1. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Trembling uncertainty

    My mother was an accomplished worrier. She had an amazing capacity to fret, especially about anything to do with her children. I used to tease her about it, telling her she could worry if she wanted to, but that her worrying would not change anything. Whenever I said this, Mom...
  2. Mary Lou van Schaik

    The long breath of stone

    Once looked at, how can I stop looking? How can I not imagine this ancient boulder alive? I am sitting on the hillside next to an old large rock that I’ve nicknamed “Resting Bison” although looking at it more closely, the boulder resembles a bison’s head more than its general...
  3. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Eagle’s grace

    A few days ago, I went for a walk down our road in a subdued mood. A dear friend of mine was going through another bout of recurring depression. Aching sadness pooled inside me along with helplessness that, for the moment at least, she was beyond my reach. The afternoon...
  4. Mary Lou van Schaik

    A poem for Pete

    One month ago, my younger brother Pete and I stood in his kitchen, waiting for the stove-top espresso machine to bubble up our coffee. Pete was breathing through an oxygen tube, which ran down the front of his T-shirt and snaked along the floor behind him to the tank. He...
  5. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Alive in each other’s company

    On a recent Saturday morning, I spoke poems to passersby at our village market. My booth held two blue lawn chairs with grey cushions, a small table graced with autumn flowers – bright orange zinnias and yellow sunflowers, and a shallow hand-woven basket filled with poem cards, all face-down. As...
  6. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Lakes so blue and far

    I’m paddling with my sweetheart in Quetico Provincial Park, a canoeist’s paradise located northwest of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Practically every year for more than 20 years, John and I have driven the 1900-some kilometers from our home to paddle the lakes and rivers of Quetico with good friends. For various...
  7. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Leave them be

    Mid-summer. Clear skies, warm days. With the ample spring and early summer rain, the nearby fields exude lush green. The roadsides near our country home burgeon with grasses, ivy (poison and otherwise), and a profusion of wildflowers: blue cornflowers, white Queen Anne’s lace, mulberry milkweed, periwinkle harebell, yellow black-eyed susans....
  8. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Idle and blessed

    Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? These last two lines from one of Mary Oliver’s most popular poems, The Summer Day are often quoted as a reminder to pay attention to the small, ordinary astonishments of everyday life. But this...
  9. Mary Lou van Schaik

    Why do I flee from you?

    I wake up, look out the window at the vibrant green trees, breathe deep of the fresh country air. This lovely peace lasts for roughly 12 seconds, until the day’s to-do list crowds my mind, urging run, run, run. Do this, do that, hurry, hurry, hurry. Of course, my complaint...