Wednesday, June 14, 2017

TO TELL A STORY?



Early one morning, just before sunrise, Andy and I were sitting talking while me, seemingly uninterested, sat off in the corner listening. We were questioning our revealing to the world where we had been, and what we have become. Andy was arguing that our story was unimportant, a waste of time,  as we were simply ordinary people having lived ordinary lives. I disagreed suggesting that our lives, although seemingly unimportant, were unique. I pointed out that we, together with our parents, and their parents, and their parents before them, had lived through a particularly difficult time in Canadian history, and that it was worth telling. Andy was having a difficult time accepting my reasoning, and thought that our past should be left alone, untold, and that our time would be better spent enjoying what few sunrises and sunsets that we had left. I had to agree that our lives, and those of our parents were spent in circumstances similar to many of our class, but as their stories had been buried along with their Sunday best, then perhaps, just perhaps,we should carry on with telling our story. The clincher was when I pointed out that it didn’t make any sense that the stories of those who enjoyed better lives should be labelled as significant when their importance was built on the backs of ordinary people like our parents, and people like us. Andy agreed. He’d always railed at the suggestion that the lives of the merchant class, and their children, could be held in high esteem, whereas the ordinary people that helped to make them was ignored. Finally, Andy relented, and said that we should continue with our story even if it remained largely ignored. At the very least, he pointed out, the experience was cathartic, and helped to keep our minds active. At which point me got up and started to write…..


I Was Musing

I was musing 
about where he'd been, and 
what he'd become.
It was early morning, 
a new day.
In the twilight silence reigned, 
just the wind, and the flutter of leaves.

Another day,
a gift sent, 
a time to consider, 
perhaps to regret 
days spent, and wasted.  

His life seemed at that moment 
like the moon setting in the west
washed out 
- faded
by the rising sun.

His time was then,
too late to change,
to become 
other than what he now regrets.

What was he thinking
so long ago
hanging out
waiting
to grow up, and 
become old.

Of all the things he could have become
if only he had made better use of the time spent 
waiting.

No sense wondering,
what’ he's done
is done.

The sun has risen.
His day has begun.

EAS


To Be Young Again.

It’s funny,
well not really funny, 
more like interesting to hear persons,
older folk mostly, 
talking about when they were young, and wishing
that they were young again. Not possible, of course,
and if it were what use would it be? Do they actually think
that it’s possible to relive the past, and if they were able
they’d have no knowledge of the future, and hence
no knowledge of their childhood, and be made to suffer
another future filled with who knows what? Best, I say,
to enjoy the memory of what was, for the past is the past,
time spent, time wasted. The future is what it is,
a mystery built upon our past.

EAS

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

THE HOUSE ON THE HILL

Andy and I began to connect soon after he and his family moved back to his parents' hometown located on the south shore of Georgian Bay. They lived in a house on a hill that looked out on the Bay. Reflecting back, I believe that our becoming close had to do with Andy’s mother being much like the present day single mom for most of the year, and the responsibility that goes along with someone in that position. You will recall that I mentioned that Andy's father was a Great Lakes sailor. Andy’s father would depart for his ship early in the spring, often before the ice went out of the Bay, and wouldn’t return home until shortly before Christmas. Consequently, Andy’s mother kept a pretty close rein on Andy and his sister Judith right up until they entered their teens. Having few friends as a child Andy would learn to amuse himself, allowing us much time to talk with each other.

HOUSE ON THE HILL

The house on the hill
looked out on the Bay, and
like a widow’s peak,
a window to watch
for ships
entering the harbour.

The ships
some filled with coal, 
some filled with grain,
soon emptied their cargo,
and went on their way.

But some held cargo
precious for few,
sons,
husbands,
and fathers,
home for a day.

A quick visit with loved ones
a gift short lived, 
and then the ship
emptied of cargo,
sailed,
to a port far away.

Time passed, as time does.

The house on the hill
still looks out on the Bay,
but the widow, 
and her children,
have all gone away.

EAS


The house on the hill played an important role in Andy's life, as most family homes do for all of us. They're the centre of our universe, and everything that seems to happen in our lives radiates outwards.

NO MATTER WHERE WE ROAM

No matter where we roam
we’re never far from home
the place
where once lived,
our mother.

The place where 
we learned to walk, 
we learned to talk,
and the place that was to become
a refuge,
a place of rest,
a place where we could escape
the race
to another place,
that was to become,
we thought,
our home.

No matter where we roam,
sometimes
far, 
far,
from home, 
our heart,
our very soul,
will know no other
home.

EAS


Andy, years after his parents, and sister, had passed, and following his retiring back to what he now refers to as his hometown, would write of an encounter with the family home, the house on the hill: -

I WENT FOR A WALK

I went for a walk one day.
Not far,
just down the block aways,
to where once I lived,
when I was a child,
to the old white house
on the corner.

It wasn’t always old,
and its exterior wasn’t always
faded and shabby.

When I was a child,
so many years ago,
it was newly painted
white and green.
It had a front porch,
and at its side 
a yellow rose tree.

Time has passed, 
and so have the people who once lived
in the old white house on the corner.

