Thursday, November 24, 2022

At the edge of the cold and dark Canadian Winter


Six years ago,
I co-facilitated a series of art workshops with 
Syrian refugees 
and other new Canadians at the 
Art Gallery of Peterborough. 
To say that it was a wonderful experience 
would be putting it lightly. 
We communicated not through language, 
but through paint and clay and pencil and ink, 
through laughter and tears. 
We built bridges (literally) and explored the 
concept of ‘home’. 
We made collaborative posters and banners, 
with colours and images and words from 
many cultures. 
We ‘heard’, through drawings, 
the struggle and terror and instability 
that brought our new friends to 
Peterborough Ontario
at the edge of the cold and dark 
Canadian winter.
Somehow, despite the weather, 

that studio was always filled 

with colour and music, with light and love. 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

ABC Walk-in-the-Woods

A B C Walk-in-the-Woods                            




AIR affects all.

Above, amidst, always accept and appreciate.

Amble about.

Ah, AIR!  All around. Ambient.



BRANCHES bend. Bark breaks. 

Breathe boldly, brave Backpackers!

Better broaden bypath.

Bear, beaver – both beckon. Blimey.



CONIFER cones confirm chipmunk caches 

cause crunchy conditions. 

Camping? Certainly! Clear confines. 

Create comfort. Creek close-by.




DECIDUOUS drops drifting downward. 

Depressing? Disheartening? Deny!

Demand discourse. 

Deliberately defend divine diversion. 

Don't dawdle...




EARTH enlightens. 

Elemental energy exists everywhere.




FOREST fables fan fears. 

Fairies? Foxes? Feathers flying? Ferocious frogs?

First, find facts. Fling far flippant falsehoods!

Forget fluster. Find forever friends.



GREEN gives ground gorgeous glow. 

Grassy, gauzy growth glimmering gently.

Generous gutsy geography. 




HIKE high hummocks, happily humming. 

Here, hollows hold half-hidden hide-outs.

Heaven! Heed hinterland heritage. 




INSECTS illuminate. Iridescent, insistent, impish. 

In instances, indeed inspired.

It’s ideal.



JOURNEY jauntily jostles. 




KINDLING keeps kettle kicking. 

Kindred kind! 



LANDSCAPE - light, lush, luminous. 

Let’s linger.



MARSHES make mighty microcosms. 

Meticulous models, mysteriously made.

Mists, mould, mulch - 

many magnificent memories!



NESTS – nature’s nurseries. 

Nestlings naturally need nutrients... normally nearby.

Notice, naturalists!



ORDER operates on organization. 

Orchestrate objectives over outright oversights.

Objects oblige. Ole!



PLANTS placed peripherally perform perfect pairings.

Period. Phew!



QUEST quite quickly. Quash qualms. 

Quiz, quip, quack!




ROOTS remain resolute. 

Restless rambles rarely reveal reclusive roots.

Rounded, ropy, resilient. Relentlessly rough. 




SAP – Spring’s sensational sacred sweetness. 

Spile, sap, scald, stir… 




TREES totally top. Think trunk, twigs, tender tips. 

Touch the tangled tapestry.

Toe the threshold. 




UNDERGROWTH - unsung undulation! 

Ubiquitously underfoot. Unearth urgently.

Utterly uplifting.




Voluminous value. Visually vivacious. Verdant vibe.



WETLANDS want wanderers. 

Water warriers.Whither? Wherever.








YEARLING yelps. Yip Yip Yip!

Youth’s yearning yowls. Yikes.



ZOOLOGY – Zesty. Zany zig-zagging zippers. 




Thursday, May 26, 2022

TYCO Redux

University of Toronto Scarborough College Women's Basketball Team  


1976 - That's me, number 10

Forty-five years ago, I managed, (through many stumbles and herculean efforts), 
to win a spot on the coveted roster of the
University of Toronto
Scarborough College Women's Basketball Team,
commonly known as

The tryouts were rigorous, well-attended and competitive. 
Thinking back, I was probably ill-prepared.
I hadn't played team basketball in over a year. My only strategy was to wear a bright red t-shirt with 'RENOUF' on the back to ensure that if nothing else, 
in this sea of athletes my name would stand out.

I was sure of one thing,
 and that was that I wasn't sure of anything. 

When the results were posted and I saw my name on the team list, I went back several times to make sure that I'd read it right.

Lessons of effort and perseverance 

This wasn't just another recreational sport experience for me. 
Not for me, not for any of us.

