Saturday, March 13, 2010

Best Friends Forever

This week my little granddaughter from Edmonton has been visiting during spring break. She is one month less a day older than her cousin D, and an utter joy.

A and D's delight in each other is both obvious and infectious. Watching them sing and dance to Avril Lavigne’s "Girlfriend" gave me mixed emotions, though. It’s slightly disconcerting, two six and half year olds who know almost perfectly, lyrics like these:

'Hey! Hey! You! You!
I don’t like your girlfriend!
No way! No way!
I think you need a new one
You’re so delicious
I think about ya all the time
You’re so addictive
Don’t you know what I could do to make you feel alright?'

We had the following conversation yesterday:

A: "Nana, can we listen to our favourite song?"

Me: "What’s that, sweet stuff?" (Visions of Wheels on the Bus, and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star dancing in my head).

D: "Girlfriend … Hey! Hey! You! You!"

Me: "Ohhhh …who sings that?"

D: "Apple Laveen. A showed me and we know how to sing it."

A: "It's so cool!"

Thus, after finding and downloading it, they gave me a hip-hopping, booty-shaking demo of the entire song. I was then given an encore in the form of a duet performed by D and A, my two oldest grandchildren, cousins, almost-twins, best-friends-forever ... together sparkling, shining, spinning stars in the universe.

Oh yeah, and when it played the second time, Nana joined in the dancing.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gifts of the Sea

With temperatures plummeting below zero and a fresh dusting of snow, I find my thoughts drifting towards the golden, halcyon days of summer. We have not commenced spring greening here, and yet, it is the stillness and slowness of summer for which my soul yearned today. I spent much of the afternoon looking at pictures and recalling the glorious week my husband and I spent at our little rented cottage at Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island last year.

I remember the night we watched as a canoe paddled among ducks, gulls and terns as a great moon rose, first as an edge of gold, then as a ruddy face, suspended, round and full.

I remember drifting on a buoyant sea under the changing shapes and hues of cumulus and cirrus clouds, and passing gulls and eagles.

I remember lying on a towel on the sand, the rippling heat rising as if from a live creature.

I remember the way the beach cobblestones gleamed beyond a shore rim of alder and driftwood.

I remember how easy it was to empty my mind by the sea ... to let myself become wholly immersed in the elemental gifts to be found there.

I remember the briny aroma of the ocean mingled with the scent of sunlight on bleached wood.

I remember watching the rhythmic advance of whitecaps, and listening to the roll and crash of breakers hush-shushing the shore.

I remember the rush of happiness each morning as I opened my eyes anew to the genial gifts of the sea.

I remember the blue and white dance of the sun dazzling me, drenching me inside and out with light.

I remember the day we ate fish and chips sitting on upturned kegs on the wharf, licking our fingers, and feeding bits of flesh to the screaming seagulls.

I remember the pure felicity we had in seeking out small pieces of weathered driftwood to take back to the cottage to burn as kindling.

I wonder how much the geography of a place shapes the spirit of its people? Do prairie people know a boundlessness that mountain people cannot understand? Do sun dwellers have an alchemy of spirit that we winter people can only guess at? I only know that at the moment, I am longing to shed my winter self.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday Soup

Today was all glitter and sunlight and blue shadows. There were melting pools of snow everywhere as the temperatures soared to 8 degrees above zero. For the first time in months my body felt a real inkling of spring. It registered in my eyes, my heart, my brain. The March sky was pure brilliance, blown squeaky clean, humming with blue. I can’t get enough of that blue.

Near my house are woods that have been untouched for hundreds of years. Animal tracks criss-cross the trails, paying little attention to the nearby division of fences which separates the domestic from the wild. Rabbit tracks curve across the snowy paths. Dog prints follow along next to the human boot marks, then divert suddenly into the woods, chasing a wild animal perhaps, or a tame one. Fox are filling the niche once occupied by wolves, who sadly now mostly roam this part of the country only in spirit or on t-shirts.

As we walk, the woods beside me begin to change, turning to rows and rows of Scotch pines, and endless Douglas firs. The division between pastoral and wild gets murkier. we pause to rest, standing quietly as I stare out at a woods filled with snow and shadows. It's hard to describe the peace I feel there, the presence of something much larger than myself. My breathing is an echo of the movement of the white-tailed deer that lurk at the edge of the forest.

When we arrive home, never has clam chowder and warm crusty bread tasted so good. We linger with our coffee by the fireplace as we watch the last light of day. How good it is to relish both the familiar and the unexpected. My heart swells like a seed in warm oil. I am renewed in my belief that we humans have a continuous, ongoing need for the rites of celebration, for our deepest rituals of communing.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Moose Morning

This morning a Mama moose took her two calves for a walk. While standing at my window sipping my first coffee of the day, I saw them ambling leisurely past my house as the sun rose orange in the sky. I grabbed my camera, slid my bare feet into boots, and hastily ran outdoors.

I saw several people out doing the same as I was … all of us in various states of dress and undress. I didn’t feel my icy feet or the chill on my arms. I basked in the warmth of the shapeless dark revealing this gift just as the dawning light became articulate in the variant form of things.

When I came back into the house, the phone was ringing. It was Ariana, my six year old granddaughter, calling from Edmonton jubilant because she had just lost her first tooth. “Nana, the tooth fairy brought me a twonie!” A small milestone achieved and I delight in her joy.

There is more than a thousand years between me and Yuan Mei, the Chinese poet I am presently reading. Yet, he seems as close as my neighbour. We have shared the same sorrows and the same small delights. The same human comedy hails and embraces us both. The commonplace makes us sing.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Totem for Canada

(My grandson, J, aged 5, as we await the carrying of the Olympic torch through our town. )

We have just finished the Olympic games held here in British Columbia, where I have witnessed an outpouring of tremendous human spirit. I started thinking about what indelible traces these games will leave on us as a people, secured at the source by a linking sea of jubilant red and white. Collectively we have given birth to a greater awareness of pride, of a new totem of carved teeth marks; the gift it means to be Canadian. We share the journey of this totem. The faces are hidden in our own hearts and hands. We are bound now in a vast becoming.

For me, I hope blogging will be an ebbing of sorts where the core of who I am recedes like the sea, emptying in a kind of elemental grace. It’s ferocious, this desire to write ... vigorous and raw. It’s always been there, but right now I acknowledge that the stories of these past two weeks are bound in my own redemption. Totems are a reminder to remember, and to act.

This is where I begin.