The roof on the old white house is sagging,
its front porch is gone,
the paint has faded,
the rose tree is dead, 
and lies broken.

I wondered the changes within?
The front door was open,
and as no one seemed to be home,
I think to go in.

Then,
I think to myself,
some things,
should be left as they were.
Memories that are cherished,
should not be undone.
So, I turned on my heels,
and hurried back home,
content to believe,
that within that old white house on the corner,
time stands still,
and the memories it holds
live on.

EAS



Sunday, June 4, 2017

CONSCIOUSNESS

There came a time when Andy became conscious, conscious of his surroundings,  and began to seek answers. “Why” was his response to just about every command. He also spent a great deal of time watching, and listening, like a fly on the wall. We were learning, of course, unwittingly preparing for a long life of challenge.



THE FLY ON THE WALL

The child sat quietly in his wooden crib watching. Something small was moving along the top rail. Musca Domestica buzzed near his face, and he instinctively reacted swatting clumsily at the creature with his chubby little hand. He missed striking the creature, although that was not the intent. He was too young to even know what Musca Domestica was, let alone possess the coordination that would enable his even having a chance to strike the creature. He had struck out instinctively, a protective reaction inherited by all human children. Musca Domestica landed on the wall near to the crib, and with a twist of its head and its huge eyes, took in its surroundings. The child watched in amazement as Musca Domestica buzzed about the crib. A few minutes passed, and Musca Domestica took flight and disappeared out the door of the bedroom. The child continued to watch in amazement, taking note of everything.......

Andy’s father was a sailor. Andy was born in a port city along the shores of Lake Ontario. His parents had originally lived in a small town located at the south shore of Georgian Bay. His mother, and rightfully so, wishing to be close to her husband had moved from their home town, and moved so that she could be close to the Welland Canal when his dad’s boat travelled through the locks on its way to one of many ports on the Great Lakes. Of course the boat was not his dad’s, but  a steamboat owned by the Patterson Steamship Line. The boat was his father’s summer home, so to speak, for what turned out to be many, many years. Eleven months following his birth Andy’s mother had a second child, Judith. Two young children were a handful, so the following year the family moved back to his parents hometown to be close to their family and friends. The journey back to his parents hometown was to be the beginning of Andy's recollection of his long journey, and of which, years later he would write: -

"My journey, or so it’s recorded, began in November, 1941. In astrological terms my sun sign is therefore that of Scorpio.

It’s important that I make it clear from the outset that this journey of which I speak, although close to its end, is not yet over. I don’t know where, or when, it will end, and I must confess that I’m not interested in knowing. But, that it will end of this I am certain.

So, where do you begin to write about a journey?  The logical answer is to begin at the beginning of course, but of this event I have no recollection, nor does there remain anyone to ask, so we’ll have to accept the theory that there was a very loud inhale, and I joined the so called human race to where, no one has yet to determine.

With billions of humans involved in this race, and in order to keep track of my progress, my parents gave me the name Andrew. In due course I would also be assigned a number to enable the country’s governments of the day to track my progress, and to enable the collection of annual membership fees in the form of taxes.

My first few days occupying space were spent as most babies spend their first few days, eating, pooping, and exercising my lungs while alerting my parents as to my needs. Frankly, I needed the rest as I was tired from the first leg of my journey that involved a struggle and tight squeeze, followed by the shock of adjusting to survive in a strange environment.

My first memory is of a hallway at the end of which is a window through which light streams. There’s a long banister extending down the right side of the hallway. I suspect that I’m in the upstairs of a house. My mother, long gone, once told me that after they were married she and my father lived for a couple of years in a second storey apartment in a city located on the shore of Lake Ontario. 

My next memory is of a black man, a train conductor. Black people were known as negroes back then. Aboriginal people were known as Indians and we, at least my father’s people who were possibly of mixed breeding, French and Mohawk, kept real quiet. Anyway back to this memory, my mother is loaded down with my baby sister and bags and we’re helped onto a train by a very nice black man who looks very much like the Hollywood actor Danny Glover. I see the platform, the train, and hear the hiss and smell of the steam. He carries me to our seat and tells us to have nice trip. Crazy, isn’t it. I actually see myself sitting in the railway car on a hard wooden seat. I see my mother, a happy, beautiful Irish woman, holding my baby sister Judy. The train carried us to my parents place of birth, and where just about everyone in our extended family lived."

Clickity Clack   

He remebers when he was two, or three,
something that he’d never seen.

It was black and green, 
belching black smoke,
and smelled of steam.
It grumbled and hissed,
a monster he thinks,
a train he is told.
A smiling black man, 
tall and quite strong,
picks him up,
and takes him inside.
He's placed on a bench across from his mom,
and told to behave. Then, 
all of a sudden the train starts to shudder, 
there’s banging, hissing, and the screeching
of metal on metal.
The train starts moving.
he hold on real tight,
and watches quite frightened
as the train picks up speed, 
and begins rocking.
Clickity clack, clickity clack, woo Wooooo.
He asks where they're going,
home he is told.
Clickity clack, clickity clack, 
Woo Woooooo….

