Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sunday, November 13th, 2001

We are swept away by the wonderful help we get from our family, and the most recent was quite magical, - I am sure it involved a wand in the hands of a speedy son, here on holiday from the Caribou, and a flash-by grandson.

They arrived mid afternoon and by supper time had transferred the garage-cum-workshop into the neatest, tidiest space with room for the SUV in the midst of all the things that survived the Great Downsizing.

Christmas decorations, wrappings and ribbons flew up the lift from the garage into the walk-in closet.  Pictures that have not yet been hung went down into that lovely cemented space under the house, along with a half a dozen boxes whose contents haven't yet found a place to perch.

Suddenly all of Charles' bits and pieces. and his thousands of small tools that he cherishes and just might use someday, found a home on the shelves that line the west side of the garage and the pegboard they hung on the wall.

David went out and measured the SUV, - came in and measured the free space in the garage, and all was well!  Home for the vehicle, out of the wet snow that  fell this afternoon!!  When ladies get ancient one of the things that have little appeal for them is sweeping  the snow from the car, and chipping  the ice from the windshield.  I have become thoroughly spoiled with a nice dry garage, and am not prepared to give up this enormous luxury!!

Thank you, you lovely, big, strapping elves!!!

In case you materialize around here again, my dear wizards,  I am on the lookout for the Christmas lights whose 'putting up'  requires an agility that doesn't live in this house any more, alas..............

Remembrance Day in a Small Town

Late afternoon on the 10th of November when Charles starts looking for the new can of Never Dull, brings out the old toothbrush, the sliding thing he slips under medals to protect the ribbons, and last of all the Medals and the small and precious silver wings.

While he shines and polishes (the spitting comes later when he does the shoes) I re-sew the Squadron Emblem on the pocket of his jacket.

This is all in deference to our slower pace, - time was when Remembrance Day morning was a whirlwind of activity, but we move slower now, and find it best to start a day early.

As we prepare, the loss of Charles' two brothers in France and in Holland is ever present in our thoughts.

And I think of my father who was wounded at Cambrai a month before the signing of the Armistice in 1918, and how the effects of that wound left him walking with a cane for the last twenty years of his life.

Shortly after ten o'clock on the 11th Charles is looking pretty handsome and spiffy for an old Vet. He has received phone calls, e-mails and loving hugs from children who know how important this day has always been to him, and never fail to express their love and understanding.

We leave the house, hoping to get a parking spot close to where he will take part in the Remembrance Day service by reading the Names of the Fallen and citing the Act of Remembrance.

There is a cold wind blowing. People begin to gather, well scarved and hatted - many of them carrying wreaths. Friends and family stop to chat as we wait in the SUV for the first signs of the Parade. The crowd grows thicker (the owner of the town's grocery store says 400)

The Legion members who will conduct the service test the sound system and attend to last minute details around the Cenotaph.

There - we hear the music which accompanies the parade and led by red coated RCMP (no horses this year) the Colour Party, the Army Cadets, the Veterans who are still able to march, the Legion members, our oldest son, Steve, a peacetime veteran, the Brownies and Guides and Cubs and Scouts, the Elks, the Royal Purples and other Service Club members all right turn on to the grass and march across the park to the Cenotaph.

At one time the row of Veterans was long, and stretched for over a city block. Now there are only a handful in the Parade, a few more in wheelchairs and on crutches, but all intent on honouring those of their dead comrades who once, in the now distant past, were like brothers to them, still enshrined in their hearts.

The wind scatters leaves and causes collars to be raised. Everyone takes their place, and the service begins.

A wonderfully strong voice leads the singing of O Canada. There are prayers, and a poem written by a young student in the high school.

The Army Cadets who stand at each corner of the Cenotaph lower their Arms and Charles reads the Names of the Fallen Comrades.

The Bugler plays the Last Post and the flag is lowered.

The two minutes of silence is poignant, and heavy with emotion.

And after the Lament and Reveille,

The Act of Remembrance.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, or the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we shall remember them.

The tribute to the Fallen, the Laying of the Wreaths, the reading of a Remembrance poem and the singing of 'O God, our Help in Ages Past'.

The wind comes in gusts and chases the clouds around the sky, creating small gaps that allow a little sunshine through. Fingers and toes grow cold but people remain to the end, as they honour lost loved ones and those who died to make the present moments possible.

After 'The Queen' the parade marches off, - the crowd disperses and makes their way to the Legion Hall. Charles and I linger to talk to family and old friends.

When we arrive at the Hall we find a great long line-up of shivery people waiting for Hot Rums....

There is Beef Stew and wonderful warm Chili provided by the Legion.

Four long rows of tables are crowded with adults, - next door at the Elks Home the children have cookies and cocoa. People linger, talking, exchanging memories, up-dating news. Gradually the crowd thins. Some people go home, - others make their way downstairs for an afternoon of comradeship, old time tunes, dancing, a little Karaoke and a wonderful air of good fellowship.  

