Gathering rosebuds

In some ways, my visit to the island of Lopud, a 50 minute ferry ride from the Dubrovnik port, was a bit of a pilgrimage.

With Sue and Jim on Lopud, May 2005

With Sue and Jim on Lopud, May 2005

I was last there nine years ago with my friends Sue and Jim.  We walked a lot, drank a lot of cheap red wine, ate seafood and laughed.  I was younger and Jim was healthy.

Today when I visited the island it seemed not to have changed much. But I was aware that I was nine years older and ten pounds heavier and Jim …well, Jim is gone.

Pretty much the same spot, May 2014

Pretty much the same spot, May 2014. I was likely standing on the rocks we were sitting on in 2005 to get this photo in 2014.


I spent six hours walking around the island, on familiar paths up hills, to the beach and past the ruins of centuries-old churches. I took lots of photos but probably didn’t need to since not much has changed and I suspect I have all the same photos from previous trips to the island.

All along the pathways were wildflowers of different colours but the most prominent ones were wild roses.  As I walked, I kept thinking “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.”

The 1909 John Williams Waterhouse painting, "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may"

The 1909 John Williams Waterhouse painting, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”



Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.

I wondered as I left on the ferry if I will ever come back to Lopud.  I have visited the island several times, always with friends.  Good times past. The island is the same but time has rushed on and those good times are now fond memories.

I also know that there is still time to create some new ones – but on some other island.


Note to self, and to everyone else as well  – Get out the shears and keep gathering those memories.



Carpe diem

As I headed home for lunch yesterday I had a carpe diem moment.

Shrub 1I am lucky to live a five minute walk to work through an old neighbourhood in Kingston. As spring has (gradually) unfolded I have enjoyed seeing bushes and trees and flower beds burst to life. It is really incredible that these same streets can be icy and cold and devoid of life in the winter months and then lush and green and fragrant in the spring.

I was startled by a cluster of great orange Oriental Poppies that were hanging over the edge of the sidewalk on Earl Street. I glanced at them as I walked by but continued on my way. They summoned up fond memories of similar flowers in my parents’ back garden 40 years ago. Twenty metres past the poppies I suddenly stopped. I realized that their beauty would be short-lived. Rain is forecast for the weekend. These stunning, delicate blossoms will likely lose many of their petals in the winds or rain or just with the passage of time. Their brilliance will be fleeting.

I returned to the flowers and stood for a moment to absorb their beauty and fragility and to recognize that this was one of those many delicious life moments that has to be savoured before it quickly passes, never to be relived like it was just then.

As I finished my walk home, I reminded myself to take notice of those moments more often.

Oriental poppy

Carpe diem is a phrase from a Latin poem by Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 BC – 8 BC), more widely known as Horace, that has become an aphorism. It is popularly translated as “seize the day”. Carpe is the second-person singular present active imperative of the Latin verb carpō, which literally means “You pick, pluck, pluck off, cull, crop, gather, to eat food, to serve, to want”, but Ovid used the word in the sense of, “enjoy, seize, use, make use of”.[1] It is related to the Greek verb (carpoomae) καρπόομαι, (I grab the fruit, profits, opportunity), (carpos) καρπός=fruit of tree, of effort, etc. Diem refers to “day”. Thus, a more accurate translation of “Carpe diem” would be “enjoy the day” or “pluck the day [when it is ripe]” Wikepedia