Category: Wild at Heart

For the heart that loves the wild, and the unchartered terrain

C is for Canines !!

C is for Canines

“  Silently you passed me by, without so much as a glance at me.

    Indifference, it seems, become your kind; were you lost in thought

    Of roaming through endless miles of forest, ice and snow?

    Are you Man’s best friend or the fearsome predator of yore

    That howls in some inexplicable language of your own .. ”

     (Notes for the Wolf, whom I met on 29 Oct 2014)

 

What happens when a girl encounters a canine one morning? A canine devastating in beauty, handsome like a grey wolf in winter: cloaked in its plush grey, impenetrable coat. Its eyes were gold as champagne, and they spoke!

I couldn’t have known then, that vision of the wolf would cause me to change, in time — how I saw his kind, and even how I saw myself.

” The wolf is art of the highest form and you cannot be in its presence without this lifting your spirits … it is difficult to be around such beauty without wanting to be more like it.”     — Mark Rowlands, The Philosopher and the Wolf

So began my conversion (from cat person) to a ‘woof’ person, three years ago .. 

Just two months then, into a new job at a human resource school, I didn’t want to be late. My preferred route to the train station was the weathered footpath along the monsoon canal: a path skirting the backyards of many houses, and some front porches. I loved peeking into those backyards, just to see what life existed behind those fences, whether pets or plants!

It occurred just lately to me how my curious and highly-sensitive nature had prepared me to be a writer. Susan Sontag, the ‘dark lady’ of American intellectual life said,” A writer is someone who pays attention to the world — a writer is a professional observer “I often catch myself trying to hear what diners at the next table are saying; I was fond of patrolling my neighbourhood on a bicycle. I once cycled around it at midnight on New Year’s Eve, just to see how my neighbours were celebrating .. hush!

I didn’t spy the backyards that morning in my rush. C is for Canines

A massive, grey canine with a broad, intelligent face (and his minder) however arrested my attention. It trod past me, completely oblivious: absorbed in its wolfish thoughts! 

I couldn’t but think about him for the rest of that day. He was like, or at least looked, a higher being — to me. I penned a few poems, just to capture the thoughts I felt on this encounter, and of course, to never forget how he looked.

The first of these, ‘Notes for the Wolf’, was published on Facebook 3 years ago. The second, ‘Reminiscing the Wolf’, was written a month after the encounter when I sadly realised that I might never see him again; and indeed have not. Anyway, I don’t live there anymore.

The third poem, and last, was ‘The Grey Wanderer’ (the very first post on this blog). It was inspired by the many wolf documentaries I watched on Youtube since, but especially ‘The Rise of Black Wolf’. I also love the ‘Living With Wolves’ documentary by Jim and Jamie Dutcher, the amazing couple who lived with the Sawtooth Pack (of 8 wolves) for six years to study wolf social behaviour up-close.

If you’re a wolf lover, like me, you’d also know the story of the indomitable She-Wolf, who was the leader of Yellowstone’s legendary Lamar Canyon pack. Before she was tragically shot in December 2012 by a hunter, she was a fierce mother who would fend off grizzlies and even take down an elk by herself, for her pups.

“ For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” 

    — Rudyard Kipling, the Jungle Book

I’ll never know if he was dog or wolf. But it’s Singapore. He was most likely a malamute — the much bigger cousin of huskies. Or he might have been a wolf, masquerading as a malamute: Maybe. (That will always be a mystery.)

 

Heart-melting Canine Moments …  🐕

Though I never got to see ‘Wolf’ again, there were a few other beautiful malamutes (among golden retrievers, labradors, huskies and more) in that vicinity. I befriended one called ‘Xoxo’, a large tawny wolfish female; and another, whom I called Brenin (after Mark Rowland’s pet wolf): a white and brown male, absolutely massive — like a nebula of dandelions from a distance. (Yes, you saw a blurry mass of white!)

Brenin had the most adorable face in the world. And when he first saw me, his expression said,” Oh look, I’ve got a new friend here!!” 😍😘 He had a much smaller companion (whom I called Bruno, also adorable) that was way more wary of me, and barked. On my following trips though, past this house, Bruno stopped barking and simply looked at me. So I ventured to put my hand on the fence for them to sniff it, afraid to be bitten if I patted them too hastily. Mind you — I was a cat person who didn’t know canines well. I had literally grown up with cats, and I adored every facet of them. Even the vicious, vindictive and snobbish side. 

