Thursday, November 5, 2009


As I write this with evening coming on, the fields surrounding my 1.3 acres are blanketed for the first time this Autumn. Snow. Not just any snow. His very first snowfall. I am recounting the day. Sometime after 6:30 a.m., I reach for my camera. I had been lying in bed in the dark watching the picnic table collect soft, large flakes on the back deck as I listen to him talk to himself, his favourite thing in the mornings as he awakens. I guess he figures he will let me sleep while he amuses himself. Perhaps, since he wakes up in semi-darkness, he assumes he is alone somehow. But I like to think he can hear my breathing, a kind of security blanket that warms him enough to coo in perfect contentment and concoct gurgling noises deep in his throat. I turn on the light and approach the crib. He beams up at me. Where did I find this child? How did he find me? An owl, deer and robin look on as I lift him out of his forested bedding and pull back the hanging on the deck door to reveal The White Stuff. He is so young still, one week away from turning 6 months old, I'm not sure what exactly he makes of it all. I imagine his little mind like the inside windings, wheels and tick-tocks of an old grandfather clock, turning and formulating each New and Wondrous Thing he absorbs and locking it away somewhere to pull out again later. Referencing. Storing. The squirrel on his crib bumper eyes my son's hungry mind warily and grasps onto the nut she holds a little more tightly.

This morning we drive into town early. My car needs a 110-point inspection at Crappy Tire. Across the way is Starbucks so I stroll him over under a blue, but cold sky, the morning's snowflakes melted away. We lay siege on one of the smaller, couchy-type chairs. What astounds me as I sit and sip and nurse simultaneously is the myriad of languages I hear. Two women speak Italian three tables over. At least, it's a Latin language that is not French. I assume Italian because of the beautiful hand gestures the women sign to accompany each point they are making as they converse with each other. They don sweats and lycra as though they have just both come from a workout, but still look sophisticated in that oh-so-European way. The gym, perhaps, wasn't enough since they pump their arms up and down and all around as they talk. They evoke a silent film and I feel like a voyeur as I can nearly guess their entire conversation through the movements of their eyes, mouths and hands. Listening to their lilt, I smile and dream about sipping this decaf latte with my babe at my boob in Florence instead; close my eyes to imagine it. Just behind me another couple chats away and I am suddenly thrown Northeast to Prague. As if on cue, cumulonimbus sweep in, blotting out the sun. No, it's not a Harry Potter broom. Cumulonimbus are the types of clouds which carry rain or snow within them. And for the second time this morning, it's snow falling. Not softly, though. It slants and hurtles toward the ground. A gaggle of teenagers from the nearby highschool rush in wearing winter coats over gym shorts and knee-high socks, giggling and squealing as they shake the weather from their goose-bumped limbs.

The woman has turned to fuss over my sonshine. He produces My Favourite Thing (his shy smile). Her name is Jindra, I learn. Pronounced Yin-drah. She spells it out for me. Her husband tries to out-shy my son. I smile. This is what I miss about Toronto when I lived there. All the varied cultures everywhere you'd go. I'm surprised to find a bit of a melting pot here in my old hometown, but happy to discover this area has been growing and stretching, morphing into a somewhat more global creature while I've been living rurally the last decade. I will be leaving the countryside in the spring. The thought makes me happy and sad simultaneously, but that's par for the course where I'm concerned. My body has difficulty differentiating between Joy and Sorrow sometimes. What is the phrase I came across last night? Oh, yes: Excess of Sorrow laughs. Excess of Joy weeps. William Blake. Boy, did he get that right. How many times have I felt the strong urge to quell a giggle at a funeral or weep buckets over something so beautiful, it hurt? I look at my son and ponder his own songs of innocence and experience. Sonshine, The Musical. For now, I have a front row seat and am thoroughly enjoying the show.


His Aunt swings by and, over another latte, we discuss what she's working on these days and my own future goals. As I nurse him, he falls asleep in a sunlit halo. Today I have decided to write more often. As often as I can. And add some photos, some colour, to the stories I'm sharing. I figure practice will make perfect. Someday. And I need all the practice I can get. With this wee bundle of mine filling the bulk of my arms and my days, I aim to write at least once a week, if not every day. It's a start. A tiny goal. A first step. I wonder when he will take his. Each day, I place him on his tummy and he strains to crawl. He has learned to turn himself over or move himself around in a circle. Forward motion he has yet to master (something I am only beginning to master myself since leaving my common-law marriage and the rut, the stasis of it). We learn to move forward together, my son and I.

The sun shines again as we leave my parents' place, a brief visit once the car is fixed. Clouds in the distance promise that we head home into yet another snowfall. The expanse of rural sky gives the added benefit of watching weather approach, sometimes tentatively. At other times, menacingly. Each time fascinates. Something I will miss. I throw another log in my woodstove to build the fire up and take a photograph of the front yard turning white at dusk. The tiny squares of the screen door produce the effect of a photo taken a century ago. In a farmhouse as old as this, it suits the mood perfectly. Pathetic fallacy. His little mouth turns toward my heart as we settle for the night with the ghosts in, what is now, a ghostlike landscape.

Music: Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell


Carrie Snyder said...

LOVE the Blake quote. I hadn't heard it before. Utterly true. Beautiful ghostly snow photo.
Enjoy this crisp clear new day!

Tricia Orchard said...
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willow said...

Real snow, already?! I am so very envious. I got my Doctor Zhivago hat out today and can't wait for our first snow.

Thanks for stopping by the manor today.

Mimi said...

pst: i go to that sb all the time. almost fell out of my chair when I figured out where you were. i'm the bob behind the giant coffee cup ...

...mmm... said...

Ahhhh...I feel so incredibly cozy now reading your very descriptive (but way long for a blog!) post. Lovely.

so, even there there is a Starbucks hey?

Yes,I well hear you about the diversity of cultures that you miss fomr the big city, Toronto's in your case. I feel the same way being stuck in homogeny land here.

You are a good writer. Keep it up adn your son is adoreable. What blue eyes! I love dit when my kdis were babies. Shoot, i lvoed every phase except not so wild about the latter teens with one of my kids but still, it's an incredible blessing I don't take for granted.

RE: comment above: "I'm the bob behind the giant coffee cup"--huh?

Anwyay, do take care. Enjoy this time. Enjoy the snow as much as able. I even remember the first time I saw snow, as little as it was--it was on London when I was about 9. Wow. Loved it. It only snowed about 3 times the whole time growing up though and now i live in Colorado where it doesn't snow as much as people think along the Front range but all one has to do is spend a 2 hour drive up the mountains to see tons of it. I love it.

the b in subtle said...

Thanks for all your comments - so nice to "meet" you and thanks for checking me out. Sorry "mmm" that my posts are so verbose, but I've never known there to be an actual limit to word count for blogs. It's a bad habit of mine, though. I often 'pen' this stuff in the middle of night and I type much too fast for my own good (maybe almost 90 wpm) so I get lazy and am too tired, often, to take more care at 'crafting' my posts into something more concise! I will promise to endeavour to try to avoid too much length, but sometimes the feelings just flow and flow and pour out onto my pages the way they will...thanks for your patience in reading them! (Nancy)