Saturday, March 30, 2013
The meaning of the spring season Looking at the transformations in nature and ourselves during spring. NEW BEGINNINGS: With the changes the spring season brings, we learn to adapt positively to the changes in our environment and our health. (Photo: Leans/Flickr) The spring season is full of transformations. The temperature rises to a more bearable degree, opposing Mother Nature's last few months of freezing surroundings. The leaves we saw fall and flowers we saw wilt are now budding into lush, green, picture-perfect plants. Aside from the weather's transformations that occur in the spring season, we are transforming our lives, too. The holidays are over now ... no more high-calorie foods loaded with carbohydrates and saturated fats that Grandma made for Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner. No more putting off that morning jog because the roads are covered in ice or snow. When spring rolls into our lives, we start to pick up the slack that winter instilled inside us of becoming sloths. That new year's resolution to join the gym starts being enforced, so you're sure to have your bikini bod back in time for your beach vacation. No more lounging on the couch all day watching football — in the spring you can gather friends together at the park for your own game. For those of us with allergies, spring is also a wake up call for our immune systems. The ever-changing weather and excess pollen leaves the allergy-ridden population with running noses and sore throats when not prepared. To fight these transformations affecting our bodies negatively, loading up on vitamins like Vitamin C or bee pollen, and allergy medicines like Sudafed or Tylenol Cold is essential. Those who know their immune systems to be out of whack during the spring season are more inclined to protect themselves from all threatening situations. Spring is a season in limbo between the winter and summer months, so nothing is absolute about the weather. You should keep an umbrella, rain jacket and coat with you in your car at all times, ready for whatever weather situations spring may throw your way. While these changes can be frustrating and tiring for your health and yourself, they are good for the economy. In order to have all your allergy remedies ready for spring, you have to purchase them. I find myself going to the local CVS pharmacy at least once a week in the spring for some more cough medicine or decongestant when feeling under the weather. I'm also inclined to take a lot more trips to the car wash to get all the pollen off my windshield or to polish off the rain spots from my windows. Spring may have its drawbacks to our health with fluctuating allergies in the changing of seasons, but overall it is a positive season of new beginnings in weather, agriculture and self-awareness to take care of ourselves, and our surroundings. For the same reason that our bodies are temples we must preserve, our earth and environment need constant surveillance and the utmost care, too. Spring helps us to realize lessons as precious as this, where we learn the importance of embracing and adapting to change over time. Take this spring season as a chance to participate in some community service, tending simultaneously to your environment as well as yourself. Help write the chapter of new beginnings this spring in creating positive outcomes for all areas of nature, and our health. Posted by Multi Services Residential & Commercial Cleaning Free Estimates 416-782-3417 www.multiservices-janitorial.com
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Mathieu Da Costa Image: Mathieu Da Costa (courtesy Dr. Henry Bishop/Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia) Mathieu Da Costa is one of the most fascinating (and elusive) figures in early Canadian history. We don't know a lot about him. But we do know enough to know that he qualifies as the first Black known to have visited Canada. Da Costa was a free Black African who in the early 1600s was employed as a translator by French and Dutch traders and explorers. It was not unusual for Africans to act as translators for Europeans as it had been going on for 100 years before Champlain's time as Europeans explored their way down the African coast. This explains why Da Costa spoke French, Dutch, and Portuguese. But it is a mystery how Da Costa knew how to be an interpreter with the First Nations of America. He might have used "pidgin" Basque (a mixture of Basque and local), commonly used for trade in the Americas. (The Basques of northern Spain were frequent visitors to the fishery along the Atlantic coast.) This dialect was understood by the Mi'kmaq and Montagnais (who lived along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River). But it is also possible that Da Costa had previously spent time in the Americas and had learned the languages of one or more of the Aboriginal peoples. The only real historical "fact" that we have about Mathieu Da Costa is a document showing that he was in Holland in February 1607. Apparently the Dutch had kidnapped him from the French. The following year, 1608, Da Costa signed a contract in Amsterdam that committed him to sail with or on behalf of Pierre Du Gua de Monts as an interpreter on voyages to Canada and Acadia. Da Costa's contract with Du Gua de Monts was to last for three years and it paid a considerable salary. We can thus assume that Da Costa accompanied Du Gua de Monts and Samuel de Champlain on one or more of their voyages to Acadia and the St Lawrence area. The next bit of information that we have is evidence that Da Costa was put in prison in Le Havre, France, in December 1609. We don't know why but there were references to "insolences" suggesting that Da Costa had an independent spirit and spoke his mind. Da Costa's appearance in Canada is commemorated at the Port-Royal National Historic Site, in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. The Mathieu Da Costa Challenge is an annual creative writing and artwork contest launched in 1996. The Challenge "encourages youth to discover how diversity has shaped Canada's history and the important role that pluralism plays in Canadian society." Canadian Black History - An Interactive Experience Search for clues about Black Canadian history in this interactive online treasure hunt presented by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.