Dear Brenin sniffed my hand, then did something so sweet: he gave me an affectionate lick with his warm wet tongue — oh! (and it didn’t smell.) And I saw what a pink nose he had, and what clear, light yellow eyes (like Chardonnay?): I was in love! 

So it was through more encounters and interactions with canines, that I gradually converted from a feline fan to a canine one. For there were far many more dogs than cats in my previous neighbourhood. By the by, the cats that I met daily then, were not that friendly. Sylvester snubbed me outright while Molly, the ‘mini-cow’ was capricious, at best.

 

I wish I was more canine than feline.

When I was much younger, and coming from a cat-crazy family, I valued the elegance, coquetry and dignity of the cat more than the stalwart faithfulness and loyalty of the dog. Now that I’m older and know well life’s hard knocks (and more about dogs), I begin to appreciate canine qualities more. For beauty fades but the essential lasts: qualities like grit and selflessness.  

After reading much canine literature (obviously!), I began to wish that I was more selfless, gritty, forgiving and faithful like a dog. But I’m a selfish human being … perhaps God might help?

” This faithfulness was a quality of the clay that composed him. It was the quality that was peculiarly the possession of his kind … the quality that had enabled the wolf and the wild dog to come in from the open and be the companions of man.”     — Jack London, White Fang

Fables and Myths: There is No Big Bad Wolf (or Werewolf)!

It’s well-known that dogs descended from wolves, but dogs are prospering while wolves are disappearing. Shouldn’t we thank wolves for Man’s best friend? 

Wolves are portrayed as villains in fairy tales. You know which ones, those with the devious ‘Big, Bad Wolf’, lying in wait, and hungry for innocent human beings, pigs and sheep? 

There is NO big, bad wolf — just as there is no werewolf or vampire. 

Wolves are simply the wild brothers of Man's best friend: the dog. And they identify with human beings in many ways.Click To Tweet

If you’d like to support wolves and care for conservation, join me and learn about the causes at the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice and California Wolf Center for a start, see how you can help! 

 

Meanwhile, I dream of kissing a handsome wolf one day.

Perhaps at the California Wolf Center, or at the Polar Park in Norway? We’ll see ..

 

Your golden eyes, intelligent face and mottled grey coat still linger in my mind

Oh that you knew you charmed me!

 

This post is dedicated to the ‘Wolf’ and all of his kind, and also to all you canine lovers out there!

I hope you enjoyed this ‘woofy’ post, till next! Please share your thoughts with me ..

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To Paint with Soul is an Act of Love

Art is love expressed in colours.

And to create is to love; that is how I see it. (Don’t ask me why) It’s just how a hard-core romantic must think. 

I was privileged to know 2 amazingly talented artists lately. Looking at their beautiful paintings, I could not but think (and conclude) that painting with soul is an act of love 🎨.

The Portraitists

Who are they? Firstly, painters with a burning passion for people; they specialise in portraits 👤. Secondly, art teachers and healers: Margaret Sloan of Mockingbirds at Midnight, and Natasha Nashadka of The Art Remedy both teach at their home studios, and seek to heal the world by adding meaning to people’s lives through art. Thirdly, they are (just like me) nature, animal lovers and fellow bloggers 😍 !! 

” … What fascinates me most, so much more than the rest of my craft, is the portrait, the modern portrait …”   – Vincent Van Gogh

Margaret SloanMargaret Sloan, inveterate story-teller & watercolour expert

Wild at heart with a compulsive obsession for stories, Margaret paints primarily in watercolour for its lucid translucent quality, to render lifelike portraits of faces. Painting a portrait, is to her, like a conversation she’s having with the person, the paint, and the paper. 

”  I love painting portraits and people more than anything else, because humans are inherently about story, but I’ll branch out to inanimate objects and landscapes if they have an interesting tale. “

Visit Margaret’s portfolio of watercolour portraits here 🎞 .

She is now working on a series of cloud paintings, because she feels that clouds tell the narrative of our blue planet. A series about humans and their relationships with other animals and the land is also in the works.

