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.

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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.


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