A Pot is a Pot is a Pot Except for When It’s Not

I like the pot. It’s a beauty. It’s cast iron with an enamel coating. The pot’s a nice size and it cleans up like a dream. I’ve baked cabbage rolls in the pot. I’ve roasted chickens stuffed with garlic and rosemary. I’ve spent hours simmering beef bourguignon. Last December the pot helped grace my table with the prime rib roast I make for Christmas each year.

The pot was a wedding present. Not my wedding mind you.

I have a lovely friend. She met a man and fell in love. They threw caution to the wind, picked up their lives, and moved across the country. They bought a house. They made new friends. They got married. They received the pot as a wedding present. The marriage ended. The house was sold. They divided the things they wanted and gave away what they didn’t. And now I have the pot.

I was okay to take the pot. I’m always up for new cookware. Well I was okay until someone mentioned that the pot was high-end Le Creuset cookware. A quick internet search revealed what I was calling a roasting pan was in fact a pot referred to as Dutch oven and the one taking up space in my cupboard had a suggested retail price of $380.00 …plus tax. Of course I called my friend and tried to return it. She just laughed and said she’d known it was an expensive item but didn’t care. She wanted it gone. It was a mystery to her why her ex in-laws had bought it as a wedding gift as neither she nor the man she’d married were big home cooks.

Eating together is one of those traditions that strengthen the ties that bind. You sit and talk. You share yourself as you share your meal. Perhaps that was what the pot was supposed to represent as a wedding gift – the opportunity to build, in part, the foundation created when lives are experienced together. I don’t know.  Maybe my friend’s ex in-laws are the kind of people who like to spend hundreds of dollars on vaguely unsuitable gifts. Or maybe the pot wasn’t only a pot but instead a best wish for a happy future together.

The pot isn’t the most expensive item that Le Creuset makes. I found a goose pot on Amazon selling for $674.00. If you believe the online reviews it’s worth every penny. I can’t even imagine spending that kind of cash for a pot or a pan. That being said, chances are I’m going to own the pot longer than my friend was married. Longer even than the sum total time of her relationship.

Le Creuset cookware is warranted to be free from defects in material and workmanship at the time of its purchase. If it’s broken when you buy it they replace it. I spoke to my friend last week. She moved back across the country earlier this year and she’s still trying to figure out where it all went wrong. It’s never easy. People aren’t cookware. Relationships don’t come with any kind of guarantee. The strength of the promises made between two people is only equal to the will and intent of the parties joined together. And what you see (or choose to see) isn’t always what you get.  If someone is broken, a bad fit, or just wrong, you don’t get to simply reset. You either decide you can live that way or you move on.  It’s much easier to fix a pot.

I’m going to make something warm and bubbly this weekend. I’m not sure what yet but it’s going to be one of those dishes that fill the house with a marvellous smell. As I sit down to share my meal I’ll spare a thought of thanks to my friend for her friendship as well as the pot. I think she’s going to be okay. It will take more of letting things go but she’s well on her way. And like the pot her heart might even find a new home.

Because the pot and the marriage contract are the promise and the meal and the relationship are the fulfillment the music for this post is the Wilder Adkins song When I’m Married

Within the Embrace of Entropy and The Arrow of Time

There is a row of spruce trees at the back of the yard. The tallest was struck by lightning. I was two rooms deep into the house and the light that came in was the most incredible thing to see. There was a wash of the coldest white and blue. And though there were no shadows everything was eerily defined. The noise that followed was felt as much as it was heard. The tree still stands but almost four years on it hasn’t healed. The strike left a scar that runs down the length of the trunk to the ground. With every season the crack gets deeper.

I had a lovely thought last week. I was driving in the car and just out of the blue it came to me. It was a wonderful memory – well two sort of but they were connected. The memory was of my youngest nephew, Matthew, when he was small.  We had rented a hockey rink for a birthday party and Matthew was so excited to come and get on the ice. He must have been around 4 maybe…I’m not sure… but I do remember how happy he was. The second part also had to do with an arena. My sister brought her boys to see my stepson play and as he came out of the dressing room he said hello to Matthew. Matthew’s whole face lit up because he’d been acknowledged by this older boy heading out to the ice to play. I honestly don’t think he could have been happier that day. He would have loved to play hockey. I’m sure of it. He never got the chance. He was born with an adorable sideways smile and a progressive neuromuscular disease.