MargaretSloan_BeginnersReelElephants, just like the great wilderness, have always held a special place in Margaret’s heart since young. For the Love of Elephants (her blog post) showcases her soulful rendition of this complex and intelligent mammal. It’s no surprise that Margaret had offered a portion from the sales of her Etsy shop 🛍 elephant prints (very beautiful !) to support the elephants at Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

It’s been 25 years since Margaret began to pursue her art seriously. Working tirelessly at her visual and writing skills every day, she reflects ” I find that my muse will only come knocking when I’m working hard. She only drops inspiration in my lap if I’m sitting at my desk; she only hands me an idea when I’m standing at my easel. “

She is equally enthusiastic about playing Irish tunes, or cooking madly ambitious dinners for friends when not at work 😋 . To get updates on what Margaret Sloan is up to, do visit and follow her Blog, Instagram or Facebook !

” To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist. ”    

   – Robert Schumann

Natasha Nashadka, guardian of memories & problem solver

Adept at artful solutions for life’s problems, Natasha (whose aptly named business is The Art Remedy) is on an all-out quest to reach out to anyone who needs some help. After all, for one whose personal motto is likely ” Art equals life “, help is just an imaginative spark away 😜 .

A self-appointed keeper of memories, Natasha is more than happy to immortalise your loved ones (whether two-legged or four-legged 🐕) by creating realistic portraits that capture and reveal their essence. Well, portraiture is one of her favourite subjects …

I really adored her portraits of those loyal dogs , the way she captured the texture of wavy fur, the expression of those melt-your-heart doggy eyes; also the wide-eyed guileless innocence of the children portraits, and not forgetting, her oh-so-pretty ballerinas ! And free colouring sheets !

“Maryssa” © 2016, 8×10, oil on canvas

Like many creative types, Natasha’s early creative adventures were sporadic and unfocused. Working infrequently, she tried her hand at many things. Woodworking, gardening, jewelry making, and scrapbooking to name just a few. Painting for her came about when she volunteered to paint a mural for the Salvation Army – of Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand. A huge undertaking but she was hooked !! So how did she finally specialise in portraits? The story according to Natasha is:

” Early on in my painting adventures, I painted whatever caught my eye. Then a man at an art show told me that he only bought landscapes that had people in them. A light switched on for me at that moment: we humans identify with humans (who knew?). Think about when you flip through family photos – the scenery is nice, but we are way more interested in and linger the longest on the ones with the people. Science confirms it. So this is what I paint: people. ” 

Next in line, Natasha aspires to become like the daily painters; not just for their dedication that is motivating but the mastery that evolves from so much exercise. Why not visit and follow her efforts on her Blog, Instagram or Facebook ?

Are you inspired to have a portrait for yourself? For the elder or little ones? or how about the furry ones? A song came to mind as I wrote this post. As you might guess, it is Don McLean’s ‘ Starry, Starry Night ‘. Vincent loved his art and subjects so much it tore him apart. (I am thankful, however, my painter friends here are soulful but not angsty.) Here is the (You-tube) video-slide of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings to the lyrics of this melancholic song.

Cheers to art, love and life 🍷🧀 !   Till next!

Building a tree house

Isn’t it every boy’s (and perhaps some girls’) dream to live in a tree house?

Would I not love to live in this dream house too?

Wish I had a dad, brother or boyfriend who would build me one to live in…

 

I came upon this amazing video in one of my favourite magazines, Smith Journal.

Their content is for the most part masculine; veering towards adventure, DIY, real stories of places, people and their crafts, hobbies and lives; in short, really meaty stuff. Think a strapping handsome cowboy on a black stallion, and a cool gun … whoa!! 

A book is in the works to document the building process of this tree house, quirkily named ‘The Cinder Cone’ by Foster Huntington, so many others could follow the dream.

Ah .. and when will I meet a prince who’d build me a castle in the trees?

How about you, reader? Tell me what you feel about tree houses 🙂 

Why exist if not to be free?

  Why Exist If Not To Be Free?  Expression defines what it means to live; life is devoid of meaning if it did not reveal itself – for what the Creator intended. Nature often expresses her temperament, gathering seemingly inanimate objects like clouds, the wind and highly charged particles – a lethal brew that enacts the keenest drama in the atmosphere. Often times these momentary flits of drama seem to reflect the inner life of living beings.

   Constantly shifting clouds – pliant and light, take on myriads of shapes as the air disposes them, lending layers of nuances to the aerial realm. Ominous and foreboding blocks of coal grey at an instant, obliterating any rays of sun; widely spaced cheerful cotton lumps, revealing clear blue sky at the next; yet other times, stark swaths over vast plains, casting dramatic shadows as they pass plane-like over the open life beneath.

