi in Finland. Saara Jääntti's grandfather's sauna sits on the shore of a lake in Finland whose name translates to "Sacred Lake." I spent a wonderful Juhannus there one summer with a gaggle of girls. And it was truly sacred. I met Saara at IFU, the feminist university I attended for 3 months in Hanover, Germany in 2000. The next summer, some of the women there (who were from around the world) planned to meet up again. When my sister Katja and I were accepted to present a paper at Jyväskylä University in Finland the following year (we presented our research on Finnish women and girls of Thunder Bay), we arranged to met up with the women at Saara's grandfather's summer camp. Besides Saara and my sister Katja there was Emily from Wales (she is half Finnish), Barbara from Argentina, Barbara from US and Germany, Nicky from New Zealand, Elisabeth from Austria, Valerie from Guyana, Jana from Germany, and Abha from India. Dear Abha.

Because Saara's grandfather's sauna is small and we were many, we had to go in in 2 shifts. Here was our turn: me, Saara, Barbara from Argentina, Nicky, Katja and Elisabeth. I think Emily is taking the photo as I remember when we got into the sauna, I sat next to her on the top bench. We were really excited to finally get into the sauna as the preparation of the Juhannus sauna was a day long event. Saara kept saying it takes time. It can't be rushed. It's part of the enjoyment, the preparation. The sauna had to be cleaned, swept and freshened up. Some women had the job of collecting wildflowers to decorate the entrance and the dressing room. Other women had the job of scavenging logs from the forest floor for the kiuas [sauna heater] and for the kokko [immense bonfire] that we would hold after the sauna by the lakeshore. As most of the women had no prior knowledge of Juhannus, we decided to invent our own rituals for celebrating this nightless night of wonder.

Inside the sauna, we squeezed together on the small top and bottom bench. This window shows the impression that the sauna was light, but it was not. It was dark as a cave. This window faces the forest trees, which were on a steep slope. When you looked out you saw dark earth and dark forest. The walls of the sauna seeped sap that stuck to your back, a black pitch grabbed at my hair. The scent of pine swamped us. Saara, a woman of many skills and great efficiency, knew how to make her grandfather's sauna very hot. She knew how to get our cackling stilled. Breathing the hot steamy air caused our chattering to slowly fade away. Suddenly all that you could hear was the sound of women breathing as one. The darkness and the heat seemed to climb inside you. We became one big breath with the sauna. The rise and fall of breath, of women sitting skin to skin in the dark. The sauna henki [breath/spirit] had entered us. The magic had begun.

Later, I had the women write in my journal. Abha, our dear beloved IFU sister who later died in a tragic fire in India, wrote this poem for me and sketched an image of me.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

pottu kellari is a tater cellar

Last post I told you what a mökki is and posted a link to a photo of someone's place in Finland, but I thought that I would dig out my photos of visiting Finland in 2001 and see if I had taken one. So, I found this photo that I took of a house just down the road from my uncle Leo's and Aunt Aulikki's in Juonikylä (my uncle Leo has sinced passed away; he was my father's brother). One of my pet peeves is the mutilation of Finnish words by English language speakers, so to be sure that mökki is not pronounced "mow-key", the word mökki, phonetically is pronounced more like "mHH-kih" -- at least that's the closed way I can think of to explain the sound of the letter ö to an English speaker.... Did you, btw, click on the link in my last post and read the story about the retired 2nd generation Finnish American man who stealthily built a mökki in his backyard so his wife wouldn't find out what he was up to? His wife, not surprisingly, thought his secret building of the mökki was the epitome of his all-time sneaky maneuvers: “You’ve always had a sneaky side, but this time you’ve outdone yourself,” she said. Interestingly, most Finnish Canadian older generation men here in northwestern Ontario hideaway in their "gratzih"..that is, garage in Finnglish. There is definitely less effort to fill the tongue to say 'gratzih' than "autotalli", which is a garage more correctly in Finnish.

Finns have no shortage of strange, small buildings about the yard, anything from a sauna to a lato and a pottu kellari. Here I am opening the door to my aunt Helena's pottu kellari. My aunt Helena has also since passed away. She was my mother's sister. My cousin, Paivi, lives in her mom's house now.

This is another pottu kellari. This one is outside of Tornio, in the yard of the summer place of my cousin Valma and her husband Mikko. At first I had no idea what this strange building was. I asked my cousin, "mika tuo on?" [What is that?]. She found my question very funny. Looking incredulously at me, she said, Tuo? Se on pottu kellari! What it is it for? I asked. She found that question very funny too. It's for potatoes! she laughed. For storing your potatoes!

