Surface Porousity

“You are the world’s sweetest man”, I tell him, and he says, wryly: “you don’t know me.” And in at least one sense this is true; to know someone is the work of many years, and the list of things I do not know about him would fill a book.

I do not know if he likes to eat mangoes so fresh and ripe the juice runs down the chin. Nor do I know his favourite song, or his favourite movie, or some of the many tidbits others might find important. I don’t know if he likes to vacuum. I cannot read him like a book, he is much too complex. There has been a time or two when I absolutely did not know what to say to him, and I believe this is a first for me. Hmmmm, I do not know if he likes popcorn, and it is one of my favourite foods. Oh my god, I don’t even know his favourite colour.

But if what I don’t know would fill a book, what I do know would fill several volumes. His voice is beautiful, as are his eyes. I find myself mesmerized by the muscled curves of his arms and the hard work they represent. He values honesty, and he is very funny. He does not like rain. He thinks my earrings are fussy, and he teases me about my fetish for organic food. He likes cows. He looks at me clearly and directly, and I fall into his eyes. When he calls me by a tender name, I melt. He has an excellent memory; it seems few details escape him. He is playful. Meticulous in most ways, he can be careless when it suits the moment. He likes coffee. He is kind. He has integrity: not the superficial integrity of one who has never been tested, but the fine honourability of one who has weathered a few shit storms. He is endlessly patient with me. He is the man of my dreams, my imaginary friend.

So what does constitute ‘knowing’ someone? I do not know if that is ever really possible…At any rate, even my oldest friends and closest family members have the capacity to surprise me, not by acting out of character, but by the depths of character they reveal. Indeed, if we do not know character, we know nothing – but if kindness and honesty are immutable, character is not a set of fixed traits. Rather, it is how a being grows and stretches, how they meet life’s challenges…and more importantly, how they meet life’s possibilities.

Here is what I say to you, my love – I do not think I will ever come to the point of knowing you, and that is the highest compliment I can pay. In this context, a little surface porousity is in order….openness to the realms of other to discover, may it never end. This beautiful bracelet, renewed and burnished and made strong to be worn again and again…this is a lovely metaphor, I think. It is a different thing now than it was originally…a thing to be cherished. As you are.

Photo Jeffrey Herman, silversmith.

Photo Jeffrey Herman, silversmith.

photo and repair Jeffrey Herman, silversmith.

photo and repair Jeffrey Herman, silversmith.

Where is Home?

 

 

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My adventures have taken me on a tour of the province of Alberta (in Canada, for those of you reading outside the country) these past weeks: from the Calgary Stampede, to hiking and exploring in Kananaskis Country. Visiting the lovely town of Canmore in the Rocky Mountains, and the rather eclectic Strathmore to the east of Calgary, amid rolling acres of canola fields. North to the city of Edmonton, south east to Drumheller, south to Medicine Hat. These have been weeks of stunning natural beauty, and perhaps the putting aside of some stereotypes…

It certainly is true that many Albertans drive big trucks, and often in a parking lot I can never find my little truck upon my return, because the behemoths all around effectively hide the thing. And the Calgary Stampede certainly lives up to its reputation as a Wild West show – enough said. The skies are gloriously big here, and the thunder and lightning storms absolutely epic to watch on the prairies, as was the tornado approaching me while hiking north of Drumheller (it missed me, fortunately). One of the crowning glories was certainly watching a prairie sunrise, which turned the sky an amazing array of colours, and left me quite breathless. The variety of landscapes, the many wonderful and quirky small towns, endless miles of mostly-flat highways have made for easy and fun road tripping. Here in the oil capital of Canada, wind turbines and solar panels are numerous; perhaps most interestingly, I find this province more progressive than the one I was born in, in spite of its reputation for conservatism.

I am not really speaking in a political sense here, but more of a general impression which is vague and amorphous, to be sure. I find a love of land, something that often seems to be missing in my home place: people being attached to their urban or suburban routines with lip service to the beauty around them. It seems to me that rootedness in the land, the geography, the play of nature is one of the reconnections we must make to move out of the morass of climate change, for starters, but perhaps also reconnections we must make to root our governments, our economies, our ways of life in an ethos of place. Places for people…

For while I cannot call this place ‘home’, I can say that I feel at home, though what that means is anybody’s guess, I suppose. I think it is something I must keep exploring and discovering for myself…

And right now, my imaginary friend, I am in another province, and a secret place, where the stars shine for me and my love, together. Perhaps I must invoke that hoary cliché “home is where the heart is”, because in the arms of my love, and under any stars, feels deeply comfortable.

