Fancy Shawl

The Fancy Shawl dance is the most flamboyant and energetic of  all Pow Wow women’s events.  Performers skip and jump through the air while swirling their shawls in large sweeping gestures.

The category is a relatively new one, different from the more conservative styles of the Jingle and Traditional Women’s dance.  Some say its origins lie in mimicking the  transformation of a butterfly from a cocoon. Others say that it was created by women wanting to duplicate the complex foot work of the Men’s Fancy dance.

Saga says that the first time a woman (her friend) competed, she disguised herself as a man and entered the Men’s Fancy dance.  Unexpectedly, she won!  The judges decided it was time for change and they a created brand new dance category for women.

I especially liked these shots of Saga in her Fancy Shawl regalia.  I thought the strong colors and striking poses looked powerful.  That’s representative of the dance’s origins in both cases, don’t you think?

For more explanation of the different styles of Pow Wow dances I refer you to  this article.   Although dated, the post is comprehensive and complete. It is very informative and great prep for your next Pow Wow visit.

Toronto, Canada. 2018

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Jingle Dress

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The very first time I went to a Native American Pow Wow, I remember walking through the grounds and being followed by a symphony of  bells and  wind chimes.  When I looked around I was surprised to see a dancer in her Jingle dress right behind me.

The Jingle dress dance is  a simple one.   It is a ladies event and they jump up and down with their hands placed on their hips.  It is mesmerizing to watch and so easy to get lost in the rhythm of the drums and metallic clink of the bells.

Saga (my model) says that each bell is hand made and sewn individually to the dress. There can be up to  three hundred and sixty five bells, one for each day of the year.  It’s extremely heavy! Imagine jumping around with all that metal on a hot summer day. Even so, Saga says that once she gets going, she slips in to a zone where all the discomfort disappears.

The Jingle dance is associated with healing qualities.  The story goes that at the very first dance there was a sick little girl. The magic of the jingle dance roused her from her sickness and she awoke refreshed and cured.

For more history on the Jingle Dress, have a look at this documentary by PBS and produced with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

The Jingle Dress Dance is a popular and powerful tradition that has spread throughout America’s Native communities. Ojibwe elders offer stories of its beginnings and its healing powers, and musicians demonstrate the unique songs and rhythms of the dance. Produced with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

Source: The Jingle Dress Tradition – Twin Cities PBS

And now for something different …

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A new year is a good time to try something different.

After my less than illustrious foray into flash photography, I’ve been shy about doing studio shoots.  However when Hubby arranged a session with a model in Native American dress, I was more than happy to tag along.

The difference between studio and street photography is light.  In a studio, you have full control of light, in street you don’t. In street, you chase the light. In studio, you make it. There’s a lot of  technical knowledge involved in getting light to perform. Know-how and Gear and Set-up.  For this session I was glad to rely on Hubby’s expertise. My focus was on getting a few good shots.

Here’s my first set. I kept them in dramatic B&W to emphasize the shape and movement of the fancy shawl.

Saga our model had some spectacular outfits. They were all handmade with fine details and gorgeous colors.  She also had  an interesting tale about the origins of the Fancy Shawl dance event in Pow Wows … but you can read more about that in my next post.

 Toronto, Canada. 2018

 

 

 

 

Reclaiming Serenity

Have you ever had a photo that frustrated you with its lost potential?   A picture where the image captured wasn’t the one you saw?

This photo (the one below) is one of mine.  It’s too far, too bright and too exposed.  It doesn’t capture the muffled sound of the surf or the silent flight of sea birds.  It doesn’t hint at the rough texture of the sand or the whisper of salt in the breeze.  It doesn’t show the serene splendor of the Pacific Rim.

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I was ready to launch this in to the trash heap but then thought what if. What if this wasn’t a photo. What if it is was  just a picture, a rendered line drawing that captured the highlights and textures.  A digital  editor could do that.

And so there it is. My featured photo and reclamation of a lost shot.

It is not a great photo.

But it’s a not bad picture either, eh?

via The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

Long Beach, Tofino. British Columbia, Canada.  2017

Snippets of my Son

snip·pet (noun) 
  • a small piece or brief extract
  • e.g. “snippets of conversations with my son”

I’ve been away travelling for the last six weeks and it was the first week-end back. I made a big Sunday dinner so that Daniel, my son would come home to visit.

My boy is going to be twenty two soon. It’s his final year in Engineering but it’s still hard to think of him grown up and living on his own. Well, not on his own exactly. He’s sharing an apartment with three other boys young men, all engineers.

“So what’s new Daniel? How’s it working out with your house mates?”

“It’s fine,” he said.

“No more eating their food?” I said, referring to the first week when he’d unceremoniously opened and cooked food from someone else’s stash. He’d said the food had been sitting there untouched for days. Shortly after, house rules were clarified in an impromptu meeting.

“It’s fine,” he said.

“How’s the house keeping going?” I said, dusting out a memory from my own university days. I vaguely remembered a fall out, something to do with the shower and hair.

“Aah. Sometimes I get fed up and just do it,” he said.

I am stunned. Daniel, getting fed up with mess and cleaning up. My son. Where did he go?

“Yeah. I’m the only one who doesn’t eat onions but there’s always bits and pieces of onion peel all over the kitchen. I wear socks and it was gross. I had to clean it up.”

I am so impressed. My boy is growing up.

