Thursday, July 21, 2011

Entering the Zone

Yesterday morning our friend L. drove Lorraine and me to the airport to enter the zone, or, in other words, to embark on a journey by air.  I hadn’t really believed until this morning that we were actually leaving, though the weighing of suitcases last night and last minute check marks on the task lists suggested it was really happening.  However, it’s not until you enter the zone that you actually understand the fact that you are going.

Once you are inside the zone there is little that you actually decide for yourself; basically you do what the people in charge of your travel tell you to.  It can be a bore, and it can be exhausting, but there can be moments of magic inside that zone.  I think part of the reason for it is that you are transported out of your quotidian existence, where the list of tasks you need to complete can weigh on your time, into a zone where there’s not much you can do except relax and free your mind to explore.

Here were some of my highlights from inside that zone:

The July 4 issue of The New Yorker (my chosen zone reading) had some good Talk of the Town pieces, including one on Afghanistan, which took me back to the conversations I’ve been having over the past week with F., a doctor from there who has left the country he loves because of the danger and corruption and heartbreak that he has witnessed there.  Then I read a piece on Jeff Nunokawa which made me want to read his short literary essays and commentaries on Facebook and another on Kirsten Hively and neon signs that made me think of a few noteworthy ones in Halifax I might want to photograph.  The EDL article made me glad not to be in England, and the one on Han Han got me wanting to check out his blog.

I interrupted this reading periodically to look out my window, which was on the south side of the plane, and wrote in my journal:
the world outside my window is a dream
green forests blue lakes
farmland and rivers in the clear air
two shining bays on the far horizon
then the blue blue Fundy straight below

I examined the slightly freckled male pattern baldness of the man in 28A.

I listened to Lorraine in 29B laughing out loud at something in Morning Glory.

When I got tired of reading, I listened to Janis J.singing Cry Baby and thought about the summer when Cream, The Doors, and Janis all played Vancouver, and I had money for only one concert.  I still regret my choice, though I did get to see Morrison take a dive on the stage at an "intense" moment in one of his songs.

After Toronto the air was hazy and I watched Unknown, kind of a waste of time with a couple of annoyingly impossible car chases, but held together with some interesting plot twists, a cute and clever Diane Kruger, and a very nice scene between Bruno Ganz, formerly of Stasi, and Frank Langella, member of “Section 15”.

Bright sun over the Prairies so that I sneezed when I lifted the blind – reminded me of a Quirks and Quarks show years ago where a Swedish researcher determined that a neural pathway in the nose can be stimulated by sunshine and cause that reflex.

Clouds floated out to the horizon over flat farmland, green and brown fields, and dark patches that looked like woodlots but turned out to be cloud shadows.

I listened to Clapton Unplugged and thought of my good friend K. who has loved Eric deeply for much of his life.  Then we came to Running on Faith as I sat next to my partner of 41 years and thought of our good fortune in this world, to love and to be loved.  Try listening to it here.

And finally we landed, picked up our bags, emerged from the zone into the bright light of western sun where the air feels just a little thinner and a little drier, and embarked on the next stage of this journey, once more outside of the zone.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hirtle’s Beach

Anyone who lives on or near Nova Scotia’s Atlantic coastline knows about the fog.  It’s the reason Environment Canada’s forecasts in June and July often say things like: “Fog patches dissipating in the morning. Wind becoming west 30 km/h near noon. High 27 except 21 along parts of the coast.”  This is tomorrow’s forecast (tonight the fog has crept up the harbour and hidden everything but our neighbours’ lights), and the projected 6-degree difference between us on the coast and those who live more inland is caused by the fog bank that lies out on the horizon through the day and the breeze that blows from it to us.  Sometimes it is pleasantly cooling; sometimes it’s damned cold!

So when we drove with our friend G. toward Lunenburg County and Hirtle’s Beach on Sunday afternoon, we knew that the sunshine we were in might not last, and sure enough, when we passed somewhere near the Head of St. Margaret’s Bay, a huge plume of fog drifted over the highway and turned everything damp and grey.  Fortunately we drove out of that and Lunenburg town was sunny, but we knew that heading out past Rose Bay to Hirtle’s was likely to put us into the fog again.  And it did.

However, Hirtle’s is one of the most beautiful beaches on our coast, and it’s always worth a visit.  The waves were not much, and the wind and fog were really cold, but it was great to be there.

There was fog around the trees on the other side of the lake back of the beach (where the water was much warmer).

The wild roses seem to thrive above the tide line, and the foggy air helps make their colours brighter.

I always like the tumbles of boulders on our beaches.

And the real treat, after G. and I searched all of the boardwalks, was finding the board we were looking for, the one we had dedicated back in 2002 to the memory of our Welsh terrier who died that fall. 

We remember him well, our dog Griff, whose spirit was large..