During the afternoon the Legion Brass visit, the Mayor says a few words, - unfortunately there are no pipers this year, but often we are included in their rounds of various Remembrance Day services.

Years have passed since our first Remembrance Days in this town, when the Veterans were young and plentiful and glasses were raised to comrades just a few years dead.

In later years Charles and others took rum and comradeship during the afternoon to veterans confined to their homes, coming back if not three sheets to the wind, at least two and a half.....

Now the Veteran finds himself a little 'out of the loop,' - honoured, and thanked, - questioned and perhaps even held in awe in some cases, but very conscious of being of another generation. Our appreciation is great for the Legion members who make this Day so special, and for all who Remember....

Well, this is how it is in one small town, and probably to a great extent the happenings would be familiar in hundreds of other small towns.... a people expressing their sorrow, their love and their need to pay honour to the Valiant hearts. And in doing so gathering closer together.....

(The pictures are from yesterday, but many of the words are archived from a Remembrance Day post of 2008 - still relevant to the honour  a small town pays to those who 'gave their todays for our tomorrows'  )

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Nov. 9th, 2011

November comes to visit


We go to the house on the hill to admire the work of the floor installers as they lay 'Whiskey' laminate throughout the house, - completed pictures to follow.  Soon.......

It has been a dull day.  November tires of lurking in the hills and comes to visit the valley folk, bringing with him a dusting of snow in the early morning and dire portents of miserable days to follow.   There is no sun to catch the shadows in the hills or to highlight the rolling meadows of fall grasses.

Frost lends a more subtle air to the garden that last week glowed gloriously in the sun.

Remnants of the morning snow embroider the sedum

and the last roses, a little tattered, a little torn, but still icily delicate 

plump rose hips mark a memorial to their June sisters

The climber at the garden gate is surrounded with the rich shades of autumn

and along the way the small furled leaves of the burning bush turn wine and rose and crimson

By the time we leave to come down the hill into town, and home, November has relented, and sent a few fluffy clouds and small patches of blue sky to ease us gently into this melancholy month.

Tomorrow we will shine shoes and medals, press jackets and knife sharp trousers, in preparation for Remembrance Day on Friday.

Monday, November 07, 2011

ABC Wednesday
November 9th, 2011

Q is the favoured letter this week

I have always been fond of words that begin with Q.  Quicken, quiver, quaver, quintessence, quiet, quail, quest. quip, quietism, quicksilver - they all have a rather old fashioned romanticism to my ear.

And then there is Quatorzain, a poetic term used in English literature, as opposed to 'sonnet' for a poem in fourteen rhymed iambic lines.

The difference being, the Quatorzain ends in a couplet, as a sonnet never does.  Almost all the 'sonnets' of the Elizabethan period, including those of Shakespeare, Sidney and Spenser, are really Quatorzains, consisting of three quatrains of alternate rhyme, and the whole closing with a couplet.

This book will tell you all about the differences in the two forms!

Here is a perfect example of a Quatorzain, published by Michael Drayton in 1602.

Dear, why should you commend me to my rest,
When now the night doth summon all to sleep?

Methinks this time becometh lovers best;
Night was ordained together friends to keep.

How happy are all other living things
Which through the day conjoin by several flight,
The quiet evening yet together brings,
And each returns unto his love at night,
O thou that art so courteous unto all
Why should'st thou, Night, abuse me only thus,
That every creature to his kind dost call,
And yet 'tis thou dost only sever us?

Well could I wish it would be ever day,
If, when night comes, you bid me go away.

This small bit of information about the forms of sonnets and quatorzains may not be something you have been aching to know, but please do enjoy the poem, and the poet's lament at being separated from his loved one when night falls.

For more interesting interpretations of the letter Q visit here at ABC Wednesday with thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt and her Quaint helpers.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

The skies are a brilliant blue and against their depth the trees who have not yet cast their golden leaves are burnished by the fugitive sunlight.  The rest of them have dropped their glowing funeral gowns and raise naked arms into the November air.  

Nights are chilly and I pull a warm woolen blanket over the pots of geraniums that
 hug the house for warmth.

"This is the treacherous month when autumn days
with summer's voice come bearing summer's gifts.
Beguiled, the pale down-trodden aster lifts
her head and blooms again.  The soft, warm haze
makes moist once more the sere and dusty ways,
and, creeping through where dead leaves lie in drifts,
The violet returns........"
Helen Hunt Jackson, Autumn Sonnet  an excerpt

Friday afternoon I made a quick trip to the garden on the hill, looking for the remnants of the rust and wine chrysanthemums that linger long into November.  Across the path I saw a valiant poppy, brave against the night frosts and crumpled crimson with defiance.  Two more fat round buds lay nestled in the fresh greenery of second growth.  

I brought the poppy home and took it to the church today for Remembrance Sunday.