Weary

     Seasons clothe the far-reaching fields. First comes the green, sweet and tender. Rife in the morning of the year, it is followed by the hard accent of that annual noon heralding the change from growth to ripening. Gold is the colour of the orb’s twilight rotation turning to seek its rest. The night is found at last under blankets of white that swaddle the land through the cold barren span of the day’s end.

     Lightening scarred, battle weary, the solitary watcher rides the hours of each year’s day. His gnarled arms, verdant raiment long forgotten, spread in supplication. Let the land rise up in waves. Let the wind and the rain lay old souls low. Grant rest eternal in the whirlpool tide.  Sweet gratitude would welcome that eddy’s embrace, free to slip below the surface, sinking away from light, life and duty. Cry mercy for a lonely guardian. Grant oblivion in the arms of the mother, let the vigil be done at last.

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Tag I’m It

 

I have been tagged by Amanda. She’s living the good life over at Vida Bonita

 

You can visit her at

http://spaces.msn.com/members/monroekisses/

 

She’s a very lovely girl who paid heed to my whining and said it was okay if I did an abbreviated version of this quiz. So with gratitude to Amanda’s understanding heart here’s…

 

7 Things About Nothing

Please substitute the number 1 where you see 7

 Deadly Something or An others….

 

7 Things that scare me:

Death

Not dead people but the act of metamorphosis itself

I know it’s coming I just wish I wouldn’t see it on the face of every person I meet

 

7 things I like:

Like not love right? I like books…not just reading them, but the way they look, the way they smell.  I want to own books just for the sake of owning them. The older the better. I’m a book junky and I get my fix whenever I can.

 

7 important things in my room:

The light. It’s not good to sleep in the dark….

 

7 random facts about me:

There is a boy on my son’s football team that thinks I’m attractive…sort of gross I know but it is random. He’s really weird about it…saying hello and standing over me while an awkward silence ensues.

 

7 things I plan to do before I die:

See the pyramids. Mexico or Egypt… either would be fine but both would be better

 

7 Things I can do:

Make something out of nothing. Be it the kitchen, the shop or an argument trust me I can make something out of nothing.

 

7 things I can’t or won’t do:

Kill an animal. I know I’m a hypocrite. I love a steak but if I had to kill the cow I would pass. PETA should shun me as a lost cause.  

 

7 things I say the most:

Look you don’t have to say “Sorry” just don’t do it anymore. The dog thinks I’m an idiot when I say this to her.

 

7 celebrity crushes:

Johnny Depp (a la Benny and Joon) is pretty hot but I have to say John Goodman. I love a man with a sense of humour who can eat ‘cuz I like to laugh and I like to cook (someone’s got to eat all that food and it’s not going to be me!)

 

7 people I tag to do this:

Anybody who wants to do it really

 

And that’s it. It isn’t what you really need to know about me. The most important thing I can tell you “That’s really about nothing” is that I am crazy about Rice Krispies squares. Not the kind that you buy already made in the individually wrapped packages. I’m nuts for the home made too much butter, vanilla from Mexico, extra gooey because you used too much marshmallows kind. I like to go in the kitchen and cut myself a one inch by one inch square piece because I’m trying to show some restraint. Then it’s just one more “small” piece and then one more…it never ends. It’s too sad how those little golden squares reduce me to a quivering mass of desire…sigh

…how do you like them apples?

     There is an old apple tree that resides in the back eastern quadrant of my yard. It has been many years since it’s seen any type of attention and the tree has grown wild and out of control. As with most unpruned trees the majority of the crop is at the top, far out of reach. The winds of September have already shaken a sizeable amount of apples out and the lawn is strewn with the windfall. The delicate scent of apple blooms sweetly in the air as the crop reddens and then fades into the soil. The aroma is accompanied by the low hum of wasps and flies as they treat themselves to the banquet laid out in the grass.

     Apples are one of the oldest known cultivated crops. Apples and the process of cultivating them have changed over the centuries but the basics are still the same. The biggest changes have come in order to maintain specific varieties of apples like Macintoshes, Granny Smiths and Pippins. A line of logic indicates that if you plant a seed, feed and water the plant with a little time and a little pruning the tree will bear fruit. That is true but not true enough for the commercial apple industry.