Picture time as a hallway broken up by consecutive doors. Each door represents a unit of time. The doors are sheer enough to look back through but there are layers and layers of them. Each one takes you further away from where you have been and try though you may you can never bridge that space between now and then. No matter how much you may long for the “before”, just thin doors of time away, there is only what comes after. We say things like “I would give anything if I could have just one more day…one more hour” but the truth is one more hour or one more day wouldn’t be enough.

The night that Matthew died always comes back to me in sound bites and still pictures – the phone call – the car ride – standing on the porch as they return from the hospital – my sister opening the car door – her face as she tells me and it’s like that flash of lightning filling everything up with something alien and terrifying as I move in slow motion to take her into my arms. The rest of the night, the weeks, the months, the years, are marked by moments of awful clarity distinct as pale figures caught naked in the stark flickering of a strobe light.

Matthew lived 16 years. The brevity of his life along with much of what he endured and what has come to pass since he left us is beyond difficult to fully grasp. I am grateful for the things that offer a counter balance to the downright unfairness of it all. I need those things; like those days in the arena, or any moment I’m called to mind the good things that were a part of his life and what good things he brought to all of ours.

I like to watch the birds in the garden. I can see them as I gaze out the kitchen window. The blue jays scream and argue. The woodpeckers and nuthatches are a circus of acrobats as they negotiate the expanse of tree trunks. There are different kinds of sparrows, cardinal couples, and flocks of dark-eyed juncos. In the summer there’ll be hummingbirds and orioles. Several times a day the birds will suddenly scatter. I don’t know why. Perhaps there’s a noise, a movement, or a falling shadow that sets them off. Often it’s nothing and they quickly return. Sometimes though, that shadow will be a hunting hawk. Maybe a red tail but more likely a Cooper’s hawk. There will be a flash of darkness and then silence as a few stray feathers float to the ground.

The garden will be silent then, sometimes for hours.  I watch to see if the birds return. And they do but I can never tell if they’re the same ones that were here before.  At dawn and dusk there’s always the call of the mourning doves. A storm might blow in and I’ll watch as a curtain of rain sweeps across the fields before it engulfs the house.

I wonder how long it will be until the spruce tree finally falls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music for this post –Noah Gundersen & The Forest Rangers- Day is Gone 

 

 

The Black House

It’s very late. Or very early depending on how you look at it. There’s a smell – dry, copper and electric scorch. It’s so strong that I get up to fumble along in the darkness looking for a source. The smell is everywhere and nowhere so I go back to bed. I lay under the sheet with one leg out trying to find the best position for comfort in the heat. It’s going to rain late tomorrow but it’s not tomorrow yet. In the dark, with my head pointing west and my feet pointing east (well to be completely clear my one foot is pointing north-east) I close my eyes and think about the black house.

The black house rests road side near a curve on Pioneer Line. Pioneer Line runs west to east, or east to west, relative to your starting point and destination. The black house was built on the Dutton end of the curve. It’s a double curve and if you were generous you could call it an S curve but it’s so stretched out it barely qualifies as any kind of letter. Spanning the townships of Dutton/Dunwich and West Elgin, Pioneer Line travels through the villages of Dutton, and West Lorne, and touches the edge of Rodney. The section between Dutton and West Lorne runs parallel to the 401 corridor and in the distance you can see cars and transport trucks on the highway, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. They say that Pioneer Line, or a portion of it, used to be called Starvation Road. The story goes that the soil wasn’t any good (too much clay or too wet- it’s not clear) and you can’t feed a family on land that won’t yield. I don’t know if it’s a true story.

I’m not sure how old the black house is. It’s small so it can’t be very new. People don’t build that kind of small any more. It hasn’t been black for very long though. Before it was black it was clapboard white; faded, peeling, and abandoned, in a lot that was mowed just enough to keep the weeds down. Someone bought it in the spring and began to fix it up but didn’t finish. Before the work stopped the siding was removed exposing the black tar paper underneath.

New houses, old houses, derelict houses, barely there foundations that mark where farmhouses once stood, call Pioneer Line home. They are in the process of being, or becoming something, or un-becoming something-but not the black house. Stuck between being something old(er) and maybe something new, it’s in limbo. Curtain-less windows expose the studs of gutted walls. One window on the second floor is gone leaving the upstairs open to the elements. As I lay in bed I wonder if the air in the black house smells scorched like the air in my house. I wonder if bats or birds come and go through the open window. Do they fill the upstairs bedroom with fluttering wings and shrill cries or is it silent like my room? I wonder if anyone else thinks about the black house, perhaps someone who used to live there. How would it feel to see the black house and remember when you looked out of the windows to see the world passing by instead of peering in through the windows to find only emptiness where you once stood?

