Tuesday, February 27, 2018

winter / Laurentians Feb 2018

Snowshoed into the woods this past weekend. A mostly deciduous forest that undulated and opened around us. More trees, less sky. Less trees, more sky.

The slender boles of birch trees.

Part of the way we followed a river that gushed freezing and black under the snow. The Rivière Doncaster in Parc Doncaster near Mont-Rolland. 

We trudged up a hill, we trudged down. We'd brought our lunch. It was mild enough to eat outside but not so mild that the snow had released the picnic tables.

The mountains in the Laurentians are old, rounded, low hills--among the oldest in the world, 540 million years.

That's me--not moving as quickly as it looks because I'm so far behind R that he was able to get this far-away picture.

Among the meditative generality of trees and snow and hills and sky, there were particulars.
The orange needles of a larch, fungi, a maple leaf weathered thin as ancient parchment.

I particularly loved these ice formations that made me think of Enokitake mushrooms hung upside down. Bouquets of ear swabs. Fancy cocktail swizzle sticks. Or what they are: icicles. Though... I suppose there's a proper word for when they're formed by a rushing current.

When the cleats on our snowshoes weren't crunching on the snow, when we stopped and listened, or found a log to sit on, we could hear the twittering and shivering of the leaves still on the trees--in a way that you'd never hear it when all the trees are in leaf and green. It's a winter sound.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

hot tub thoughts

I'm not an overly sociable person. I appreciate my friends, but I also need a lot of time alone. I'm not gregarious. I avoid crowds.

Too many people all doing the same thing can even make me panic a little. R and I almost broke up in 1985, a few months along when we were backpacking, and we were walking in Florence in the evening and he wanted to join a procession of white-robed monks holding candles. He'd either seen a sign or guessed that they were marching for peace.

It was a slow and stately march. The monks weren't moving aggressively. But they were grouped and hooded on dark, narrow streets. I couldn't make out their faces and I felt there was something menacing in the flames of their long candles.

I can't explain my reaction except to call it crowd-panic which I'd felt at other innocuous events like folk festivals--people playing guitars and dancing barefoot--that I'd even paid to get into. I know my response wasn't rational.

But I was in the grip of it and I refused to join the march. When R asked why, I stammered that I thought they were KKK.

I'm not proud of that moment. But why did the monks have their pointy white hoods up, shielding their faces?

In my defense, a few weeks previously I'd been mugged in Barcelona. My travellers' cheques and passport--robado! Dealing with the various authorities in Barcelona and then Madrid was identity-numbing. So maybe I was still in shock.

R couldn't believe what I'd said. He was ready to pack his bag and catch the first train south, even though we had a cute room in a palazzo with a view on the Duomo, a bottle of local Spumanti chilling on the window sill, fresh fennel, prosciutto, and crusty bread waiting. I knew I could head to Austria where I had family. We would become another couple who couldn't survive travelling together.

Except we did, and R only rarely mentions the time I thought monks on a peace march were KKK. Though I know he remembers.

I was surprised today to realize how companionable it felt to be sitting in a hot tub with two strangers. The hot tub itself wasn't beautiful. It was in a YMCA that I doubt has had a makeover since it was built in the 1980s. Colours were army grey, pale green, beige, the lights a stark, ugly-making white.

We were three women whose gene pools hailed from different parts of the world. Two of us were middle-aged, one a generation younger. Once upon a time two of us had straight hair. Mine now has white and grey that makes corkscrews. My hair used to be the reddish blond that one of the women who was born with black hair now dyes hers. I wondered if the women's backs were sore because of strain or work they did--like myself, spending too much time at the computer. Or maybe they were just relaxing. We didn't speak. I don't know that all three of us had a single common language. We were all of us subtly trying to manoeuvre to a position to get our shoulders massaged, though the jets were too low. We were and weren't together.

It's taken all these years but I could probably join those monks now. Maybe.   

Sunday, February 18, 2018

February walk on the river

Walking on the frozen edge of the river

three Musketeers brandishing cattails

one dog


(Adult human male included for scale)

Friday, February 16, 2018

blue cornice

Taking a break from work to look out my study window at the snow coming down. The 100-year-old brick row houses across the street. The painted cornices. The trees. White sky.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Canada Goddam!!!! / Colton Boushie

That sums up how I feel about the justice system after the farce of a non-guilty verdict for Gerard Stanley when his gun "accidentally" shot Colton Boushie in the head.

Do you need more details? Gerard Stanley is white. A Saskatchewan farmer. Colton Boushie was a 22-yr-old Cree.

There was a small vigil held in Montreal today. Around two hundred people. Signs, speeches, candles, drumming, song.

Justice needs to have a good think about what's going to happen next if it's going to retain any of its already shaky credibility.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

winter... do you remember?

Now you live in a milder climate. It's a big and unexpected event when there's snow. But do you remember what it was like when you lived back east?

This is what I call diamanté snow. Fresh, still coming down, lit by city streetlights. My camera (in truth, my phone) didn't catch the brilliance, but if you look closely, you'll see the glitter.

And remember this? Trudging along sidewalks not yet cleared of snow. How the bottoms of your jeans freeze. There was once... we got together for a beer at Le Cheval Blanc, and it was snowing and afterward we walked to where you split off to go your way and I went mine.

This too. Having to sweep your stairs when you come home at the end of the day.

Snow hoods and capes and toques.

I didn't take pics of the dog frolicking and gamboling in the snow because you wouldn't be able to see how his tail wagged unless I took a video and he didn't stay in one place long enough that I could keep up. Nothing as happy as a dog when snow is fluffy and fresh.

Do you remember?

Sunday, February 4, 2018

if it's framed, is it art?

Wanted to jog the daily routine, see some friends, and a few sights. Got on the train for a few hours. Napped in the afternoon winter sunshine. Read.

Rented a room in a cheap hotel. This place took the definition of a room very literally. A Victorian house had been chopped into shapes to fit a bed and not much else.

And once we went to bed, we discovered that even the bed had been chopped. R is not a tall man but he was too long for the bed.

I can do without heated bathroom tiles but I insist on bedside lamps because we like to read in bed. R's feet were restless, dangling over the edge, but there were lamps.
(Sort of.)

And there was art on the wall. The paper looks worked but that's only the reflection in the glass from the window. The piece itself is orange construction paper. No more, no less. Under glass and framed. I'm not sure whether it's deliberately or unintentionally ironic. That's the thing with irony. And art.

Tomorrow... back to work.