     As a member of the rose family apples must be pollinated in order to bear fruit. That’s where insects like bees come into the picture. As they move from plant to plant and tree to tree they gather pollen up and leave a little behind. There in lies the trouble. If that small bit of pollen left behind comes from somewhere other than the exact kind of tree it ends up in, it can alter the fruit of the tree. The apple is still a Pippin or a Macintosh but the seed may not be true. Farmers have used this method in the past to breed healthier, hardier breeds of apples but it’s not a quality that lends itself to producing the identical offspring needed for mass production. As a result grafting has become a popular choice for maintaining a consistent genetic line.

     A cutting is taken from an existing tree and grafted onto a sapling. That cutting is then nurtured into a fully productive tree that produces the exact fruit found on the parent tree. The apple industry has chosen to breed apples that look nice and travel well. This is a practice that has reduced the gene pool while creating a safe but bland middle ground in the interest of ease and economics. Little thought has been given to taste, which really is the essence of an apple. Many varieties of apples have been lost, victims of that search for the average safe product. It’s been left to private gardeners to try and preserve both variety and the rich history of the old and/or diverse breeds. Just such a breed may be found in the gnarled tree that rests in the shadows of the hundred year old pines that edge my yard.

     I can’t identify the variety of apple. The fruit is misshapen, rustic and marked by insects but the skin is firm and breaks sharply when breached. The flesh, with just a tinge of gold, has a taste that I’ve never experienced before. There’s a pleasant bite to the sweetness that floods the mouth and fills the senses. If you saw these apples in the store you might pass them by attracted instead to the uniform qualities of a mass-produced product.

     Most people do get caught up in appearances and forget to look at what’s underneath, the essence so to speak.  Diversity and individualism is not a quality encouraged or nurtured in our society. Things that are different are shunned or even feared, being held in little to no regard. The apple in my backyard is not picture perfect but it is still an apple and a delicious one at that. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter that its sun-warmed skin holds a treasure few will ever experience. It doesn’t matter that the aroma that lingers in the air and kisses my skin is a divine breath unimaginable. It only matters that it isn’t pretty and it doesn’t look like its distant cousins.

     As a society, we are bombarded by a model of how we should look and act. There is an image and lifestyle of conformity that is constantly portrayed as the penultimate ideal. Our children are institutionalized by an overloaded educational system where creativity or initiative is discouraged in the interest of ease and economics. We are all told that it is important to look good, fit in and toe the line. As a result diversity seems to be rapidly giving way to a society of mass-produced individuals who "look nice and travel well". Where are our private gardeners? Where are those who are willing to look past the bumps and holes and rust to see the value of originality and distinction? Where are the growers who are willing to put economics and ease aside to honour both tradition and diversity?      

     In my garden there is a tree that grows apples unlike any others I’ve ever seen. The best are at the top of the tree and procuring them is difficult and just a little dangerous. They aren’t clean or pretty and none much resemble their neighbours on the branch. But if you take a risk and make the effort to have one, I promise, you will not be disappointed.  

The Places That Lie Between

     I live in a very old house. Although the occurrence of my tenancy is fairly recent I have lived here long enough to have more questions than answers about the "former" inhabitants of my home. There are the usual creakings of a more than a century old home…that is to be expected. The cat has a tendency to stare quietly at something quite invisible while the dog barks frantically into the same empty air. There is the light in the upstairs’ bathroom (a room the dog shuns religiously) that shuts itself off. Oddly enough most usually as soon as one has settled into a newly drawn tub of water in anticipation of a good long soak.  There is the sound of the back door opening, heard with enough certainty that an assumption is solidly made that someone has come in from outside. There is the soft touch as if a hand had reached out to slow one’s ascent of the front stairs or the persistent feeling that someone is looking over one’s shoulder as they type. There is the back yard that is misty when the fields are as clear as a bell. These things, some will say, are open to debate. I won’t deny that. As I have already said there are more mysteries here than answers.

     There is a broken tombstone that rests beside the shed in my yard. The bottom half is girded by cement, an indication that at one time it was reset above a grave after time or weather had felled it. Its white marble, though marked by the passage of time and the elements, still shows a barely visible inscription. It is a memory of two lives cut tragically short. The dates so coldly inscribed more than a century past are a poor relic of the tears that must have been shed. Months mark the span of one child while just the listing of the year marks the journey of the second. A small passage, barely legible, exhorts God to guard those he has taken from their parents’ arms before it fades into the smoothness of weatherworn stone.  

