Monday, April 25, 2011

Two things today

There were two things that brought tears to my eyes and thickened my throat today.

The first was telling Lorraine and JE about the e-mail I received yesterday from XE, the high school student who had moved to Halifax from Beijing three years ago and who had just heard of the substantial scholarships she had been awarded by Dalhousie.  It doesn’t really make sense that it would affect me this way; after all, she had worked so hard, completing pre-IB in her first year here, doing IB A1 English in her second year, and taking every suggestion I gave her and applying it assiduously to her next assignments.  XE was an utter treat to work with that whole year, and I always looked forward to our after school sessions, the serious brightness of her attention and presence, the slippers they gave me to wear, and the huge mug of green tea that her dad kept refilling for me as we worked.

Helping  XE with her scholarship application letters, I came to know a little more about her and what the family had left behind when they brought her here to complete high school and apply to university.  It was that knowledge combined with the experience of helping her navigate a course that was difficult for native English speakers that flooded up in me when we parked the car in front of JE’s house and I started to tell them about the scholarship awards.  JE caught my eye in the rear view mirror and told me it was OK, and it was, but it still took me more than a minute to be able to actually say the words without choking up again.  When we crossed the street to the house, I felt a tear rolling down my left cheek and smiled at the thought of XE beaming with happiness.

The second happened a while later when Lorraine was reviewing the images she had got last night out on the Welland Canal spit.  It was a perfect evening for it with a sky that had cleared off through the afternoon and a wind that had dropped to nothing.  She and JE drove out the Seaway Haulage Road and then hiked out the spit to the small cove that was formed near the end.  She set up the camera while he gathered a collection of flat stones for skipping and slitting the devil’s throat. 
He stood where she told him to right at the edge of the flat water that had just enough residual wave action that it seemed to be breathing and skipped rocks out toward the gap between the lighthouse on one side and the Niagara River point on the other.  The night was perfect and the rock’s impact curled up the still surface and sent out a widening circle every time it touched down and then skipped ahead to touch another time and another.  The serious focus and beauty of JE’s stance and throw and the breathtaking poetry of each skip captured so lovingly by Lorraine brought the same welling up in my eyes and constriction in my throat.

That’s really all, a couple of occasions that made me so happy that I couldn’t speak.  Don’t need any more than that to make it a good day.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday, 2011

It is Easter Sunday and we are in Ontario.  As Nova Scotians we don’t necessarily love Ontario, but people we love live here and so we come to see them.  And to see parts of Ontario we've never seen.

This morning we woke up in Long Point in a rented cottage right next to the Long Point Provincial Campground and just across the road from high sand dunes and a pathway to a huge sand beach on Lake Erie.  It’s a beautiful spot, the beach mostly empty now because it’s mainly a summer resort area, and we were able to walk kilometres without seeing more than one or two others all along the shore.

Lorraine did some photographing there.

The dunes were lovely with variegated shades of sand and trees growing right through them.

E. and I. were walking up ahead as the lake fog rolled in.

There were wet marshes behind the beaches that the birds loved, soldier blackbirds everywhere.

Back in St. Catharine’s small flowers were blooming in the garden.

And on the front walk.

A squirrel watched M. and me from a tree branch.

She worked on another picture out on the sidewalk.  And then the Ontario sun started to set and she had a bath and went to bed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April 1, it is raining (again)

March went out quietly, like a lamb, as they say, but April came in today with no fooling, just the serious flourish of a late winter or early spring storm.  The sky early this morning was red in warning, as they say, and now it is an even grey, with winds gusting out of the east, shaking the trees, lashing the rain against our windows, and howling past the corners of the house.
It is the first day of Poetry Month, so we need a poem that fits the day, not the little rhyme of April showers bringing May flowers, but something more, like the beginning of this scene from Act III of King Lear:

SCENE II. Another part of the heath. Storm still.
Enter KING LEAR and Fool

rain-water out o' door.  Good nuncle, in; ask thy daughters'


We don’t have any thunderbolts or pernicious children, but we do have a pretty good pretty wild storm today and we have Bill’s words to inaugurate the month of poetry here.  Long may it reign!