Index Page Image Descriptions

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Late October 2015 morning while waiting for sunrise. Sage and Sweet Grass smudge smoke carries prayers
Early October 2015 and one of the rare foggy mornings that happen at Friendly Forest. While late summer and fall mists rising from the pond are common as the evenings and mornings are cooler than the water, this was a general fog that covered most of Saskatchewan. There was a mystic quality to the forest, both familiar and new. The air was unbelievably clean and a delight to breathe. All of nature seemed to be pausing and awaiting something ... something not defined or clear. If we put our minds to it this could be a metaphor for lots of things.

Early July and I have been using my wood lathe to make additional items for our 263 Art Studio Tour event on July 25, 26, 2015.

This vase is from a block of Tembling Aspen with the neck of African Wenge. There was a hairline check crack near the top that invited a leather lacing "repair" to add to its character.

Early April 2015.  While there is still ice on the pond at Friendly Forest and snow in the forest, a day of warm weather  brought on a brief rain shower.  The intensity of sky colours testifies to Spring.  It is good to welcome it.
Friends  gave me some Fir cut-offs from a gazebo project.  I glued some of these into  slabs from which I cut turning rounds. Then I turned them into plates and platters.  This image is of a 15 1/2 inch diameter platter after the application of Cordovan Analine due and a poly-resin coating to make it food safe and water proof.  The resulting image invites the imagination to  conjure up many different things that have their true origin in our unique memories  and emotions.
Fall 2014 and this pair of Geese are getting ready to fly further south for winter.  At the same time, the land-bound, two-legged one is busy getting firewood under cover and harvesting plants from garden and forest. 
May 23, 2014  Spring was late this year but finally leaves are emerging from winter cocoons and a second pair of Greater Canada Geese are pondering their next attack strategy to oust the first pair that has taken up the choice nesting location on top of the Beaver Lodge.  My money is on the first pair that staked their claim.  My advice to this pair is to not dawdle so long  feeding on the way north and arrive a few weeks earlier.  This photo was taken early morning before the sun rose but the sky was  bright and announcing the new day.
February 18, 2014.  The days are getting longer  and I was able to take this photo from my dining area window.  We have a lot of snow here but the winds have been strong too and  that means the snow depth on the pond is less than in the forest.  That makes  movement  of the resident deer population easier and allows them to spot  the pack of coyote predators more easily.  When this photo was taken there were 8 deer on the open pond area at the same time, but only three were closer together for this image.  Snow is very deep and the deer need to leap to move through the forest, so understandably they track along the trails, something the coyotes also know.  Recently two deer were hit on the highway just  down from my road access.  Deer and moose  come to the highways to lick the salt  put there by Highways crews, but that makes them  much more likely to be hit by cars or trucks with severe outdomes for humans and animals.
November 7, 2013.  The wet snow that happened earlier is still stuck to the trees.  When viewed from the north from where the wind  came, the trees virgtually diappear as they are all white with the crusted snow and ice. When viwed from the South, the bare bark of the trunks  reveals  the true  scene.  A warmer  air flow resulted in frost on exposed branches, and  the winter sun barely emerging  along the tree tops, created a wonderful frozen lacy lattice.
October 24, 2013 and a cold night put a skim of ice on the pond at Friendly Forest.  A flock of ducks were taking a rest on their migration south and stopped here, but only found a small patch of open water in which they congregated.  The  thin ice reflected a clearing sky  in a manner to give colour  not seen  with open water.  In the foreground  is the top of the winter pantry of the beaver family.  They have branches and small trees stuck into the mud at the bottom of a deep  area adjacent to the lodge, and this will see them through the winter months.  Last fall they  added nearly two feet to their lodge  top and this spring the water in the pond rose nearly two feet.  This fall they pulled a few defensive poles onto the lodge but did not see the need to  raise their living quarters above the summer level.  Perhaps this means that  there will not be a similar rise in pond water levels  after this winter's snow melts.  We can hope so at least.
September 29, 2013  This image shows the  impact of high water levels .  Many trees have drowned and those still standing are standing in water.  Many  earlier victims of the high water have already fallen or  stand as stumps in the water.  This is a pattern throughout our  general area.  Low spots that had been dry for decades now have standing water and  rings of dead trees.  The location of this image  is where a "Pond Link" path  was once  many feet above water level.  Despite the implicit saddness of this image, the intense  colour, the deep shadow and mirrored sky is amazing. (... and NO mosquitoes!)

