Friday, August 08, 2008

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
--Greek proverb

We have this lovely little circle of ground in the back yard now, devoid of all big stones and ready for a layer of top soil and good fine manure, thanks to a grandson's youthful vigor and generous spirit.

Let me tell you, before the story commences, of the wonderful experience of removing the rocks and stones, and the time it took to examine each interesting and beautiful stone that has lain here undisturbed since the great upheaval that left the land in the Similkameen with a huge, enormous glacier pressed to its bosom. The little basketful that we selected from the hundreds and hundreds that caught our eyes are destined to sit in a quiet place where they can be examined and wondered at over and over.

And what shall we do with the lovely little circle of ground, once it is layered with top soil and manure?

Husband has claimed the ground beside it for a place to park The Tractor, and besides his fascination with the planting of trees, he yearns in his soul for the shade of a large and leafy tree to provide shelter from the hot summer sun while he and The Tractor commune, and he tinkers with the beloved's aging innards.

As I age
in the world it will rise and spread,
and be for this place horizon
and orison, the voice of its winds.
I have made myself a dream to dream
of its rising, that has gentled my nights.
Let me desire and wish well the life
these trees may live when I
no longer rise in the mornings
to be pleased with the green of them
shining, and their shadows on the ground,
and the sound of the wind in them.
- Wendell Berry,
Planting Trees

I can relate to his wishes, - I too love the sound of the wind in the trees, the rustle of the leaves, the play of the shadows and the comfort of its shade . I had envisioned a nice little flower bed to nourish the over flow from the front garden, but I can go with a tree, gladly. How pleasant it would be outside the kitchen window, - a resting place for little finches, and in the nighttime, quail.. Perhaps an Oriole would come and build an elegant swinging nest to live in. I haven't seen an Orioles nest since we left the farm....

Trees are the best monuments that a man can erect to his own memory. They speak his praises without flattery, and they are blessings to children yet unborn.- Lord Orrery, 1749

Husband has planted hundreds of trees, - the latest a lovely line of curly willow saplings that hugs the edge of the roadway leading to our home. In three years, or five years, they will be a sweet approach.

But the shade tree in the backyard is another matter - life is tenuous, and grows more so with age, so that if it is to be a shade tree I would like it to be an instant shade tree. I would like it to be tenderly and professionally transplanted into a spacious and well dug basin, so that as it is gently placed there it's roots will sigh and say, - ah, home at last, and will grow with vigor and vitality.

All it has experienced, tasted, suffered:
The course of years, generations of animals,
Oppression, recovery, friendship of sun and - Wind
Will pour forth each day in the song
Of its rustling foliage, in the friendly
Gesture of its gently swaying crown,
In the delicate sweet scent of resinous
Sap moistening the sleep-glued buds,
And the eternal game of lights and
Shadows it plays with itself, content.
- Herman Hesse, 1877 - 1962

In the meantime, the fate of the lovely little circle is a subject for discussion, and I leave you with one last observation....

Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer
is perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible
exception of a moose singing "Embraceable You" in spats.
- Woody Allen

Well, perhaps I will add just one more.....

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars...
and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence
is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason;
they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are
not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance.
Look at the flowers - for no reason. It is simply unbelievable
how happy flowers are.

- Osho

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The conversation at the breakfast table started off as a trip down memory Lane, and somehow drifted to trips we have taken and hotels we have stayed in during the years that Husband gave his time to volunteer work in the fields of Education and Agriculture.

And I, coming later to service in both fields, hit the years when a miniscule honorarium was the custom.

We mused about an occasion in the 1960's when we first started to travel in support of secondary education in the province, and were novices at traveling on an expense account. Last minute farm and family business had caused us to barely make the last ferry to Vancouver Island. We arrived at the Empress in Victoria to find our reservation time had run out, and all that was left in the way of accommodation was the Bridal Suite. As I recall it was located high up in the hotel, and for the few hours we slept there it was just splendid.

