With pen in hand I form lines
Crossing off another day
Counting down to something
This elusive something
That I will not obtain
Because in altered states and among the thoughts of my future self
That something is another thing
It has evolved into the next
My hand flips the calender to a new month
Connects to my pen and marks two lines through the number one
My preoccupation with drawing crosses has taken away my yesterday, and the day before that.
A realization that I’ve lost a year, maybe more making lines on calenders has led me to defiance.
Waiting, tired of the second hand stealing my time
Tired of overlooking immediacy
I will take a mallet to my timepiece
Take the fire to my calender burning everything but right now.
And through the ashes, emerge as presence.
The wind is cool for a June day
And the robins in the beaming sunshine
Are singing oh so sweet
They sing for me this morning
They sang for me yesterday, but I could not hear them.
It makes me wonder if my ignorance saddened them.
They sing a song for me just as the sun sends it’s warmth to me.
To combat the cool wind moving the newborn leaves- the clothing of the recently naked trees
Movements creating a white noise that calms my soul.
Rock me to sleep Madame Earth
Cradle me in life scented boughs while the lullaby of the magnetic hum of your heart sings to me.
On a Sunday afternoon
Look to the left while on the path
Through the weather beaten evergreens
Coniferous – Subtle, the wet soggy moss on the ground
Connected – Relationships breathing in spores
The sound of the waves crashing in the distance fills the air.
Pockets of the forest looking ominous
Only to have shadows dispelled by the beams of Sunday’s sun
Though gale broken trees
Once vibrant in life
Now returning to their incubus
The womb of the Earth
Canadian winters can be rough, and Newfoundland winters can be brutal. This year in Corner Brook, on the west coast of Newfoundland, our winter was very long. We had snow on the ground by the last of November, and it was late in April before we began to see signs of spring. Then to top the winter off, on the weekend of May 24th we had snow storms. That gives us a grand total of snow falling in seven of the twelve months of the year. I think even for the greatest winter enthusiast, this is much too long.
I don’t dislike winter. It certainly has it’s moments and is pretty magical at times. Sliding, skating and snowshoeing are all fun activities my family and I take part in, and we continue to hike trails and have picnics when we can. The kicker is, finding time to do these things is much harder during the winter. Between stormy weather and the short days many times there is a small window to get outside.
This is why as soon as we begin to see signs of spring you, rarely will you find our family at home on our free time. We are either on a beach or in the woods, beach-combing or hiking. Personally, I feel more at home when I can hear the waves crashing on the rocks or the sound of the wind blowing through tall trees, than I do when I am sitting on my couch.
Today was a nice day here in Western Newfoundland. It was a little colder than seasonal but the sun was out and the skies were quite blue and brilliant. After some debate on where we would hike today we decided on a trail just on the edge of the city called “Humber Valley Trail” or “The Man in the Mountain Trail”
To get there you need to travel on Riverside Drive towards the North Shore highway. Just after you cross the bridge over the Humber river to the North Shore Highway, there is a sharp right on dirt road you need to take. Follow this to the Parking Lot and the Trail Head.
The trail starts as a dirt path and continues this way for the first little while. My wife and I had our six your old daughter and four year old son with us so it was a little slow going but we were in no rush so that was fine. The dirt soon gives way to a very rocky terrain. It is best to have a decent pair of hikers for this trek. We were all in sneakers but they were not the best choice.
For the most part the trails continues this way as it winds through the trees. There are no boardwalks or crushed stone so this is a very natural environment. Birds are singing and the chipmunks are making their usual racket. The smell of the forest in amazing.
I would caution you to be mindful of your footing especially on the decent. The stones are not flat and some move when stepped on. It would be very easy to twist an ankle or trip if one wasn’t careful.
The trail opens to a quiet little pond which was a nice spot for us to stop and take some pictures. The kids threw some rocks in the water and the sound of frogs and water fowl filled the air. This leads me to the frogs. There are quite a few frogs in this area. We actually didn’t see any by the pond, however to get to our destination – which was the first look out area – we had to continue on a trail that connects the pond to the lookout. This is where the frogs were noticed…by my six year old daughter. See last year while hiking a frog jumped on my daughters sandle-wearing foot. It was a surprise and really scared her. So today when I heard this blood-curdling scream coming from up ahead I knew right away what had happened. My daughter had seen a frog. My wife isn’t a fan either and wanted to turn back but I convinced them to forge on. As I carried my daughter, my wife ran ahead like she was being chased, and my son who was really excited to see the frogs chased the many, many frogs that were on the trail. The two minutes it took to get from the pond to the trail were very intense, but they were worth it.
Once on top there are awesome views of the bay and parts of the North Shore and Corner Brook. We stopped and took a few pictures and had a rest. Admittedly we were a little on edge being up there with the kids running around but we kept them close. There is a trail that continues on to another peak and then continues further to the end of the trail, but today this was plenty of hike for us. After getting some family photos we dodged some frogs and began to make the journey back down. Total hiking time was 2 hours but keep in mind we were towing two young curious children and we were not in any rush.
My daughters Grade one teacher teaches the kids the importance of Vitamin “Nature”. I love that. We got our vitamin “N” today now we just have to decide where we go tomorrow. I think the waves deserve a visit.
They walked along the shoreline barefoot, feeling the sand beneath their feet and between their toes. Night would be here soon, and she promised her daughter she would let her stay up to watch the sunset. Her husband and youngest child, a boy in his third year, had already gone to the campsite, and if the eyes of her son told her anything before they left it was that he was almost certainly asleep by now. That left her and her 5-year-old little girl here to stroll aimlessly along the beach while they waited for the fire on the horizon. They picked up sea glass and curious looking rocks and shells. Her daughter danced, she was always dancing – up and down back and forth – in front of her. She watched the girl’s dirty blonde curls bounce up and down and blow slightly from the cool evening breeze off the bay.
Watching her daughter, this energetic life force painting a beautiful picture with each step and sweep of her arm, made this mom feel pride beyond belief. The child’s movements transported her to a future where this little girl wasn’t so little, and was leaving her footprints in the sands of the world. She could see this little girl all grown up as a ballet dancer on stage at the Lincoln Centre in New York. She danced with the National Ballet of Canada and they were performing a limited run for a week in July. In that reality the daughter held a roomful of thousands spellbound. They were hypnotized by pirouettes and arabesques. They were entranced by the artistry. They were touched to the soul by her beauty. And the mom, sitting in the very front row, was crying from the outpouring of joy and pride that filled her heart. There was a standing ovation at the end and the little girl that so many years ago spun and danced on the beach while looking for sea glass and waiting on the sunset, scanned the crowd, found her moms eyes, and took a bow.
The mother was awakened from her daydream with a crash of a wave on the shore and, in stepping back to this present found her cheeks were wet with tears.
“Mom, what’s wrong?” the little dancer said, noticing the sheen on her mothers face. “Are you crying?” The question came out carrying more curiosity then concern.
“Oh don’t worry honey”, replied the mother making sure to smile as she spoke, “Sometimes people cry when they are really happy, and you dancing on this sand just touched my heart and made me really happy. Thank you for that.”
“You’re welcome mommy. Do you think the sunset will be here soon?”
“Yes baby”, the mother said steadying her voice, “Any minute now.”
The little girl ran back to her mom and threw her arms around the moms legs. Mom held daughter and felt a twinge of sadness knowing that one day she would have to let go. One day this little girl would have to touch the hearts of the world just as this mom had been touched. But not today. Today the performance was hers and hers alone to witness. She kissed the top of her daughters head amid a face full of curls tickling her wet cheeks and turned her attention to the horizon.
“Look honey, the sun is starting to go down.”
With the red and orange glow on the daughter’s face she said simply “Wow, it’s so beautiful.”
And the mom, with visions of her daughter dancing on the beach, the girls feet prancing around mussel shells and kicking up sand , gazed to the end of the sea.
The chill in the November air
Makes the neon sign atop the drug store across the street appear much brighter than it should
I rest my bones on a pew at a coffee shop and not look at the sign
Just stare toward it through rain covered glass
The coffee is hot not unlike the building
I take mine black now
To old for sugar and milk has too much fat
Artificial Sweeteners are wolves
Aspartame is a killer
My 3:30 visit at the doctors office didn’t take long
I didn’t have to wait
The doctor tells me I am at high risk for a heart attack
It makes me feel way too mortal and frail for my age
The room there was cold.
Nothing like this coffee shop
Machines humming white noise that made we want to sleep
While the doctor writes an illegible script.
That I will march across the street, when I finish this black coffee
To the Drug store with the neon sign that appears much brighter than it should.
Here in this part of the world we had quite the May 24th weekend. Mother nature thought it would be funny if she fast-balled another dose of winter at us, and we essentially had a late spring snow storm. My family and I tent so camping was definitely not in the cards for us on this first camping weekend of the season. Other then stepping out to pick a few items up at the store we were pretty much house bound. That was until Sunday evening.
