NEW DAY DAWNS–High River, Alberta (transformation)


A tree gives glory to God by being a tree . . .


Morning Sun (oil painting3) in High River Alberta - bruce witzel photo


This particular tree will give glory to God by spreading out it roots in the earth and raising its branches in the air and the light in a way that no other tree before or after it ever did or will . . .

But what about you? What about me?                  ~ Thomas Merton ~


The  image above was taken on November 18–2017 and then transformed to appear like a painting by using Arcsoft PhotoStudio 5.5

The quote was borrowed from the book New Seeds of Contemplation published in 1962 by Thomas Merton.


             Cheers – Bruce


WARMING UP IN THE BANFF LIBRARY –A deep question, solar windows and Jane Goodall–in-one


Jane Goodall on why we are here


Francis and I, were walking in the city of Kamloops BC and the town 

of Banff Alberta last week.  Here’s a bit of what we experienced on our

sojourn. Three of the photos are  in hi resolution  ~ just click to enlarge. 

The solar tips were inspired by visiting the Banff  Public Library.

There  I found an article with the profound contemplative wisdom

of  Jane Goodall.


I conclude with Ms. Goodall’s poem . . .


Jane Goodall poem



Francis with Thompson River in Background, Nov.6-2017 - bruce witzel photo


Francis at the Thompson River


Thompson River in Kamloops B.C. Nov. 6 -2017 - bruce witzel photo


A Canada Goose landing  on the Thompson

Canada Goose landing on Thompson River in Kamloops BC - Nov.5-2017 - bruce witzel photo


Bow River in Canada’s Banff National Park (click on photo for full size)

Bow River near Banff Alberta, Nov. 8-2017 - bruce witzel photo



Bow River in Banff Alberta, Nov. 7-2017 -bruce witzel photo


Bow River (above) as seen from the bridge in downtown Banff (below).


Banff, Alberta (2)Nov. 7-2017 - bruce witzel photo


Bruce and Fran in Banff Nov.7-2017 - fran guentte photo

After an couple hours, we temporarily dropped into the Banff Public Library to get warmed up from the chilling –10 Celsius temperature and basked in the sun beaming through the south facing solarium.


Banff Public Library exterior  Nov. 7-2017 - bruce witzel photo


~ A Solar Lesson ~

One square meter of any surface on earth receives about 1000 watts of

energy when sunrays hit it perpendicular on a clear day. Doing the math,

1 square meter equals 10.75 square feet. Hence, the 8’ x 20’ skylight of the

library (160 square feet) was receiving about 15 kilowatts of free solar

energy. This illustrates that plenty of energy is available from properly

solar oriented windows and glazing.


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see.


Bruce in the Banff Public Library Nov. 7-2017 - francis guenette photo


And with forethought, passive solar design can be done at little or no extra cost. After all – every building requires windows . Also, the design doesn’t  necessarily have to look unusual or unique, though it may.


Here are a few important nuances:

  1. 1)  Passive solar windows  are simpler and lower cost than passive skylights.

  2. 2) Skylights  and  high clerestory windows provide privacy from nearby streets or unwanted views.   

  3. 3) Windows provide wanted views , cross-ventilation and excellent cooling.

  4. 4) Skylights and clerestory windows can provide excellent overhead  natural light.

Banff Library interior

  1. 5) Windows are easier to shade in the summer than skylights, by utilizing overhangs, curtains or blinds, etc.

  2. 6) Exciting new types of skylights now provide both daylight and electricity, and can automatically begin to shade when required.

  3. 7) Compared to non-solar design, passive solar buildings create a closer connection with the outdoors and in general, a much healthier environment.


Vermillon Lake, Banff National Park  Nov. 8-2017 - francis guenette photo

Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park  Nov.8-2017 – Fran Guenette photo

(click to enlarge) 



A poem – by Jane Goodall


    Jane Goodall poem in Banff Libreary journal article






When the night wind makes the pine

trees creak

And the pale clouds glide across

the dark sky,

Go out, my child, go out and seek

Your soul, the Eternal I.


Vermillon Lake and Rocky Mntns in Banff National Park (3) Nov. 8-2017 - bruce witzel photo 


For all the grasses rustling at your feet

And every flaming star that glitters high

above you, close up and meet

in you: the Eternal I.



Yes, my child, go out into the world: walk


And silent, comprehending all, and by

and by

Your soul, the Universe will know

Itself: the Eternal I.



The lovely dunes; the

setting sun

The duck –and I;


Two Mallard Ducks on the Thompson River in Kamloops B.C.  Nov.6-2017 - bruce witzel photo 


One spirit moving


Beneath the sky.



Fence and Rocky Mntns. near Trans-Canada Highway (2), Banff Alberta Nov. 6-2017  - bruce witzel photo

(Click to enlarge)


Cheers – Bruce

PEEK IN THE FOREST , by Fr. Charles Brandt

ENCIRCLED (St. Hildegard–2)


Reflecting St. Hildegard – Part Two


Good People,


Most royal greening verdancy,

rooted in the sun,

you shine with radiant light.


Verbena at the lake Oct. 7-2017 - bruce witzel photo


In this circle of earthly existence

you shine

so finely,

it surpasses understanding.



Painted tongue on Victoria Lake - Oct. 8, 2017 - bruce witzel photo



God hugs you.

You are encircled

by the arms

of the mystery of God.


Meditation point (2) Oct. 17, 2017 - bruce witzel photo


St. Hildergard – poet, prophet, lover of the earth



Chantrelle mushroom in the Pacific coast rainforest Oct. 23-2017 - bruce witzel photo


Cheers ~  Bruce

Mountain Ash a-glow at the Lake


Reflecting St. Hildegard – Part One


Autumn day on the lake, Oct. 24-2017 - bruce witzel photo


It is easier to gaze into the sun, than into the face of the mystery of God.

Such is its beauty and radiance.



Autumn colour at the lake, Oct. 24-2017 - bruce witzel photo


The earth is mother of all that is natural, all that is human.


Autumn at the lake, Oct. 17-2017 - bruce witzel photo


                       (St. Hildegard was a 12th century Abbess)



Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received – only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.  ~ St. Francis


Feast of St. Francis ~ October 4th


A well worn cardboard solar cooker

My niece Jade, showing a simple  home built, well worn and weathered cardboard solar oven.


Assisi Diocese among 40 Catholic groups to divest from Fossil Fuels
Link to National Catholic Reporter Article, Oct. 3, 2017


“The Church that hears ‘both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’ cannot stay indifferent in front of the catastrophic consequences of the climate change that are unfairly affecting poor and vulnerable communities,” said Assisi Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino.”


And also. . .


God requires that we assist the animals, when they need our help. Each being (human or creature) has the same right of protection.   ~ St. Francis




Gulls at Neurotsis Inlet


Cheers ~ Bruce

Fire and Fury (and smoke)… like the world has never seen.


                                                 A Picasso -  Photo by Bruce Witzel

We’ve all heard the expression “business as usual”. However, considering current world politics I believe that many of us will admit that we live in unusual times.  Picasso illustrates it well. Life is such a paradox.

I imagine Tomas Merton calling out.

“Take thought, man, tonight when it is dark, when it is raining. Take thought of the game you have forgotten. You are a child of a great and peaceful race. You are son of an unutterable fable. You were discovered on a mild mountain. You have come up of the godlike ocean… Take thought, man, tonight. Do this. do this. Recover your original name.” 

(from Raids on the Unspeakable) 


Photo by bruce witzel - unknown artists


Recently I have kept a low blogging profile – partly from lack of initiative – more importantly, to focus on work and gardening as well as personal reflection and home improvement.


Garden from above



Fressh tomatoes from our garden Aug. 16, 2017 - bruce witzel photo



Telegraph Cove Kayakers, Aug. 5, 2017 - bruce witzel photo

Kayakers on Northern Vancouver Island


Here in British Columbia our recent provincial election of May 7th brought an amazing progressive shift. The Green Party won three seats and now holds the balance of power in the BC legislative assembly, in an agreement made with the newly elected New Democratic Party. This alliance holds a one vote margin over the Liberal party.


BC Election result 2017


The close election required 3 weeks of re-counts and one month of political negotiations before the “business oriented” Liberal Party was defeated in a vote of non-confidence on June 30, after almost 16 years in power. The Liberals do deserve parting credit for instituting the progressive British Columbia Carbon Tax Shift in 2008, the first jurisdiction in North America to do so. In this plan the Carbon fee charged on most fossil fuel transactions is then re-disbursed via tax credits – a sizable portion to lower income people. However, they dropped the ball in support of this important initiative, and then began to support various mega-projects like Site C damn on the Peace River and Liquefied Natural Gas development.