The Romance of Myra Canyon

I hiked the beautiful Myra Canyon portion of the Kettle Valley Railroad trail yesterday, and it is a place full of history, with stunning vistas and inspiration at every turn. A little history first: the trail is the old rail bed of the Kettle Valley Railway, built between 1912 and 1914, which was abandoned in various stages, but which was officially closed in 1990. The railway ran from the Kootenays to the coast of British Columbia, and was an important piece of the province’s freight and transportation links. The province of BC took over (more correctly, took back) ownership of the rail bed, and the trail is now a world-famous biking and hiking trail, of which Myra Canyon is one of the most popular spots.

The canyon is steep and forbidding, and in order to build the railway with the appropriate grade (and given the tools and horsepower available at the time) 19 trestles and 2 tunnels were engineered, virtually hugging the side of the mountain. All of the trestles except one have been restored by the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society, who also do much other work maintaining and enhancing this trail portion. I hope my hastily-shot images will speak for themselves, and inspire you with a little romance, too. I am pleased that this particular piece of British Columbia’s history has been so wonderfully preserved, and that thousands of people walk or bike this trail and imbibe a little of the past, and maybe the flavour of the future.

Looking down to Kelowna

Looking down to Kelowna

Across the canyon

Across the canyon

Myra Canyon Forest

Myra Canyon Forest

Convoluted canyon folds

Convoluted canyon folds

Side view of a small trestle

Side view of a small trestle

The rock face of the canyon

The rock face of the canyon

The forest in recovery after the fire of 2003

The forest in recovery after the fire of 2003

Quite a curve

Quite a curve

One of the tunnels

One of the tunnels

Roof of the tunnel

Roof of the tunnel

Still across the canyon...getting closer

Still across the canyon…getting closer

map of the Myra Canyon portion of the KVR Trail

map of the Myra Canyon portion of the KVR Trail

 

 

 

 

 

My adventures continue, my imaginary friend! Thanks for coming along.

A Million Stars…

Summer heat, relaxing its fierce grip as the sun descends, and the cooling air redolent with the smell of blossoms. ‘Tis a quiet evening, even the birds a bit wilted. The lushness all around fairly pulses with life, however, and all living things rejoice in the fullness of midsummer approaching. And I, missing you, reflecting wistfully that every moment of beauty not shared with you is a small sadness and regret.

Beauty is timeless, no doubt, though these moments are fleeting, and I have moved through images of beauty this past year with a focused yearning to live them with you. And if I had to tell why, I would say because of the way you speak with more than words, because your every movement and action and nuance tells me how deeply you feel. Perhaps it will surprise you, my intensity of longing to share without words, for I am, after all, a woman of words.

There is much for us to do and experience, but the savouring of small joys and the intimacy of immersing oneself in the wonder of another seems to me the truest bliss I can imagine right now. A millions stars for you to wish upon…

 

 

stars2

Adventure…1,2,3…

My adventure has begun, though having said that, I must tell you I spent the day cleaning windows, that most prosaic of tasks. I find it a chore that allows for reflection, as house cleaning in general does for me, and it was good to take a day to do homey things and think things over.

I am at present some 600 kilometres from where I started, having had possibly the most enjoyable drive of my life. Including ferry travel I spent about nine hours on the road, but with no deadlines or schedules it was delightful to watch the stunning geography of British Columbia unfold, and to stop whenever and wherever I liked. From the lush forests and sparkling sea of Vancouver Island, to the epic thunderstorm in the mountains, to the semi-desert of the south Okanagan, it felt like a gorgeous film unwinding. Oh, I love this province!

I have been exploring the south Okanagan for a week or so, and for various reasons will be here a while longer. Although this is a familiar place I have managed to find some new landscapes most every day. I have hiked a few mountains, explored the unique forests (mostly Ponderosa Pine with grassland between relatively sparse tree cover), and visited a few eclectic little towns – and the sense of adventure is, in fact, deepening. Likely for the aforesaid reasons: no deadlines or schedules.

The sense of liberation is deep in my spirit, though it is a complexity to describe it…In essence, though, I am liberated from my old life, not yet having got to the new, and it is delicious, exhilarating, and frightening. It is also deeply thought-provoking: I carry my me-ness with me, along with my daily habits – what, exactly am I liberating myself from? I suppose it is a sense of not being satisfied, of searching for more.

By chance I find myself reading a book about the black migration out of the southern U.S., told both in general terms and from the intimate view of three particular families. The individuals telling their stories tell of their longing for the ‘better life”, though it is different for each of them, and while the material (better pay, owning a home) is a part of the generalized longing, really they are speaking of the inchoate and amorphous. And I fear that I, too, may need a book to explain what I go in search of.

