Last night the light of the waning half-moon glowed through an overcast which continued to rain. This morning the precipitation had ended, here at least. The day seemed bright despite the overcast, perhaps in contrast to days of deep gloom. Doggies and I went for a walk in a local park named Hemer, after a local farming family who donated the land. It is a delightful network of trails sprawling through second-growth forest which blankets broken ground sprawling between a few small lakes and swamps.
Today the woods reverberated with the peculiar croinking grunt of tree frogs. I have spent many hours through the years stalking these tiny reptiles. I have yet to see one. As you approach the apparent source of their call, they fall silent. You dare not move or make a sound if you want to hear them call again. It is a waiting game which I invariably loose. No matter how hard I methodically scan the branches, trunks, leaves and plants I never see one.
It’s frustrating. I love their call and how they herald the distant spring. Today there was yet another loud proclamation of the changing season. Through the echoing woods, from over a mile away, the roar of sea lions filtered over the distance. They inhabit the log booms just north of Dodd Narrows and have come to await the arrival of the annual herring migration. Those fish come here to spawn in the spring, according to their own mysterious timing. Like a symphony orchestra everthing is on the same page, playing its part perfectly and right on time. We’ve just got to sit back and enjoy the music instead of trying to be the conductor. Da da dum!
The winter gloom of another rainy overcast provides almost enough light to take photographs that are often unfocused because of the low light and slow shutter speeds. Colours are drab but we do our best. Photography is a way of forcing myself to take an interest in the world around me. No matter how dismal, there is beauty and an effort to reach out for life. It is a deep mystery at times, but sometimes you have to accept things you do not understand. Bloom where you’re planted. Shed a little light in someone else’s eyes and you’ll find some for yourself.
“If you know you can do it, why go in the first place? ” Iohan Guearguiev
Say something; anything. I’m telling myself that as I sit here and stare at a blank screen. Really! Nothing to talk about. Me? Of all people! Write something, make a start, there must be sprouts in your fertile mind.(fertile=fertilizer=manure) Rants come, then go and so do silly anecdotes but I have nothing to change the world or even make anyone laugh. Empty wagons rattle the most I remind myself so I keep my big fingers away from the keyboard. The world tragedies are horrific, political bungles continue, miseries and darkness the same old fodder; and those are the ones we are told about. And frankly, I don’t give a toss about poor Prince Harry.
The Christmas “stuff” has been stowed away. This year our total decoration was a single tiny live cedar tree about sixteen inches tall. It was bowed over with a copper wire wrapped around it and a red ball hanging from its tip. There was sprig of festive decoration poked into the pot which was wrapped in a vaguely Christmasy bag. The whole little rig was frozen solid on a rack with several others. They were on sale for $6.50 each at the Home Despot which was clearly trying to dump them. I employed my usual argument with myself, “You didn’t need it until you saw it.” I shyly packed it home under my arm actually feeling a bit embarrassed at this pathetic specimen. Then, I discovered that the wire binding was actually a string of microscopic lights but the battery case was filled with frozen rain water. It needed new batteries. Bastards! Ripoff! Think I’ll go get my money back.
Two new AAA batteries and it sparkled magnificently, the frozen rainwater melted and dribbled for two days and we had a miserable little Christmas all things considered. But we had one! And we had a tree. I was not astute enough to take a photo but here’s one since I have de-festivized it. Some day it may stand tall and proud, an arboreal giant. Squirrels, children and perhaps monkeys will cavort among its branches. Eagles will perch in the gently swaying top and environmental groups will dance arm in arm around the broad base. All because a cheap grumpy old fart bought a discounted ornamental tree. Bumhug! By the way, individual small cedar trees one would use to plant a hedge sell for $35. each. My bargain tree chucked out of the house, I turned my attention to stowing away the Christmas cards. There were about a dozen and it took a minute or so. Christmas…over!
When I was a child Christmas cards were a huge part of the season. We’d tighten a string along the four sides of the living room wall and hang our cards on it. Handfuls came in the daily mail. Sometimes we would have to hang more cards in the kitchen. They were a traditional part of the decorations and began arriving in late November. There could be over a hundred of them. Postage was two cents for an unsealed envelope and we’d often sneak in a photo and a letter. My father had become a mailman and he hated the season. Relief workers were hired to cope with the overload and he worried that they would receive his Christmas gifts from the customers along his route. Some folks gave cards with cash inside, others provided bottles of booze and some offered cartons of cigarettes. Dad neither drank or smoked but bartered the gifts off for other treasures. Yet gifts were never expected, we were poor enough to understand. Imagine that going on today!
Just think. At today’s prices of $200. for a carton of smokes, $40. for a cheap jug of hootch, and $1. for a postage stamp, plus the cost of the card, and the time to write something in each one, Christmas could be a very, very expensive ordeal. As for snow storms, they were a regular part of the season and did not make headline news. We plodded on, it was winter, it was normal. Buffalo always got six feet of snow, Lake Ontario often froze a great distance from shore. Most folks were smart enough not to go out on the ice. Kids would shovel driveways for a quarter and were expected to show up for school no matter what the weather.
