Winter… - theHumm March 2022

Winter… - theHumm March 2022

By Susie Osler

The snow has closed 123 kilometres of highway between Sharbot Lake and Ottawa. To my knowledge this has not happened in the 21 years I’ve lived here. Looking out my window, the snow spirits swirl like dervishes — dancing and twisting wildness around the house. Old Man Winter rattles the thin glass panes that safeguard me with the slimmest of barriers. He interrupts cushion-covered coziness; calling for Fear to attend to him. I note the impulses that arise — to check my phone, pour a glass of wine, rustle up a bit of chocolate, conjure up some online ‘surfing’, text a friend. To tread the well-worn paths to my escape hatches.

Tenacity and Fortitude are good winter companions here, if you can locate them. But my fickle friends Distraction and Aversion continue to ply me with varying degrees of material and psychic protection. I am beginning to realize these old pals may not be the best company for me to be keeping — their sugar-coated treats dissolve quickly. The realization pokes a few holes in the worn-out, rusting armour I’ve noticed myself trapped within. Peering through the perforations, I wonder at the soft belly of my own permeability.

A day later I venture out into the still, sun-shined woods, immediately breathless with the labour of walking, even with snowshoes, in deep snow. I’m breathless too beholding the beautiful animacy of snow puffing up bundles of sparkles from under my snowshoes with each footfall. Sun sparkles shimmy any remaining vapours of anxiety away. Beauty offers herself to my posse of pals.

In winter I think often about the other beings with whom I share this land: the deer and the coyotes who may struggle harder in deep snow to find the nourishment they need. The trees, stoically rooted in the frozen ground, taking any punches that come: wind, erratic waves of shifting temperatures, the weight of snow and ice on branches. Mice and voles, who may in fact be happy to have the thick, soft snow insulation to tunnel around under — out of sight of predators. The hawks who are feeling the effects of this; some of whom are wasting away as a result. And then there are the bears wrapped in their thick fur coats, dreaming away the winter in a dugout somewhere on the land. All of these beings, in spite of their vulnerabilities, accepting their lot with a grace I have not cultivated. They belong here. Do I? They know, and embody, their place. They are made, quite literally, from it and are, in turn, a vital part of its matrix. What place am I made from, and woven into?

The swans on the Tay River near here float out the cold, their serpentine necks twisting back to bury black-billed heads under their wings. It’s minus 28°C! They have been living for weeks on frigid water with the poise of… well… swans. How do they do it? Why aren’t they, or any other winged creature for that matter, many hundreds of miles south where the living would presumably be much easier? Their equanimity in the face of what, to me, seems like a large dose of adversity is a feat fit for the Zen Olympics. I, on the other hand, feel anything but swan-like in these deep-freeze weeks — bumbling along in my dumpling-down parka and snow-pant silhouette. In fact, what dawns on me is the somewhat frightful realization that I am rather more like a cow than a swan — so thoroughly domesticated and reliant on systems, supplies and supports from anywhere but here. I’d like to believe otherwise. I’d also like to believe that my life here is in some way “sustainable”. But it truly is not. The illusion, even the aspiration, of living here sustainably through winter has been nothing short of a happy fantasy. I can either weep or laugh. Or maybe I can do both. I see Humour and Humility off in the distance and beckon for them to join my posse.

What does it mean to belong? To be… place? Can we imagine ourselves ever becoming truly integral to place? Maybe we need a new word — inplace. To inplace ourselves. To become inplaced. Perhaps it would give us an intention to orient ourselves around. Indigenous Peoples around the world know a thing or two about this. The Anishinaabe thrived here, where I now live, for centuries — adapting to harsh and taxing conditions with abundant wisdom, humility, and culture interwoven with the ecologies of life. Living without desecrating the land, requiring a beach vacation, cottages or fossil fuels. There is profound wisdom in this to awaken to.

The jesters are provoking us — skewering more holes through that old, tired armour made for other times and places; dismantling, with steadfast persistence, our misguided collective Hubris and bidding Humility to seep up through the rubble.

Another month passes. It is now mid-February. This morning as I step outside, it’s the smell and touch of wetness that meets my skin. Water falls in small raindrop skins, landing on a driveway sealed in a coat of slick ice. My grippers clack and slide me to the barn. The untrodden areas of puffy white snow next to the paths are collapsing like a ruined snow soufflé. Small clouds of mist lift off the surface of the melting pond. Water shapeshifts everywhere around me. In the slate cloud heavens above the land; in the willow that is beginning to blush her sap spring yellow; in the sea of invisible wet air in which all the visibles are swimming. I meet glints and trickles of watery genius in the folds of the land, and let myself steep for a while in her fluid ease. Owl watches over. The siskins feed. The stream sounds slide by. The hold of winter is softening in my heart. Amen! And my sweet, burgeoning fold of friends welcomes Love to the party.