Well, my imaginary friend, it shall unfold in these virtual pages much the same as my life, messy and unpredictably. But this sense and spirit and ethos of adventure is key, I think: to be open to the possibilities. To see every vista as through a lens, and to contemplate how the most artistic picture may be captured. To be awake to the wondrous. To drive the curvy highway with a five-speed stick shift, not on automatic…

This is where my journey has taken me thus far. And the view from the clean windows is delightful!

 

Photograph by Lentilcia

Photograph by Lentilcia

Byways and Back Roads

A BackRoad, Childe Hassam

A Back Road, Childe Hassam

I wrote of the journey I am taking a couple of posts back, and you, my imaginary friend, will be pleased, I think, to know that I leave in a few days time. My preparations are almost complete, and no doubt I shall find myself in busyness and doing very shortly, so this seems a good time to write more of my inner journey.

I find myself yearning for change, though naturally I am fearful at the same time…for who knows what change may entail? It is not change of scenery I am looking for, although I welcome new landscapes. And I do not think my essential inner nature shall change, although deeper insights and more compassion for myself might be on my list of self-improvements. While the journey is an actual physical movement, it is not a material quest I go on, but a spiritual one. ‘Spiritual’ is used advisedly: I am not searching for a real or metaphorical holy grail.

The deep nature of the journey is to write a love story, a love story on many levels. To practise a craft with skill and pleasure, rather than to conform to the mediocrity of small town. This mediocrity is rooted in getting along with one’s neighbours, perhaps – of fitting in, of not getting beyond oneself – it is a good-hearted notion at its best, but ultimately stultifying. To wander a freer landscape – less confined than even a large island, in any event! Though I believe freer in the sense, also, that there is room for different styles of living. To explore landscape and people and ethos of a culture different than my own, with openness and rejection of stereotypes and delight in the learning of new things. To kiss the boy in the tender spot behind his ear and to find joy in the sureness of living precisely as one wants to live, every day. Shall these things come to pass? You shall know of my efforts at bringing them into being, at any rate.

Both intimacy and solitude are required for the writing of a great love story, I believe, and maybe a willingness to travel the byways and lesser known roads. I look forward to sharing them with you.

The Personal

This past week has been intensely bittersweet: the bitter of making goodbyes to very dear friends; the sweet of their company reminding me of the joy of such friendships. To set off on a journey entails goodbyes, even if they are temporary, and I have always been one to be the last guest at the party…For one truth in my life is this: my friendships are cherished, and being a part of the ordinariness and dailiness of people’s lives is a gift.

Me, and my imaginary friend came into being as a way to share the unfolding of my life with friends near and far, real and imagined, old and new. We live in times where those we love don’t always reside in geographic proximity, and the nurturing of relationships at a distance takes some care. Of course we want to hear of joys and sorrows, big events, and momentous occasions, but we also want to hear of the ordinary things, thoughtful moments, a thousand little things about those we care for. It is this very thing that we seek out in social media, though it seems to be rather a fashion to deride said mediums. Cute cat videos, selfies, and pictures of dinner are scoffed at as trivialities and time wasters, though I believe nothing could be further from the truth.

I don’t think many of us pretend that what we blog or share has earth-shaking significance: that is hardly the point. The point is that we are sharing – and that act of sharing is powerful, and connects us to people. I cannot imagine anything more likely to change our lives, our communities, our world, than this connection. The very idea of a democracy, as an example, is one in which we collectively engage in the question of how we shall live, as a society, and the more we are connected to the inner truths of other’s lives, the better able we are to truly engage in the democratic process. Maybe that’s a big leap for you, my imaginary friend – from a parade of selfies to the democratic process, though the evidence of how social media is changing our politics and political process is clear and unequivocal.

I had the privilege, also this week, of speaking with six different women about “The Dress”, last week’s blog post, and I am grateful for those conversations, some with women I know well and others I am only acquainted with. Each told her particular story of her own dress and its significance, and these were moving and deeply profound stories. The sharing of my simple story inspired much deeper sharing from others, and I can only be inspired in turn by beautiful insight into six different lives.

There is much more I could write, I once wrote a thesis on this theme, in fact, but I think I will leave you with a selfie, just for fun and provocation. The Belle Jar had a great post on selfies, also this week, and you might enjoy her take on the phenomenon, linked here. Do you recollect the proudly proclaimed slogan of second-wave feminism, “the personal is political”? Yes, yes it is.