I’m now reading these wee scritchings a week into the year. The cold January rain is hammering on the skylight over my head. The little doggies don’t want to leave their beds. They’re smarter than I am. Once again I’m stuck for words. I started this blog ten years ago to share my travel adventures. What a dismal failure! I’m still here. It rankles me to mention someone else’s videos of their adventures but it would be immoral not to share this particular and incredible work.
This is the work of Iohan Gueorguiev. There are over seventy videos which he has posted. They are absolute masterpieces of outdoor film work. He documents his travels by bicicyle from the Canadian North all the way to Patagonia. The link above is a feature-film-length account of his 1000 km, 45 day trek through the Argentinian Puna, a high altitude desert. It is stunning and mesmerizing. I found it a life-enhancing experience and I sat mesmerized watching this unique work. What an expression of the joy of living in balance with the natural world! Sadly he is with us no more, his demise a poignant end to his amazing achievements. How many other inspiring people walk among us, quietly living their lives and we never learn about them?
Doggies and I have been out in the rain for some fresh air and are back home drying off and warming up again. Next to my desk is a leather couch with a broad soft top on the back. The dogs like to sit there at times and are wonderful company, albeit a bit demanding and distracting. Libby, the mini daschund is there at the moment producing some amazing snarts. (sneezes and farts all at once) I guess the caviar pizza didn’t agree with her. A nice thing about having a dog is that you can blame them for your “stuff.” Seriously, these two beasties have helped us through each day in wonderful ways. I’m still a big dog guy but I must concede that these two mini monsters are whole and complete dogs. Their love is as big as any dog of any size can offer.
And so the year is wearing on, only 355 of these days to go. Grey, wet, foggy, I’ve got all the enthusiasm of a garbage can. This too shall pass but it is time to go find some pleasant adventure to write about. Last night we programed the new “smart” television so that we could explore the delights of Prime TV. I think we were the ones being bent into shape. With all the wizardry available, why is nothing straight forward? Download and transfer codes, find a password, then another, that the “app” likes, start the process over and over, all the while working out the dynamics of three different remote controls. Finally, for some obscure reason, the same old process works! WTF? I feel I’m an idiot and know that there are millions out there who have no problem with this stuff. I just can’t wrap my weary brain around any of it.
I can’t recall how I spent long winter nights in my younger years but neither do I recall rolling into my bunk in abject frustration, overwhelmed with a sense of uselessness. There’s a lot to be said for a woodpile and a chopping block. I never did read a firewood manual. I just split away and I’ve got both arms and legs.
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Albert Einstein (How long ago did he say that?)
Two days before Christmas I sat watching the desert fly by. Cacti, and rocks and dust fling by the handle bar of a motorcycle where a video camera was mounted. The bike is participating in a rally in The Baha desert. I love the desert by I can’t understand why anyone would want to beat themselves, and their expensive piece of machinery like that. Just because I don’t get it does not mean it’s wrong, it is just not for me. I’d love to be there in fact, right now, on a motorbike, but idling along; Fred Quixote, the happy wanderer. I’m a lover not a racer. Outside my window here, a grainy snow sifts down, ahead of a forecast for a heap more snow, then torrential rain.
Television news this week is full of reports of cancelled flights and backed-up air terminals as people complain about who is to blame. There are claims of never having known storms like this before. Really? Do you actually believe yourself? It doesn’t taking much digging into records to see that there have been plenty of winter storms, fiercer, colder, snowier than this. A funny thing happens when you plan to travel during winter, you have to deal with winter storms. Yes really! Your agenda has nothing to with what the weather gods determine. It’s called reality. Don’t take it personally. It is not the fault of any airline, or weather forecaster.
I find it ludicrous that Canadians expect that by stepping through a few doorways, and waiting a few hours, you can move from a country known to be a wintery place and always arrive, on time, in some lower latitude tropical paradise. Even telephone calls don’t always get through. Reality, and our expectations, are often very far apart. There are still seats available on the all-inclusive Christmas tour of the Ukraine. For no extra charge, you can pick out an orphaned dog or cat and bring them home with you. And then, there are the children.
With Christmas past, the weather has warmed, the wind and rain have hammered away much of the snow. We have survived our day of grief missing those we so loved and are now gone. The wee dogs and I will soon head out, hopefully there’ll be no more slush-hopping. With wind slamming the trees around it may be a good idea to stay out in the open. Four days later, after another “weather event” of biblical rain, the snow is completely gone except for the receding heaps we shoveled so high last week. Now our lowlands are flooded as usual after heavy rain. Folks, as usual, are looking for someone to blame. Frankly, I’ve little pity for people who are determined to live in bottomland that is repeatedly flooded. Hello? Hello?
And so we have survived into a New Calendar year. Fireworks intermittently hammered under a beautiful clear sky until after 3 am. It sounded like yet another assault on Kiev. Life goes on whether we like it or not, suck it up and go do something. Wishing everyone health and happiness with good things to look forward to. May you find contentment in the moment.
“You are never too old to reinvent yourself.” Steve Harvey