Issue #21: The longest days

Comfort for the Apocalypse, June 2021

Carrying water

dipping into the cistern
at the end of a long spell of rain

water bugs, fir needles,
tendrils of algae drift
a whole world in this pail I carry
across the yard

to where I filter the
movement through muslin,
water poured into a clean vessel
leaving only sunlight in memory
of what came before

rainwater, clarified
makes colour more true
in my summer dye kitchen
but as I rinse out the larvae
trapped in the cloth 
I see a different kind of 

Solstice eve at Descanso Bay on Gabriola Island. Friends camped here overnight so we met them for a swim and sat around a fire until the sun went down on the longest day of the year.

June recipe: Garlic scape salt

It is the season for garlic scapes, and a friend of mine swears by this recipe. Scape salt can be stored in your pantry and used to season food during and after cooking. I’ve got a ton of scapes for processing, and at least some of them are getting the salt treatment.


  • 10-12 fresh scapes (210 g)

  • ½ cup coarse sea salt (125 g)


  1. Trim the hardest bits off the bottom of the scapes and discard.

  2. Chop the remainder of the scapes, and grind with coarse sea salt in food processor until it becomes a paste.

  3. Spread the paste evenly on some parchment paper on a small baking sheet. Place in oven at 250 and bake for 1 hour. Stir and re-spread every 15 minutes until everything is dried. You can use a food dehydrator for this step if you have one.

  4. Remove from oven and cool.

  5. Put back into your clean and dry food processor and give it a whizz to break up any lumps.

  6. Store in an air-tight jar; room temperature is fine.

In the workshop

Birdsong Workshop is busy these days with the addition of an outdoor dye studio for the summer. So far, I’ve got no colour to show for it, though I have prepped a ton of yarn and fabric. This is a new skill area for me and I’m learning that dyeing is a lot like weaving: a ton of work happens before you get to the “good stuff”. This photo depicts two mini-skeins of wool/silk superwash yarn, each scoured and treated with a different mordant, ready for the dye pot.

Three things

  1. Indian Residential Schools were not a chapter in Canada’s history, but existed from its inception until the 1990s, with many survivors of both Residential and Day Schools still seeking justice. They are the backdrop of all Canada’s history. We can not stay silent as settler people, and I hope you will join me in writing a letter to the Government of Canada demanding forensic examination of all former Residential School sites, and that every effort be made to identify the children buried at those sites (including pursuit of the Catholic Church for records). I hope you will also consider a donation to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society which seeks to repair some of the harm through direct services to survivors and their families.

  2. The Real Urban Jungle: How ancient societies reimagined what cities could be: Adapted from a forthcoming book, this piece in The Guardian is an interesting rethink of ancient Indigenous cities and what they tell us about urban living alongside nature, and climate change/adaptation past and present.

  3. I don’t normally post visual content here, but I have recently fallen hard for the paintings of Pamela Phatsino Sunstrum. Her colour use, historical references and strong figures combine to make for memorable imagery that feels revolutionary in its imagining. Go look!

And finally

Are you more aware of your priorities as we emerge from the worst of the pandemic? I sure am. I’ve noticed my resistance to things I don’t feel like doing is much greater, making it easier to identify what’s actually important. I suddenly have a lot of clarity about my personal orientation to the world, the work and people I feel most connected to. We don’t get opportunities for reflection like this often, so before we lose our thoughts in the bustle of “back to normal”, now is a time I’m taking note of what matters most and how that’s changed in the last fifteen months or so.

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