The current leader of the BC Green Party, Andrew Weaver, was originally elected in 2012. He is a well known climate scientist and a past lead author for the IPCC, the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change. He and his caucus is creating a big shift in the body politic and there’s hope it will spread.

Speaking of climate change, British Columbia experienced a record breaking heat wave a couple weeks ago. Coupled with extensive and growing wild fires since early April, the province is experiencing the worse fire season ever. Today it’s effected 894,000 hectares and fire crews have now reached day 100. Many of these emergency teams worked on the BC spring flooding immediately prior to the fires. 


Smoky skies  - fran guenette photo

Smoke on the lake comes from 100’s of miles away.


Tens of thousands of people and livestock have been  evacuated and many people in BC and nearby American states are experiencing health debilitating effects from the smoke.



Nasa Satellite Image – July 31, 2017 – Wildfire Smoke over British Columbia


The added financial burden is immense. A small example is that wood prices have skyrocketed as numerous mills have shut down due to the fires. This is one of many costs not factored into the true price of burning fossil fuel. 




Recently I finished a novel, Convenient Mistruths, by Geoffry Strong. He’s a local atmospheric scientist who recently came to our local library for a reading. Strong sets the plot of his novel in 2020 and the main setting is the Canadian North. Large scale Arctic drilling and rapidly melting perma-frost is occurring.

Amidst murder and intrigue, the author adeptly weaves into the story the science on climate change, meteorology and changing weather patterns as well as their social and ecological impacts. The novel’s Prologue includes a short vignette about a migrant family from Syria. It makes clear his family lost it’s home drought and desertification caused largely by global warming. Civil war is a mere side effect.

The main antagonist of the novel is a few ardent American climate change denialists – funded by Big Oil of course. The main protagonist is a Canadian law student who is spending the summer gathering testimony in the north. She has been hired by a large construction company to outline the legal ramifications of a proposed oil pipeline.

Meanwhile, a Russian Climate Scientist working in Siberia discovers that methane readings are going off-the-scale. Methane is a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent to global warming than Carbon Dioxide. An international crises ensues. Climate scientists and world leaders are left stunned. The urgency of runaway climate change stares humanity in the face.

Wow! Thumbs up to the author. This novel made me think about my own personal dependency on fossil fuel. Also, we use firewood to heat some of our home and water, so a lot of our energy requirements (including driving and flying) result in significant Carbon emissions.


Bruce with new stove just arrived - francis geunette photo

 Replacing our 24 year old woodstove


Our new alderlea woodstove Aug. 11, 20167 - fran guenette photo


Bruce with new stove


The novel also made me see that in general, poorer people have a small carbon footprint – they can’t afford many of the luxuries derived from my fossil fuel dependency. And yet, many who are downcast pay for climate change with their lives.


Charcoal drawing in Ottawa Art Gallery - artist unknown

Charcoal drawing in Ottawa Art Gallery – artist unknown


We must all work diligently to reduce our own carbon footprints. As a personal example, how do I connect my fuel addiction to my many other faults  – my arrogance, my quick judgements, my over eagerness, my heavy heart? And this is the tip of the ice berg. I need to match my action with my words – and to do this with genuine love and faith.


         the_dalai_lama__the_vancouver_peace_summit-500x500                                   Jesus-Holy-Wisdom-Robert-Lentz



In the closing lines of his 2011 book, Generation Us: The Challenge of Global Warming, Andrew Weaver says:

“It’s time to recognize global warming for what it is: the most self-empowering issue we will ever face. Every consumer of energy is part of the problem. Every person is therefore part of the solution. We are entering an age of creativity and innovation unlike any modern society has experienced before. Rather than fearing this change, we need to embrace it.”




In the paradox of it all I recall the words of Thomas Merton:

”I remain aghast at our own weakness, our own poverty, our evasions, our infidelity, our hesitancy…. In such a condition there is no use in forcing the issue. Great patience and humility are needed, and humble prayer for light, courage and strength.”


Photo below by Thomas Merton 1968 – Hut in the Himalaya’s

photo by thomas merton


In peace – Bruce

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