snow, snow, and more snow

Not world record setting but a lot has fallen in the past 24 hours and the forecast calls for more. First thing this morning I went out to brush off my various bird seed feeding spots and surfaces in the back yard. Yesterday we set a record for the most mourning doves feeding at once, 21.

This morning after clearing about 6 inches of snow, an hour passed and the seed was lightly covered. By the afternoon, another 4 or 5 inches had fallen. I saw a black squirrel covered in snow who had been digging in the snow on the old wood bench to find bird seed. So out I went with the dog to brush off and reload the seed. The temperature was about -15 C but with little wind it still didn’t feel all that cold. More like a couple of degrees below freezing not 15. Maybe I am just getting used to the lower temperature.

Our forecast is for snow each day for the rest of the week. I am going to try and get some photographs. Although to keep my digicam safe I may limit myself to shooting from the car. Hope my power windows don’t freeze solid.

One thing about this kind of weather, it makes me appreciate summer. I stand on shore and look out across this narrow end of Georgian Bay and see the snow over the solid ice.

It is hard to believe that not so long ago the water was open and flowing and not so long before that I was swimming out there. That my dog was swimming. That we both will be out there again. He has done that for 8 years. This summer will make it 9. I have swum in Georgian Bay every summer since 1970. We used to rent a cottage near here for several summers in the 1960s.

In 1955, we rented a cottage near here. On the day before we left to go home, we stood on the dock and threw pieces of bread for the sea gulls. I must have enjoyed this a lot. The next day, when my Dad was off visiting someone, and my Mom was packing up things with some help from my sister, age 5, I went back out to the dock. It was wavy that day, the dock wet. I went out on the dock and fell into the water. I was 18 months old. Apparently I had enough sense of self preservation to stand up and hold onto the side of the dock. My head was above the water. I was strong enough to stand up to the waves. My Mom looked out, saw me and ran out to pull me up out of the water. She told me later that when she lifted me up I was completely rigid. Once in her arms, my entire body went limp.

a wild turkey’s last moments

found this in my notebook from sometime in 2005

Wild turkey died in the shallows next door. I watched its last minutes of life. Flapping its wings to get into a depth of water where it could put its legs on the bottom. Fighting hard to live. One wing not right. It stopped, seemed to be resting. I could see its head. A few minutes later I looked out and saw the head was no longer visible, the body rolled over on its side in the water. Its mate (?) standing near on a rock in the water. When I came back out to look closer, I scared it into flight.

Poem – Way Past Midnight

I look at my hands by electric light.
They are becoming the dry wrinkled hands
of an old office man. Not yet my father’s hands
Not my mother’s
which became deflated as she almost made it to 80.
The wrinkles deep,
her skin on her wrists
paper thin
so fragile when they took the blood tests.
She would bruise like they had used a coal shovel on her
We should grow old in a big old house
surrounded by grandchildren
not in the white sheets of the f**king hospitals

I hate the thought of it
sitting beside her as her breathing in the coma shuddering slowing
more work for each breath
I sat in the ugly metal and vinyl padded chair
my hand under the sheet holding her leg below the knee
her good leg
not the left with the stroke twisted ankle
feeling the warmth of her in my hand
and the shudders of her breathing growing harder
and slower and slowing
to nothing
her mouth still open
the IV pump with saline and the other line morphine
I listened
and listened for another breath
then I walked around to look at her face
half turned from me
my hand brushing her hair
still brown, just a line or two of grey
then I sat back down in the chair
and put my hand back on her leg below the knee
and felt her warmth and it was quiet, January quiet
then I got ready to go find a nurse
to check for a pulse, a heartbeat, and to find neither sound,
just the shell still, three days short of her 80th birthday,
and then to tell me that
my mother was dead
and then the doctor who I had never seen before
came to tell me
that my mother was dead
for the second time
the doctor a young woman
younger than me
following her training
having put on the doctor face
with emotion tucked away
explained to me that my mother had passed away
I said, “I know. I was there.”
The nurses on the floor looked at me as I waited
for my sister to arrive
they looked at my face
my hands spread out held high
holding the metal doorframe of the room
so that the building would not explode
the metal was cool
and had no wrinkles.

Poem – The Idea of Order on Langton Avenue

We were talking about clutter.
How the hell to get a handle on
the swamp of papers and files,

boxes of hurry, the need for some
secret method to make it all
perfect, when I saw the photo

you had shown me before,
your face between your mother’s
and your father’s at the dinner

for their anniversary, all the smiles,
but a different look in your eyes
or maybe I just add that after

you told me that the doctors’
lost you on the table that morning
for a short while and how you

knew you could go on to
the other side, but you weren’t
ready, there was more here for you.

much more than heaps of paper
much more than me
but that was ten years before me.

And puzzles and projects and
fixing things all appeal to my brain
which my body carries around for me

So I offered the only thought that has
ever made sense to me about
the idea of order.

“You have to decide the place
where things will go,
where they belong,

which ones to keep.
And then you have to clear that place
and lift them to it

Then you have to stick to it.
If you don’t, if you move

it to a temporary refuge you are lost,
the alligators will get you and the swamp
will fill in again.

Nature hates a vacuum.
It will be as if you were in a boat
with no oars, drifting,

waiting for the moon to show up
because you are alone and in the dark
and angry because you

have done it again,
done it to yourself,
as if we were really talking

about clutter and not about time
and not about the drifting emptiness
that we glimpse

that I recognize more each day
that burns my ass and turns me against
myself until I throw that out

the entire thrown together
accumulated mess of nothing
and nothing and nothing

much at all.
Like me and not the least bit like me
you want to wear alligator shoes

and go dancing until
the sun replaces the moon
and the coolness of the night air begins to heat.

I will take an order of that.

– copyright 2006 William J. Gibson –