not so wordless wednesday postcard

Dear Newfoundland Crafters Guild Women:

You may not remember me. I stopped by one of your places on the side of the road about a decade or so ago, wandered the few aisles in a sort of barn-like building with folding tables laden with homemade this and thats. A few of you sat in chairs drinking tea and knitting, chatting amongst yourselves, asking me if I was alright my dear… and if I needed any help to just give you a nudge. I bought this tea cosy for I haven’t a clue now how much… probably not nearly enough. A few dollars. I’ve used it goodness knows how many times since then. (How many times is almost every day for a decade?)

This was also the holiday of invading fog as we sat happily enough (and innocently) on the shoreline rocks with a glass of wine, possibly bread and cheese too, and then, looking up over the water the fog coming in at a pace and thickness like I’ve never seen before. A vast platoon of cold grey air that obliterated everything as it went, and us sitting there mouths full of cheese like targets. Soon it would be all around us and we’d never be able to get off the rocks safely, we’d never find our footing, never know what was land or water. So we scrambled like crazy while we could still see. Ran to the B&B we were staying at and no sooner landed on the porch than the fog was on us and you couldn’t see a metre in front of you. That we survived makes it one of the best memories ever.

Also the same holiday when I sat on a hillside at Petty Harbour, watched a few boats coming in and wrote a poem about the women who waited in those little outports; I wondered how many times they’d held their breath until they saw their chap’s boat return while at the same time enjoying a certain temporary freedom and community with each other.

Petty Harbour

They hide in square wooden houses
the women of the boatmen, leaning
on each other’s shadows, thighs
pressed together against the fog
until—all but one returns; thighs
loosen for a moment before they’re
alone, immersed in salt and gravy,
hiking cloud paths for berries to send
with him next time; yet for the one
whose boatman doesn’t return—
thighs loosen and life begins.

Anyway, I just wanted to say, dear crafter women, somebody made a pretty incredible tea cosy. And thank you. And I want you to know that I think of you often, your knitting and your chatting and willingness to be nudged in that barn with its hot beverages and cookies on offer and I am grateful for you and for women everywhere who work at these seemingly simple tasks to raise funds for hospitals and schools and families in need and how I”m not sure you realize what an enormous chunk of the planet you hold up…

I just want you to know this is what I sometimes think when I have my tea.

 

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

wordless wednesday (summer postcards)

I have so much to say about the joys and benefits of hanging laundry… the memories of the line between two pear trees in the backyard where I grew up, the way my mum would hang tea towels and shirts and sheets a certain way that seemed ridiculous to me at the time and how I now do it exactly as she did. How there are ever fewer lines in the world and where did they all go and why, and how delightful and healthy it seems whenever you see one, whenever you see a tiny slice of someone’s life on display… that sense of connection… if only by knickers and tee shirts.

Worth mentioning — the blankets in the pic were hung dry, simply to air. Another art form entirely.

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

 

 

wordless wednesday (summer postcards)

I was going to write about sweetpeas.

About the ones a friend grows and how she lights up when she tells me she’s grown them forever, in every place she’s ever lived, and that she will continue to grow them. Forever, she says. She recently lost her husband and doesn’t grow a single other thing anymore except sweetpeas. I don’t ask why.

Or the ones that were always such a surprise, brought to me as a handpicked bouquet each week one summer when I lived in England under difficult circumstances and wondered if I’d ever get away — not from England, which I loved, but from the difficult circumstances — and how this sweet posy on a table in the middle of my difficult circumstances cheered me and somehow made me believe things would change for the better. And they did.

Or the ones I tried to grow, which didn’t take and I never planted them again.

I was going to write about those and more.

But then I went for an early morning paddle…

 

… and I forgot all about sweetpeas.

 

wordless wednesday (summer postcards)

 

This morning I paddled under an 8 a.m. moon toward a bald eagle named after a British ski-jumper and thought about peaches eaten by a denturist in his dental chair while wielding a large kitchen knife… while I, manning my post at the front desk of his clinic, accepted dentures directly from the mouths of clients with handfuls of Kleenex that I (stunned) was able to quickly pluck from a box that was blessedly nearby. Such thoughts prompted by a discussion heard on CBC radio on the way to my paddling site, a discussion about once-upon-a-time summer jobs. The collecting of false teeth for the mad denturist (who also sent me to the liquor store during quiet moments to buy ‘medicinal’ bottles of brandy… that I was underage seemed not to be a deterrent, either to him or the liquor store… ah, them were the days) being my most memorable job, but there were others… some of which also included fruit. Picking strawberries, for instance. No fortune made. I ate most of what I picked and at the end of the season had zip to show for long days in a sunny field, except a tan and a rash.

