Here were valleys filled with tiny trees and minuscule, tangled vines…

I am a collector.  I love the details of seemingly mundane little objects.  I collect discarded plants and nurse them back to life. I collect bits and pieces underneath the heron nests.

I collect chestnuts.  They remind me of my mom, who would often tell me she collected chestnuts in shoeboxes as a child.

I collect buttons.  They remind me of my great aunt, Helga.  I loved going through her button jar when I was a child.

And the collecting habit continues with my niece and nephew as we drag home treasures from the park and the beach.

And what do I do with all these treasures besides put them on shelves and look at them regularly?  I use them as illustration references.

I was at the craft store today to purchase foam board for a portrait order and came across a bag of dry moss.  Oh wow!

I have been planning to get some reference photos of the forest floor for a project.  I had an idea.  I purchased my supplies and the bag of moss and ran home.  I would try create my own little slice of the forest using our found treasures and the moss.

The moss felt warm and spongy, several degrees warmer than the air around it, and far more damp than she had expected. It appeared to have its own weather. Alma put the magnifying lens to her eye and looked again. Now the miniature forest below her gaze sprang into majestic detail. She felt her breath catch. This was a stupefying kingdom. This was the Amazon jungle as seen from the back of a harpy eagle. She rode her eye above the surprising landscape, following its paths in every direction. Here were rich, abundant valleys filled with tiny trees of braided mermaid hair and minuscule, tangled vines. Here were barely visible tributaries running through that jungle, and here was a miniature ocean in a depression in the center of the boulder, where all the water pooled. – Elizabeth Gilbert

Adding some water awoke the plants and the smell of a mossy forest floor (one of my all time favorite smells) infused the room.

Then I added treasures such as pine cones, shells, heron egg shells, pebbles, beach glass, driftwood, sparrow’s feet.

I am all about the nooks and crannies.  Therein lie the secrets.  The truth.

But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.
― Alan Watts


The Sparrow’s Nest

Behold, within the leavy shade,

Those bright blue eggs together laid !

On me the chance-discovered sight

Gleamed like a vision of delight.

– William Wordsworth, The Sparrow’s Nest, 1807


Chinamarker, ink, acrylic, watercolour, embroidery on newsprint (12” x 12”, 30cm x 30cm)

The sparrow is mightier than the machine

This morning, at the 23 bus stop in the West End, I heard the overwhelming LOUDNESS of humanity– cars, buses, construction, garbage container being dumped into a truck, a plane overhead, motorcycles.

Cutting through all that noise was the song of one little sparrow. One little sparrow with a song so much mightier and awe-inspiring than the machines surrounding us.

China marker, watercolor, acrylic on newsprint, April 8, 2019

And at that moment, a lilting melody lifts to the moon as a single sparrow sings.
Lisa Ann Sandell, Song of the Sparrow

Did the song of the sparrows trigger a genetic memory?

Last Monday morning

I am walking to the bus stop heading to work.  I walk south through the little park on Chilco between Nelson and Comox.   It is a sunny cold morning, so I am bundled up.  My extra long black and grey scarf hangs down the front underneath coat and covers my knees.  The scarf bounces off my knees as I walk.

I turn left onto Comox and I hear sparrows singing. I stop (as I usually do when I see birds) and observe them.  I see a few of them sitting atop branches.  I smile and keep walking.  My eyes are blinded by the sun.  The song of the sparrows combined with way the scarf bounced on my knees triggers something.  A feeling so familiar.

All of a sudden I am not in Vancouver and I am not in 2019.  I am walking along a country road in Sweden.  It is early summer and the Sparrows are singing.  My layers of skirts and my worn apron bounce on my knees as I walk.  It is 1910 and I am on my way to general store.  To my right are birch trees and pine, and daisies grow in the ditch.  To my left farmers’ fields bordered by wooden fences.  Cows are chewing on grass.  I know these clothes.  I know these bird songs.

I feel so peaceful and content.  I keep walking back into 2019.

A genetic memory?  Is there really such a thing?

Pencil drawing detail- spinning wool in Värmland (Katarina Thorsen, 1999)


Sock sparrow. #recycledcraft


My personal therapy is randomly picking up an old scrap, grabbing needle and thread and seeing what happens. In this case, I was donated a cozy pair of wooly socks and their color just told me- make a sparrow

Recall: Pay attention to the birds: SPARROW

“The sparrow reflects self-worth.  If a Sparrow totem has entered your life, ask yourself if you know your own self-worth.  The sparrow will show you that even a common little bird can triumph.  The song sparrow reflects the chakra energy awakening from the heart and throat.  It reminds us to sing out our own song of dignity and self-worth.”

Pay attention to the birds: Part 5- Sparrow

Bliss- walking my old dog slowly, oh so slowly, in our West End neighborhood listening to the sweet song of the white-throated sparrow.  Miraculous.

I walk with a smile on my face.  I am filled with self-love for truly the first time in my life.  I know my own worth and I can sing it from the rooftops.  Today.  For today is all I have, and that is beautiful!  And lo and behold-

The sparrow reflects self-worth.   If a Sparrow totem has entered your life, ask yourself if you know your own self-worth.  The sparrow will show you that even a common little bird can triumph.

The song sparrow reflects the chakra energy awakening from the heart and throat.  It reminds us to sing out our own song of dignity and self-worth. [source]


The Sparrow is ever vigilant in her goals. She is always bustling for her food, foraging for her nests, and gathering for her young. Fastidious and productive, the Sparrow is a reminder that idle hands (and idle minds) should be avoided in order to live a full, healthy life.

She is a master of flight, and camouflage, and as such the Sparrow teaches us to use our creativity to get around in life – think outside the box, and be creative in solving our problems.

As an bird totem, the Sparrow speaks of higher thoughts and ideals. She beckons us to keep our burdens as light as we can in order to avoid a heavy heart. [source]

Birds hold so much meaning to me.  And they always feel like messengers, telling me to pay strict attention.

My bird, Asterix, age 26.
My bird, Asterix, age 26.

See also:

PART 1: Kingfisher

PART 2: American Robin

PART 3: Pigeon

Part 4: Hummingbird

POST: They let their wings down…

POST: Dead messengers