 

September 2013:  Along a certain section of the trails at Friendly Forest, the hiker will encounter this  man's tie adorning a birch tree along the path.  A close look shows a few lichens growing on the fabric.  Seventeen years ago I was able to start clearing the walking paths as I had recently retired from my professional career.  Making such paths to  experience and enjoy the forest in a fuller way had been a long-held dream.  With retirement I was able to act on that dream.  After I had completed a major  walking loop around the pond and through the forest I was considering how to mark the trail to help guests  from getting lost.  I considered various marker methods.  At the same time I was regaining closet space and decided to throw out a lot of the ties that had been tied around my neck every day of a thirty-year  work career.  I decided to use the unwanted ties to mark  the trail.  Tossing those items represented my freedom from having to  undertake those particular responsibilities each day, and placing them as trail markers represented my life change.  Hence, the name for that trail section:"FREEDOM WAY".  After the intervening years this is the only tie still not used for squirel nesting material or  bear-scratching practice.  Either it is a charmed object or it was too ugly even for the forest animals to touch!  And that is what I wore and subjected  others to see those many years ago.

July 23, 2013, just as Father Wi came to warm the earth.
Morning prayer time for July 23, 2013 was a calm and peaceful  event.  The sky was announcing the imminent arrival of Father Wi and I turned to go in for the camera.  Shortly after the sun rose through the trees on the other side of the Pond at Friendly forest, and the camera lens caught some of the light flare shown above.
Winter lasted into May, and then the short period before mosquitoes vanished  and then the rain and mosquitoes arrived .... in full measure!  I managed to erect the new tipi cover between rains and with the rain cap installed, it has remained dry inside.  I feature a few more images of this new cover on a special page  under the Hoop Boy section.

 

Finally on May 6, 2013, I am able to post an image that shows Spring is here.  The ice on the pond is rotting and  a pair of Canada Geese are eager to find a nesting spot.  They have their sights set on the Beaver Lodge but the beaver have other ideas.  Along with a neighbouring muskrat, the beaver have been  engaged in an ultimately futile effort to chase the geese away from the  ever-expanding open water area.

Shortly after this photo, the geese made a kind of truce with the beaver and  claimed a  narrow  ridge on one side of the beaver lodge for their nest site.  As of today, June 9, 2013, three or four  goslings and their mother  were able to abandon the nest and  head to open water during a stormy and rainy night. When I did not see the mother goose on her nest this morning I was concerned.  Even though I knew it was  close to the four weeks of incubation  required, the  storm and heavy rain  made me wonder.  Then, this afternoon;  Good News!  I spotted  the goose and her goslings doing a stand-off with a swimming beaver.  The beaver  made the detour.

Edward sits and watches as I take the photo, wondering when I will finish my silly time-wasting and go for a walk with him.  It is December 19, 2012, and the hoar frost and the dark grey  skies are so typical of this winter season.  It has been dark and as solstice is near the hours of semi-light  are short.  I  raised the  brightness of the image file so that some details  could be discerned.  Soon we will begin to notice a return of Father Wi to the northern hemisphere.
October 7, 2012  Aspen Colour;  Nearly all the Trembling Aspen leaves have fallen to the ground.  Sometimes  the  thick yellow and gold colour of the  newly fallen leaves  can give the impression that all of the leaves are  the same.  Not so!  In various stages of  colour transformation, these leaves show the variations that  linger for a while.  Strong winds may have precipitated the  premature fall of some of these leaves,  but an eye to the ground  revealed a great variety.
July 14, 2012  Wild Bee Balm / Wild Bergamot flower with butterfly getting nectar.  This is one of several medicine plants that are growing very well this year in my garden.  Along with the Giant Blue Hyssop, they are two of the ingredients in my herbal tea and medicines  received as gifts from Friendly Forest.

May 12, 2012  On a wonderful morning in May there is a serious conflict going on at Friendly Forest.  The beaver lodge had two types of occupants all winter; a family of beaver, and a muskrat family cohabiting at one end.  With the return of Canada Geese, the  large, moat-protected lodge, seems like the ideal nest site for  at least three pair of Geese who have been busy settling  accounts and determining  right to occupy.  I am still not sure if the beaver family will permit this third level of occupancy.  Aspen leaves are breaking bud. 

June 2, 2012 update:  This morning the two parent geese were  parading their new brood; six  freshly-minted goslings.  I am happy that they had a successful hatch this year.  I guess that the beaver decided to be tolerant neighbours.

