Lately has been a patch of such intensity, so much pressure in every direction, that each glimmer of tenderness, of humanity, of a hand reaching out in the chaos has felt like a branch that must be held onto tightly in hopes of slowing the relentless slide down a slope.
That dream the other night of a house where everything you touch turns into something else – you pick up the umbrella, it turns into an eel, you grab the doorhandle, it turns into a salamander.
A house of so many tricks and false faces and turns and complications, and in the dream I am trying and trying to leave, to take my son and go live with a man I’ve met by the seaside, a fisherman, to go and live a simple life, the three of us, if I can just escape this house….
But I can’t leave.
I can’t extract myself.
A couple of nights before that it had been a childhood home, passing through the kitchen and my mother making dinner and instructing me on how I should go out and do all the right things to get this man, to hook this rich guy already and get myself taken care of, fer chrissakes.
He is waiting for me outside, this guy. A producer I know – bit of a hot shot.
He is just up the street, and is impatient there in his fancy car, a sports convertible – he wants me to hurry up and get in the car.
I am annoyed at being hurried.
All I want to do is play in the mud…
Weekly Photo Challenge – Letters
Today was a bird day. Bit by bit I worked my way out into the folds of the bird sanctuary, knee deep in the water, scrambling on rocks increasingly covered in bird poo, assuring me I was in their territory. Many of them flew away at my approach. Others stared coldly. I waited. I figured if I hung out long enough they’d get used to me.
Wednesday was a mammal day. I biked some 36km to Thornbury and back, seeing bunnies and chipmunks darting across the path. On the way back, the sun going down, I passed through a patch of air so rank and funky I knew there was something big in the bushes, likely bear.
Thursday was looking like it was going to be all cute little bugs – caterpillars and locusts and this very charming ladybug –
But when I looked up from the rock where I’d cornered this poor little guy, a snake slithered past into a small tuft of grasses and a frog bounded away, saving himself.
The snake both spooked and thrilled me – I haven’t seen a snake in years, had forgotten their creepy eerie magic, the way they glide effortlessly along the earth.
Riding out, I had to swerve to avoid a toad on the path.
Insects, reptiles, amphibians.
But today was birds.
Swans, geese, ducks, and gulls by the dozens. Their sanctuary so still and peaceful I lost interest in photos and simply contemplated the sky. And when a heron flew overhead, just 2 meters above me, I didn’t even turn on my camera but just stared at his strange pterodactyl body and listened to the faint metallic whoosh of his wings.
Actually it isn’t the sea, it’s a lake. And in fact it’s only the bay of a lake.
But it’s pretty fucking huge.
And these days quite, um, cold.
But like look at that –
That is one big body of water. And it isn’t even the biggest one.
Once I flew from Toronto to Winnipeg and we passed over Lake Superior. That shit went on for days. Huge, massive lake.
Not quite the sea, not the moody enchantment of the Atlantic off Maine or Connecticut, not the terrifying energy of the Pacific off Vancouver Island, not the inviting enrapture of the Caribbean but….works for me.
Last night we drove to Stratford to a film screening, part of the Stratford Music Festival. It was a film I’d worked on several years ago about Jane Bunnett and the making of the album Embracing Voices with a Cuban music group, Desandann. Desandann were going to be there at the screening and would be seeing the film for the first time. On the way there Elisa, the director, explained the film would be shown on the bare brick wall of a restaurant – a fairly excruciating scenario for any director, let alone one as brilliant with a camera as Elisa…but there it was. When we arrived, dinner was just beginning. Things felt a little quiet, a little formal, as if there was something missing – at first I couldn’t pinpoint what. Plates of food came and went – a bit rarified for the Cuban palette, a bit heavy on vegetables and pungent cheeses – but still it seemed there was something else not quite right in the scene… And then it hit me – a table of Cuban musicians and no alcohol! No, no, no – this was not an acceptable state of affairs.
We ordered several bottles for the table, and just then Jane and her life and music partner Larry Cramer burst into the room, a party in a box, and the evening really began. The film begins with Jane in a moment of despair and doubt about her life in music, a heartbreaking and surprising life passage for a woman of such talent. Just listen to her solo on this track –
Even without subtitles, the folks in Grupo Desandann got the gist of the story, how it was through the love of friends, her love of Cuban music, and her collaboration with them that she remembered herself, slowly got her mojo back, and they went on to make this beautiful album together. After the screening, emotional speeches were given, hugs and shoutouts were passed around, tears were shed, and then sitting there, suddenly, Desandann broke into song. It was so stirring, so moving to see them right there, the rich power of their voices emerging effortlessly, the hairs rose on my arms feeling their sound wash over us in waves, building to the crescendo –
Out for a walk along the shore today I began to collect things. Little fragile things that appealed to me that I thought best to put in a baggie if they were to have any hope of making it home intact. When I got home hours later, the collecting already forgotten, I found the baggie with its assortment of tiny delicate objects.
There was something about the plastic and the randomness of the items that made me think of the drawers of collections at a natural history museum – a jumbled assortment of various species of flora, crustacea, stone and insects.Each thing seemed to be in a state of deterioration, a point along the meridian of birth, life, and disintegration, suggesting its own mortality – a kind of foreshadowing of our own short time here.
A long walk home from work after some 12 hours in front of the computer and it’s a hot heavy summer night and the downtown is busy and congested with crowds and throngs of people all moving in different directions at different speeds.
In a square with a fountain, kids play in and out of the water, drenching themselves fully dressed in that way kids will do without a thought, without a care, letting themselves go, free and open into the sensation of it all, the wet, the surprise of it, the cooling down of the body. One boy rides a scooter between the shoots of water. I suddenly long for freedom and energy and optimism of childhood, for the hot summer nights when I’d play loose-limbed and happy with my friends with just this kind of abandon. Rounding a corner I happen upon an old payphone – a relic from the past so hard to come by these days, the graffiti and garbage collecting on and around it suggesting a sad and lonely disuse, the discarding of quaint technologies, already forgotten. Heading up Spadina the crowds thin out and the colours of Chinatown remind me of other years lived in other cities and other apartments, that one on the edge of Chinatown in Montreal, and the boyfriend I had at the time, and the first night we hung out and he walked along the ledge of a garden, balancing, showing off, both of us giddy with the newness of something, something we didn’t yet know would be so mismatched and dismal. So much colour and small works of art there is everywhere on this route! A parking lot with a string of bare lightbulbs hanging in front reminds me of quinceañera parties in Mexico with strings of lights and little fold up chairs and tables with table cloths where everybody sits between drinking and dancing late into the night.
How many little glimpses of lives we can have within one lifetime…
Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic