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Totosh lackles…

January 20, 2010

Have you ever reached a point in your life where you can’t remember the last time you heard a bird sing???

A neighbour of mine told me that after leaving the family business in her late 40’s,

a place where she has worked since she was a child,

she had to stay home for a while on a ‘medical leave’ and she started to hear the birds sing again…

I always hear the birds sing…

even in the dead of Winter…

This morning they are having a garden party in the bird feeder outside my back window…

I don’t know their names,

but that doesn’t matter,

because we are communicating in bird language…

And Windy has stormy eyes that flash at the sound of lies... (photo: Starshine)

A few years ago I read Hans Christian Andersen’s Thumbeline to my class…

This version is exquisitely illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger…

Then a little lady and gentleman came out of every flower,

all so pretty that it was a joy to see them.

They brought Thumbeline presents,

and the best of all was a lovely pair of wings from a big white fly.

The wings were fastened to Thumbeline’s back,

and now she too could fly from flower to flower.

How happy they all were!

The swallow sat at his nest and sang with all of his might.

But he was sad at heart,

for he loved Thumbeline and never wanted to part with her.

“Good-bye, good bye,” said the swallow,

for it had come to be the season for him to fly away from the warm countries,

far away and back again to Denmark.

There he had a little nest above the window where the man who tells fairy tales lives.

The swallow sang, “Tweet, tweet!” to the man,

and that is how we come to know the whole story.

After I read those words to my class,

they wanted me to read the story AGAIN!!!

I wanted to know if they hear whole stories in birdsong…

They looked at me like I was a total nutbar,

Of course we do, they said,

Don’t you???!!!

Then the next day we went on a field trip to the Richmond Nature Park,

for a day of wandering…

We listened to the eagles spiraling in the sky above us…

We listened to the squirrels and the chipmunks…

We listened to the turtles, and the toad who watched us from his eyes peaking out of the murky pond…

And then we trampolined on the bog and wrapped our arms around trees…

My class said to me,

We can hear Life and it is telling us what to write…

We went back to school and they wrote in their journals,

about everything that they had experienced…

As much as they could get down in words…

And we are breathless before you...

When people hear that you’re working on a Ph.D they make all kinds of assumptions…

I’m considering a complete withdrawal from the program if it gets in the way of what is real,

and what matters…

I hear people talk loud about all the books they’ve read…

Like such mention might hold interest,

or power...

I suppose in the dominant culture it does…

I’m more impressed by knowing that comes naturally,

without force…

And how people quietly evolve themselves,

without airs,

or inflation…

Despite my many years of post-secondary ‘education’,

because that is the road that rolled out behind me,

I’m not very well read…

I’m not familiar with,

or interested in,

quoting from the philosophical canon,

so-called classic literature,

or gurus…

I just read what catches my attention…

And I look for words that spin flax into gold…

Last week I started a book that was written in an apartment over the corner store across the street from my house…

The descriptions in this book make me want to rub my ears on the page like a freshly washed dog who has just found a rotting spawned salmon along the banks of the Cowichan…

And the other day when I woke up from a post-get the girls off to school and do the dishes nap,

I rolled over and looked outside to see if the sun had cut a swathe through the morning monsoon…

It had…

And noticed the writer of the book skipping down the sidewalk,

Jiminy Cricket like…

I wanted to run across the road into traffic without looking,

jump up on him with my muddy paws and lick his face with appreciation for this meaty bone he left out on the counter…

But I’m a much more reserved kind of Lassie…

And as if I’m going to offer up a title just like that…

If you don’t already know you’ll figure it out,

like a Hardy Boy…

They gazed at her…

There was a certain infinite placidity to her smile…

She never got a bored look…

She sat with her knees bent to one side,

her ten toes stacked single file up her bare feet…

The bare feet was her one show of intimacy…

Her back was to them, but as she turned her neck they saw her face in profile…

She tucked the cigarette between her lips and sucked with plush inhalation,

then let the burly cloud exhale once it had seen what it was like inside of her…

She was a vision of the future these men had yet to grasp…

They wanted that life,

the life they believed she represented…

They yearned hard for that life especially on those nights when the cold and rain got right into your bones,

seeping through the joints and freezing you from the inside,

nights when the only bed in town was at a Methodist rooming house on a mattress with three other jobbers like yourself…

She was a stark contrast to the day-to-day agony of making a decent wage…

Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind... (fabric collection by Rosehip)

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