December 12, 2011 This is the first frosty morning of this winter. This image is of the forest at the south end of the pond at Friendly Forest. All stumps and foreground trees are dead having fallen to the rising water levels of the  [past seasons. Winter frost restores beauty to these young trees. The original photo needed to have its brightness and contrast levels raised. The low light levels at this time of year can fool the mind which has been making gradual adjustments as the season advances. We are just days from Winter Solstice after which we can enjoy the return of Father Wi to this part of our earth.
September 23, 2011 In a very unusual year for this area, we have only had two evenings of frost and the leaves are just beginning to turn and drop. This photo is of young aspen against a darker background of white spruce. The image was taken from the deck of my home.
A Spalting Birch vase with Purple Heart wood throat. I recently sold this piece which had been one of my recent favourites. The birch came from a large tree that stood near my home for many years and which high water had drowned out . I had cut the tree into blocks which I turned end on end every week or so for most of last summer. This was to encourage the development of the spalting patterns in the wood. The Purple Heart adds a formal elegance to the more natural and wild character of the Birch.

Edward (aka Coronado Blue Skies Espree EB) is a recent arrival and new full-time resident at Friendly Forest. Edward came to us from June Thompson of Coronado Kennels of Red Deer Alberta. Edward is a 6.5 year old Standard Poodle male who has been making a remarkable adjustment to an entirely new way of life away from his pack and home environment.

He will welcome visitors after he knows that the visitor is a friend of Gerald. New visitors should knock on the door or ring the doorbell and be greeted by Gerald first before entering the house.

The pin cherries are blooming and the pond water is high and the mosquitoes are out but so are the dragon flies.

For those who knew and loved "King" you will be pleased to know that Edward has been approved to be here by King.

 

 

April 11, 2011 Winter is on the run with a clear sky, sunshine and thawing temperatures. Here the snow on the pond has turned to water / slush and will soon welcome the Sand hill Cranes and Geese that have already made their presence known on flyovers.

December 22, 2010. This was taken at 4:15 PM as the sun was setting behind hoar frost-laden trees at Friendly Forest. This was a day after a great winter Solstice which also was the full moon and had a full eclipse of the moon. I stayed up for the eclipse but the event was partly obscured by ice haze. On the 21st a celebration of Solstice was held with an Inipi Prayer time and a post-Inipi feast.

We now move to a fuller return of the sun to our hemisphere, but the full moon on solstice was a great reminder of the hidden power of the sun shining on the moon from the opposite side of the earth.

This is a serving tray that I made for my own use. It is constructed out of Saskatchewan Birch wood and African Padauk. The images are done with pyrography and feature flora from the forest here at Friendly Forest. A Sacred Hoop / Medicine Wheel image is superimposed to illustrate the essential spiritual character of this forest and its inhabitants.

The border / tray sides have finger grooves routed to ensure a firm carrying grip when in use. The tray bottom is finished with a layer of poly-resin to make it fully water proof and nearly indestructible. The naturally high gloss of the poly resin is "rubbed out" to a silky satin sheen using fine steel wool, two grades of pumice powder and finally polished to a desired shine using rotten stone abrasives. The images are added using pyrographic tools.

The sides are parallel. The slight curvature of the image is caused by camera lens distortion.

Daylight, October 26, 2010. The snow and winds of winter have arrived, but it has been remarkably warm for this time of year and the water of the pond is still clear of ice. The photo was taken from my upper level window and looks across the pond toward the home of my closest neighbours, the beaver couple.
Cluster of mushrooms growing from a decomposing tree stump. The large amount of rain this summer and fall has encouraged a lot of this kind of recycling activity. The simple beauty of this natural composition lasts only a few days before the fruiting bodies of the mushrooms seem to melt into a brown, wet, mound, resembling a large dung dump by some animal. These remains are then available more readily for the new life that will come with the spring season. There are certainly  ;lessons about living and dying and renewal that it is good for us to consider.
Neighbour
Neighbour: September 13, 2010. Some trees are yellow and losing leaves while others are still full-summer green. This image is from my deck and looking at the home of my closest neighbours, the beaver. I have added wire mesh skirts to many of the aspen tress near the house to discourage my neighbours from taking them down too close to my house, and perhaps having a large aspen fall onto the roof and causing major structural damage to my home. I am keeping a close eye on their activities, and our relationship is "uneasy".
July 5, 2010.  A doe and her fawn browse in my garden space.  They knew I was watching, but while alert they remained  to enjoy an early lunch.  I just wished they had found some good greens somewhere other than in my garden plots.
May 22, 2010.  Morning sunshine  highlights pin cherry blossoms beside deck at Friendly Forest.  There is an abundance of blossoms this spring but  subsequent weather will determine if  cherries  actually set and mature.  Snow and colder weather is forecast for a few days from now, so there are no assurances...  After all, this is northern Saskatchewan!
Eagle Camp located in Friendly Forest as set up for the 2010 summer season.  The weather had been warm and leaves were actually breaking from buds.  But a wind was bringing in different weather... see below....
April 24, 2010 ... A day after.  It had rained  for part of the night and snow has been falling.  This image is  looking down hill toward the Initi shelter.  Prayer flags hanging on willows are from previous  full-moon Inipi prayer times.  The actual Initi / lodge has also been  redone for the season.
We are near Solstice and it is dark.  However, when fog rolls in and things become frosty  the beauty of  the familiar is renewed and so is our delight.  This image is of my home at Friendly Forest .  The  bright red of the Red Road banner  is striking in the muted colours of the day.
October 31, 2009.  Ice is forming and snow  is falling.  The beaver lodge to the left has seen a lot of activity as the residents prepare for winter.  I have had to  encircle special trees with wire mesh to protect them from becoming winter food stock.