Here is my cousin Valma with my sister Katja in front of the lato she and Mikko fixed up. They use it to store firewood, but originally a lato, which is like a small barn but not a barn, was used for storing hay or other such crops. You can see a whole row of pigsqueak or Vuorenkilpi in the flower bed. Pigsqueak is originally a Siberian plant which foretells its hardiness in northern climes. Tornio is way up north in Finland.

Valma and me on the front porch of her and Mikko's kesämökki [summer home]. My cousin Valma made us the best oatmeal porridge each morning for breakfast (served with her homemade lingonberry and lakka hillo [preserves]) and Mikko, without dispute, makes the best smoked salmon ANYWHERE!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Under the Saving Grace tree

One of the mosaic garden stones made for creating the "stage" area under the Saving Grace tree at the Midsummer Garden. Although we have a collection of interesting stones, we still have a few more to make. Hopefully, we will have all the stones in place before the Bay St. Film Festival, which is happening this September.

Here's the beginnings of the "stage". Maybe we will call this spot the tapahtumapaikka - the place were things happen. That will be a good word for English tongues to slip over.

This is a small beat-up shed that sits on the edge of the garden lot. We thought to paint its sorry-looking chipboard surface white. Next, Sharon Reid is going to paint a window onto this wall to make the shed look like a little mökki. We've planted a pee-wee hydrangea in front of it, a gift from wood carver Matti Tervo and his wife.

Painted by Katarina Gustafsson, this is a postcard I bought in Stockholm when I was there for a few weeks a few springs back, on my way to present a paper at Oslo University in Norway. This postcard, forgotten in the back of a drawer, came to my mind when I wondered, What to do with that unsightly shed?

Monday, August 18, 2008


In Finnish mythology, Tapio is the god of the forest. Tapiola is a place deep in the forest that is Tapio's realm. In Thunder Bay, Tapiola is just outside the city. The McIntyre River runs through it. One one side of the river, over a small footbridge, is an old sauna and an old wooden outdoor dancefloor. This sign is attached to the sauna building, which has a small kitchen attached to it. On the other side of the river, which harbours tiny leeches that search for unsuspecting toes, is a large field used for soccer or baseball. There's also another small outbuilding painted the rusty red common on older wooden Finnish houses and other buildings in the countryside. Tapiola in Thunder Bay was a popular place in the past, less so today, although there are still soccer games being held there. Little Lyon's Daycare also uses the place occasionally. As well, folks go skiing at Tapiola in the winter as a ski trail skirts the property.

Yesterday I went with my sister and my nephew to Tapiola for a picnic. The BBQ picnic was hosted by Finlandia Club, which owns the property. There were about 50 people attending. The guest musician was Reijo Jokinen, who is visiting from Finland. He is a pelimanni, or folk musician. He knows a lot of old folk tunes, and had played at dances on both Friday and Saturday, too. At Tapiola, however, because it was scorching hot yesterday afternoon, no one went up on the dance floor, as there is no shade.

Here's Matti Väänänen enjoying the sounds of Reijo Jokinen's haitari [accordion]. Reijo called out and asked if there was a pyykipoika [clothespin, but literally a 'laundryboy']. I guess the wind was rustling the pages of his music book. I went inside the kitchen and found a small clip in the drawer. Löytyy jotain! [Found something!] I called out to him. A few minutes later, he asked if there was another one anywhere to be found. I went into the small kitchen and in the back of the drawer found, yes! a pyykipoika. I brought it out to Reijo, who, securing it onto his music book, asked me where my home is in Finland. I said Kauhajoki. Hyyppä. Juonikylä. He then asked me if I knew so-and-so, a very good haitari player from Hyyppä. I said I did not. I guess I should've mentioned that I left Hyyppä 50 odd years ago!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sunken Gardens at Hillcrest Park

About 1963. There is our new dog, Bullet (we pronounced her name "Puleti");she was named after a dog on one of our favorite tv shows: after Roy Roger's german shepherd. She was part of our family for 17 years. On the park bench sits our mom, me, my sister Della and our father. My sister, Katja, is taking the photo with my dad's camera. That's Dufferin St. behind us. Again, we are in our Sunday best.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sisters are a girl's best friend

I know that some sisters fight cats and dogs, and some sisters are catty, mean, and jealous, and some sisters never care to see each other, but in the case of my sisters, they are more precious than diamonds. Thank god/dess for my sisters! My older sister, Katja, and I, have been each other's best friends ever since we can remember. Our sister, Della, was always "the baby" who our mom pampered and kept by her side while Katja and I went out traipsing along backroads, catching pollywogs and bees to keep in glass jars. Once, lying on the ground in our driveway, we found all sorts of interesting looking small stones. We thought, wow! these must be worth something! So we put the rocks that we found into a basket and set off door-to-door to sell them. (door-to-door salesman --and Avon ladies -- were very common in the late 50s/early 60s).

