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

 

 

 

 

wordless wednesday (summer postcards)

 

I was not one of those kids who got bored during the summer holidays. Curiosity might have been part of it, I don’t know. I remember practicing to be Nancy Drew by picking up gum wrappers, thinking they might hold clues to something. Curiosity maybe, or just early litter warrior tendencies.

For what it’s worth, here follows my own (as well as I can remember details) instructional on summertime activities of the kind that guarantee… absolutely guarantee, non-boredom. You are welcome.

Play Tom Sawyer unsupervised at the edge of the Welland Canal. This is before it’s fenced, when you can still get to the edge of it, sit yourself right down, dangle your feet over the water, tie a string to a stick and a marshmallow to the string and hope for the best.

Use your mother’s sewing chalk to draw a hopscotch on the sidewalk.. Use a wee bit of chain as your thrower thingy. Lands just right.

Climb a tree.

Eat lunch in a tree. (Potato salad recommended.)

Read a book in a tree.

Read a book under a tree.

Ride your bike across the canal to steal peaches from orchards that are no longer there. Stop to watch tadpoles in ditches and a horse in a field and get slightly lost but don’t let that concern you. You have peaches.

Bury people and self in sand at the beach then gritty with sand, eat ice-cream then swim all the dreck away.

Spit watermelon seeds for distance AND accuracy.

Sprinklers.

Hide in a boxwood hedge in order to read comics while you are supposed to be taking tennis lessons somebody other than you thought was a good idea.

Orange popsicles. Also cherry. Not blue. Not rainbow. NOT banana. Maybe grape. Not chocolate.

Creamsicles.

Cheerios in the morning like that kid on the TV ad whose day is made perfect simply by eating Cheerios in the morning. (There’s a rare and specific quality of morning air… not sure if it’s light or temperature or a combination of many stars aligning but even now it conjures up the excitement of those ‘Cheerios mornings’, pedaling into one horizon or another, the bliss of freedom.)

Start a club and call it the Boogie Woogie Club. Hold the first meeting in your rec room but don’t actually have any idea of its purpose. Disband the Boogie Woogie Club. (Trust me, it’s still a wild ride for a couple of hours.)

Dance in your bedroom. Think:  man, I have some moves…

Sing ‘Country Roads’ in the backseat of an Oldsmobile your dad calls Mabel on the way to some rented cottage on Oxtongue Lake where you meet an older girl who is a little free and easy with her favours to various chaps, nothing of which you will understand until years later when, in retrospect, you realize there was a reason you weren’t allowed to join her on her evening blueberry picking outings and who you become pen pals with and when you grow up and move to Toronto (where the free and easy girl lives) you stay with her family for a few weeks until you almost lose your mind from the madness of their life and find a shared apartment instead, where your new roommate turns out to be a middle-aged diabetic alcoholic named Peggy who is often passed out in her bathrobe when you come home from work.

Go fishing with your dad on Oxtongue Lake.

Clover.

Honeysuckle.

Freshly mown grass.

Tag. Hide and Seek. Simon Says. Red Light Green Light. Fort.

A yellow transistor radio set at CHUM. Disregard static.

Graze in the garden… red currants, carrots, peas, pears, plums.

Drink straight from the hose. Ignore awful taste. It’s faster than going inside.

Have picnic suppers on the beach when your parents get home from work.

Koolaid mustaches.

Remember your dad’s Hawaiian shirt and your mother’s muumuu and that one night when you all danced in the rain on the patio.

Remember the sweet nothingness, the very point of summer.

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

 

wordless wednesday (not always wordless)

My first cat was named Peter. I was maybe eight. One day I went looking for Peter. I wanted to pet him and chit chat a while. I found him in the basement laundry hamper. I couldn’t be bothered turning on the light so I just stood there in the dark petting him and telling him this and that in the way of chit chat and I gave each of his feet a tiny squeeze until it seemed I’d squeezed more than four feet. I counted again. Definitely seven. I ran upstairs, announced to my mother that Peter had grown three new feet and she said no, actually, he must have had his kittens overnight. It was the first I’d heard that Peter was a girl. We considered changing his name but nothing else fit. So Peter he remained. Cannot think of him as a girl even now, even with seven feet. And I’m pretty sure he was grateful we let him be who he was.

 

**Note: the pic is not Peter, but who’s to say it’s not a distant relative of one of his faux paws?

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman