Pivot

So much anxiety.

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Even here, in this small town Shire-like piece of Ontario, we dutifully find our regular dose of Fox news or its equivalent so we can chew on our worry in a bizarrely informed way.

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If not Fox or Sinclair and the suspicious smell of fascism, or the use of our tax dollars to bail out yet another oil pipeline through the wilderness project, then about Stan the heavy-bearded wanderer toasting muttered anarchy with Listerine; about the goose wandering alone for a month in the open field; the pencil thin young woman entering then leaving the methadone clinic to the profit of some private business person who would rather she stay addicted.

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The young, ballcapped man, tight with sloppy rage, yanks an aging woman out of a broken down house, her shirt still open to a tan-coloured pushup bra.  Every window in the house is smashed.

Here in the shire, on my way to the store for cream.

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We share our news in the bank lineup, the grocery store, the gas station like chatter over an undertow of unease… is any belief system, economic system, political system, educational system not showing signs of extreme erosion, even as others crumble?

It’s not just the climate that’s changing (…weather’s odd for this time of year, doesn’t feel right….).

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Today a friend asked, “What do you know for certain?”.  About anything, she meant.  Gave me pause.

I said that I suspect I have a working theory about how things change, but certainly no certainly.

Whatever work I’ve been able to accomplish – internal and external – in these past few years has been a more or less messy mobius of intention, action, and reflection.  All three balanced and juggled like plates or knives, never still, never dropped.  But this is abstract.

Think.  Choose.  Do.  Think again.  Do differently, Think.  Choose again. et cetera.

My working theory is that, A) pivot points occur only in the doing. 

B) well-considered doing (not just ‘busy-ness’) is an effective antidote to worry.

Dear snow,

…dear Minus 25 Degrees Celsius, dear 70 km ph Winds and your Death-chill-Factor,

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Thank you for finding a way to freeze a substantial part of the city’s water system – at the very point in our heavy winter when we collectively agree to become grumpy that the world is not green and growing.

The first birds have come north, singing thinly in the cold, but – singing!  Each is reported like an omen and we fear for their lives in the brutal crunch of minus 35.  Then the temperature rises a few degrees to minus 12, skies clear to reveal blue sky yellow sun and we shed our coats in celebration, only to heave them on again a few hours later when the wind bites into minus 20, (feels like minus 38) again.  We each want to stay in bed under blankets or max their VISA on an unplanned trip to Cuba NOW.  Sweaters are coveted for warmth not style and thick woolen socks worth double their weight in gold…

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This year there’s a deeper freeze to contend with.  For the first time in at least one generation, possibly two, we the city folk need to contend with what the country folk have known forever, that we are not entitled to comfort without appreciation, warmth without work, nourishment without conscious, proactive, collaborative effort.  All the automatic things we do – toilets, bathroom sinks, bathrubs and shower stalls, kitchen sinks, kettles, glasses, pots for boiling, living potted plants – all of these require replenishment from a source that is now dry and frozen.  We actually need to think about … how water?  Where water?  Need water.

Third-floor roof of the studio building.  Looking Southwest across the harbour
Third-floor roof of the studio building. Looking Southwest across the harbour

We of the four seasons climate are frozen deeply into this cold place where nothing flows, where movement requires effort, just when we would normally be feeling the ebb of winter…

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Instead we now know just a little more about our small city’s system for water into tap – the pipes, the flow, the people, the equipment, the efficacy.  We have some time to think about it, since this isn’t going away fast.

We share our resources, our houses, our bathrooms, showers and sinks.  We’re crying Discomfort! but also I think we whisper appreciation for the ones out there all night in feels like minus forty whose job it is to pit themselves against weather and harsh, and try to fix, try to fix, try

Spring seems like years away.  But it will come and all of this will transform into a story we will tell and tell again.  Remember the end of February 2015…?

I want to thank you, Snow, Cold and Wind, for all of this.

When in six weeks I stand t-shirted and digging in my garden I shall think of the winter show of 2014-15.

And I shall miss you.

 

Lift out

These days begin in darkness and wet.

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We live in multiple layers of clothing against the cold damp of constant seeping rain, walk under umbrellas, and peek out from under shelter until some blue sky appears.

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Then we breathe the blue and the coloured leaves, and roll in the damp ones underfoot.  We go to the flashing streams, the roaring falls, the pounding waves and we exult

..until the rain and the cloud and the pounding wind bring us under and in again.

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These times.  Pressured, heavy, challenged, shifting.  Some of us don’t have dancing feet.  Some have not learned to swim.

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Two days ago in Ottawa a man died on Parliament hill.  He suffered from serious mental illness  – serious enough that he found himself a gun and  shot another man who worked as a soldier there.  I grieve for both men, whom we, in our culture, have failed to see clearly.

Poem for Michael Zehaf-BibeauMichael Zehaf-Bibeau, for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist, and for every single one of us who struggles with addiction and mental illness, in sorrow for this:

Broken Voice
September 24: studio

Thought can re-write history, she says
Meditative thought influences the order of things
Orders them more neatly so there’s less damage done.
and there’s the
small voice the difficulty
swallowing
the closed throat mid-
sentence, the little
alarms shot with adrenaline
the subtle gagging that
no one notices but
There’s no problem. Who

…said there was a
problem?  Mental Illness is only
addiction is only
another form of terrorism-
We just need more Security and

I think I caught something in
the subway – just a virus it
comes and goes it’s
not
permanent.

…something about bare feet, walking
about not leaving prints behind,
and if you do your feet print
history

I’m looking at them now,
the prints
but I can’t read
I’m not sure what happened.  Or how…?

I just want to drink an ocean of alcohol
passive-watch movies that siphon rage
go to classical concerts full of fury, listen to poets
who have found something
to let somebody else do the darkness
the refined, articulate hurt that they’ve managed to
filter through all of their exhausted bewilderment how
can I

Impotent. Invisible. I just want to sleep. only sleep.
it’s taking every ounce of my strength
to resist the rampage,
The terrible roar in me.