Selfie

The Dress

I have been sorting and packing, packing and sorting for what seems like a very long time now…I endeavour to be organized: winter clothes in that suitcase, summer clothes in this one, and, of course, it is the perfect opportunity to decide what must be given away and what will be kept, and most of these decisions are pretty easy. But some decisions seem – well, terribly important and oh-so-momentous, and I shall tell you about one such decision.

I do not have a lot of clothes, just the opposite, in fact. I do tend to buy the best things I can and wear them a long time. Partly this is because I dislike shopping, and assuredly I loathe some saleswoman schooling me in the latest fashion trend for which I care nothing, and definitely because I like simple and well-made. Once upon a time, however, I splurged on an exquisite dress for a special New Year’s Eve night out – well, let me tell you about the dress.

The dress is black silk, with a beaded neckline and sleeves, and the body of the dress entirely sequins, all the beads and sequins individually hand-sewn to the silk. It falls to mid-calf, with a slit to mid-thigh – a sexy, shimmery, fantasy of a dress, certainly like nothing I’d ever worn. It was created for a beauty pageant contestant, duly worn in the event, and for sale at a price I could afford – and when I tried it on, I confess I felt transformed. The dress was surprisingly heavy and fit beautifully, and so, I decided I could be Cinderella at the ball for an evening. It was one of those perfect, magical, nights – special friends, champagne, dancing to the early hours – a night that I will always remember with joy.

And the dress, oh the dress was painstakingly cleaned and hung in my closet. And then it was wrapped in tissue paper, to protect those lovely beads and sequins. And oh-so-many times I have looked at it with pleasure, and the longing to put it on and be Cinderella at the ball again – but the occasion never came about. For the dress does require an occasion and a venue and the right company to make its magic happen… I look at this dress, and decide to take it with me, on my journey – and it is a bit of a pain to pack the thing. And when and where shall I wear it? Oh, my imaginary friend, who knows? But even weighing all those things, I know I must have it with me, for it speaks to me of the magic of transformations. The magic of possibilities. The magic of never writing in stone who and what one is…

I wrap it again in fresh tissue paper and put it in the suitcase, and trust that I will find the time and place to wear it, to wrap that magic around me. For the dress tells me that we must, sometimes, break out of our self or other-imposed confines. That this is a part of the path to the joyful life…

I think my words are not adequate to the symbolism of the dress, but I leave you with a lovely piece by artist Lisa Kirk, who seems to instinctively understand the power of transformation and its symbols. You can find more of her work at http://www.lisakirk.ca/, and her dress series of paintings here.

Discovering The Freedom To fly by Lisa Kirk

Discovering The Freedom To Fly by Lisa Kirk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is to discovering the freedom to fly!

Betwixt And Between

Well, my imaginary friend, I am betwixt and between. Here, but not here, there in spirit but not there; my heart both full of the letting go and the setting forth. This month of Oak, as it was known by the ancient Celts, was believed to be a portal month, the bridge between the dark half and the light half of the year. And so the feelings would seem to fit naturally into the half-forgotten, but still-echoing-rhythm of seasons as they unfolded for my ancestors.

leap-of-faith

I am preparing for a journey, and there are practical and prosaic things to be done in this preparation. But as always, the inner journey is the most interesting to me, and this fine focus of concentration seems terribly important, for I go in quest of a new life, a very different life. Naturally, I suppose, I hope it shall be a better life, but this very idea seems confusing and convoluted – better than what? My life to this point has been precisely what I made it, what I chose and brought into fruition. Whether I am blessed or cursed, I cannot tell, but I cannot stay in any place for too long – although let me clear, by ‘place’ I mean more like ‘state of being’.

So whether blessed or cursed shall be set aside for the moment; in any event, I appear to be different than many of my fellow humans, who seem to like to stay in the same place and work at the same things and see the same people and who, in a million ways, large and small, comfort themselves with routines and rituals and pleasures of sameness. Their longings for new scenery or cultures or cuisines can be contained by yearly travel to some exotic location, it seems. I am aware, most assuredly, that my fellow humans do change, though I find these changes in mind and in being are rarely talked about so much as the latest restaurant, or last vacation, or newest acquisition…My sense of bewilderment, of finding myself distinctly not in the right pond, is catalyst enough.

I am keenly aware, my imaginary friend, that I leave you with – well, questions. What is this all about? What exactly does she want? Part of what I would like to do is to set the stage, so to speak, for writing about my journey over the course of the next months and years. Another part of what I would hope to convey is that the questions are the beginning of the journey – the imaginary starting point, if you will. Maybe most importantly, that the quest for the ‘new’, the ‘different’, the ‘better’ ought be a lifelong quest, for is it this that defines the best human qualities, I think.

Blessed, or cursed?