Cassandra’s Tears

Tears of joy, tears of pain, we are reflected in the salt-water pools we create. So let us build a fleet of paper boats and sail them on our ocean of indecision, laughing at the wind-whipped white-crested waves that would wash over us, drowning us in our own despair, yet somehow never vanquishing us in the end.

My Photo
Location: Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Writing about nature and Nature not caring on the longest day of the year.

I hold in my hand a sprig of weed that grows in Janice’s yard. It is small, recently cut down by the lawn mower which does not differentiate between grass and not grass: clover, chickweed, creeping charlie, dandelion and plantain. You wouldn’t notice this little bit of greenery underfoot, but here in my grasp, all alone above the lined white paper of my notebook, it takes on a larger significance.

The leaf, while perhaps a half-inch across at its widest, reminds me of geranium, the way it and its fellows grow out of the main stem: very like geranium. And that is it. I turn it over and trace the path of the veins with my eye as I listen to the red-winged blackbird across the way and songs of robins and sparrows among the trees. The wind has picked up and I hear it soughing through the branches and feel it caress my skin. Apart from the birds and the wind and the occasional rustle of paper from my colleagues, it is quiet. There is no traffic, no sound of industry, so that any artificially-made noise is an intrusion. A cow moos, a dog barks and the blackbird calls incessantly.

On this longest day of the year it is already getting dark at 7:30; the feel of rain is in the air. The birds know, as do the insects, the flies annoying in their excitement. The few cars that pass in front of the orchard are enclosed worlds, the drivers unaware of the sounds of nature which are making themselves so obvious to us as we sit here quietly writing our inner thoughts. Each car that passes now seems like an affront to the peacefulness of the nature around us. Even the three-legged cat, posed on the log like a lion observing his domain, is part of nature. Occasionally twitching an ear at an annoying insect, he watches and waits. He is one step away from becoming feral.

It is we who are the intruders here, waving at the flies, slapping at the mosquitoes, feeling the cool breeze on our bare legs. I realize suddenly that I am still holding the sprig of tiny geranium-like creeping charlie. I would rather paint it, I think, than describe it. It’s as though it loses something in translation.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Under an apple tree
Five women write about nature.
Nature doesn’t care.

Uta Regoli
June 21, 2005

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Fishing with my Father

Gorse bushes. I do not know what they are. They figure in English literature, they decorate the countryside, and in my mind’s eye I see a rounded shrub with prickles, although I have no idea of the leaf size or shape, and if the fruit it bears is a berry or a plum.

My father took us fishing when we were small on those occasions when the conservation area stocked the river and opened its doors to avid amateurs. We never caught anything, and my father was vigilant about hooks and barbs. He carried wire cutters with him to snip the fish hook should it enter an unwary child’s finger and emerge from torn flesh. I am amazed that a man who did not believe in spending money frivolously would buy fishing rods, reels and line with an array of hooks and weights. Even now the word “lead” conjures up the little lead weights hanging with the lures from the colourful cork floats.

Some fishermen were successful on these outings. I remember seeing people with trout hanging together in a bunch like grapes, as in the painting of the fisherman found in the ruins at Akrotiri. My father would have loved to see those ancient frescoes, but he would not travel, either because he feared it or because he was too cheap to spend the money.

He was clever at many things, resourceful so that he could do his own repairs and avoid the costs of a third party. Traveling through Ontario with him and my mother once, we experienced a flat tire, and as the two of them put on the spare I wandered through a patch of wild raspberry bushes, eating my fill. The warning from my father that we were in rattlesnake country did not diminish my enjoyment and no rattlesnake made its appearance during my impromptu lunch, but my father revealed how he carried a sharp razor blade in his wallet to slash an X above the site of a snake bite and suck out the poison from the wound.

My father has been gone for over four years, and we had very little to say to each other when he was alive. Yet I find myself missing him when I experience something that I know he would have enjoyed hearing about. My sister-in-law told me recently how she once asked him why he didn’t go to see the places and things that most interested him, and he answered that the knowledge itself that these things existed was enough for him. I can see how that was true. It describes a lack of curiosity but a confidence in existence in general. He did not need to rush around the world, making sure that the wonders travelers spoke about were as they described them. For him the descriptions in themselves were enough, and he didn’t feel the need to have a first-hand experience. So now when I travel and see geological wonders or man-made monuments, I want to share my experiences with him, to describe something he will never see. But I cannot, and the story remains untold. It becomes a gorse bush, an unidentified shrub known only by its name, or it disappears down the stream of time like the lucky trout who escaped our hooks and nets on those long-ago fishing trips.