Sunday evening delivered a break in the weather. Sure, the sun wasn’t beaming and it was still snowing a little, but the wind had died out making it feel a lot less chilly. This was great news for my wife and I as we had spent the majority of our time while the storm was on trying to figure out if we should run or not. This break in the weather gave us our opportunity.
I decided it would be best if I ran on one of the trails around the city thinking there may be less snow. The trail I had in mind was at a lowered elevation and the trees covering it, I thought, would have prevented drifting. I put on my runners and left.
In Corner Brook, the city where I live, there are some beautiful trails one of which is right in the center of the city. It starts at the city’s main park, travels around a pond and follows the stream that runs through to the bay. Surrounded by trees throughout, it feels like you are away from the business altogether. Sounds beautiful right? And it is. I however, for the first kilometer of my five was oblivious to this natural beauty. With my headphones in and me being so focused on the blaring noise coming through my headphones, I had completely tuned out to the world around me.
Don’t get me wrong I love music. When I run I always have my music playing in my ears. It helps me push though barriers when I feel I may need to stop. My tunes are my coach willing me along. But I noticed today that when my earbuds are in my ears, I don’t really notice a whole lot around me. It am focusing on running and the music. Today, however midway through my run in the park my phone went dead and I lost my music. At first, being so depending on the tunes to make my run enjoyable, I was going to stop there and then. A half of a run was better than no run, I told myself. Let’s call her done.
I didn’t stop. I took out the earbuds and kept going and something awesome happened. I began to truly experience my surroundings. Without the music so loud in my ears my senses tuned me into that world around me. The earthy smell of the forest heightened by the wet snow and rain filled my lungs and it felt like it could cleanse my body with every breath. The sounds were amazing. Birds chirping, the rush of the water flowing next to me violently crashing over rocks in certain areas. Even the sound of my runners connecting with the forest floor seemed calming. The air felt cool and clean on my skin and I became aware of the sheer amount of birds around me. Flying at my feet and through the trees next to me. I ran past a robin searching for some food, a worm I suppose poking its head up after the rain. The robin didn’t even fly away, just kind of hopped aside. Even the swans, who are usually in the pond, were up on the bank next to the trail just sitting there hanging out with three or four ducks. I thought about everything I was seeing, smelling, feeling and hearing and decided that it was all for me in that present moment.
Here is the thing. I live a fast-on to the next-kids to school-work-dinner-kids to bed– kind of life. Everyday. Rinse. Repeat. It is rare to take time and slow life down and breathe. I mean just breathe you know. Do that and nothing else. Inhale and exhale. My run in the park today and the battery dying on my phone gifted me a moment to slow down. I deeply inhaled and exhaled the forest air. I felt the air, cold against my damp tee shirt. I can still hear the birds chirping and the roaring of the water beside me. It was a meditation moment for me. The twenty minutes I ran without my earbuds in really recharged my soul.
Now don’t get me wrong. I will not be leaving my music at home the next time I hit the trail or road. In fact, I will be more than positive it has been charged enough that it will not go dead. Like I said my tunes are my coach. But I need to remember during that run to take a kilometer or so to simply be with the world around me and be present in that moment. I am fortunate to live in such an amazing place filled with natural wonder and really need to take some time to simply enjoy it.
The clock on the wall
Helped shape too many of my thoughts
No second hand presence
But an audible cadence
I checked Twitter this morning only to learn of the music world’s loss of an important voice. I was a fan of Chris Cornell, a fan of Soundgarden and Audioslave and to hear that the front man has travelled on is quite saddening.
Music transports us. Hearing the sad news this morning brought me back to a room in my cousins house about 23 years ago. It was the second last door on the right in the hallway. We were sitting on his white carpeted floor around his cassette player and he told me I had to hear this song. He hit the play button on the player and the opening guitar riff immediately hooked me. Then this voice, this deadly voice, appears and it sings ” Feel the rhythm with your hands”, and I proceed to rewind and play the song over and over for the remainder of the night. The band was Soundgarden. The song was Spoonman, and the voice was Chris Cornell.
Shortly after, I had those Soundgarden albums and devoured them. They followed me around these past 23 years and are still kicking around amid the stacks of CDs in my basement.
I picked up songbook, which was Cornell’s solo acoustic album, when it was released a few years back and upon listening realized just how phenomenal a singer and songwriter the man was. If you haven’t heard the album I highly recommend it. It is an amazing showcase of the man’s talent.
It was too soon for this voice to be silent and I personally feel a little loss inside. That voice, those songs. They are little parts of my makeup and I’m sure they are for many others.
You will be missed sir