4:56am, Saturday January 29; morning room

There is a plant here that I bought for myself many years ago, and repotted. It grew in the north and eastern windows of my studio for eight years, then in the north window of my house for four more. Then it moved to my mother’s rented house, on the crest of a dolmen, beside a stream that churns its way over limestone and glacial erratic granite and into Georgian Bay. In Fran’s house it flourishes in an east facing window, witness to the daily return of colour into the world, and collaborator to my mom’s morning routine: starlight witnessed through silhouettes of trees, then dissolved into the dawn. Every day, a different expression of waking light, every morning a wonder. I shared some of these hushed, soft mornings with Fran and the reaching plant that sings it’s shape and growth into the world. 

eastern window at Mom’s, pre-dawn

Mom died peacefully, on Thursday. Today is Saturday, and the peaceful jade is here with me now. Venus twinkles in the deep indigo sky, I write in collaboration with my old friend the plant, together we listen for the dawn. 

Memories and images like water over limestone and granite, flowing down into the release of Georgian Bay. Past the sleeping fish, through and under and around. ‘Water, She moves’, says the elder from Greenland. ‘Water, she loves to play’, I would add, is happiest to explore, to feel the muscle of current and with it carve new paths through and around. The quick splash of laughter in spring, in late summer a reflective stillness, a waiting, or a gathering of muscle for the next push. 

She was reading about economics, re-reading Dante’s Purgatorio. Immersing herself in astonishingly beautiful Chinese poetry, wondering why she hadn’t signed up for a painting course last year. Dutifully eating bran every morning, even though she disliked it. She moved into and through her day in complete, deafened silence, preferring to remember the sound of birds, of piano and voice rather than the distorted squeak and indistinct of the hearing aid. She moved through her day like a stream over limestone and granite, with a current that grew ever weaker, as it does at the end of summer. 

For Fran, 1936-2022.
Mom’s morning candle

Then finally, still, with Venus and the moon shining soft on her surface. 

This plant and me, remembering the complex, flowing beauty of Frances Shirley Kennedy McArthur, who was my mother. Remembering, with unfathomable love. 

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