11 January, 2011

~ On Receiving a Parcel of Books ~

Do you know how it is to have chosen, with excruciating care, the next additions to your library, and to have waited for their delivery with the excitement of a child?

Do you know how it is to find a card in your mailbox advising you a parcel has arrived?

Do you know how it is to present the card at the counter and have the clerk heft a sturdy box into your expectant arms?

Do you know how it is to cradle the box with infinite tenderness, transporting it from the Post Office to the truck, from the truck to the kitchen, from the kitchen to the blessed sanctuary of the library?

Do you know how it is to catch your breath as you open the flaps, and gasp as light falls upon the covers and dustjackets cloaking the volumes within?

Do you know how it is to lift six books to your face in turn, smelling their heady perfume of paper and ink?

Do you know how it is to sit with these new books, stroking their spines with your thumb and tracing their embossed titles with your forefinger?

Do you know how it is to open each book - no more than 90ยบ, their backs are delicate - and let the pages fall gently over one another?

Do you know how it is to close your eyes as the cool whisperbreath of inkwords kisses your face?

Do you know?


It is bliss.

Peace ~

23 August, 2010

~ Rescue ~

I have fallen in love. It is not to be wondered at, nor should anyone be surprised - I fall in love with someone/something/somewhere/somewhen daily - but this time ... this time it is different.

Oh alright, perhaps it is not different so much as it is 'here we go again.' Fine, have it your way.

Still ... who can blame me?

She is, as so many of my greatest passions have been, a rescue case. She had been condemned to what amounts to being drawn and quartered. That is to say, she was to have died a horrendous death, to have been donated to the firemen for extrication practice ... eaten, ironically, by the Jaws of Life.

By the time twenty-four hours have passed, she will have taken up residence in our back driveway.

Her looks have faded, it is true, but she has the bones of a great beauty, and I have no doubt she will respond to loving care.

She has not yet told me her name ... though I am certain I can hear her whispering ...

Peace ~

05 August, 2010

~ I Love My Country ~

Should you ever visit my country, let me tell you the Rockies are not to be missed. This country is exquisite from coast to coast to coast, but there is nothing quite like the Rockies .... although ..... close in splendour are fields of flax in full flower .... and whispering waves of wheat just before harvest .... the secret hush of dim and mossy forest .... the wild crash of water against rock down east .... the peaceful kiss of water on sand out west .... the massive silence of the north, where sky and land meet at that magical point and become one .... the sharp, severe slice of southern summer wind, as dry as old bone .... this is a beautiful land .... yeah, I love my country ....

~ Peace

30 July, 2010

28 April, 2010

~ I Have A Letter ~

I have a letter.

“Frrrom Rrruss-ia,” I say aloud, rolling the r’s and flattening the vowels. It seems the thing to do.

The letter sits on top of the other mail on the seat beside me as I drive home from the Post Office. “Frrrom Rrruss-ia,” I say again as wait for water to boil for tea. I lay the letter on the desktop while I pay the phone bill.

It is a slim envelope bearing five stamps and three cancellation marks, resting, feather-light, in my hands. I ad
mire the precise printing, smile at the numbers formed in penmanship typical of the part of the world from which the letter originated. I tally the cost of postage, and wonder what the conversion is to my own dollars.

I lay the letter on the table while I make supper...

...and clear the dishes...

...and watch the news.

I lean the letter against the soap dish on the counter while I have my bath...

...and check my email...

...and drink another cup of tea.

Letters have had fascinating journeys. Letters have travelled by truck, by plane, by train. Letters have gone under and over. Letters have gone through. Despite the 8,054 kilometres separating me from its sender, this letter has spent 58 days travelling from half-way around the globe. It has been a long passage, so I let it rest until it is ready to share its secrets.

It is time.

I am careful to slit the envelope neatly along the top edge. Careful, too, withdrawing the letter. I devour the words, then return to the beginning and read through again, more slowly. I smile. I sigh. I return the letter to its envelope and prop it against my tea mug.

I will read the letter again tomorrow, before slipping it into the small, worn trunk in my library - the keeper of the words that have come to me from across the globe. “Frrrom Rrruss-ia,” I will say, then fasten the latch.

Peace ~

22 April, 2010

~ A Mother Knows ~
for Scott

because you hadn’t shown for days

we knew you gone
they disagreed
they asked her what was in her gut
and she said: death
he ravine has swallowed him up
she said

a mother knows

officials think not know
so they refused to look
it will all be well they said
believing wrong everything

a mother knows

you lay dead at the bottom of it
all the while
waiting and awaiting

they found you - finally - and were sorry
of course
their contrition useless after the fact

ashes to ashes

two birds
eagles maybe or hawks
rode the wind for you

or with you

floated above the tears
pressed their wings
against the sky
against the earthly sorrow
they could not ease

we let you go
with God?
with peace?

with reluctance

we planted a tree for you
dampened the ground with our tears
we dug into the soil
and changed the face of the Earth
for you
for remembrance
and for everything
a mother knows

11 July, 2009

~ Peaches ~

I am five. It is the first year I have been allowed to go on holidays with my parents, and we have driven across four provinces to visit Grandma (whom I have missed every day since they moved from Manitoba) and Grandpa (who is sometimes cross).