Michael Neelin —The Art of Appreciating Your Surroundings - theHumm March 2022

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

When you can’t decide which you enjoy more — creating your art or doing your job — you’ve made some exceptionally wise decisions in your life. Residential designer and illustrator Michael Neelin of McDonalds Corners would be hard pressed to pick between the two. Neelin capitalizes on his exceptional drawing abilities in both pursuits, and both tie in with his passion for sharing the natural beauty and rich architectural heritage of the Ottawa Valley.

As a gift......


Studio Theatre Presents Shirley Valentine - theHumm March 2022

Putting on plays while a pandemic rages has its challenges, but Studio Theatre Perth is once again rising to that challenge and is proud to present Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell, opening in late March.

Often described as a “chick play”, Shirley Valentine is so much more than that, according to Jane Stott, Studio Theatre Perth’s artistic director and the director of this play.

“It’s really a play for everyone. A lot of the things that Shirley Valentine talks about affect......


Something Borrowed, Something Blue
Folkus Presents Julian Taylor with Catriona Sturton
- theHumm March 2022

By Sandy Irvin

March is the month where winter gets to feeling a little long. We know the light is coming, but it’s getting hard to hold on. It’s the month where something a little soulful, a little tender and a little blue fits the bill. On March 26, we are very lucky to bring two talented artists to the Folkus stage who have spent years on their overnight success.

Julian Taylor is a songwriter at the top of his game, garnering a recent CFMA Solo Artist of the year, and a Polaris Prize nomination for 2021......


BOTR is Back at The Cove - theHumm March 2022

Great news — Blues On The Rideau is returning to The Cove in Westport this spring! With the pandemic slowly staring to ease and restrictions being lifted in Ontario, organizers are very pleased to announce that the Blues On The Rideau Dinner & Show fundraiser series will be bringing three dynamic blues bands to The Cove Inn this spring.

All shows include a delicious dinner, an evening of great live blues and some terrific door prizes, plus a chance to win a grand prize a......


Maple Weekend Returns! - theHumm March 2022

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Lanark & District Maple Syrup Producers’ Association (LDMSPA) is very pleased to announce that Maple Weekend is returning on April 2 and 3.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this fun, Canadian event once again this year,” says President Jamie Fortune. “After two years we are so excited to be able to welcome visitors to our sugar bushes again and celebrate the sweetest time of the year in Lanark & District.”

Maple Weekend is a fun t......


Exploring Canada’s Wilderness with Adam Shoalts
A Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust Presentation
- theHumm March 2022

The Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) has invited well-known explorer, adventurer, conservationist and bestselling author Adam Shoalts to share stories of his expeditions in Canada’s wilderness with its members in association with its Annual General Meeting. Adam will talk about the importance of preserving wild places — from remote hinterlands to places closer to home. 

Best known for his long solo canoe journeys, including crossing nearly 4,000km of Canada’s Arctic alone, ......


A 50-Year Walk Through the Sugar Bush - theHumm March 2022

By Ray Fortune,Fortune Farms Maple Sugar Bush

Finally, warmer weather has arrived in February and the first hint of spring is in the air. This signals to us that the maple syrup season is about to begin again, and at Fortune Farms we are busy getting ready to tap the trees.

It is now fifty years since we purchased this maple sugar bush from the McIntosh family and continued their maple syrup operation. Much has changed over that time. A new generation of the family is now in charge, so Ruth and I may now sit back and watch our children, gran......


Ask a Busy Person
A Tribute to Mike Macpherson
- theHumm March 2022

By Glenda Jones, with thanks to Mary Vandenhoff, Don Johnson and Jean Macpherson

It’s rare to find a gentle soul as quiet, determined, smiling, capable and successful as the late Mike Macpherson. Mike could be defined as the consummate volunteer that any organization would be honoured to have on its roster. It’s little wonder that the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) has chosen to dedicate the 2022 Birdhouse Bonanza Auction to his memory.

Mike was a founding member of the Land Trust board in 2003, supporting a favourite cause of preserving......