When dawn comes I know I’ll see the branches of the cedar tree outside my bedroom window turn warm with that break of day. The light will steal past the lace curtain and wake the cat asleep at the end of my bed. He’ll stir and stretch, sending up a small scatter of dust. The motes will float a lazy dance in the early morning glow. I know daylight will be easing into the black house too, spilling through the grime covered glass, inching across the bare floors, and expanding into the empty rooms.

I draw in a breath of warm air and think about later today when I’ll shut my blinds to keep out the afternoon swelter. There are no blinds to close in the black house. With the August sun overhead the air inside will be harsh and heavy; so hot if you aren’t careful you’ll choke on it. All around the house there’ll be the smell of corn, sweet and cloying, in the afternoon haze. In the distance the heat shimmer on Pioneer Line will look like water on the road. The background hum of the traffic on the 401 will, as ever, be constant and as it is August there’ll be the rising scream of the cicadas’ chorus.

I check the clock and see that it’s even later…or earlier. As I said it all depends on your point of view. I flip my pillow over to the cool side and drift off into sleep thinking about the trucks passing by, day in and day out, and about the black house small against the sky, baking in the sun, just before (if you’re coming) or after (if you’re going) the curve on Pioneer Line.

 

Music for this post is The Devlins Waiting

 

By the curve

 

Between here and there

 

Waiting

Friendship

I’ve been on Facebook since 2007. My account currently indicates that I have 440 Facebook friends. Some of the people on my Friends List are family or individuals I actually know. Others are people who I have common interests with, or I “liked” something on a page we both frequent, or we play the same online game. I occasionally go through my Friends List to clear accounts that have been abandoned or were added for games I don’t play any more. I don’t always remove former game players as I sometimes develop an online relationship that I guess would translate to a kind of neighbourly liking of each others’ posts or commenting on happy or sad statuses. Recently whilst cleaning up my account I discovered that two people on my List had passed away. We’d played the same Facebook game. Neither had popped up on my feed for a while and when I checked their accounts there were messages of condolence, outpourings of grief and disbelief, from people who actually knew them.

One account belonged to a young man who had died of complications following a car accident. The other account belonged to a woman who, along with other members of her family, had been murdered. The postings on their account pages clearly spoke to the tragedy of these deaths and that the deceased were well loved and held a special place in the hearts of those who knew them. That, more than anything else, was why I deleted their accounts from my Friends List.

I didn’t know either of these people in real life but I felt a twinge of guilt removing them from my Friends List. For several years I’d seen their family/friends photos as well as status postings about life and family events. We’d liked some of the same things. But that didn’t make us friends. Perhaps that twinge of guilt had to do with sympathy for lives lost to violence and lives ended too soon. Or maybe it had to do with that overlapping of our online interactions that provided an illusion of connection. I’m not sure. I do know that for me, maintaining access to those two Facebook accounts, where their friends and families were posting heartbreaking messages, felt like an invasion of privacy. Facebook is a public forum but the few postings I did read made me feel as if I was eavesdropping on a very personal and painful conversation that I had no right to hear. Even though they will never know, deleting those account connections seemed like the very least I could do to honour the loss, and respect and acknowledge the right of their friends and families to grieve.

Music for this post – I went back and forth trying to decide what would best suit this post and I finally decided on Warren Zevon’s ‘Keep Me In Your Heart’ . I hope the friends and families of those who passed on will hold close to any good memories they have.

A quick bit of research revealed that most online organizations have, or are in the process of implementing, policies that deal with death and the internet. I think they still have a long way to go. Perhaps in the future instead of sifting through ancient tombs to explore history, archaeologists will have to recreate ancient operating systems and applications to access first hand knowledge of life (and death) during the birth of the digital age.

 

It Ain’t Easy Being Green

I can’t tell if this plant is dead.Hmmm What seems to be the problem It looks dead but maybe it isn’t.  Things do seem pretty dire but this plant has a history of fading only to suddenly spring back to life; quite on its own with no help from me. It’s never looked this bad though.

I’d like to say that I try really hard to keep my house plants going. I’d like to say it – but I can’t. The truth is I don’t. As long as the weather permits they’re outside on the porch under the auspices of Mother Nature. The spring, summer, and early fall are a great time for house plants on the porch. It’s winter inside that’s the kicker.

