Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some Cold, Some Warmth, Much Random . . .


We have been living in freezing fog for over a week now. Yesterday, fortunate enough to take in a reading by the visiting Saanich poet Philip Kevin Paul, I was mesmerized not only by the poetry but also by the strangely beautiful view through the windows behind him -- from our hillside vantage point, the effect of Paul's words was heightened by the sight of the Coastal Mountains precisely articulated, across the Georgia Strait, by the late afternoon sun. At the bottom of the hill, though, great swathes of cotton batting folded themselves onto the water's surface, obliterating the harbour, erasing much of Downtown Nanaimo as well. From the hillside, the scene was captivating, spectacular. Living at sea level, underneath that cloud? Damned depressing by now, truly!
Experiencing the cold and the grey, mitigating it through warm soup and bright colours and good news and fine poetry. That's the goal this week. So here's some random items, on both sides of that balance sheet.
You want cold? I can't give you the kind of cold you need to go to Ottawa, Montreal, or Winnipeg for, BUT on our little island, an important listserve topic earlier this week was how to drive a little commuter boat through the early morning ice so that the boat didn't get sliced into a Titanic-like experience.
I found some warmth, though, in how well my mother came through her surgery. This surgery would have required many post-op days in hospital not so long ago -- mom was discharged the next day after being only the second gynecological patient in Western Canada to undergo surgery-by-robot. Here's a newspaper report, if you're interested.
"Fog depositing ice" is what the Environment Canada weather website calls it -- what this kind of freezing fog means is that a deep, wet, cold permeates and pervades perversely. It's mean and merciless and calls to mind the Dementors from Harry Potter. Even with salt on the sidewalks, all the curbs are dangerously, deceptively slippery, and did I mention that my hair, dry when I leave the house, first gets soaked and then actually freezes into tinkly icicles, simply from the combination of soaking wet air and freezing cold? One of my colleagues, a Victorianist, is pleased, though, to see what "hoar frost" really looks like -- she'd always imagined it as a Keatsian invention!
Lifting my mood against the chill, however, was my daughter Girlcook's invitation, in my e-mailbox today, to check out her new Flickr pages. She's making great use of a very generous Christmas gift from her guy, Rob. That's her shot of an oystercatcher, above, and her great blue heron below, reconciling me to the greys of winter.

Last night, after a convivial dinner with good red wine and a lively discussion about poetry after the reading, I ran for the ferry, knowing I had a bit of leeway because it would be behind schedule in deference to the fog. As I huddled with my commuting neighbours in its sturdy-but-not-overly-comfy interior, the smell of damp and fuel and salt and wet breath encompassing us, we moved through the dark and the thick fog, lights off, feeling our way, airhorn sounding regularly to warn other mariners out of our way. I chatted with a young man I've watched grow up over the last 15 or so years, but scarcely get to see anymore, and I recognized his presence on the ferry as a witness to the weather's rudeness -- Tom happily rides in the dark through fog to come home after the ferry's stopped running, nor does does he usually let cold stop him. This combination, though, convinced him to leave his boat in town and ride in relative luxury for now.

The fog is thickening again out my window and I hear the foghorns marking the spot where a freighter's crew hunker down, far, far from home. But today when I came home from work on the 5:10 ferry, it was just barely dusk when we disembarked. Next Wednesday, I suspect it will still be light at 5:30, and while we may yet have more snow and ice and cold and fog and rain, the light is surely returning. My friend Jane recently documented the newly-burgeoning life she's spotted in the winter garden she caretakes and inspired me to check out the hellebores in my own garden -- they don't seem to mind the fog, do they!
In case it's not obvious, you might note that the wintry grey cold is marked out here in a deep icy blue, and the attempts at finding warmth to get me through that cold is fire-brick red -- I'm hoping I'll at least find balance, even if I can't bring spring on yet!

8 comments:

  1. I love that red beak on the bird. I wonder what colour lipstick that bird is wearing. Sooooo fabulous. You, my friend, have a beautiful life. I know you know that. But, I feel compelled to remind you every so often.

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  2. Whilst my marrow shivers in sympathy. I must say I too would love to see that hoar frost especially through a macro lense. I have perfected the art of layering my way out of the cold this year and I am sure your double scarf trick must be helping a little.
    The lighter mornings are the 'light' at the end of my tunnel too.

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  3. What a great post. Fascinating article about your mother. She is a lovely lady. You are so fortunate to still have her with you. Hope your soup warms you up. Soup is my favorite meal always.

    I am ready for the spring.

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  4. Fog Depositing Ice is added to future band names.

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  5. LBR: Thanks for the reminder, Weasel -- maybe you can buy lipstick that colour while you're out shopping with Pseu.
    IndiAl: No amount of layering seems to stop the deep damp -- but the hoar frost is beautiful and you'd make gorgeous photographs of it if you were here
    Julianne: Soup is so very comforting, isn't it!
    Thom: It would be perfect! Right up there with my daughter's accusation that my knives are "dangerously dull" -- could you play in a band called Dangerously Dull?

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  6. I have the same problem as you except in opposite - its too hot to go outside, well over 100 degrees. Heat puts me in a very bad mood (actually lots of things do that!).
    Your poetry reading sounded fabulous, with the words and the view combining to make it 'an experience' of more than just poetry.

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  7. Here's to Grandmater for a great recovery! What a brave lady.

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  8. Cybill: The poetry reading was spectacular, especially with the complimentary show from nature.
    Karen: I'll pass your compliments along to mom; she did very well, I agree.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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