                                  EAS

~ ~ ~ ~


























Saturday, May 27, 2017

WHY?

WHY?

While giving Andy a litle time to get out of diapers, learn to crawl, then walk, and find his voice, I pondered the the first question Andy would no doubt ask, “Why?” It comes easy to all children, and follows, throughout our lives, those who find the gift of life simply wondrous.

There’s this older man that I know. Okay, so he’s more than older, he’s old, at least that’s how he refers to himself. When he’s not writing, or painting a picture of some sort, he thinks backwards to time spent, events large and small, that had an effect on shaping his life. The other day he was asking himself a question that began with “why”, and he remembered that when he was a child, one evening at the dinner table he was, unknowingly, making a nuisance of himself blurting out “Why?” repeatedly when his Uncle Val, short for Valentine, screamed for him to shut up followed by an explicative of sorts, together with instructions to be quiet until he was old enough to ask an intelligent question. Uncle Val could be excused for yelling at him as he was a well respected, a Flying Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and had just returned from the war with Germany. None-the-less to be screamed at in this manner was like a slap in the face, and left an indelible scar on the child's psyche. The shock caused the child to withdraw temporarily from conversation, and resulted in the discovery of his alter ego, his other self, something, someone, who would become his best friend, and would never tell him to shut up. Best friends throughout life they would find answers to all the questions that started with “why”.

I remembered my conversation with the old man while spending a few days at the Spruce Resort gathering information and sketches for my new art book. I was sitting having a cup of coffee outside our studio unit when a young family walked by on their way to the beach. The mother was carrying a new born, and twin girls approximately 3 years old, trailed after the father. One of the girls was pestering dad with questions. "Dad, can we have a fire?” As it had rained earlier, and as rain was threatening once again, the father replied, “no”. “Why?", asked his daughter. "Because the rain will put out the fire", replied the father. “”Why?" asked his daughter. "Because rain is water, and things can’t burn in water”, replied the father. “Why?" asked his daughter. "Look, look, at the pretty flower!", replied the father, as he hurriedly caught up with his wife leaving his daughters to ponder the pretty flower.


WHY?

Why,
it’s a question first asked,
never properly answered,
left for us to determine
the answer.

Why,
the question,
haunts us
throughout our life,
without really finding
a proper answer.

Why,
is also
the last question asked.

Why?


EAS


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A TIME TO BE BORN

Ecclesiastes 3:2 
To every thing there is a season, 
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:A time to be born, ..... 

Andy and I were born at about the same time, but we weren't conscious of each other for quite some time.  Not unlike all children there's this period where we slowly become aware of self, and our surroundings. It all takes time, and it would be two, or three years before we recognized each other and began to look around and ask, "why?"



In the Beginning

I didn’t want to leave.
It was so warm,
so comfortable.
But, it wasn’t my choice,
it was her choice. 
She pushed,
and pushed, 
and squeezed, 
and shoved,
until 
I slid towards the light. 
I cried, 
I screamed,
and screamed,
but it served no good.
Wrapped, and bound,
I had no choice,
I surrendered to the chaos awaiting.

    Now,
            years later,
time spent,
                 time wasted,
I wait
          to be squeezed,
                          and pushed,
                                 and shoved,
                                                     once again,
until I slide
            slowly
                   towards the light.
                                                        EAS

The Human Race

Many years ago I joined the human race,
a race to where,
no one knows.

Yet,
regardless of race, 
physical ability, 
or religious beliefs,
everyone must join the race.

At the start confusion reigns.
The race,
already underway,
is filled with competitors
stretched 
as far as the eye can see.

At first I raced with children,
their parents cheered them on.
But, as the race continued, 
and the participants 
grew older, 
the cheering crowd 
grew thinner.
Family members mostly,
as far as I could see.

The years,
they passed so quickly.
The race continued on.
The finish line, 
no where in sight.

And as I ran I noticed
the cheering crowd 
grow thinner.

And then, 
one day,
as I rounded a corner,
and bounded up a hill,
the finish line came into sight.

I looked about,
and was shocked to see
that there were few onlookers,
no cheers,
just silence,
and just me.

Vision blurring, 
I continue racing, 
to where
               I do not know

EAS

Insignificance

Star light shone through the bedroom window,
casting shadows on the walls. All around was drowned in the quiet
just before the dawn. As sleep was evasive I struggled with my thoughts, and
made use of the time to consider the insignificance of me, myself, and I.
Some would say we were sent here by an act of love, but
truth be known love was quite absent, biology played the part. That we are
important to the very scheme of things, 
that our lives are full of purpose, 
is far beyond the truth.
Our struggle to survive is primal
at the best. 
To save our species is the reason,
no more,
no less.
Billions of our species have come, and
have gone
some say to a heaven, 
a better place than here. But,
I have to wonder
as of gods there’s no proof. Just human inventions,
figments of our imagination, 
to help us
face our worst fears. 
Our purpose imagined,
to help us 
to go 
where?

EAS

We Are But A Smudge

We humans are
but a smudge
in the fabric of time,
nothing important,
barely a memory,
part of
an evolutionary experiment,
leaving no history,

and no one to mind. 

EAS