heart beats and a contrail

When it comes to geese and contrails little has changed in the decade since this was originally posted. Me, I’ve moved to a place where there are more of one and fewer of the other but the other day at sunrise I saw, for the first time ever, a bright red contrail above the apple trees, which I at first took for a sliver of cloud in the morning light then saw the speck of plane, the line behind it growing like someone drawing on a giant canvas and I was sorry I didn’t have my camera but I never have my camera when I go outside early in the morning to greet the trees and I thought of running inside to get it and then a whisper of sanity from somewhere suggested I just stay put, just enjoy the moment, the sweet gift of it and the whisper (in the usual way of whispers) was wise because of course moments don’t wait for people running into houses, much less last forever, and it was all so much lovelier to watch the thing fade naturally than to try and capture it with a net.

All of which reminded me of the following, originally posted January 12, 2012, a completely different kind of moment except for the parts that always feel the same.

Ten thousand geese fly over my house at dusk, honking madly as I set out for a walk. And the moon (and is it Venus?) hangs over a fat white contrail in the not yet completely dark sky.

I consider the heart beats, the energy above me; do they notice things like juxtapositon of moon and man made cloud?

Christmas lights are on and cars pass, faces in my direction, possibly wondering why I’m standing in the street, writing on a scrap of paper in the now almost dark.

Because of the geese, I want to say.
And Venus, if that’s what it is.
Because of the moon and… everything.

I want to say look up!
I want to point.

But the contrail has been blown away and the last of the vees has passed by. The sky has turned black leaving only the sound of the wind and tires on the road. Just the moon and maybe Venus to see— and anyone can see them anytime. No need to point.

I put away my pen and carry on walking.

 
 
 

xmas stockings

For the next wee while I’m re-posting some of my favourite pieces with a short blurb explaining why I chose them. This one, from December 21st, 2012, has come to mind every year since. Or, more accurately, the woman has. I’m not a fan of many things that happen in stores at this time of year, but she was/is a testament to the power of the season.

So I’m in the men’s sock department at Winners and this elderly woman keeps bumping into me and leaning across whatever I’m looking at until I say: sorry, am I in your way?  And she says “What do you think about these?” She holds up a three-pack. “I like the argyle,” she says, “but why do they have to put in the others?”  The others are big bold stripes and she’s not sure her neighbour who takes out the garbage for her will wear them. She gets him a little something every year. “It’s so hard to know what kind of socks someone will like,” she says.

She’s the picture of Santa’s wife. White hair, wire-rimmed glasses. Rosy cheeks. A beige anorak. Navy slacks.

She shows me a single pair she’s also considering, black with a tiny red line at the top, asks what I think and I tell her they’re classic, that no one would have a problem with them. She agrees, but keeps looking. I continue looking too. I say the bold patterns make the most sense, easier to match them up. She laughs, says yes, but easier still is to buy all the same kind, which is what she did for her husband. Dozens of the same plain black, she says. Never a problem making pairs. She tells me she’d wait until he was down to one or two then fill the washer, every one of them turned inside out.

“That way they don’t get fuzzy from other things, or all pilly.”

It all seems a bit too much work, I say, all that turning inside out and back again and she says pooh, it’s no trouble, you just pile them on the chesterfield and sit down and go at it for a few minutes.

I tell her I’m not actually very fond of socks, the sheer number of them and the way they take it upon themselves to disappear one day, turn up weeks later or not at all. But mostly I really hate sorting them.

Something changes in her face, she goes quiet. Her eyes are blue. She looks at me through her Mrs. Claus glasses and I have an idea of what’s coming.

“I’d give anything to sort my husband’s socks again,” she says, then turns her head.

She tries to smile, shrugs, ruffles through the display as she tells me he died three months ago, that the family’s coming together and she can’t let herself get sad because they’re coming from Nova Scotia and Kingston and there’s the grandchildren to think of. She stops, looks up again. “But…” she says, and her sweet blue eyes are suddenly red-rimmed and we’re standing there in the socks and her lips are trembling—and I put my hand on her arm and I say, “But it’ll be hard.”

And she nods. Composes herself and we each say this and that and eventually laugh a little and then goodbye and the whole time I want to hug her but we’re in the socks at Winners and I have the feeling she’d rather not make a big thing of this, that she’s doing the best she can.

When I leave her she’s still debating about the argyle/stripes combo or the single classic black.

I buy a couple of three-packs.

450px-Socks_III

Count my blessings.