October 31, 2009.  There was a heavy frost overnight and then a light snowfall in the afternoon.  The snow caught on the unique ridges created by the frost and formed an intriguing pattern on the sloped sides of the Inipi shelter at Friendly Forest.  I have not witnessed this before.  There are always new delights for the senses in Creator's forest.

The Sacred Hoop / Medicine Wheel  which hangs on the roof / wall serves as a reminder of the path we all walk and the support we are offered by the Grandfathers and Grandmothers.

 

Dolgo Crab Apples waiting to be picked for jelly and juice.  It is Sept 20 2009 and we have not yet had a frost to end the season.  This seems to be making up for the long delayed  Spring / Summer this year.
Eagle Camp located by the East Gate of the Sacred Hoop Trail at Friendly Forest.  The morning sun  was working its way upward through the trees while a sage smudge  slowly rises to the sky to represent the offering of our morning prayers.
April 19, 2009  After a very long winter the snow had just all gone when rain and a snow cover came back to remind us how beautiful things can be.  This image is taken at 06:15  and is a perspective down the slope toward the Initi / Sweat Lodge location.  Visible in contrasting colour are some of the prayer flags prepared during various winter time Prayer Ceremonies.  The A-frame structure is simply to keep winter snows from collapsing the  willow structure and to give a bit of shelter for the  participants.  The March Inipi had me braving minus 31 degree Celsius temperatures with a stiff wind.  It helps one to appreciate the transported fire of Father Sun even more!
This view is along the south west side of my home at Friendly Forest.  It was December 07, 2008.  The low angle sun, still below the tree tops even at 10:30 AM, filters the light and generates very different light quality than would a summer scene.  Full moon will be later in this week, and the Initi located under the simple A-frame, shown down slope, waits for the Inipi ceremony.  The waluta and the Initi structure remind me on each approach to the house that I have undertaken certain life commitments.  I can never take these for granted and always need to be grateful  for what they represent to me.

With the return of cooler nights and shorter days the mid day sun warms the water but the cooler night air  brings on a dense cover of mist that  makes the view off my deck a wondrous and magical scene.  A single  snap shot cannot communicate the  feast for the senses that comes with the  brisk cool tingle of moist morning air, the sounds of maturing families of waterfowl, the stunning and delightful absence of  biting insects, and the sense that God is truly present to me in the silent witness of the creatures of the forest that stand with me as we whisper morning praises from our hearts.

September 05, 2008

May 30, 2008.  Wild Saskatoon Berry bushes in blossom.  This year, with a slow spring, the blossoms are several weeks later than in the past few years.  I hope that this means we will avoid late killing frosts which have prevented fruit setting for several years.

Saskatoon and Pincherry blossoms scent the air especially when there is no breeze such as early morning or late evening.  Today it rained and the fresh smells of new rain, resinous fresh leaves and new blossoms have created a wonderful combination of delight for the nose and mind.