We are out touring, seeing the valleys and the orchards, marvelling at the
mountains. It is getting on in the day, and the light has begun to change colour. It must be ninety degrees, the grown ups have said, and isn’t it hot, they have asked one another, then murmured in agreement.

Grandma and I are sitting together on the passenger
side in the back seat. The world flies past outside the car, and stands still inside it. Grandma shows me how to properly experience the peaches we bought at a roadside stand, peaches larger than both my fists together. She shows me how to brush them against my face, and feel their velvety sun-warmth before I bite through their skins. Peach juice runs down our hands, our wrists, our arms, and we lick it off ourselves and off each other's elbows. What we aren’t licking, we wipe away with Kleenex because we can’t keep up, the peaches are so juicy. We are shaking with the effort of muffling our giggles, our sight blurs with tears of silent laughter. We are being as quiet as we can be so Grandpa doesn't notice us, see the mess we are making of ourselves, and get cross.

The window is open and Grandma's hair dances around her temples. The evening light has made her cheeks the colour of our peaches. I lay my head against her chest and look up to see the slanting rays have illuminated the fine hairs on her face, creating a delicate halo.

The peaches are Grandma, Grandma is the peaches.

We are sticky and full to the top, and we smell as sweet as summertime. Grandma smiles and closes her eyes against the sun, and so do I.

This moment never, ever ends....

Peace ~

14 April, 2009

~ Apron Strings ~

Grandma wore aprons. Grandma wore hair nets with beads as well (which I thought were perfectly splendid in a mysterious, other-generational sort of way) but those don’t figure so prominently in my memory as do her aprons.

She didn’t wear hostess aprons which were more decorative than functional, and she didn’t wear little half-skirt type aprons with dai
nty pockets and coordinating ties. No, Grandma wore proper, full-coverage aprons with high bibs that kept splashes and garden soil off her dress, and broad straps that marched over her shoulders, crossed in the middle of her back, and buttoned to the waistband. Grandma wore serious aprons with back hems that could wipe gravel from skinned knees, sturdy aprons with pockets that could hold enough pegs for a whole line of laundry or enough peas for supper, generous aprons with skirts that could fold up to become a gentle nest for two bouquets of sweet peas and enough raspberries for desert.

Grandma played with her aprons - smoothed them over her lap, toyed with the pocket tops, fiddled with the edges. By the time I got to know her, she was grey-haired and becoming frail. By the time I got to know her, she was so set in her ways that wearing an apron over her dress and under her cardigan was what one expected to see...except when she went to church.

I loved Grandma’s aprons - loved the way they looked, loved their colours, loved their patterns. I loved the simple intricacies of their straps and buttons. I loved that there was always enough scoop to the neck to show off the brooch pinned to her dress underneath. I loved what they represented.

I still do.

Somehow, that part of it all becomes more important as the year-distance between us here on Earth grows.

I have - and use - several aprons, but none so substantial as the ones Grandma used to wear. I have a pink cotton apron (dusty rose, really, since it has been around since the 1980’s when dusty rose was fashionable) with a bib...but the bib is small, bearing two crocheted lambs (at least, we think they are lambs, sometimes they look like pigs) in the middle and a ruffle around the edge. It is stained. It is wearing thin in spots. It has no pockets. It is the apron my children tell me they equated with baking and treats...but it is not a Grandma kind of apron.

I have a Christmas apron that has been plasticised, laminated or treated to some sort of process that makes it almost resemble an oilcloth....almost. It is the apron that mostly kept small children mostly clean and mostly dry when they, um, helped me in the kitchen. It is handy and it is dandy...but it is not a Grandma kind of apron.

Treasured are two aprons given to me (indeed, made for me) by my cousin, who remembers Grandma’s aprons with as much wistful affection as I do...and that’s saying something! I know that thoughts of Grandma are attached to those made-for-me aprons, that they were cut and sewn while my cousin was thinking of the oh-so-shy woman who marked us both so strongly - we have marvelled to one another about how a woman of such quiet and gentle demeanour could have had such a powerful influence.

My cousin and I have agreed that somehow...no matter that their straps are narrow and buttonless, no matter that friendly teddies play on the bib of one, and little rose clusters are scattered across the blue ground of the other...somehow they are each, at least to my cousin and I, a Grandma kind of apron.

Peace ~