It’s not that I don’t care. I try to position them out of draughts and close to light sources. I cover the soil with tin foil and rocks so the cats can’t dig in it. But I don’t have that green thumb thing going on. I don’t always remember to water or I over water. I’ve tried plant food but with limited success. I don’t talk to my plants. My mother talks to her plants. My mother has the touch. She is the reason I have house plants. I’ve never bought a plant for inside (plenty for outdoors- they seem to respond well to my plant ‘em and leave ‘em alone approach). For my mom a house isn’t a home without plants therefore I have house plants.

My mom’s house is full of beautiful, healthy plants. She collects plant clippings and she’s not shy about it. Public gardens, shops, doctors’ offices- if she sees a plant she likes she grabs a bit to take home. Once whilst attending a family funeral she snapped a sprig from a plant in the funeral home lobby. She wasn’t the least bit discrete about it. It was after the service and everyone was drinking coffee, expressing their condolences, sharing memories of the deceased. She dampened a napkin with water from her drinking glass, grabbed some Saran wrap off a sandwich tray that was being unwrapped, and packaged up her clipping to keep it fresh for the trip home. There’s no way that this situation I currently find myself in would ever happen under her watch.

I just read a story about a guy who was in a vegetative state for 12 years. They thought he’d never recover. Well he came to and now he’s right as rain and happily living his life.* It wouldn’t make a lick of sense to compare an individual’s life journey to that of a plant. It’s not the same thing at all. But there is some kind of parallel in that things aren’t always the way they seem to be. I could be wrong obviously. After all, my mother does steal plant clippings so my world may be a little more grey (or green) than black and white. I think I’m going to tuck the plant back on the shelf and see what happens. It can’t hurt it and relatively speaking spring is not that far away.

Music for this post
Frank Sinatra and Eddie Hodges High Hopes

*. Well he does have quite the hate for Barney the Dinosaur. Turns out that he was aware but trapped inside his body for 10 of those years and they didn’t know it. Whilst in care they would prop him up and pop a Barney tape into the old VCR for hours at a time. They probably thought they were doing a bit of kindness when in fact they were irritating the snot out of him.

Our path emerges for a while, then closes…

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

– Ernest Dowson, from “Vitae Summa Brevis” (1896).

Around mid-January I received an unexpected phone call. It was from a representative of the organization that oversees the administration of a place I used to work at. They were going to be embarking on a transitional period in their staffing and wanted to know if I would assist them during that time. I have to confess I had some misgivings. Not just because there were some serious issues surrounding their change in staffing but also because this was a position I had resigned from with no intention of ever returning. In the summer of 2012 I gave my notice. I got all my files and paper work in order (with the exception of a government grant application that I would finish pro bono for them a couple of weeks later) and spent the last 2 weeks of my employment training my replacement. I hadn’t resigned because I hated the job. I quite enjoyed the work. Granted it was a very demanding position (there was a 6 page job description) but I had a good handle on that. I had some really good times there, met some great people, and found great satisfaction in moving the organization into a new period of growth but it certainly wasn’t all sunshine and roses. There were some pretty significant issues that negatively impacted my life both on and off site.  In the end I left because of a number of factors (people and situations) that eventually created what I felt was an untenable working environment.

I’m not a grudge holder AND I had invested almost 5 years of my life in the place so I cautiously agreed to lend a hand. What I said I would do was update all their security information, write a couple of employment grants, and assist with an event they were holding in early February. I thought I had made the limited nature of my commitment very clear but when I arrived on site I was handed keys to the buildings and a one paragraph job description for an interim manager’s position. I was also told I was welcome to apply for my old job if I liked. Yikes!! I reiterated my acceptable level of commitment and in the end I was on site for around 90 hours over a 3 week period. And you know what? It was just a really, really, really weird experience.

It was sort of what I think it would feel like to suddenly find yourself hanging out with your “ex”. It’s not like I’ve done that kind of thing but I can imagine the strangeness of something like it. You genuinely loved that person but had to leave them because it turned out they were pretty loopy and the relationship just wasn’t healthy.  The qualities you fell in love with are still there but you can’t deny the loopy stuff that let you know it was time to go.