The team was coached by someone not only dedicated and focused, but single-minded in
 his vision of what women's athletics should look like in the 1970's. 
And to our huge advantage, he had a deep well of knowledge concerning the ins and outs of basketball. 
I might add, (if I were to use all of the clich├ęd coaching lingo that I can think of), that he was a 
'clear communicator', even (or especially) when mistakes were made.

As a result, we practiced frequently, working long and hard. 
We were not only in the U of T league, but took every challenge that came our way - practice games, exhibition games, invitational tournaments, both college and university. We played against teams with less skill and experience as well as greater, including varsity teams and (on one occasion) a university men's 'B' team.
By the time the Women's Summer Basketball League was initiated at the Scarborough Campus, 
we were virtually playing year-round.

Proud and strong

I suppose that I may be slightly biased, but I'll say it anyway. 

We were good.

We had a winning combination.
We were well coached, were tight friends, trusted each other, and worked hard.
And yes, (being nineteen, twenty, twenty-one),
we partied hard too.


Forty-five years later, I think I finally can come to grips with what this short, three-year, 
yet so profoundly significant part of my life means to me.

To those old faces, still so important,
my love and thanks.


Friday, March 25, 2022

'On Fear - Getting Through An Extreme Weather Alert'

Ocracoke Island, NC

April 3 2006

The day starts out friendly enough.

It's Day 15 of my month-long artist residency on Ocracoke Island, N.C. I've finally settled in to a comfortable routine of art-making, research and exploration on this fringe of America, a long thin barrier island (basically a sandbar) at the southern end of the Outer Banks.

It is 5 a.m. and long before I begin any art, long before my only companion (a three-year-old black lab, Chester) has even begun to think about waking, long before daylight, I have a cup of tea and climb back into bed, reading and waiting for the eastern sky to lighten.

It is balmy here for early spring, not just for this Canadian but by coastal North Carolina standards. And when the day does lighten and everyone comes to life, we set off from our rental cottage on a long leg-stretch around Ocracoke Village, ending where all walks end in the mornings, at the coffee shop.

I sit on a wooden stool, in a patch of sun at one end of the shop's porch, coffee and daily newspaper at hand, working on the crossword puzzle. Chester is at my feet and, deeply interested in the breakfast being consumed by two of the other patrons, points himself toward them.

I can just make out their conversation, in which, alarmingly, I think I catch the word "tornado." Well, nothing so new about weather talk on small exposed Ocracoke Island. Tide tables, wind speeds and direction, the ceiling, the swell and small-craft warnings, are ubiquitous.

Sobering stories of shipwrecks along the coast, the shifting sands in the channels, fishing boats late coming in, can all be somewhat unsettling. And phrases like "rip tide warnings" and "lost at sea" and "washed up on the beach," all reminders of where we are – a sandbar butting up against the restlessness and unpredictability of the Atlantic.

Even so, this particular morning of gentle light and warm breezes feels safe enough to me.

Or so I thought. As we walk home I notice there is a certain humidity and haze about us, which wasn't there even an hour ago.

I begin my morning drawing session, but the weather is on my mind.

Picking up the paper, I flip through the first section to the weather page, and yes, the entire Outer Banks looks extremely unsettled. I go to the window. Can this be?

Not knowing exactly how these things work, we stick close to home, me art-making, Chester flat out on the sofa.

And through the morning it does cloud over. And then, more than a breath of a breeze.


Early afternoon and windy now. Quite windy. And the sky is funny. Not exactly darkening but strangely tinted. It is becoming sort of greyish, well, a sort of greyish-green.

Out of curiosity, I turn on the television. A wide band of red crawls across the bottom of the screen. It appears to be mid-message, and I catch the words "… take immediate cover …" just a few moments before the message repeats, beginning with, "EXTREME WEATHER ALERT."

Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.

Not that I'm panicking. I pull myself together, and consider bundling Chester and me into the car and heading for … where?

The ferry dock, the community centre, the church … the pub?

But as I read the message again, it gives advice on what to do, and gives a window of half an hour in which this tornado could happen. I have 10 minutes. I find my battery-operated radio, cellphone, water bottle, blanket, flashlight. I consider calling my husband back in Ontario, but decide that as an independent 50-plus woman, this would be a mistake. I put several dog-cookies in my pocket, one of which is used to lure Chester into the bathroom, right at the back of the cottage.

We shut the door, and wait.

When nothing happens, I creep out and check the television again. The red warning has changed the window of time to beginning right now. The wind, quite shockingly strong, is violently shaking the bathroom window. I try not to think about the spindly stilts upon which our little cottage sits. But it is when I see what looks like a snowball fight outside the window (big big hail), that Chester and I shift to Plan B, and get into the closet.

