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!

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Pandemic Prayer


Pandemic Prayer

For the doubters and deniers.
For the angry.
For those who are anti-lockdown, anti-mask, anti-vax, anti-distancing,
For those who fear and mistrust.
For the negative ones.
The failing, the falling, the fumbling.
For the protestors.
For those who yell
“sheep, lefty, liberal, follower, communist”.
Who use words like ‘hoax’ and ‘freedom’, who tout ‘the church is essential’, who twist the word ‘love’ to mean what they want.
For the unhappy, the unsure, the unwitting, the unwilling.
The undecided.
In the midst of a pandemic,
we’ve seen mistrust and anger.
Mistrust and anger in abundance.
Unceasing, like a clanging bell.
Slowly losing momentum it will exhaust itself.
Those who see first hand,
who know someone who gets sick, who seek the advice of their doctor,
who are tired of defending a precarious position that is uncertain, ill-founded, groundless,
slipping away.
Squeezed dry.
Dying out.
Take heart - there is hope.
Bottle up your rage.
Push aside your negativity.
Let your doubts
fall away.
Be willing to hear.
Open your eyes to a ray of light.
There is hope to be found in the doctor who spent ten years in medical school.
The ER nurse.
Hope in the researcher, the physicist, the chemist, the lab-technician, the hospital staff.
Turn to your God
wherever that might be.
In the forest,
the night sky,
the candlelit room,
in solitude or hand in hand.
Be open to seeing more clearly.
To understanding.
To change.
Be the change.
#annerenouf - September ‘21

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

ix. things

*minimalist poetry and art by anne renouf, 2021

january 22

ix. things:

i. listening to the opera
ii. bonfires
iii. moose tracks ice cream
iv. jane austen
v. walks in the woods
vi. cryptic crosswords
vii. musicals
viii. new markers
ix. vino

january 29

ix. more things:

i. dogs
ii. lego
iii. poetry
iv. trees
v. stars
vi. blueberries
vii. bare feet
viii. tea
ix. angels

february 5

ix. more things:

i. eggplant parmigiana
ii. dollhouses
iii. scrabble
iv. dragonflies
v. matchboxes
vi. that first sip of beer
vii. treasure hunts
viii. medieval music
ix. sunrise

february 12

ix. more things:

i. icicles
ii. birdsong
iii. pine needles
iv. brie
v. pencils
vi. mist
vii. secret passages
viii. creeks
ix. candlelight

february 19

ix. more things:

i. olives
ii. coral
iii. picnics
iv. wool
v. treehouses
vi. hazelnuts
vii. beaches
viii. mail
ix. kindling

february 26

ix. more things:

i. quinacridone scarlet
ii. smarties
iii. play doh
iv. brown eggs
v. stamps
vi. birchbark
vii. pomegranates
viii. embroidery floss
ix. converse