I found myself sitting at my old desk doing some of the things it used to be my job to do. But it hadn’t been my job in a long time and it wasn’t going to be my job in the future. It felt familiar yet foreign. One thing I did on my brief return was read my personnel file. Now don’t get your knickers in a knot because I wasn’t snooping. It wasn’t locked away or anything like that. It was in the drawer of my old desk where anyone could see it. If any of you had the wherewithal to not read your personnel file if you came across it… well hats off to you. Just so you know there weren’t any surprises in there any way. It was an opportunity though to take a trip down memory lane. It was a short trip. I hadn’t worked there in over a year and a half. I’d only been on site for a couple of days before I found the file. While I could see there were some changes since I’d left, under the surface it was still a lot of the “same old same old”. It was just an odd little twist that the “same old same old” was what had me sitting at my old desk reading about myself in the third person.  If nothing else (well I did get paid- I’m not that much of a patsy) my three weeks on site, hanging out with my ex so to speak, let me know I had made the right decision in the summer of 2012.

I finished up the night of the February event. During my exit interview I was pretty candid about a great number of things I would never have addressed as an employee. It’s definitely easier to speak out when you don’t feel like your job is on the line. I really hope what I had to say helps the organization. Maybe they’ll take some of it under consideration but if they don’t, well that’s life isn’t it? Tomorrow becomes today, and then it is yesterday, and we move on. It’s all just water under the bridge.

Music for this post is Dave Mason’s “We Just Disagree

Chair from an abandoned squat camp on a Lake Erie shoreline cliff
Chair from an abandoned squat camp on a Lake Erie shoreline cliff

Muslin Ribbon

No one seems to call here anymore. The phone rings occasionally but more often than not it is auto dial telemarketers. Pre-recorded messages offer free exotic trips if we answer a few questions or some other ridiculous lie. That one would believe their opinion on anything has an equal value of a trip to paradise is beyond me but then I know squat about telemarketing.

It’s quiet here and I like that.

When we first moved into the house I found the silence unsettling. From waking to retiring I needed to have some sort of background noise to drown out the weight of that quiet. I don’t anymore. I’m not sure when that changed, just that it did. The silence still has a certain quality but I no longer find it cumbersome. It’s more a comfort, a buffer that provides room to breathe…and to think.

I like it best when the quiet finds a place inside me and I can take it with me wherever I go. When I hold it inside of me I feel apart from my world but still connected. As I move from place to place I imagine that time is folded like a long ribbon of sheer muslin. I sense my yesterdays beside me. I am aware of an invisible cord that connects me to all my instances evoked by geographic reunion. I visualize passing through the fabric to settle into myself in a remembered moment. Leaving this time as a dream, not lived, no choices made.

The quiet rides along with me and I am a disconnected observer moving through scenery. I see but I do not interpret… as if it wasn’t me but someone else watching the world through my eyes.

Sometimes I feel an ache that’s as much like an itch as it isn’t deep in my bones.

Blood Moon

 

 

The wind comes to worry the earth. Rising up off the lake it crests the clay cliffs and juggernauts into the lea. Hedges and fences are painted with windblown grocery bags, candy wrappers and muddy coffee cups. The fields are strewn with stripped bark, broken branches and fallen nests. The newly greened land is bisected by a grey curtain of rain that rides the wave. It crests to break in hard bullets striking the ground punctuating the rolling surge with a staccato rhythm. The wind climaxes and with a sharp crack the old apple tree splits in two. A snow of apple blossoms rises up and is carried away in the maelstrom. Between the lips of shredded bark the white flesh of the broken trunk glistens pale in the rain under the grey black sky.

The smell of fermenting apple, cloying and sharp, rises from the ruin. Dying from the inside out carpenter ants have softened the heart of the tree leaving a honey tinted pulp, an intricate and muddied labyrinth of passages. Limb by limb the chain saw rives the fallen giant. All the while the wind howls, sweeping in great circles; a wolf rounding the slaughter yard. The growl of the chainsaw blends with its bay.

Night falls and so does the wind, sulking in the dark…waiting. The crescent moon rides the murky swell as it passes and we spin through the firmament. In the still early hours of morning, hidden from the glaring light of day, the bowers burning are graced even now with crumpled brown apple blossoms breathing out the delicate fragrance of a spring aborted. Acrid smoke rises up into the sky. The stench of seared green leaves cling in bitter and stinking brown. The moon fades from warm gold to a stain of clotted blood only to be swallowed by the black heralding the dawn chorus.

Symphony

The Guelder Rose is green now in the final month of summer. The wind has swept up the blossoms and scattered them away like delicate flakes of summer snow. There beneath the Guelder’s green boughs, a small form lays quiet and still. Sodden and dark from the morning rain, the first hint of colour is muddied on the breast. The head reclines, one eye hidden, the other open to the sky. The gelid orb has frosted over a pale imitation of a ripening blueberry and a sudden glint of movement creates a startling illusion of life. Closer inspection reveals an ant making its way along the edge of the convex curve of that soft jewel.

