My history with dirt begins as a small child on my grandfather’s two acres, walking barefoot into his vegetable garden I pick a beefsteak tomato big as my hand, and bite down. Juice oozes down my chin and that taste, sun warmed sweetness mixed with earthy undertones, is a marker for how I long for the land and find what feeds me.
I am Belfast, N. Ireland born, with rebel, mystic, and stubborn mule hard wired. My early career as a Landscape Architect in Toronto, Ontario, melds a childhood fluent in Latin plant names, an artistic and no fear of dirt under the nails sensibility, with environmental stewardship. After several years of consulting life I retire West in search of a simpler way. As my creative expressions morph from landscapes to motherhood to words, themes of environment, humanity, and earthy spirituality emerge.
Kelowna, British Columbia, is my home of 22 years, coming full circle from the 1940’s when my grandfather spliced apple whips in Grimsby, Ontario, then shipped them to the Okanagan Valley. The agriculturally rich and vital Okanagan landscape is my contentment and inspiration. Although wilderness is here, I borrow wild views and stay on tamed edges where I lose myself in thought without danger of being eaten. Spaces that feed my creative spirit are Okanagan Lake beaches in off season, cut alfalfa fields, apple orchards, cemeteries, greenways, and South East Kelowna rural roads. I find my place here and learn to flourish.
My wildly creative Landscape Architect/land developer spouse challenges me to see how great project design can sometimes warrant uprooting orchards and leveling farmsteads. It’s not easy for me to accept this. I often write poetry as record and witness to what was. I imagine a way of life where we sustain ourselves yet save vernacular and wild beauty, all the while knowing I live a contradiction of railing against what puts bread on my table. This too feeds my creative process.