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

wordless wednesday (summer postcards)

 
 

If I were on a patio or a porch or a chaise lounge in the garden of some B&B with a striped cat and a shaggy white dog. If there were umbrellas to hide under during sun and during rain. If the B&B had no wifi or Netflix but it did have a DVD player and a selection of Agnes Varda flicks and that one by her husband Jacques Demy about les parapluies. If it rained all day and I sat in a window seat reading A Gift from the Sea. If it didn’t rain and I walked along a grassy shoreline.

Or if I was at one of those picnic rest stops on the highway eating bread and cheese from a place I’d found in some small town along the way. Or the cafeteria of an art gallery where the food is surprisingly excellent and where I’ve taken a break from all the marvelling of what has compelled humans from the beginning of time to record experience and thoughts. Or if I’ve bought a sack of peaches and now sit under a tree eating them with juice running down my chin which I wipe off with my shirt.

And especially if I found a narrow alleyway, a sliver of peace in a loud city, where gravel and fences and the backs of old brick houses were covered in vines of varying description and a chair had been placed by the kindness of some stranger with a sign saying please sit, please contemplate, I would sit and contemplate and write postcards about umbrellas and rainy windows, good bread and striped cats.

 

And the tree under which the peaches were eaten.
 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

 

 

wordless wednesday (summer postcards)

Conversations in my world have turned to radishes and so thoughts turn to a cabin somewhere in Muskoka that probably no longer exists because Muskoka as I knew it no longer exists. In The Days of Radishes, highway 11 was still a place where you could pull over, climb some granite and have a picnic overlooking the (not especially busy) road. Pick some blueberries for dessert. The Year of the First Serious Radish Memory it was raining when we drove north and for some reason we were arriving very late at night, so maybe we left after my parents got home from work. In any case it was late and it was raining and we were on holiday but we didn’t have anything booked. We’d actually driven up north assuming we’d just find a place, tra la, tra la. This is how it was in The Long Ago Days of The First Radishes. You could do things like pack your car for a week’s holiday without any idea where you’d stay. The night got later and darker and rainier and there may have been some raised voices in the front seat as the car filled with Sweet Caporal fumes. I vaguely remember tension but mostly I was oblivious, in my own backseat world singing Country Roads and imagining how beautiful it would be to live in the woods on my own. How peaceful, and smoke free. Miraculously, we found a place. A tiny one-room cabin in which we ate whatever we had left in our cooler, which, in my memory, amounted to rye bread, butter and radishes. Maybe there was more, but that’s all I ate. It was heaven. My mother laughed at how many sandwiches I put away… you want another one???  Sure. They’re open-face, anyone could eat a dozen, no? And with the rain on the roof and the smell of the damp wood and who cares where we’re all going to sleep or where we’ll stay the next day or the next… it makes a kid hungry. In fact I have no idea where we stayed the next night. Maybe the same cabin, maybe we stayed all week. Maybe that was the place where I fell asleep to the sound of my parents’ voices outside a tiny window as they sat in Muskoka chairs under the pines, amazed at their good luck.

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

 

wordless wednesday (summer postcards)

Theme: objects hanging in trees or trees otherwise adorned.

At the skateboard park in town there’s a tree hung with sneakers in memory of, and to pay tribute to, a lad who died… while skateboarding or not is not clear. But the tree, heavy with sports shoes shouts a certain kind of respect.

There’s the dressing with ornaments of woodland trees in winter.

And just recently I met a man who is stooped and walks with a cane, but it’s like he doesn’t notice these minor impediments, who has a giant something or other tree in his backyard, from whose enormous (and very high) branches he’s suspended a variety of odd birdhouses from ropes on clips, which he removes and cleans annually, and stores over winter. All of which requires a ladder moved about a dozen times. All begun, he told me, when his brother came to visit many moons ago, from Belfast, bringing as a gift a birdhouse in the design of some historical Irish landmark, possibly a lighthouse, I’ve forgotten because as he spoke the details were less important to me than the animation and passion of the telling. He said he thought it was a stupid gift. And then he didn’t. Once he hung it and birds nested there he was hooked. He put out food. And now his yard is a bird sanctuary with feeders and twenty or thirty hanging-from-a-giant-tree birdhouses, most of them occupied, he said in the midst of much feathered to-ing and fro-ing.

A poet in Winnipeg adorns city trees with poems.

I’ve seen a collection of wind chimes in trees, and masks, and a woman who taught me how to work with cement had a few trees hung with glass bottles, dark blue ones and white frosted ones and strings of fairy lights. I didn’t ask why she hung the bottles. They were beautiful. The answer seemed obvious.

There are easter egg trees, and trees on which you tie little flags containing hopes and dreams, ,the clootie wells of Scotland, and in Kamouraska a few years ago I saw my first tree wrapped (so not technically hung) with knitting, which I’ve since seen many more versions of.

All of which makes me wonder why trees? What is our thing with them? Feels wonderfully druid, this veneration of nature and all its magic. And then I think… don’t question it,  just embrace the lucky fact there seems to be a lingering, primitive something in our dna… when we’ve lost so much else.

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman