|:Call and Answer to the Bridge Between:|

Rain taking the nights, taking the days
~ Grey and grey and grey ~

Rain misting soft
~ billow light ~

Rain driving down
~ staccato rap rap rap sharp beat ~

Rain washing over the eaves
~ waterfall roar ~

Water settling in the low lie of the fields
~ corn stubble, sharp cut ragged, edge shallow pools ~

Ditches, creeks, rivers spilling
~ corpulent greasy flows thick with silt, tumbling bobbing bits of whatever blow in – fallen, from crumbling edges and banks ~

Awash
~ away. away. wait for the.  break.  between.  breathe. ~

 

BETWEEN

Awash
~ Awash ~ Awash ~ Awash ~

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

The Alliteration of Melancholy, March and Memoirs

     I am wading through the end of a March tamed to the hand as gentle as a lamb. The sunny days and balmy weather have finally shown a tantalizing glimpse of spring green though it is still overshadowed by the morning frost. Early shoots show the ravages of an icy morning’s bite in the white that lays heavy on the lawn at dawn mimicking the snow of less than a week ago. The season of Lent, a time of sacrifice and penance, heralds the rebirth of faith and everlasting life. But until that resurrection the year is breached and the world is caught. We wade through the thick purgatory of a breath before the change. Like all anticipations, the minutes are drawn out in excruciating increments.

     I am reading to pass the time, averaging a book every day and a half depending on the author and the length. Though the hour hand pushes through January molasses I refuse to waste even a gingerbread bite on banal, trite and overly dramatic volumes. Two Gregory Maguire’s are devoured, quickly washed down by a beautiful light touch. For the next hour or so I will be immersed in Gabriel Marquez’s Memories of My Melancholy Whores. It is the perfect story for this time of year, this span of days coloured by the fasting that marks an end and an everlasting beginning. An old man finds love at the end of his life. A young girl steps into the beginning of who she will be. Winter embraces the spring and releases the months into summer or so the synopsis promises. I’ll have to wait and see.

     I am watching for my seeds to sprout. Any day now the small green tendrils will break the uneven covering of potting soil packed into the old raisin containers that I’ve saved over the winter dreaming my floral perfumed dreams. Planted indoors, weeks before the last frost they wait to find a place under the summer blue skies. It’s time to gather up the host of pine cones that litter the ground underneath the spruce and white pines. The wood pile, a carrion collection of limbs bark covered and white bone broken torn in the rage of winter, challenges the height of the shed.  That heap only awaits a windless night, a spirit warmed company and a match to lay it to rest.

    I almost waited too long to bring in my wreath from the front door. Last year we had two birds build and raise families in the shelter of our front porch. The babies were adorable but it was stressful for the mother when company came to ring the bell and the bird shit was hell on the stoop. I brought the wreath in yesterday with just the foundation of a nest built. I hate to destroy anyone’s hard work but it is for the best in the long run.

     The lilac bushes are budding and the snowdrops are giving way to crocuses. The out flung arms of daffodils and tulips stretch overhead to break the soil after a long winter’s rest. The winter wheat shows green and crisp against the furrowed acres of umber fields. The grass still sleeps in golden dreams showing no faith in the promise of an approaching sun. I sit, hip deep in books and a mild impatience. I am waiting for the smell of fresh grass and the feel of wet dirt crusting under my nails. I am waiting for the limning of the lines of my heart and life in stark contrast to the white of my palms. I am waiting for one life to end and another to begin here at the end of bittersweet March…marking the transition in words, memories and time.

How do you live so completely in the moment??

How do you live so completely in the moment? I think about death all the time. It’s like some unpleasant phone call I don’t want to make. I know I can’t avoid it. It’s coming whether I like it or not but I don’t want to do it. I don’t even feel like I’m really living yet. I don’t know what life is all about. I can already see the end of this thing that I haven’t got a handle on yet. Should I “rage against the dying of the light”? How can I when it hasn’t even shone for me yet?