Who wouldn't want a hat-shaped rock? we wondered. Or one with small silver specks? or a white crystal band?

Well, no one did. One lady told us that she would give us a penny but to keep the rock.

I remember we walked home very puzzled, wondering why no one wanted our pretty rocks.

Well, we still find stones interesting, and haven't lost that childhood curiosity of finding the beauty in the everyday mundane world.

At some point, our sister Della outgrew being "the baby" and became part of the secret cabal of stone-selling sisters, too. Yet, I think that Katja's and my hand-holding closeness ever since whenever has a lot to do with having immigrated to Port Arthur when we were little and having to learn a new place together. Before Katja went to school, we sisters only spoke Finnish. The community around us was almost exclusively working-class Finnish immigrants, so we grew up immersed in Finnish immigrant culture.

Because she was our big sister and went to school before we did, Katja was the first authority on everything Canadian and how to do it like "Canadians" did. Della, who was born in Canada, got the benefit of 2 sisters' experiences of learning the culture of Canadians, of 2 sisters' language lessons.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

a Port Arthur girlhood

My sister, Della, made this card for me from an old photo of my dad, my mother, and me. I keep it on my dresser. Today, I went to my mom's to look through old bxw photos of our early days in Canada. Of course, as usual, it was time for coffee. My mom and sister, Katja, served me the best munkki kahvit [donut with coffee]. My mom's homemade donuts are the best. I ate 3 in a row. That was my lunch. Munching on our munkkis, Katja and I reminisced about visiting our aunt, Irja, [our mom's sister] in Tampere, Finland in summer 2001. Irja took us out one morning to the river front for munkki kahvit. [but in our dialect we really say munkki kahavit as we draw out the word coffee]. If you've never had one, it should be noted that a munkki has nothing to do with a Robin's or Dunkin' or Tim Horton's doughnut. A munkki is a possu [a soft piglet of a donut!]. I was at my mom's looking for old photos to illustrate my immigrant story. Katri Saukkonen, the new Finnish intern journalist for Canadan Sanomat, interviewed me yesterday for the immigrant stories section that Anna-Kaisa Kontinaho began writing.

Here is a photo at Hillcrest Park, taken by my dad of my older sister, Katja, and me with our mom. Perhaps it is 1957. As you can see our äiti has her arm behind us to make sure we didn't fall off the edge. To this day, she has what my sisters and I call "worse case scenario" syndrome, aka Finnish mother's worrywart tendency. Wherever we went, she would be sure to shout out: älkää vain! ...which sort of translates to "do not!" but is less a directive and more a mother's worry that bad things will happen, accidents will occur, and she fears for us.

Here is a view of the parking lot at the lookout at Hillcrest Park. It must've been a Sunday, as Sunday was the day we went for a Sunday drive...and why are we so dressed up? Our dad wouldn't normally be wearing a suit on any given day, being that in those days he worked pushing logs at the waterfront at the mill in Terrace Bay. A Sunday drive was a thing that many families and folks did, shown by the many cars lined up. Getting a car was part of the American dream. Going out for a drive was part of the car culture of success. Our mother is taking the photo this time. Me and Katja are in our dad's arms. Most likely some versions of this photo was sent back to the relatives in Finland.

Here is a photo in the Sunken Gardens at Hillcrest Part, taken perhaps in 1958 because there is our baby sister, Della, on the grass with our mom holding her up. Again, we are dressed up. Again, our dad behind the lens. I am pointing something out, which, as my sister, Katja laughed aloud and said is still something I tend to do. Point things out.

This is something I have since outgrown. Storming out of the room when I get mad. This photo is from 1964; I was 8. I was mad because my mother made me wear a boy's style shirt; something Mrs. Nevala had picked up at the Sally Ann. We were living in Makela's basement apartment. My mother mentioned at our munkki kahavit that she visited Mrs. Makela in the senior's home the other day. Mrs. Makela has Alzheimer's. My mom said she seemed to stir and brighten up when my mother sang her old Finnish songs that they learned when they were children. My mother's tendency to get me things that looked like boy's stuff, shoes, shirts...hmmm...I wonder if it has had anything to do with my tendency to give orders and point things out?