 

     Cemeteries are numerous in my home township. Rural cemeteries are, for the most part, quite small and most have sections dedicated to generations of a particular family. There are stones that mark entire lineages from first settlers to contemporary descendents. The saddest perhaps are those who have gone before their time. White and steely grey marble marks the graves of those fallen in the first and second world war. Although buried overseas they were never forgotten here at home. Mothers and babes, lost together in that first and last moment of life, are joined together eternally. The ever changing coverlet, verdant now yet to fade to gold, has been well watered by the rain and the tears of those left behind.  Most of the cemeteries are well maintained but there are several past salvation. In those pastures only the county knows whose years lay forgotten under crumbling white marble and neatly mown lawns. Although the dead may visit the shadows that lie amongst the living this is where they abide. In these places the thundering silence has married the seasons. An errant wind lost amongst the stones may only play an accompaniment, never lead or drown that whisper.

     The cemetery I am to set out for is very close to my home. I have only to step out of my door and travel a bit south to Lakeview Line. Following the gravel road I keep an eye out for the posted cemetery sign. It’s there to the left, dark letters on a faded sign mounted on an old chain link fence. The cemetery is long and narrow. The boundaries are marked by towering pines that in turn give way to fields of tall corn glowing soft amber in the grey light of a cloudy autumn afternoon. The land is well kept and we walk between the stones remarking on flower arrangements and the beauty of the monuments. The older stones are harder to read. Moss obscures the sides closest to the woods and time has had a hand in hiding the rest. There is a weight to the air. It seems crowded even though we are the only ones in sight. I find the name I’m looking for at the very back of the cemetery, just a little up from the old abandoned gardening shed. An answer of sorts is carved in the white marble. The broken tombstone has been replaced. The boys rest with their parents and a monument to a brother who fought and was buried in a far distant France. There are aunts and uncles that lie near by. They are surrounded by an extended family, not alone as I had feared. I wanted to talk to them and if I’d come alone I might of, maybe another time. I can hear the sound of the lake just a stone’s throw away beyond the corn that hedges the pines. The day is fading and the sandy shore waits beyond this place.

 

The tide is high. The beach is worn smooth and clean by the incessant waves. We walk barefoot through muddied waters that lap around our ankles and then recede. My husband remarks that my footprints are like those of a child, small and light. Glancing down I see it is true. My feet barely leave a mark on the wet sand while his passage is marked by deep impressions that are larger and spaced farther apart. Looking further back along our path though I can see that the waves have done their work. Despite the disparity in depth and size both of our steps have been erased, wiped away by the rhythm of the water. The sand is as clean and bare as if we’d never been there at all.

Incandescent Spirit

Blazing stars sing an accompaniment to the brightest of moons. There have been days the earth fretted under less lustrous heavens than those that grace her curves tonight. Burning foxfire, cold iridescent blue blaze alight the stone, the leaf, the vine. Velvet dark, deep indigo, the forbidden shadows sing a dangerous siren’s call. Ancient ethereal luminosity gives lie to the yoke of man. Cold, eternal and unyielding, it is beautiful beyond reckoning.

 

 

Caelum videre iussit, et erctos as sidera tollere vultus

~Ovid~

 

 

 

Déjà vu

I met a man today or maybe I should say I met a man today again. As I held his hand for a brief moment in greeting, as his eyes met mine, I felt something familiar or maybe something akin. It’s not the first time something like this has happened. Our lives are formed layer upon layer through trial and error. The time we are allotted, we are given to believe, is finite and defined by certain unarguable boundaries. There is a common human experience that joins us all. Six degrees of separation are said to stand between an individual and the sum total of all the inhabitants of this world. Chromosomally there is little difference between a human and a banana. Given that matter and energy do not cease to exist but only change from one form to another, is it possible that at one time my breath sprang from another’s lips and my thoughts lived another’s life? Who is to say that the hand that touched mine and that the eyes that held me, were not my own eyes and my own hand once parted but found again? We return to the earth there is no denying that. Do we rise up again to spring forth as something new carrying all that was before within us?

