Common Redpolls at our makeshift bird bath

Despite the Arctic airmass that’s been hanging over us, plunging temperatures into the minus double digits, spring is coming.

The snow is ever-so-slowly receding towards the forest shadows, the geese are returning, and the other day I saw a seagull soar over our house.

Mowat is also fully spring fevered, visiting Gus, the golden retriever, a street over whether or not he’s allowed and giving us that willful look of his moments before taking himself for a run across the snow-skimmed muddy fields.

The earth is coming to life and he feels it and it seems to set his blood on fire, like it has every year since he was a Tasmanian devil of a puppy.

It makes sense that it was in the spring when he blew his first CCL tendon, racing around our backyard in full toddler-dog zoomies with our foster dog, Duke, that May. Now, despite two reconstructed knees and consequential arthritis, not much has changed: he’s still crazy, and this time of year, he just gets crazier.

I, too, am feeling eager.

Excited to get outside and get started on the ambitious landscaping plan J. and I’ve created, involving gardens of native plants to attract birds and bees, a fire pit circle, an area of herbs, possibly a prairie meadow, and a raised bed in which to grow tomatoes, lettuce and other veggies.

Eventually, there might also be a yurt.

Ever a dreamer, sometimes with more imagination than energy, I outline this plan but we’ll see what reality brings. ‘One step at a time’ is my new motto.

Right now, I simply feel pulled towards the earth. In part, I suppose, because of the ongoing need I have to remember, to reconnect with, life outside the digital.

It’s different here – outside of the busy rooms of Facebook which I’ve accessed so much over the past decade.  Days are quieter and seem more solitary and I confess that sometimes I miss the ease of sharing information and knowledge and am tempted to return.

Recently I came across the News Feed Eradicator which shuts down the time and attention-sucking feed to make Facebook a more easily-managed tool, and this could be an option (for other suggestions and apps to help control digital interactions, visit this page, put together by the important Center for Humane Technology).

But I’ve also been consciously noticing when I feel that way and working to balance the auto-default to the Internet as a source for everything by pointing myself towards real-life resources, activities, actions.

You know: community.

This weekend, I’ll be attending a gardening talk at my local library and I’ve also signed up to help with the Winnipeg Street Census.

Because, even as a useful tool, there’s still the underlying ethic of Facebook which is so disturbing. Looked at through a dystopian lens, isn’t it a bit like a massive matrix that’s sort-of turned us into the Borg? Focused on the digital collective, our minds networked to be manipulated into buying stuff and voting for whoever’s got their hands on the controls.

Extreme? Maybe. But then so’s the world these days and my eyes often go there. (Case in point: my first novel, a dystopian coming-of-age story set in the world during and after peak oil, inspired by the economic crash in 2008).

Like most of us, I don’t know the answers. To #deleteFacebook or not. Likely, if the tower that is Facebook doesn’t topple and fall (isn’t it too big to fail?), I’ll even eventually be reopening my account.

I’m back on Twitter, or at least I reopened my profile, because otherwise it would have been deleted (which happens automatically after a month of it being deactivated). Every now and then, I take a quick glance but rather than lulling me into distraction, Twitter seems to raise my blood pressure, so it’s easier to avoid.

As a writer, though, admittedly, unfortunately, I need these networks.

As a person who has to tell the world, ‘hey, here’s a book I wrote,’ or, ‘hey, here’s someone else’s book that’s amazing’ (on that note: The Red Word by Sarah Henstra), I need the media and these days, social media is the media.



The things of my hands have my attention more these days than the abstraction of the Internet or, even, of writing.

Last night, I finished the sweater I started back in January, with only the armpits left to stitch (and I love it).

I’ve also been trying to sprout an avocado pit, first in water, now in a pot of soil by our sunny kitchen window through which I watch the Downy Woodpecker at the suet feeder and the Nuthatches, Chickadees and red squirrels taking turns (more or less) for the sunflower seeds.

And as I was writing this post this morning, as if by magic, dozens of Common Redpolls showed up, filling the trees around our feeder.

Life goes on, waking up, getting ready to grow.

P.S. My next office hour is coming up next week, on April 11th, at 7 p.m., Central Time (Winnipeg). Join me and writers from all over for a free group discussion over video conferencing. Bring your questions about process, publication, or simply a desire to hang out with others working with words. To get the details, sign up for my email list.