Monday, January 11, 2010

Esquimaux Kiss

The snow has been falling steadily all day. As evening closes in, I'm wishing I had a ski pulk in which to bundle my son and pull him behind me for a nighttime ski through the woods. The powder on the ground is just perfect for a wintry outing. He could fall asleep to the hoots of owls. The silence of snowfall.

I'm beating eggs. Butter in the pan. Mushrooms browning. I pour the yellow liquid over fungi and sprinkle in parmesan, sea salt, fresh ground pepper. The kettle is boiling and he bubbles over, too, in his jolly jumper. Eyes gazing at trees out the window, he blows raspberries, his face aglow with the strange mix of firelight and the blue of twilight. Little pomegranates for cheeks. My heart feels full.


I'm thinking back to when I was a kid. Winters when drifts reached up to the windows. All those snow days off school. So much white stuff, my brothers would build snowforts the size of castles, big enough to crawl through and disappear into the Arctic regions. One snowy armoury built each end of the garden and iced over. An igloo as the base and a chimney-like stack through which to stand and toss, duck and hide. We each amass our cylindrical weaponry in small piles; peek out and pummel. This is how I develop a good throwing arm.


I pour myself an Ovaltine and my thoughts drift to you and me as kids. Growing up in the same town. Mere blocks apart. Two years, eight months apart. To the day. The same snowfalls fell into our open mouths, melt against tongues, are swept by the arc of arms into wings of angels. Tonight, when I think on those snowforts, it's not war that comes to mind. Instead, I'm wishing I could take your small hand in mine and crawl into one of 'em with you as the children we once were. Huddle together in our snowsuits, look up through frosted chimneys and count stars. Watch our laughter crystallize as our breath freezes mid-air. It's not as if we haven't known the child in each of us, so clearly discernible when we finally meet in our 20s. Visible long before your beautiful mum takes out that old box. Photos spread all over the floor of a living room on Twin Oaks. He's there in his stutter, the stuffing of hands into pockets. She's there in her freckles and the biting of lips.


Tonight, the snowflakes falling so softly make me imagine leaning close, holding our breath. Knees shivering. Frozen faces hovering.  A kind of first kiss. An Inuit Cupid's harpoon flies.

Kunik.

The timid, tremulous touch of noses while we close our eyes, squeeze mittened hands and confuse the howl of the wind for the wolves in our beating hearts...

Music: Igloo (Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack), Karen O and the Kids

12 comments:

Brian Miller said...

wow. some amazing imagery...the wolves of the heart...owls and snowfalls...and eskimo kisses in igloos...your picture leaves me with a smile...all the way down to bubbling in his jumper. have a great evening. smiles.

Land of shimp said...

Nancy, that was lovely. It had a pretty, drifting quality, not unlike snow.

By the way, you asked a couple of posts below: My name is Alane, and you're welcome to call me that :-)

It is lovely to think of those carefree times, but I was struck by the fact that you were drinking Ovaltine. Even though we don't possess literal time machines, we do think back, and sometimes have small things in our environment that are evocative of those simpler times.

Isn't Ovaltine like that? There's some very comforting about it. The name, but even how it used to be marketed, as being nutrient rich (whee, nutrient rich chocolate milk! I'm there!). Isn't there a pleasing innocence in that? Something fun, that is good for you.

Like revisiting snow-fort memories. We can lose that when we grow up, or appreciation of the snow. Too often we look at it and think about heating bills, and road delays.

Sometimes we all need to have some Ovaltine, and remember snow angels instead. Thanks for doing that for me.

the b in subtle said...

Thanks, both of you. Alane, I've changed my photo back for you. I drink the cream-coloured Ovaltine. The malted milk flavour. (Prefer it to the chocolate.)

Here's some info about where my photo was taken: Ovaltine Cafe (Vancouver, BC). Even though I play with photography, I have to credit my then-boyfriend at the time with this one. I loved the place and the cracked mirror seemed an appropriate perspective for capturing its character. cheers, Brian and Alane.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Such a beautiful post, taking me to a place of fantasy and wonderful memories.

CJ xx

Land of shimp said...

Aha! I was unaware that there was more than one flavor, or variety of Ovaltine. I have now expanded my Ovaltine knowledge, thanks to you. I like the picture, it looks as if you are peering out at a traintrack (something very station-like about that picture) about to head off to Hogwarts. Honestly, there's something very fanciful about the picture.

I've always loved a Vanilla Malted, and won't drink a Chocolate one. Not quite the same thing, but the same principle.

Oh shoot, now I want a shake and instead I must go and be productive...while thinking about vanilla malteds. What a pleasant thing to have romping around in my brain.

Titanium said...

Beautifully written... and kudos to you for speaking your mind on "Things I'd Like to Punch..."

A person's features are always off-limits; some things just aren't funny.

the b in subtle said...

Alane - I make it by scooping about 4 tablespoons, mixing the powder with some vanilla soy milk and pouring boiling water to fill the mug. Yummy. love it.

thanks, CJ! hope your roads are getting cleared now!

Titanium - 'Ti' - thanks for finding me and for the kudos. Yeah, that was a little strange. The first negative comment I've left for anyone. I've found other of her posts to really have me laughing uproariously or even at least snickering, but that one put me off. I didn't find it in the least funny. I'm sure Jay Leno makes fun of his own chin in a self-deprecating way (that's called humility and charm) - but mocking someone's physical features strikes me as nothing more than bullying. It was disappointing because she seems to be chock full of comical talent. Why she had to go there is beyond me. Anyway - kudos to you! I was checking you out and you "rock" - get it? ;) okay, i won't do standup anytime soon...

JeffScape said...

I dig your style. There's both an intimacy and a detachment to it, and very nicely balanced at that.

And I only learned the word "Esquimaux" last year, so serendipity strikes again!

Cabo said...

That was a delightful read! You describe things in such a grand manner that leaves no need for imagination. Beautiful pictures!

Ciara said...

Oh, so beautiful, Nancy.

Your writing here is so evocative and almost felt like I was peeking out from my own snow fort. Did you know we were there?

I cannot get enough of that Karen O soundtrack. Isn't it just gorgeous? Those early scenes in the film, before Max goes off to Where The Wild Things Are are some of the most beautiful I've seen in a long time. Again, very evocative, but not in a saccharin way. So very real, and heartbreaking and full of magic of the everyday kind. Just like life with little ones really, I guess.

Thanks for transporting me. C x

the b in subtle said...

Jeff - thanks for visiting me. Nice to 'meet' you. and thanks for your compliments. I noticed you like "The Lives of Others" - wasn't it brilliant? I also loved ROad to Perdition and Good Will Hunting (a friend of mine, in fact, worked on that film). Tres cool.

Michael - thanks, as always.

Ciara - i LOVE the soundtrack (and the movie and the book obviously). I think Worried Shoes is my favourite on the album. A special friend (for whom I wrote this Esquimaux piece) told me that song was written by Daniel Johnston. I wanted to see his documentary, but haven't as yet...

Christian said...

Your blog is So lovely!