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Ode to Desolation, Hitting the Reset Button Over Scotland and Teaching the Children

Ode to Desolation, Hitting the Reset Button Over Scotland and Teaching the Children

Good Morning from Prince Edward Island,

What a beautiful sunrise this morning. 

I love the mornings. Time is moving towards the world waking up to start the day with rituals and habits. 

Stretches, pushups and a good morning prayer for me, thanks, then shuffle out to the sink and put the kettle on. 

“I remember one morning getting up at dawn. There was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling. And I…I remember thinking to myself: So this is the beginning of happiness, this is where it starts...It was happiness. It was the moment, right then.” ― The Hours (a screenplay by David Hare) 

There is something special about the quiet at the beginning of the day that makes me happy.  

After watching this little film by Lindsey Hagen, I can only imagine what it would be like in the morning as a forest ranger. 

Ode to Desolation shares the story of Jim Henterly, a naturalist, illustrator and fire lookout as he contemplates the dwindling days of Fire Lookouts in North America.

As responsible as Jim is to his work, his pace certainly is different from the race that many of us find ourselves. I am not sure what COVID has done for you, but it certainly feels like my internal drive has hit a reset button, and everything is under review. 

Shane Ferris of the Knowledge Project says it well, “What matters has sharply come into focus. Family matters. Love matters. Kindness matters. Health matters. Generosity matters. People matter. Community matters. The rest is just noise.

Aside from physical distancing, the biggest thing you can right now is choose to see the best in each other. Be kind. Be patient. Be tolerant. Be quick to help out in any way you can. Be forgiving when you would otherwise be upset. See things through the eyes of others and try to understand where they are coming from. Seek out opportunities for generosity. Reconnect with your community. Reconnect with yourself. Reconnect with your priorities. Live them.” 

After having a few conversations with people this summer, I found that a lot of people are in the contemplation phase of life and reevaluating their current status relating to, friends and career. 

There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

~ Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

A few blogs back, I had mentioned a real desire to see a film called The Booksellers. YouTube trailer below.  If you are at all interested, CBC Gem has made the full movie available. I share the link below the trailer. 

I am not sure if our US cousins can watch this because of cross border viewing restrictions or not. I hope you can. Watch the entire film here. 

Last week I wrote of my completing 8 out of the 20 books I hope to finish in 2020 and was starting number 9—The Library Book by Susan Orlean. 

What a writer! She paints the page so vividly with words. I am undoubtedly enjoying this book. Susan has been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 1992 and has written seven books, including The Orchid Thief. If you watched the film above, you would have seen her being interviewed about her archives. 

So far, I love these two quotes from the book.

  • The library is a gathering pool of narratives and of the people who come to find them. It is where we glimpse immortality; in the library, we can live forever. ~ Susan Orlean, The Library Book
  • In truth, a library is as much a portal as it a place-it is a transit point, a passage. ~ Susan Orlean, The Library Book 

Where ever we travel, we do our best to visit the local library to hang out, sit and read for a while—breath in the sites and the sounds of the locale. 

Below is a photo of a library I took last September at the Melk Abbey in Austria. Not sure who the folks are. (I didn’t see the sign, NO PHOTOS, or at least I don’t remember seeing it until it was too late. Honest.)


A quote I am thinking about today.  

All that you touch

You Change.

All that you Change

Changes you.

The only lasting truth

Is Change.

- Octavia E. Butler

Last week, any reader who was interested in receiving a sample of our 2020 PEI Organic Breakfast to let me know in the comment section and from there choose three readers’ names from a hat. I also mentioned that I would also send #8 book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love by Valerie Kaur to one reader. 

Drum Roll, please…

And the “Fortunate Ones Are:”

Susan W
Jennifer Reschke


Bonus draw for another tea goes to Jilian. 

Winner of the Book + Tea

Brenda Saluk 

Those whose names were drawn, please email me by replying to the newsletter. Send me your complete names and addresses, and it will be sent to you next week. Congratulations, and thank you for throwing your name in the “hat.” (even if it was a bowl, lol)

Do you time to take a relaxing trip to Scotland with me today? I listened to music in the background while writing this morning. High on my life’s bucket list is the train ride revealed at the 1:35 minute mark in the film. 

