Monk’s Day

Thelonious Monk and Sahib Shahib at the Village Vanguard, 1941.

Always a wizard of the unexpected, Lord Buckley introduced his meditation on the Supermarket by riffing on one of his great heroes. “This is Lincoln’s Day,” he says. “Tomorrow should be Lincoln’s Day, and the next day should be Lincoln’s Day, and we should have Lincolnville and Lincoln Park and Lincoln Lincoln, and it should … Read more

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Summer Sightings or Random Thoughts on the Sacred Quest

Giant Swallowtail on the Leslie Street Spit.

Every summer, I stop birding and turn my attention to butterflies and dragonflies. Now, as the season draws to a close, I feel an urge to summarize it somehow, to list its highlights and express its character. Was there anything strange or unique about this particular summer, any surprising development, that set it apart from … Read more

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Courtship Behavior of the Orchard Oriole: A photo essay

Male Orchard Oriole--Featured Image.

On a hike through Tommy Thompson Park in Toronto near the end of May, I noticed a bird sitting in a tree. It was small in size and yellow in color: a female Orchard Oriole. She sat on an exposed perch with a long piece of grass in her mouth. Was she collecting nesting material? … Read more

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The Sensual Nun

Featured image for The Sensual Nun

Quietly chanting crossword puzzle clues instead of the divine office, she sat behind the wooden desk at the front of the room and waited patiently, patiently for us to finish the final exam. Sister Mark Marie, a pencil in one hand and the Globe and Mail in the other, unruly locks of grey hair wisping … Read more

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Dylan’s Voice, Part Three

Nothingness made visible The cook at the halfway house where I worked was a Ukrainian woman named Connie. A widow in her sixties, she was loquacious, vain, and opinionated, a born storyteller. I could sit in the kitchen for hours and listen to Connie’s tales of the lumber camps where she worked in her youth … Read more

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Dylan’s Voice, Part Two

The elderly boy topic “Yeah, I’ve got lots of his poetry and every one of his records,” the woman said, smiling. She looked at me for a moment, then looked away and cocked her head wistfully. “His poetry’s really good, you know. There’s a lot of this in it.” When she said “this,” she tapped … Read more

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Dylan’s Voice

The old man—boy complex How could something originate in its antithesis? Truth in error, for example. Or will to truth in will to deception? Or the unselfish act in self-interest? Or the pure radiant gaze of the sage in covetousness? —Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil Or a grandfather’s voice in the body of a boy … Read more

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The Wounded Mink

A few years ago, I was having a slow day on the Leslie Street Spit, the reclaimed landfill and Important Bird Area that juts into Lake Ontario just east of downtown Toronto. Over the years, I’ve seen more than 240 species of birds on this five-kilometer-long peninsula, including such local rarities as Connecticut Warbler, Northern … Read more

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Thin Places

The term “thin place” has become popular to refer to a location where two worlds, two planes of existence, seem to converge. Heaven and earth, time and eternity, the sacred and the profane—in a thin place you feel the barrier that separates these different worlds has worn away or thinned out. Suddenly, your awareness shifts, … Read more

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