“But then I realized I was the only one not wearing slippers. So I got some slippers and I don’t do that anymore.”

Hello. There he is. My son.

Toronto, Canada. 2017

 

It’s just the ocean

I’m back in Toronto and I’m telling my Dad about the wildness and beauty of British Columbia.  Sure I have photos to show and blog posts to write but videos are what he appreciates most.

So I’m thumbing through YouTube and stumble upon this video.  It’s my introduction to Canadian spoken word poet Shane Koyszan.

This is not his most famous work. That would be “To This Day” about bullying, shown here in a TED talk .

For me though, this video is my favorite.  The words and images reflect my awe and wonder of the wild Pacific Rim in beautiful, wonderful, super natural British Columbia.

British Columbia. 2017

Pacific Rim Totems and Legends

Totems by Doug LaFortune

Surrounded by the natural wonders of BC’s rain forests and wild life, it is easy to appreciate the myths and legends of the First Nations people.

The original inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest relied on oral tradition to record their history and carved totem poles to create a permanent record of  events. Typically the totems were carved from the single trunk of a cedar tree.   Totem artists often speak of a spiritual connection to the original tree.

When a great tree is chosen for a totem pole or a canoe, there are ceremonies to celebrate the rebirth of the tree into a new existence. These ceremonies reflect our understanding that there is a spiritual connection between man and tree, that we are all aspects of a greater whole, and that the apparent differences between flesh and wood are insignificant compared to the kinship between the spirit of the tree and the spirit of the carver.” (Richard Krentz, Salish artist. Nov 2012).

The city of Duncan aka “City of Totems”,  has one of the world’s largest, outdoor collection of publicly displayed totem poles. They were created in a joint community project with the Quw’utsun’ (Cowichan) people.  Altogether  some forty totems are placed around the city, on land acknowledged as traditional Quw’utsun’ lands.

In another city Sooke,  is an artfully painted fiberglass bear “Kody”.

Kody was part of a  public art initiative and was created by local Sooke artists Gene Sebelius and Bonnie Spencer.  He captures the Kitasoo legend where Raven, who created all living things after the great ice age, went among the bears and turned every tenth bear white as a reminder of the time when the world was pure and clean and covered with ice.

As a point of fact, the Spirit bear does actually exist.

In modern science he is called the  Kermode bear and lives only in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. He is not related to the polar bear nor is he an albino. He is a Black Bear with a recessive gene that causes about 1 in 10 bears to be white. Families of these bears can consist of both black and white bears.

Interesting, yes?

A wonderful meet up  of myth and science, history and life, coming together in art.

Made only in Canada.

Duncan & Sooke. Vancouver Island, BC. 2017 

 

Walking Through the Pacific Rain Forest

The best way to experience nature is to take a walk.

While exploring Tofino we took a hike to Schooner Cove in the Pacific Rim National Park.  The web page said it was a short and relatively easy trail, leading through lush rainforests and over gentle meandering streams.

“How long is it?” I asked.

“It’s not far,” hubby said. “Less than ..” he mumbled into his shoulder as he turned away to get something from somewhere else.

So we walked.  It started out easy enough.

But after walking down and around for what seemed like forever, we came to this extended ramp.

Down and across …
… and across some more

At this point, with only the faint promise of  surf in the distance, we had too much vested in the walk to turn back.  We continued walking, going up and down several more ramps and valleys until we faced the final ascent.

On paper it is  only a two kilometre hike. However most of it is climbing up or down stairs. It could have been worse.  If there wasn’t a board walk for instance.  But then I probably wouldn’t be taking this hike.

How was Schooner’s Cove, the final destination?  It was good.

After the walk we went back to the hotel.

Thoughtfully displayed, for our post-walk reflection were these warning signs.

Cougars, Wolves and Bears. Oh dear.

Pacific Rim National Park in Tofino, Vancouver Island. BC. 2017

Quirky Coombs

On the way from Nanaimo to Ucluelet is a quirky little place called Coombs.

Coombs is a small community on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, situated on provincial highway 4A approximately 10 km (6.2 mi) west of Parksville. Coombs is home to approximately 1,327 people and is renowned for its Old Country Market (which features a family of goats living on the roof), Butterfly World (which includes a small indoor tropical rainforest ), and the Coombs Bluegrass Festival held every B.C. Day weekend.  

-Wikipedia. November 2017

We arrived looking for the ‘goats on the roof’ but couldn’t find them.  Instead we were diverted by this Seussian structure.

Captivated we wandered into a courtyard of humongous stone monuments.  Native American gods, Chinese and Hindu Buddhas, Disney-esque orangutans and the Lion King?

Welcome to Coombs Emporium.

Inside the store was the largest collection of wood carvings and hand carved items I have ever seen in one place.  Individually, I’ve seen them in night markets and souvenir shops all across South East Asia, but all together in one shop?  It felt like someone had gone to an Indonesian island and said “I’ll buy everything.”

The fellow in the cafe said that the display was the result of forty years of collection by his parents. The statues which had cost a couple hundred thousand to ship back twenty years ago were valued at half a million each today. I could believe it. If I had a 500K to spare I would buy a three storey high statue of Buddha.

We never did see the goats on the roof. Apparently they had been taken in for the winter.  If we had seen them, they would have looked something like this.

Goats (with woolly coats) on the Roof

Coombs, Vancouver Island. BC. 2017