The Power of Puppets - theHumm March 2022

By Heather Phaneuf

Where did you first encounter a puppet, or better yet, when did a puppet first find you?

Time’s right to consider these burning questions as anticipation is growing for the 2022 Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival scheduled for the balmy days of August 12–14 in Almonte. Pay close attention to the growing burble in that community — you’ll pick up quickly on those energetic volunteers who are busily planning, producing, fundraising and fun-raising, all in the name of exception......


Winter… - theHumm March 2022

By Susie Osler

The snow has closed 123 kilometres of highway between Sharbot Lake and Ottawa. To my knowledge this has not happened in the 21 years I’ve lived here. Looking out my window, the snow spirits swirl like dervishes — dancing and twisting wildness around the house. Old Man Winter rattles the thin glass panes that safeguard me with the slimmest of barriers. He interrupts cushion-covered coziness; calling for Fear to attend to him. I note the impulses that arise — to check my phone, pour a glass of wine, ru......


Algonquin Nation: A Land Claim Webinar - theHumm March 2022

The Algonquins have lived in harmony with the Ottawa River watershed for thousands of years. When European explorers first arrived, they brought opportunities for trade and alliances, nation to nation. A Royal Proclamation in 1763 by King George III, recognized that Indigenous Peoples were owners of this land, and any expansion of settlement required a treaty. Nevertheless, the government gradually allowed — indeed encouraged — settlers to simply overtake it for their own purposes. Des......


Art Space Seeks Donations - theHumm March 2022

Concave Gallery, located in Code’s Mill in downtown Perth, recently opened their Calm Unity Art Space. This is a safe and open creator space for members of the community to come and explore their artistic side, or just hang out for some company and conversation.

Gallery owners are asking artists in the area to bring any gently-used or abandoned project materials into the gallery so that they can offer free art supplies to those who, for whatever reason, don’t have access to materials.


Be an Early Bird Bluejay
Get Your Puppets Up Passes Now and Save!
- theHumm March 2022

Humm headquarters got a frantic and flappy phone call recently from one of our favourite feathered friends. Jacob Bluejay wanted to tell us that he had brokered a special deal on Day Passes to the Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival , scheduled for August 12–14 of this year. He was chirping so excitedly that we asked if we could email him some questions instead. Once we deciphered his chicken-scratching, this is w......


Spring Fling Art Show - theHumm March 2022

Spring is the season of creation, and to celebrate, West Carleton Arts Society (WCAS) is once again presenting its Spring Fling Art Show at the Kanata Civic Art Gallery, located at 2500 Campeau Road.

Taking place from March 7–20, this year’s show will feature works by 27 talented local artists in a variety of media. “This is always a fun show,” says Anne Moore, WCAS Shows Director. “We have watercolour, oil and acrylic paintings, as well as photography and mixed me......


Just When the Contest Ends… - theHumm March 2022

The Olympics are over, the tears dried, and the best athletes have gone home without a medal. Is that what we could have expected? The Almonte Lecture on March 25 might offer some insight into that assumption. Warren Thorngate, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, has often delved into the machinations of the human psyche to discover anomalies we have not considered. His lecture, entitled “Why the Best Person Rarely Wins”, could offer some possible explanations for the conundrum known as the Olympics.

Warren Thorngate has presented several fascinating courses for Learning in Almonte, de......


Funny on the Page
A Comedy-Writing Workshop
- theHumm March 2022

Learn the basics of short form comedy writing (skits, sketches and short plays) with Rob and Kris Riendeau from Humm Team Productions. Rob wrote the script for Who Stole Christmas from Mississipp......


Climate Day of Action - theHumm March 2022

On Saturday, March 12, Lanark County Warden John Fenik will attend a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Perth Town Hall (80 Gore St. E., Perth). Area residents are invited to attend the 11am opening ......


Fifty Percent of Food is Wasted? - theHumm March 2022

By David Hinks

I find it shocking to read reports revealing that as much as fifty percent of the food we grow is wasted. As someone deeply concerned about the level of food insecurity in our society, I find thi......


MVTM Dye Garden - theHumm March 2022

The Mississippi Valley Textile Museum (MVTM) is pleased to announce that this spring it will be starting a dye garden, located at the Blakeney Project farm site. The museum is very grateful to th......


March Madness - theHumm March 2022

By Glenda Jones

Oh no, here it comes again! That spring itch, the desire for something new, something not monochromatic, and something without the film that’s accumulated over the winter when the sun is low and ......