Saskatchewan Birds in Paraguay

A Saskatchewan Meadowlark - in Paraguay's Urutau magazine.
A Saskatchewan Meadowlark – in Paraguay’s Urutau magazine.

Recently, I shared a series of my photographs of Saskatchewan birds with Dr. Alberto Yanosky, the biologist who heads BirdLife International affiliate, Guyra Paraguay.

The photos were to illustrate Dr. Yanosky’s article about his visit to Saskatchewan, the importance of protecting biodiversity and habitat, and the migratory birds shared by our two countries, Canada and Paraguay.

“We say that they decided to breed here, but they are our birds, that we lend them to you,” he explained when I met him in June.

“And you think that it is on the other side, that they are your birds, and they go south to avoid winter here.”

Shared birds. It continues to amaze me that our Prairie birds travel that far.

And what fun to receive an e-mailed copy of the July 2013 issue of Urutau Electrónico featuring the Alberto Yanosky / Shelley Banks collaboration!

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My braid and Margaret Atwood

Shelley Banks, with Margaret Atwood
Shelley Banks, with Margaret Atwood

There is a story behind every photograph — including this one…

But I’m not yet sure how to tell it, except by saying that yes, I spent several days with Margaret Atwood in Val Marie, Saskatchewan, early this summer.

What a trip.

First, what amazing company.

Margaret Atwood, yes, and also her partner Graeme Gibson, along with Ian Davidson (Nature Canada), Alberto Yanosky (BirdLife International Affiliate Guyra Paraguay), Saskatchewan writer/naturalist Trevor Herriot and others.

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“High Wire”: My poem in The Society

The 2013 edition of The Society, from St. Peter's College, Muenster.
The 2013 edition of The Society, from St. Peter’s College, Muenster.

I love getting mail, especially when it’s a large brown envelope with a magazine that’s published my work. And so this week, I was delighted to find a copy of The Society on the table by the door.

The Society is published annually by St. Peter’s College in Muenster, Saskatchewan, to celebrate “extraordinary work by both established and emerging artists and writers from across Canada.” Whee! Great description! And amazing contributors. (I share a page with Dave Margoshes — what more can I say?)

St. Peter’s College is on the same site as the writing retreat I attend every year or so — I was last there in February for a very productive re-immersion from daily life into the writing life.

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Writers and Writing

My 2012-13 literary project: To attend and document as many Regina writing events (readings, launches, celebrations, etc.) as I can, and post pictures of the writers on my LatitudeDrifts blog.

To date, I have perhaps a 70 per cent success rate…  There are far more book-related events in Regina than I realised when I set myself this personal challenge, and scheduling literature and life at times gets complicated.

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Spring Migrations

Mountain Bluebird
Mountain Bluebird in the Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan, Canada  © SB

Snow and freezing rain today, but I know spring is here because migration is beginning, and hibernation ending.

This past week, I’ve seen a gopher (Richardson’s Ground Squirrel) — albeit on a snow bank, with a snowball in his paw.

I’ve fed an American Tree Sparrow at our backyard feeders and watched hundreds of Horned Larks swirl over grid roads near Regina.

And I’ve photographed the magically iridescent flashes of Mountain Bluebirds along the sun-warmed slopes of the Qu’Appelle Valley.

Spring. Migration. Movement, new beginnings. Every year at this time, I wonder what change is on the wing, what beauty it will bring.

Talking Fresh 11 – Writing Canada, eh?

I’ll be moderating the panel Friday afternoon, March 8, 2013, at Talking Fresh 11, the free festival of writing and writers hosted by the Saskatchewan Writers Guild.

It should be fun, with panelists Noah Richler, Kimmy Beach, Joel Thomas Hynes and Chrystene Ells sharing their perspectives on writing in Canada, with specific focus on writing location.

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On Self Portraits…

Shelley-Banks, Self-Portrait, 2013
Self-Portrait, 2013

A friend recently e-mailed about the photograph I’d been using in thumbnail on my blogs. She wondered when it was taken — five years ago, I realized, so time for a refresh.

As I’ve been putting other people through the fun (or annoyance?) of portrait posing, I decided it was also time to start taking pictures of myself.

Self-portraits are an exercise in patience, a meditation on the self, an illustration of the gap between what we’d like to see in the mirror and the face we wake up to.

They are also a way of seeing what’s it’s like on the other side of the camera. And I know which side I prefer. (Hint: I like testing the light, squinting into the viewfinder, planning the shot…)

Writing on Retreat

Black-capped Chickadee saluting winter. Photo: Shelley Banks
Black-capped Chickadee saluting winter.
Photo: Shelley Banks

I’m fortunate to be attending a writers and artists retreat at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, Saskatchewan.

The retreat is a joint program of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and CARFAC Saskatchewan, and it attracts a wide range of talented people from across Canada.

I’m in my second week, focusing on poetry — I’ve finally wrapped up my first manuscript, and have started on a second project.

I’m also working on a few short fiction pieces and, in the breaks from writing, I’m exploring the great photo ops. (So far in this wonderful place, I’ve seen deer and Great Horned Owls, heard coyotes, and taken pictures of chickadees, redpolls, nuthatches and White-winged Crossbills.)

Three more days. A short time left, but I know I’m very lucky to have this luxury of time to write — and explore.