The huge marble bathroom, the luxurious spaciousness, the delicious bed and the elegant furnishings, - all a delight. But we were appalled at the price (which, incidentally, would be only an infinitesimal percentage of the cost of today's accommodation) and ever conscious that the public was paying for all this luxury. We rose early, breakfasted in the basement cafeteria, and made our way up Island to the new College Husband was going to visit.

We were not always this lucky, - there was the little hole-in-the-wall rabbit warren we overnighted in when we arrived in London ca 1985.

In 1995 we stayed a few days at Petwood House while at a Squadron Reunion, - an historic home that in the 1940's was requisitioned by the RAF, and in 1943 became the Officers' Mess for 617 Squadron, better known as 'The Dambusters'. That was a lovely contrast. The hydrangea there were spectacular.

As we lingered over coffee Husband and I recalled these many hotels, one by one. The Georgia the Devonshire, the Grosvenor and the Bayshore in Vancouver, along with the various airport hotels, the MacDonald in Edmonton, the Canadian Inn in Kamloops and in Victoria and Ottawa a plethora of hotels on the waterfront or side by each with the Parliament Buildings.

During the morning my thoughts wandered through memories of the times and events associated with all this travel, and I thought eventually of how life expands and contracts.

From sheltered childhood where we holidayed at nearby lakes or made summertime visits to relative our worlds suddenly opened to a great variety of new experiences. Husband's in particular, with his World War 2 experiences as a Lancaster Pilot at the tender age of 20.

The busy years when we were establishing the farm and family gradually blossomed out into the years of public service that brought their own rewards in friends and colleagues, some wisdom and maturity and a great deal of satisfaction that swallowed up the inevitable moments of bitterness and discouragement.

But now the years advance - we give up one activity, then another, and another, and another - so that gradually the calendars which were overwhelming in their record of meetings, travel times and social events, now are given over to reminders of family birthdays, doctor's appointments, ladies' luncheons, a date at the local Legion, a potluck, or a small party.

Our world is shrinking, and that is good in that Husband and I enjoy a nice balance in each other's company (well, mostly). We play cards at night, we work together, we talk and plan and we reminisce.

I have friends who are not this fortunate, - whose lives now are encompassed by the four walls of one room, a minimum of possession and the confines of a Care Facility. I am reminded that eventually there will be only the Spirit.

Which inspires me try hard to keep it polished and gleaming, and above all, - serene.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

SATURDAY MORNING and Husband and I tackled the LeClerc (loom) which has taken up residence in the trailer we have not used for travelling for lo these many years, - since we got older (than we were) and the little dog got Ancient and past his days of 'oh good, we're going somewhere'.....

The loom is a little cramped for space, but perfectly happy to be out and about in the sunshine and feeling loved and wanted again.

This was my first floor loom. It came new to me in the late sixties, and we are so comfortable together. We've been through a lot of learning experiences and a few frustrations, but on the whole our adventures have been happy and productive. In the house we left the space I had for weaving was enormously generous, and the LeClerc sat beside the much bigger Glimakra, and she was never neglected until we downsized and there was no room for her.

Saturday morning Husband and I removed her sectional beam, which he had built with great innovation about ten years ago. Alas, there was no room for all the accessories, and so we are winding warps and using the back to front traditional warping we learned at the beginning.

There are so many happy memories associated with this trailer, - camping and fishing with friends and family, and that lovely freedom and energy you have to wander in those first retirement years.

Now, where once all the paraphernalia we needed for these adventures crammed the cupboards, boxes of yarn and shelves of books and shuttles and heddles keep company with an enthusiasm which I hope is not too unrealistic...
In anticipation of putting the old trailer to this wonderful new use Husband built a little flower bed along the front of the trailer which I planted with wild flowers. And a sunflower wandered along and put down roots just at the doorway....

Ah - perfect contentment. And a great rush of enthusiasm!