Friday, October 15, 2010

Theme Thursday - Knots

I am a day late, but found both the concept and the photograph so beautiful, I wanted to participate anyway.

When I was eleven years old, I lived on the island of Malta for several months when my father was the architect for a new hotel. I became fascinated by the sight of fishermen mending their nets and would spend hours sitting by the sea watching them. The fishermen's work is primary and ancient. They inherit the skills of ancestors. I envy the primeval integrity and beauty of their labour. So many precise knots to be secured if the catch is not to be lost through a hole in the net.

The need to tie things together, to join, to hook, to loop, to weave must be instinctive. I wonder if the first net for catching food was learned from the spider in its web? Fishermen continue the ingenuity of the spider, whose intricate geometry secures dinner.

When fishing nets are hung up in the sun there is a translucent loveliness. I feel a mingling of emotions which must reach back into a common, archetypal memory. I dimly sense that all of life is one vast web of woven singularity.

There is a time to be tying knots and a time to be untying knots. The whole cosmic and social mystery is a continuous tightening and loosening of myriad knots. To be caught in life’s binding and loosening is both terrible and beautiful. We spend much of our lives trying to discern where we should tighten knots and where we should loosen knots of complicity or belonging. Just like the fishermen, a careless or unskilled knot can lose for us what we would keep.

I end with a poem written several years ago by my dear friend, Patrick, who was just twenty-one at the time.


Things grow more tangled
the more that I watch.

I have no patience with knots.
I have no patience with nots.

I have

I resist the urge
To Simplify

with knives,

Their Cleanness


Instead I begin
To unravel.

(Theme Thursday - Knots)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Genial October

I was down on my knees sorting damp leaves from the flower beds which surround my patio, pruning plants, feeling the earth tumble between my fingers. Deep in reverie, I heard a small voice say, "Whad ya doin’?" It was Ben, my neighbour’s three year old son, his little feet perched between the rungs of my wrought-iron gate. His mother, sitting with the baby on the gentle hill which overlooks our condo, waved down at us.

"What ya doin’?", Ben asked again. After each answer, he repeated his question. Little by little, I shared my passion for the garden. I told him about savouring the last flowers and cleaning-up for winter. He has such knowing eyes ... wise and penetrating. We are becoming friends, he and I.

He showed me his child-sized wheelbarrow which was filled with rocks and pinecones, small trucks, and an assortment of leaves and twigs. "Do you have any wooms in there?" he asked, pronouncing "worm" to rhyme with "room" after the manner of Inspector Clouseau.

Soon, Ben had joined me on the patio, his little hands patting the earth next to mine, the occasional small treasure joining the rest in the wheelbarrow. He sang as he worked, lyrics of his own creation which seemed to circle the words, "no" and "nah". However, the melody was the clearest kind of "yes".

"I hope he’s not bothering you?", said his mother, standing by the gate. "No, not at all", I said. "He’s lovely".

We smiled at each other, as Ben looked at me with candid eyes. "Have you gots any juice?", he asked, hopefully, unceremoniously. "Oh Ben!", said his Mum. "It’s okay", I said, laughing. "Would you like some juice ... or coffee?"

And juice it was. And two cups of steaming coffee. We drank it side by side at the patio table, leaves twirling about us. One fifty-three year old Nana, one thirty-something woman with gorgeous russet hair wearing a darling, fat, dimpled baby on her chest, and one small boy with dirt on his face and a song in his soul.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend

Gem and I are heading south tomorrow for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. We will be spending it in Abbotsford (about an hour from Vancouver) with my sister Suzanne and her partner, Jeff. Altogether, there will be twenty-two people at their house celebrating this time of gratitude.

I have been designated desserts. Thus, my morning has been one of epic domesticana. The whole condo is filled with nutmeggy warmth and pumpkinny goodness. I have baked three pumpkin pies and two apple pies, all from scratch. A Pumpkin Ginger cake sits on the counter cooling. This cake, spiced with ginger and cinnamon and cloves, and studded with crystallized ginger and plump sultanas, is a family favourite. I will be icing it with cream-cheese frosting when I am at my sister's house. As I stirred and measured and tasted, I thought of the ritual and hospitality of welcoming, of daylong roasting and feasting. Indulgence, contentment. Full bellies and unbuttoned pants and tucking in for winter.

I have so much to be thankful for:

Thankful for my husband, Gem, who loves me unfailingly and unconditionally.

Thankful for my family, for the belonging we give to each other.

Thankful for my wonderful friends, who love and forgive me much.

Thankful for the ebb and flow of so many spiritual traditions which cover this country like a blessed wave from the ocean to the mountains, to the rainforests, to the tiny prairie towns, to the arctic, to the rainy urban cappuccinos being sipped in dozens of cities.

Thankful that I understand that grief comes to human hearts of all colours and creeds and ways of being.

Thankful for my good health, and the ability to work and play and think.

Thankful for the stories and poems and photographs which anoint my heart and soul.

Thankful for YOU.