I wish everyone a wonderful weekend and a great week next week. 

Take care of each other. 

With love from Prince Edward Island

Bruce & Mille


My kids were fighting over their toys. I warned them if they kept it up, I would take the toys away. They didn’t stop, so I took them away to teach them a lesson.

Afterwards, they were still fighting. I said, “That’s it!” and gave them their toys back.

Lesson learned.

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Murdock Morrison - August 30, 2020

Wow – packed full of great stuff and one has to choose what one likes the most -isn’t that a wonderful choice to give us . I found Shane Ferris message to be meaningful and food for thought as was the quote on touch, change and truth . Loved to go to Scotland and will at some time as Flying over Scotland was so interesting to read and dream about. Your blog had a lot of timely images and messaging – thanks – murdock

Anita Slobig - August 30, 2020

Good morning, Bruce!
I “went to church” (online) this morning and then opened your email to read the blog. I always look forward to the uplifting photography and the items you share, whether it’s music, travel or introspection like Ode to Desolation (I just had to look up the location!). It’s been a year since I was on your Island and I’ve thought so often about my Canadian Maritimes vacation – PEI Preserves was a big part of it and so glad to be one of your fans. Thank you for bringing some peace to these chaotic times.

Heather Adamson - August 30, 2020

Good day, Bruce!
I watched The Booksellers this morning and thoroughly enjoyed it!
Thank you for the recommendation!

Mikel and Kay Stevenson - August 30, 2020

Thanks again for an uplifting start to our day, Bruce. And thinking of libraries…a friend recommended the movie “Public” a couple of weeks ago. It is about a group of homeless folks who take over the upstairs of a public library for the night in the freezing cold of winter. As it started we thought it may be a “sleeper” but, it was recommended. By the time it concluded we were laughing so hard…we woke up the next morning laughing as we thought about it. Nothing like a good laugh to ease the tension. Blessings ahead for you and yours.

althea - August 30, 2020

Bruce, a postscript, if you don’t mind. Loved The Book Sellers. Thank you for the link. Am fortunate a few local book sellers take books as I gradually divest my collection. At present, reading Donald Hall’s Essays After Eighty.

althea - August 29, 2020

Bruce, your blog emits Peace….From the warmth of (another) sunrise, to the gentle wash of Ode to Desolation and the soothing words of Shane Ferris…thank you. So, so missing seeing smiles and bright eyes and hearing laughter, all now hidden behind masks and sunglasses; so missing giving and receiving hugs. Thanks for uplifting this Saturday and the coming week.

Gina - August 29, 2020

Thank you so much for your weekly blog post. There is so much angst and sadness in the world right now, plus the lack of empathy, honesty and positive leadership from the US executive branch is draining. I am an optimist and always try to see the positive even in a bad situation, but these last 6 months have been a real challenge. I can’t tell you how much reading your blog contributes to helping me feel centered and re-energized. Thank you !! Happiness and smiles to you, your family, and Millie. :)

Cindy Pandini - August 29, 2020

Hi Bruce! Just finished reading The Library Book. For one who loves books and libraries, this is the BEST book. Susan Orleans is a gifted writer and tells true stories in a compelling way.. I too had a list of books for this summer and finished all of them too quickly. Those of us who love reading are blessed with a passion that can quiet the negative sounds emanating around the world. I think often of my visit to your beautiful place and your generous greeting as we emerged from the bus…I’ll be back someday and until then, wish you peace, health, happiness and always, a good book to read. All the very best from Beautiful British Columbia.

Jeannette Janssen-Sjostrom - August 29, 2020

Wow! You are such a great writer! I really enjoyed your blog. Thank you for all the wise, soulful thoughts. I especially liked the last little story about your children and the toys. Too funny! Thank you!

Peggy Freeman - August 29, 2020

Once again, I was removed from the chaotic, violent atmosphere here in America and transported to a serene, peaceful and safe place by reading your blog. The pictures are always so tranquil. For a little while, I can forget what is happening here and just enjoy friendliness, happiness, and enjoyment. Thank you, Bruce, I really enjoy your blogs!

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