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List of five

A rainy 5:20 am in the darkening northern hemisphere.  It is November 1.

StudioOctober22_2015

I was lucky enough to be on the road every weekend last month, to and from Kingston, Toronto, Peterborough.  I drove through ridings filled with campaign signage, fields of shorn crops, hills of red and yellow trees, towns surrounded by housing developments and the occasional marsh, feeling grateful and tiny.  Skies full of bruised purple clouds shedding rain even as the slanted sun blazed through to set hill and valley aflame.  All night on super highways through a 386 kilometre downpour, I wondered at my strange need to always be not the fastest, but the first, even on slippery roads.

The beautiful front porch of the Peterborough house I stayed in
The beautiful front porch of the Peterborough house I stayed in

For the first hour, driving is thinking.  In the second hour mental chatter dissolves into a song of the land and the way through it.  By the third there is no-mind, by the fourth, lightness of being.  I hadn’t realized how small my world had become, before October’s road trips.  Thanksgiving, indeed.

coach house garden in old Kingston
coach house garden in old Kingston

Home on November 1 is a tunnel into winter.  I assess, I simplify, I clean up the past seven months and carefully file valuable things – deck chairs and tables, garden plants, kayak, things found on hikes, shared laughter, simple grief, great joy, humbling rage that left me stronger when it had passed.  It’s the inner garden we prepare to tend now, during and enduring the frozen months.  Experience is compost.

Rue flourished this summer. Beautiful plant right out of folktale
Rue flourished this summer. Beautiful plant right out of folktale

I draw and paint bells for a show in early December.  I dig through art history to find work that explores line, light and colour for a drawing course I’ll launch this fall and winter. I write and teach music in my studio, and plan for an open house in five weeks, while Canada reclaims her soul after a dark decade.  Me too.

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A broadly curved road

I went subterranean twelve weeks ago, maybe more.  Came up again two days ago, I think.  I know this because I found myself gardening yesterday.

DomsLilly

This was a tunnel of a place I’ve been in, a way into and through the deep, long list entitled Impossible-but-Necessary.  In twelve weeks strong and beautiful people died, shockingly, suddenly, and those of us who grieve them turned inward then slowly forward; old and treasured things were broken then transformed phoenix-like amid the mourning, the loss.  Boundaries were breached, injuries dealt and received, some old trusts betrayed and also new ones established without question.  Concerts were rehearsed and played; family homes sold and contents dispersed, others burned and the tenants embraced by this rich community. Long overdue letters were written and sent; 50-year careers ended; a 20-year-old vehicle sold for parts; the streets in the city opened and excavated in the great replacement of metal with plastic…

BackyardLawn

As the boxes were packed and the old things released into landfill sites, recycling depots, re-store Judy Collins sang who knows where the time goes? to help the tears come.

As the goodbyes were said after the stories were told, as the weeping hugs were shared, Kodaly’s solo cello sonata raged and softened and spoke …

As the solos were played and the painting delivered; as the portfolio was presented and the university applications sent, Cohen sang ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering…

Through all the overnight insomnia on the studio couch Joni sang dream on, dream on...

Forsythia

As we turned forward into spring, and green and growth, david sereda sings, you’re beautiful.  Be You.  Coco Love Alcorn sings We gather ’round when we can, and we let ourselves be true…  Tyler Wagler sings …out the doorway, ‘way we go.  Where you lead, I will follow … Kati Gleiser plays Rachmaninoff and then sings our beauty back to us.

As the pipes thawed, so did we.

 

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The Call of Water

I’m thinking about water.

JonesFalls

Water falls – either river or rain – speak a whole spectrum of the Language of Wet, from soft drip & trickle to pounding slam-hard powerful.  I’ve come to believe that all are profoundly healing in the long run – even Tsunami, Hurricane, Cyclone.  Sometimes tragically so, painfully so – but real healing is like that.

JonesFalls4

There are ponds, pools, tiny lakes and great lakes, oceans of deep and old – ever renewing collectors of water.  There are aquifers deep and ancient, vast and secret reservoirs of …. memory?

Memory that cools, grounds, sinks and dissolves into something the stars might sing.

Windsheild

I’m thinking about water, and how it feels like a physical and emotional home to me.  It is at root a promise of renewal – immerse, let go of air for a moment, alter the pull of gravity, of time; extend the reach and timbre of sound so you feel … lifted, suspended, embraced.  Resonant.  Dissolved, for a moment.

To rise again into the mantle of gravity, air, task, focal point, verbal articulation, but cleaner, clearer.

Georgian Bay, from the eastern shore at the mouth of Owen Sound
Georgian Bay, from the eastern shore at the mouth of Owen Sound

Water stands, too, in those places where the amphibians go and humans do not, where toxicity is dissolved.  I think of wetlands as precious, timeless places.  Perhaps Chronos lives there, listening.

littleshoreWave

The sound of water falling – rhythmic & repetitive, whether it’s a drip or a roar – is the soundtrack of our days.

There’s an idea that water is a collector of Story – from us, from flora and fauna, from sky and sun.  Horrific stories- catastrophic, miraculous, impossible – but also mundane, incidental, apparently unimportant.

I’m going to paint this.  We live in times of deep and profound change, all over the planet.  No culture, country, community or person can avoid being confronted by this, and by the deep fears we all experience, collectively and privately, in reaction.

Wave2Oct_21