I keep the door shut tight for 15 minutes. Trying to block out the banging and rattling, I concentrate on all that is good – the artwork accomplished, the string of fine weather leading up to today, soft warm days, balmy breezes. As I am sitting on the floor, Chester has his full shivering 100 pounds pressed against me, his head in my lap. He's clearly wondering what this new game is all about.

I'm wondering that, too.

I creep out after 20 minutes. All is peaceful. Birds are twittering. A glimpse of sun breaks through the clouds. The baseball-sized hail has melted.

The cottage is standing.

Again to the television, as mercifully the power hasn't been effected.

Yes, they declare, it is all over. Having missed us to the north, we just caught the tornado's tail end.

Still, not trusting this sudden change in weather either, I stick to the cottage for some time before heading out on our afternoon beach walk.

When we do venture forth, it is a totally different day.

Still, sunny, warm. Frilly surf and calm, orderly waves.

Chester, in dog-like fashion, has already forgotten his fears. After all, nothing bad happened.

He's off and away down the vast expanse of empty beach, sniffing at the occasional washed up dead thing.

I, on the other hand, follow slowly, reflecting on it all – this exposed place, my solitude. Fear.

Willing my legs to stop shaking, I shake them out and walk it off.

Walk it off, and put it all behind me.

After all, nothing bad happened.

- Anne Renouf

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Preface - Trinity Lake...


Fifty-nine year old artist 
Diana Becquet 
sets out on a pilgrimage,
a solo canoe trip to Trinity Lake
for nine days of art, solitude and
exploring her artistic muse
and unravelling her past.

* * *

'Trinity Lake' is a work of fiction. 

It is a work in progress...
Not quite a novel, perhaps more of an 'epic poem', 'Trinity Lake' appears on this Blog
one entry at a time
'Day 1 Morning' to 'Epilogue'

To read, click the link below:

Bottom left arrow, (newer post), to continue...

Anne Renouf

Sunday, February 27, 2022

This Ability! or How To Stay Wonder-filled...

Some years back, (maybe fifteen years), 
when I was working at my art and 
facilitating the occasional workshop 
at the Art Gallery of Peterborough, 
I was asked if I would consider 
teaching a weekly class with clients
from ‘Alternatives’.

I was unfamiliar with this organization, 

so met with one of the staff members 
over coffee to get a handle on what
I was signing up for.
I liked her, and I liked the sound of it all.
I was keen to give it a go.

I would pretty much be given a free hand 
of what to teach.
Well actually, a completely free hand.
As fate would have it, I loved it, (and them), 
from the first moment.

My art students, young adults living with 
developmental disabilities, 
were wonderful and wonder-filled.
As their instructor, I wanted them to learn 
new skills, but also to
experiment with materials, to be open to 
new ideas,
to make some unusual art, 
to see art differently...

And ultimately, to love art.

Over the years, 
the open and sunny AGP Studio 
became a safe and positive space,
a happy place,
a place where people of all abilities 
We made extraordinary art,
helped each other, 
encouraged each other, 
worked collaboratively.

There was no wrong way.

All of the creations were interesting and 
whether highly detailed, 
pored over at length,
struggled with, 
or handled with impromptu carefree joy.

To say that I feel fortunate would be an 
My own work was so influenced 
by the people I worked with
in the Art Gallery studio. 
My abstract landscapes explore
themes of journey, belonging, 
beauty, isolation, struggle, 
courage, joy.

It was all there in that studio.

I am so grateful.
My love and thanks to all at the 
AGP and Alternatives 
for those years of beautiful 


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Change Starts Here


Dear Social Media Contacts who insist that
what happened over three weeks in Ottawa
was okay because it was peaceful,

If you illegally occupy a section of the downtown 
core, one long loud three-ring-circus flag-waving 
freedom-chanting singalong street-party carnival 
doesn’t make it okay, 
or change the fact that it’s illegal.

Ask the couple with a pride flag in their window
if they were okay with the threats and 
verbal abuse. 
Or the disabled person who couldn’t get to 
the grocery store 
or have a worker come to their apartment. 
Or the employees of more than 180 shops 
and services who were unable to work for 
nearly a month. 
Or the reporters who were yelled at for 
doing their job,
the passerby for wearing a mask, 
the residents who had to put up with the 
the garbage, the incessant noise, the toxic air.

If any of that is okay with you, 
please wave your flag adios and dance on 
out of my social media.

Many thanks!