    Expression breathes, and lives in the daily tale of life. From the rooster who crows its resplendent cry heralding the approach of dawn; tweeting birds flitting daintily, in their lightness and freedom of being; to wildebeests, zebras and gazelles mounting the great migration every winter, and lion cubs and wolf pups merrily playing rough-and-tumble in becoming skilled hunters: all of creation expresses joy – the joy of being created. The Creator’s joy of creation being manifest in the full expression of His creatures – an epic reflection of Himself in all their dizzying, glorious diversity of colours, shapes, sizes and kinds.

    Survival, the universal tune of life: the fight to live and prevail; also to procreate, in the face of dangers and uncertainties, express this joy of life. Surviving, mating and its rituals – so primordial, so perilous, form the ethereal strain of life. Spring, autumn and winter, come and go in nature’s ever ceaseless cycle, each occurring with their unique colours and landscapes; in so corresponding the cycle of life and death, seem to celebrate and remind us of the transience and delicate rhythm of life.

    Expression is also the fount of creativity. Humankind is especially blessed to have extraordinary powers of creation amongst all creatures. For mankind, expression and creation knows no bounds, innumerable are the forms of expression for us. Some express themselves athletically by running, jumping, swimming, cycling; while others express themselves artistically: sketching, painting, taking pictures, sculpting, sewing, cooking, singing, acting, dancing, composing and playing musical instruments; still others express themselves intellectually by writing, building, inventing and teaching amongst others. No particular form is more superior to another. The preference of one kind over another is highly influenced by one’s natural talents and circle of family and friends at large.

     Nevertheless, it is the word – written and spoken, that has reigned and always held sway. So built upon words is our world: without words, there would be no governments, no schools nor laws. There would be no Shakespeare, no poems, plays, no philosophy nor Aristotle. Pictures, said to be worth a thousand words, preceded the use of words to convey meaning. Cave paintings and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Chinese characters, both distinctly pictorial in nature, attest to this. Painting has been a primal means of expression, dating back to our cave-dwelling ancestors. What would civilization be without beautiful paintings and art? How much poorer would we be without knowing the classical beauty of Leonardo da Vinci, the passionate strokes of Vincent Van Gogh and the ethereal, whimsical figures of Marc Chagall?

   One of my favourite means of expression is writing, not surprisingly! I love poetry in particular, for its elegance and precision. I see poetry also in lines. Symmetrical lines seem to tell a story, like the railway tracks, bicycle, fences and electrical grids. I love photography and dancing for the same reason. Jazz, ballet and flamenco are some of the dance forms I highly appreciate. I watched a very unforgettable dance performance by the Ballet Nacional de Espana a few years ago, it was a marriage of poetry, music, ballet and flamenco. These were my thoughts on the performance ‘Sevilla/Madrid/Sevilla’ on the night I watched it.

 

A potent cocktail of passion, grace, drama, lyricism and folk romanticismexpression

That went straight to my head, will I get a hangover?

Nowhere have I ever seen such mesmerising parade of exuberance

The pride of life and art emoted in every single movement

The swinging of leg, of skirt, articulation of the fingers, outreached arms

The clapping, tapping and stomping – mere intoxication

Rich in imagery of Andalusian tradition,

The men were patriarchal in their grace

The women matronly in their bearing

 

    

     I penned some thoughts too on how I felt towards dance; how people should exercise their bodies: to liberate their bodies and minds, to feel freedom and enjoy the physicality and beauty of it all. 

 

Our bodies should be free to dance, run, jump; climb trees and fences, swim with the tide and dolphins

Measure its strength against the ruggedness of nature; proud of the life coursing through its veins

And the beauty it was made to be, just as the Creator intended

Ah! this freedom comes only with a simple life of hard work and discipline

    Expressing ourselves isn’t just for selfish reasons but for truly leaving our mark in this world, to give something back so the world is richer for your existence and mine. I wrote this for someone I loved a few years ago. I wrote it because I was trying hard to understand why I felt the way I did, the same sentiment really can be said for the best of friends. I hope you have a best friend you could say this to:

“I love you because I think I can fully express who I am with you …

Because you are the image of what I hope and dream of … ”

 

This essay was my first publication, it appeared as ‘Expression- an opinion’ on the uplifting Upbeat Downstream Magazine in their 6th Issue – Expression. I hope you enjoyed this piece, leave me a comment 🙂

 

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