My mother's hearts ease.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Great Blue

I went out for an after supper stroll to the lake front the other day with my sister, Katja, my husband, Walid, and our friend, Sue. It was a warm, calm evening. At the overpass we stopped to admire the colours of the sky and because he was so well camouflaged at first we didn't notice him standing so still.

But there he was. Out fishing for a late evening snack of crayfish.

Look closely, there's his partner. Looking lakewards at sundown, dead center of the photo.

Like a dowager.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

the upcoming Three Sisters

Louhi + Ilmatar + Tree of Life

Katja and Della and I, the 3 sisters, will be writing a regular piece for the New World Finn, a Minnesotan newspaper edited by Gerry Henkel. Our column will be called guessed it! "The Three Sisters." For our first article, we have decided to write a collective piece on the symbolism of the interesting jewelery that Della bought back. She gave me Louhi and Katja got Ilmatar; for herself, she chose the Tree of Life. She bought them at Sommelo, a folk music workshop she attended in and around Kuhmo, Finland this summer. She went there to learn more about lamentation singing and kantele playing. You can find her in the middle, 3rd photo down, in the lamentation photos! (many more interesting photos here).

The jewelry, which we took off of our necks and placed on a large south-facing stone in the Hope and Memory Garden, is made by Antti Nieminen of Vaskitsa. Even if you don't know Finnish, if you click through his website you can see some of the outstanding pieces he creates. His pieces draw on ancient Finno-Ugric mythology. Needless to say, his craftmanship called up all sorts of ideas for us 3 sisters.

Check the next edition of New World Finn for what we dreamt up about these 3 evocative Vaskitsa pieces that afternoon that we sat in the tranquility of the Hope and Memory Garden on the shore of the McIntyre River. A long way from the forests of Finland.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Midsummer Garden work party

The ubiquitous Urho came by during our work party on Friday to keep us entertained. We were out at the Midsummer Garden lot on Friday with a large crew, and then Saturday and Sunday to do some odds'n'ends. So the photos here are from the weekend.

We moved around some topsoil and started some flower beds. This is the beginning of a shade garden under the trees. An astilbe, two hostas and a lady fern are greening this spot up!

Paula Sullivan lent us the 2 garden gnomes she painted for her daughter, Kristina's, wedding. Kristina's wedding was a garden party, held outdoors. Paula lent the garden gnomes to us to add some colour to our garden and to draw attention to it! Katja and Elijah set them up and later, by chance, we noticed that the sign we made 'faces' the street.

I painted the name of our garden-to-be on the wall of Kivela Bakery. I took a can of paint from home that I wanted to paint one of my kitchen walls with but my daughter refused to allow me to put this colour in the kitchen. So, here is its cheery yellow, recycled. Kaija Maki painted the flowers to add some pizazz.

Two sisters from the neighbourhood tried out the garden gnomes! There's our load of topsoil behind them, waiting to get spread about the lot.

Some of the work crew on Friday included folks from the Roots to Harvest Garden. Bryan Dowkes (up in the 'saving grace' tree) is one of the coordinators of that community garden. It is amazing! I love their non-linear approach to planting! In the foreground are some of their hard-working youth crew that came to help us get started: Keenan, Jesse, Cindy and Sam.

In the center, beside Brian, is Judi Vinni. She's one of the key women of Willow Springs, and she got a lot of things moving on our Friday work party, starting some flower beds, delegating jobs, planning the beds, trimming trees...she's a Jill-of-all-jobs! Next to Judi is Fallon Poile of Anishnawbe Mushkiki, the First Nations health center in town. She is the garden coordinator for a new garden that they are making out in Dorion. She has begun the plant beds by using something called 'lasagne gardening'. Fallon also made a stone for our 'stage'.

The Willow Springs Creative Centre set up the garden stone making workshop. (on their site, check their Lazy Dames workshops). The stones we made on Friday were large square patio sized stones that we will put together to make the 'stage' area around the 'saving grace' tree. It will be a place to hold performances in the park, for musicians, for chanting...whatever strikes the fancy of folks.

Here is a close-u[ of one of the beautiful designs created for the stones. Sharon Ried's hands are in action making this particular stone for our "stage". The Willow women had bits of tiles, mosaics, glass beads, buttons and other interesting bric brac to use for design-making.

I like this photo because the bicycle and the stroller hint that our garden-to-be will be a fun neighbourhood green space!

Here's Elijah, getting to work raking up some twigs and branches.

This ring-billed gull was the overseer. It sat on the chimney of Kivela Bakery, watching the goings-on.

see you there! I will post when we have another Midsummer Garden work party.