December 23, 2007.  The sky is clear and Sister Moon has moved above the horizon at Friendly Forest.  It is only hours from its official status as "full moon".  During most months this is the evening that the Inipi Prayer is celebrated here at Friendly Forest.  This year, with the nearness of Christmas, that ceremony happened on Winter Solstice, on December 21.  When the moon is full it is a glorious reminder that its different location allows its face to fully reflect the power of Father Sun onto the earth.  It is not that the Sun has vanished from our world.  It is just that our perspective hides  it from our view.  That is when the Moon  testifies to that superior light.  So it was with the "Angels" in the story from Luke which called humanity to a faith that the Creator loved all and had not abandoned those who felt alone and in darkness.
We have had a few weeks of winter now, with snow, rain that turned into ice, and now lots of more snow.  The birds have found the sunflower seeds at the feeder, and flocks of Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, Chickadees, Blue Jays and both Hairy and Down Woodpeckers are constant guests.  The main grey squirrel who claims the deck as his territory and has found a way to get into the food pan where he sits until stuffed.  Only then will he scamper off and let the birds back.  The chickadees and the woodpeckers also like the suet that I have hung out for them.  The pond ice will not be safe for winter walking as only a thin layer of ice had formed before the thick insulating layer of snow.
Fallen Aspen log hosts delicate bracket fungus as fall colours appear on vegetation.
High water on Pond at Friendly Forest.  Photo taken from deck.  At this time many trees have died because of high water.  Excessive rains over two years have raised the pond level by  2 metres or more.  I hope that the large birch which has graced the home page will survive to see more years.
After a late Spring snow storm on May 18, 2007.  The Saskatoon and pin Cherry trees had just started to bloom and the below freezing temperatures are likely to have  killed any hope of getting summer fruit from those trees.  While that is a negative, just consider the incredible beauty shown here.
This is a view of my table at Friendly Forest.  I took time in the winter of 2006 - 2007 to redo the table top.  It is now solid Birch wood and I have carved forest-floor images into the surface. 

The "red flag banner" or "Waluta" flies from the special tree that represents the Sacred Tree for me at Friendly Forest.  The knot at the top contains  tobacco that represents my special prayers for the current year, and as it streams in the wind it is visible from my main window to remind me of what living the red road means.  Last summer a child who was visiting asked what the flag meant.  I replied that it was there to remind me that we should be praying for each other all the time.  That off-the-cuff answer was probably one of the best I could have come up with.  We are called to pray for each other because we know that we are all connected , that mitakye oyasin, we are all related because we have the one source of life, our common creator and father.  To deeply realize that shows us how to live the journey on the red road back to our creator.

Candesna Cun Wakan Oksina / Hoop Boy, December 2006

September 2006.  View from deck  of house at Friendly Forest.  Water levels are higher than I have seen in 20 years and are threatening some very special trees that have been with me for all of my time at Friendly Forest.
Winter solstice 2005.  I had been walking on the Hoop Trail and was approaching the pond area.  The Winter sun was low in the sky though it was not even 16:00.  A frost coated the branches and blocked the sun while creating a golden lattice of shimmering light, set off by the dark shadows of the spruce trunks and the blue shadowed snow.
Spatterdock / Yellow Pond Lilly leaves floating o the pond surface.  The leaves have been food for insects and other water creatures.  As one set of leaves loses its capacity to survive, a new generation rises from the large root-stalk.  The flower attracts hundreds of insects who visit to feed on its nectar.  I have collected both fresh leaves and flowers to be used by medicine by Traditional Medicine men and women.
The Western Red Lilly sent forth 8 blossoms on a single stem.  The area where I found this wonder is now under about a foot or more of water.  I wonder if the roots will be able to survive until t]later years when the water level will drop again or if the area needs to be re-colonized.
I took this photo of the Canada Violet on Canada Day in 2004.  This tiny beauty graces the forest floor and thrives in disturbed areas near the house and along the forest trails.
Eagle perches on a stump as guardian of the East Gate Camp site which I have erected at the east side of the Sacred Hoop Trail in Friendly Forest.  Bear visited the camp on a nearly-daily basis during the summer or 2006. 
An October frost graces the pond margin vegetation while Father Sun / Wi makes its shallow journey along the southern sky at Friendly Forest.  During the winter the sun does not rise high enough to get above the trees that border the south area of my home.
This photo is also of Father Wi during the spring of 2006.  Leaves of the large birch tree were just emerging.  The sun was emerging above the trees across the pond, and I had just finished morning prayers.  A slight mist was rising from the water and the light of the sun refracted in the camera lens.
This image of the rising sun is in strong contrast to the brooding dark greens of the pond trees and their reflection in the water.  It is May and the pond lilly leaves have emerged and new littoral zone plants are stretching above the water surface.
In a shady damp area of our forest mosses and Labrador Tea flourish and blanket fallen trees and branches.  the patch of light is transitory as the sun moves through its daily trajectory.
Mosses and pixie cup lichens cohabit the top of an old spruce stump.  the fallen aspen leaves indicate the season to be early fall.
Winter days at Friendly Forest see little light, and this photo on an over-cast day reveals just how little light comes to the earth at this latitude.  Most of the time our eyes and brain make adjustments for the reduced light, but the camera justs captures the light that is / or that isn't there.
This photo was taken at approximately 10:30 in late January or early February.  The sun is low and announcing its presence through the snow and frost-laden branches of spruce and fir trees just to the south east of my home.
   

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