The wind rustles the trees mimicking the patter of rain as the leaves brush against each other in the dark. The moonlight spreads across the night sky rippling the dark like sunlight on water. It leaks through the depths to find the hidden world below. The clouds are islands floating free overhead, the bottoms dark and the tops awash in platinum halos.

The rain and the insects have done their work, emptying out the fallen. The blueberry frost has been replaced by the vacuum of a blank socket stark against the white of bone. The delicate spine articulates a gentle curve of ivory jewels cradled in the soft bower of discarded feathers.

The terns glide across the surface and then hang over the water watching the waves below. Hurtling down they disappear beneath the green and then rise up, orange beaks full of flashing opalescent scales. A rust and green length of dead carp kisses the shore. The round hollow above the gill fills with the wash and weeps Erie’s tears as clasped in her bosom it gently rocks to an eternal sleep. Scatterings of diamond fossils, frozen in stone, line the path between here and there.

The waves hurry on towards the shore, cresting above the plane animating the grey expanse. Breaking on the rim, they breathe, expand and begin anew. Sinking into the sand, flowing back into the rhythm, forward under the cliff side and up into the air they change yet remain the same.

We Remember

     The Canadian government has declared 2005 the Year of The Veteran. All year long from coast to coast and continent to continent the Canadian people have commemorated the contributions and the sacrifices of those heroes who fought in the name of freedom. This is a special year to officially recognize all our veterans young and old who fought for peace and still fight to maintain it. The ceremonies and remembrances are as diverse as the people that make up this large country.

     Aboriginal veterans’ organizations and the Assembly of First Nations have undertaken a spiritual journey to European shores to honour the sacrifices made by Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis warriors. At each place of resting they performed the Calling Home Ceremony and on their return home they will continue the spiritual ceremonies to receive the spirits of fallen warriors who answered the song of the pipes.

     Work continues on the restoration of deteriorating war monuments in France and Belgium. The monument commemorating the loss of more than 11,000 WWI soldiers at Vimy Ridge is currently being restored brick by brick in an effort the workers call “a labour of love”.

     The Canadian mint has released commemorative and circulation coins in honour of all those who serve. The design depicts two profiles, one young and one old, to honour not just the veterans of WWI, WWII and the Korean War but also those who have served in places like Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia, fostering peace and freedom on behalf of Canada.

     Veterans’ organizations are searching out the resting places of those who served their country to place commemorative maple leafs on their stones. Canadians have sailed and feted, skated and danced all in celebration and remembrance of those who have graced this land with their bravery and their sacrifice. Plaques have been unveiled and wreaths have been laid. Newspapers daily recount the heroics and tragedies of the local boys gone off to war, those who returned and those who did not.

    

     On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month we remember Canadians who served in the name of freedom. We remember the 600,000 Canadian soldiers who volunteered to serve overseas during the First World War (1914-1918). We remember the more than one million men and women from Canada who served during the Second World War (1939-1945). We remember the over 26,000 Canadians who served in Korea (1950-1953). And though it is much debated and not often mentioned we remember the over 30,000 Canadians who chose to cross the border and fight in the jungles of Vietnam.

    

     In my household on November 11th we pay special homage to the late John “Jack” Flynn. Affectionately known as “Pop”, Jack was my husband’s grandfather. Born in Britain, Jack and his wife Lil would immigrate to Canada with their 3 daughters on one of the last ocean liners to make that regular trip. Jack’s older brother served in the First World War and, despite his brother’s advice, Jack enlisted to serve in the Second World War.

     He didn’t often speak about his war experiences, he did not see war as something to glorify. When the movie “Saving Private Ryan” debuted he was asked if he intended to see it. His answer was a firm no…He had seen enough of the real thing, why would he want to see a movie about it? Jack was there the day after they bombed Dresden. He said it had been leveled to such an extent that one would be hard pressed to know that just the day before there had been a city there. He spoke about the air raids and families hiding in the Underground. One of the saddest stories he remembered was the mother who had gone back to her house for her baby’s bottle never to be seen alive again.

     Jack was one of the gentlest people I’d ever met. He carried his scars from that experience close but he enjoyed life to its fullest. When he left this world in his 88th year he headed home to the arms of his wife Lil, who had gone ahead several years before. He was a great man and the freedom that he fought for is a gift and a monumental legacy to be shared by not just his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren but the entire world.

 

 

We Remember…

 

 

 

 

In Flanders Fields

 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

 

– John McCrae