Enquiring Minds | Inspiring Minds

You know how sometimes you just run into people who make you stop what you’re doing and take notice? Three people crossed my path lately who gave me pause.

I’m still thinking.


On our walks to and from the local school, we pass an empty lot, where the 100 year old house was recently demolished. Half of the yard still has the original garden that was created and nourished by the last house owner. One morning we saw a team coming in with equipment and we said to each other, “There go the trees!” thinking the beautiful old dames would be flattened to make room for two homes, as the city now desires for all the spacious lots in the old city quarter.

To our relief, our next pass by showed the trees nicely pruned and in the next few days we saw signs of activity on the property, then a woman with a clipboard, sketching and making notes. This was our first meeting with Wilhelmina, a retired woman who has purchased this lot just to create a garden. She is maintaining the half that’s original – where the soil is ‘beautiful, obviously so well cared for” – and adding a small orchard of dwarf heritage apple trees from Salt Spring Island, a new greenhouse, a small pond, a place for a few chickens, lovely borders. She’s keeping the original little archway over the front gate, though the picket fence had to be replaced. There is a beautiful new wrought iron gate specially designed and made by her daughter and son-in-law who own the magnificent Gates and Gifts (and are the people behind the brilliant Gallery Row). I love the fact that she is ‘putting her back into’ a space that might otherwise be used for practical purposes and simply creating beauty, and that she is doing this in a later portion of her life.

Give, keep giving. Keep bringing beauty, even for its own sake. Honour someone else’s passion and legacy.

Keep planting trees.



Around a table for a post concert wind-down, John (also in a later portion of his life) told us about his upcoming trip: starting in Nova Scotia he will be driving across Canada, taking photos. He specializes in wildlife photography and plans to go to Khutzeymateen Valley for the grizzlies. It’s not all about the animals, though, as John expects to meet people throughout his journey, and hear their stories. It’s adventure based on curiosity and the desire to explore new places and make new friends – I love the thought that I could have many more decades hearing new stories and gathering more friends. That is inspiring in and of itself, but John is also taking part in a festival week of classes to learn a new skill, and not just any new skill: one that he has been struggling with since childhood, believing that he’d never be able to do it. He says he wants to tackle it once and for all and now is the time.

Learn and keep learning. It’s never too late to face something that’s been a mountain in your life. There is always more to see and hear, and it is such a good thing to stay interested in people, even when your own life has its challenges.


Wendy Morton, poet, “believes a poem is the shortest distance between two hearts.” Not only WestJet’s Poet of the Skies, Chrysler’s Poet of the Road and founder of Random Acts of Poetry, Wendy is creator of The Elder Project, where she goes into school districts and trains students – mostly First Nations and Inuit – as poets. She facilitates interviews with their Elders, which the students then turn into poetry. The resulting poems are made into books for use in the school district. In April, I attended the launch of Every Word Has a Spirit, a publication from one of the local secondary schools. It was amazing, but when some of the Elders who were present chose to go stand by their student as they read their poem, it was electric. Simple words, some heartbreaking, some so full of joy, a few lines holding the essence of a life. This was true education: learning the art of poetry, about each other, how to ask questions and how to listen. And we all learned – and others will continue to – a little more of the rich heritage and history in this territory where we reside.

You can read many of the Elder Project chapbooks here.

Create spaces for other stories, foster listening. Work with communities, with what is already there. Honour those who aren’t in your group, whether that’s because of their age, class, nation or personal tastes.

Encourage poetry: the world will listen.

Whom have you met lately who’s inspired you, made you stop and think, given you a great idea?

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