On the Wind

     Sunday afternoon slips along like the wheels of the van as we head up the back road to the hockey arena. The leaves on the trees in the woodlots that line the fields have just started to change colour. There are some bright yellows and soft ambers but autumn is still guarding her cards, waiting to show her full hand of russet and sienna hues. The sky is a powder puff blue haphazardly scattered with cumulous chiffon scarves. Turkey vultures congregate on the fences and roads in greater numbers than usual. They’re heading south looking for warmer climes to wait out the winter’s cold. We receive dirty looks as they reluctantly waddle off the road making way for the van. It rained last week and the pastures are green expanses dotted with the white of the sheep and the earthy tones of cows.

     The sound of the radio mixes with the buzz emanating from the prodigal son’s mp3 player’s earphones. It has to be loud enough to drown out our music, which means we can only hear it a bit. It’s not bad for us but probably ear shattering for him and that is just the way he likes it. We’re dressed for the arena and it’s warm in the car but the open windows bring in a sweet September breeze redolent of sun and harvest.

     This past weekend was the company’s annual fishing derby. Our family contingent was absent this year due to scheduling conflicts. Regardless the day was not a mystery, as fishermen like to tell their tales (big and small if you know what I mean). Hearsay though it is, I am made party to the comings and goings of the small band of adventurers who edge my world in second hand fact only. Bait and rods, boats and secret techniques are bandied about in the secret language of angler-ese. Mark the salesmen, so called for his never ending desire to always sell whether it be raffle tickets, giftware or his life philosophy was betrayed by fate. The great teller of tales sells his tale of woe, a disqualification for returning 2 minutes too late. He wouldn’t have won first but his catch might have qualified for second or third for sure.

     Gus and Little Joe joined forces to meet the challenge. Gus is a solid man, old school, salt of the earth born and bred. A taciturn soul, he doesn’t know how not to work. Little Joe is a chatty man some 10 or 15 years Gus’s junior. Little Joe earned his name through his lack of stature and a need for his coworkers to distinguish him from a Big Joe who worked in the same department. Big Joe has long since departed but the diminutive moniker has stayed. Gus and Little Joe spent an enjoyable day together out in the boat. With only the single misstep of having lost the prop off their trawling motor they couldn’t have been happier. The fact that they were disqualified from the derby for leaving too early didn’t lessen their enjoyment. The biggest upset this year occurred when a woman who works in the paint department won the derby. All the bass boats and bravado were for naught as the lady brought home the bacon (so to speak). It’s a catch and release derby so she didn’t have to "fry it up in a pan".

    

     

     The rhythm of the talk rises and falls joining the sound of the wind and the music and the wheels. A field of wheat stretches out flat to end in a distant wall of trees. Silhouetted against the sky a hawk dives and levels out even with the van window. She coasts along, wings spread to keep pace with us. I can see the white of her breast and the grey wings tipped with red are clear against the sky. We are frozen, she and I, eye to eye as the road rushes below in a grey blur grounding the tableau of gold wheat and powder blue sky. The sound of the wind fills my ears and the sky lifts me up…a silky firmament, strong yet supple. A flap of her wings and she is gone. Veering off into that sky, fading to a small dark mark and then oblivion lost in the sun.

 

    

     The wind gives way once again to join the chorus of voice, music and wheels. There were some bruised egos but the worst day of fishing is better than the best day at work after all. Maybe next year they might be able to go. Sunday afternoon slips a little further along as the wheels eat up the road. Somewhere across the fields red tipped wings catch the late afternoon sun as they rest in trees tinged with yellow and amber. Golden eyes, dark rimmed and flecked with amber wait for autumn to call and show her hand of queens in russet and kings of burnt gold and umber as the powder blue sky wheels overhead. 

Twilight Afternoon

 
The ceiling above is a uniform grey, blank and unyielding. Sluggish light bleeds through the windows, impotent and weak. The listless breeze brushes limp fingers through hanging branches of pine. The promise of rain, unfulfilled, brings a bittersweet twilight to the day. The crickets sing an evening song. Their time is misplaced lost under the weight of impermeable, unwavering cloud. The sleepy earth sighs a cynic’s sigh, purses her mouth and turns away from the leaden lackluster sky.