Every once and a while someone asks me if I miss the city at all.
I went to the Vancouver Folk Music Festival this weekend.
Kitty cat kitty cat how do you live? Do you catch snakes and bring them proudly in the house? Lie down in the red wheelbarrow? Take one step down? Sleep away the sunny afternoon and get crazy at dusk? Do you like snow? Do you walk in the woods crouching at birdsong? Do you like humans? Do you like me? Are you coming home tonight?
I decided that I needed to get into the garden.
On Saturday afternoon John and I were just stepping sleepily out the door to go to a bbq. I heard a small crack and thought hmm maybe the squirrels are throwing things down. Before I could remember that that usually happens in the fall, there was a big loud crack and I knew a tree was falling. I could tell from the sound about where it was coming from but I couldn’t tell which way it was falling. I ran away from the sound, yelling, “Look out. Look out.” (I think). As I ran I could see the shadow of the falling tree coming down beside me and heard the noise of a tree hitting other trees and bringing them down. Then there was the final crash. It had fallen. I stopped and turned. John was right behind me, turning, both of us breathing hard, and hearts racing.
It turned out the tree was a big rotten one that came from the corner of the neighbour’s lot down into out lot, taking out a large chunk of our maple tree as it came. It fell on our roof, breaking off the heavy metal mast holding the hydro lines and the mast holding the internet and phone lines. All the lines were severed. We are not sure if the roof is damaged yet.
Hydro came, electricians came, hydro came again, electricians came again, insurance adjuster came, Telus came (finally). We have power back, and today phone and internet back. Now there is just a pile of fir and maple debris across the garden bed on the winter hazel and the new azalea plants and the Solomon seal, and the news that our insurance doesn’t cover plants. It will be Thursday when the tree guys come and clear up and balance the maple tree and I will see how bad it is under there.
What I am left with is the image of the shadow of the tree falling beside me as I ran. I can’t get that out of my head. Grateful that sunny day was not our day to die. Ha ha.
This is my favourite time of year (except for summer maybe, with its swimming and long evenings). A friend wrote to me the other day asking what I thought about miracles. Are there miracles? Have I experienced any? I wrote back about hellebores. Isn’t it a miracle of sorts that when it’s still cold and just starting to get lighter in the mornings and afternoons, that there’s enough light for hellebores to throw open their pink or dark purple petals and bloom? And then maybe pull the focus back, way back, what about the miracle of seasons themselves, that the earth rotates on its axis daily, and revolves around the sun, tilting the poles either towards or away. (I think that’s how it goes.) And plants sleep and go dormant, then Echinacea starts putting up its dark purple shoots, and seeds lie on the ground waiting to spring up again – kale everywhere? That the seeds know how much light they need and how long the days should be before they start? And that there is a sun at all? And that some of these February days it has a bit of warmth and you can sit out of the wind and feel it before the snow comes again? That’s a miracle. Yes there are miracles. And yes I have experienced them. In the classic spiritual memoir, “Autobiography Of A Yogi” by Yogananda, he writes about meals that appear miraculously, about ordinary humans who never eat, about terrible sicknesses cured. I don’t know myself about those kind of miracles, but I can vouch for hellebores in my garden in February.
Charles Dickens was a major player in my childhood Christmases.
I was walking in the park with my son’s dog, Betty. I let her off the leash on the east side of the park where there are usually no people and no dogs. She’s a bit funny, a sweetie pie with humans and dogs she knows. If she meets a biggish dog she doesn’t know, the hair goes up on her back and she can get “reactive” as I say. “My dog is a little reactive,” I say as I hold her close to me. And most owners will leash up or hang onto their dogs because Betty looks like a big mean bully dog. She’s brindled and strong. But if you look closely she has the eyes of a lab, a gentle lovely girl. It is so funny because she is definitely afraid, you can tell. She doesn’t usually get reactive with little dogs and she didn’t used to get reactive at all. I don’t know what changed. But she is stronger and bigger then any dog she meets. It makes me think about how people act. I saw a post the other day on Facebook, a friend had confronted a racist and thought he was going to be punched out. The next day he saw the same guy and realized that he was sick and weak and could hardly walk. My friend was definitely stronger than the guy. He invited him for coffee and we are waiting for the next installment. It made me think about how the delusions we have about ourselves and the other folks around us can cause us to act in funny ways. Anyway, Betty was fine. We only met one other dog and I gave her a treat when she didn’t do anything and just let the other one pass. If she growls or jumps in she gets no treat. We’ll see how that goes. If only we could do the same thing for people.
Photo by Daphne Covernton