Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

CEMETERY ROAD

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I walked the Cemetery Road the other morning. It leads to the remains of Southampton’s original cemetery that lies, long since abandoned on a high, crumbling cliff overlooking the Saugeen River. This road is always at winter’s mercy, as the Town doesn’t maintain it except in late spring.

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A cold east wind soughed through the trees. There was a chill in the air even though the sun did its best to pierce the battlement-like tall cedars that lined each side of the road. The shade from these trees is the reason for the slow melt on the forest floor. Even so, water runs freely in the ditches that hug the shoulders of the damp, rutted, pot-holed road. Overhead a Bald Eagle inscribes lazy circles in an unbelievably blue sky. A sentinel Crow sounds the alarm as I round a turn out of sunshine into shade.

On the road, a short distance ahead of me, I see a man, slightly stooped, slowly walking with the aid of a cane, his gait steady, measured, deliberate. It isn’t long before I’m beside him, my pace now moderated to match his.

“Good morning.” I say. “Great day for a walk.”

He stopped. Smiled. Nodded. “Indeed it is.”

We walked, side by side for a ways, talking of nothing in particular and everything in general. His eyes were bright blue. His smile suggested gentleness. He wore a greying mustache that gave him the rakish look of someone who flew Lancaster Bombers in World War Two. His leather Bomber Jacket with a fur collar fit perfectly with the mental picture I was drawing of my new companion.

“That’s quite a camera you have there. You must be a photographer.”

“No.” I said. “I play at photography. Just a hobby.”

“I had a Mamiya 6. Got it after the war. Fine camera…a lot different than what you’ve got there.”

“Times change,” I said politely.

At that moment I felt myself becoming impatient with the slowness of our walk. That if I wanted to keep chatting, I was compelled to move at his pace. I wondered if he was aware that because of our chance meeting, he had slowed me down…forcing me, however subtly, into his world.

Don’t be ridiculous, I thought. Then again, don’t we all do that every day of our lives…gently steer people to meet us on our terms…to agree with our outlook on life…our thinking…our opinions…to move at our pace? And more often than not, our resistance is a source of conflict in our lives.

“I think I’ll head home now” His words broke through my silly train of thought. “I’ve gone far enough.”

He had no thoughts other than a pleasant walk with a stranger. On this quiet country road this elderly gentleman had reached his limit. I watched him retrace his path leaning on his cane more than before; shoulders hunched…his step a little slower now. “Cemetery Road,” I muttered to myself.

I picked up my usual pace and moved on…not sure of when I would turn back. Before I rounded a corner I glanced over my shoulder, but he was nowhere in sight.

Regrettably, I never asked him his name.

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Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

April 20, 2015 at 3:13 PM

Night Snow

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Under the street lamps that pool their light on the now white road wind whips the flurries into individual cyclones whirling about helter skelter. Cedars on the roadside go dark, lost in the shadows, lost in the black of night. In the cone of the streetlights the snow takes on highlights that accentuate its movement. It dances with the wind, blurring in flight, never, it seems, touching down, hovering around and inside the beam’s pool bringing new life to the light. Night Snow is different than snow falling at daybreak…more menacing. You are unsure of what it leaves behind until dawn crawls up the dark trailing early morning light to show you its night work. Night Snow is like a secret gathering, an army, a relentless force building for an attack at daybreak when the world wakes and is forced to face the consequences of all that Night Snow has left behind.

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Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

March 4, 2015 at 8:16 PM

Today, I Am A Year Older.

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That is not any great event. But more and more, as I pile on the years, I find myself taking more quiet time on a regular basis. Its time when I put down the IPad. Ignore the ‘bings’ of new notifications. Ignore the radio, magazines and newspapers and clear my mind of everything that I thought was important a mere moment ago. Meditation? Perhaps. As age advances, memory recedes – the everyday things I once took for granted now have a bit of mystery to them. I often wonder, “Is my mind still trustworthy”? It has taken on a thin layer – a patina, as it were. Recollection is not instantaneous. Earlier images and memories are hidden somewhere. Its as if they’re painted over, only to show through in their own time.

As I was contemplating this “state of mind” of mine I recalled similar thoughts from others I had tucked into my notebooks.

Here they are. Make of them what you wish:

Range Light

As I grow older I become ever more a stick in the mud – contrary ornery and difficult. Were I not married to a magnificent woman who keeps me young I would end up being an evil old man eating beans out of the tin. I take great joy in seeing what you do, what you read, what you support. My Facebook friends list, though large, is periodically pared down enough that it actually consists of people I genuinely like and am interested in. If I should prove hesitant to join you in doing the very same thing you are doing it doesn’t mean that what you’re doing isn’t good, valuable and worthwhile. It just means that I am doing other things. Love you all.

Robert Warren

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I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.

Jose Micard Teixeria

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“There are other assets of old age. The storms and stresses of life, the ambitions and competitions are over. The futile and unnecessary and false responsibilities have fallen from one’s shoulders and one’s conscience”.

Leonard Wolfe.

Tundra

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

October 14, 2014 at 4:54 PM

SPRING DAY SUN

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Stone

Sun shadows fall on the diminished snow and wind wicks away whatever white grains remain as the contradiction of sun and cold conspire to sacrifice only the surface, revealing nothing but more of the same. Winter is not yet done with us. 

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Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

March 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

TIS THE SEASON

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A Celtic Christmas Blessing

May peace and plenty
Be the first to lift the latch
On your door
And happiness be guided to your home
By the candle of Christmas.
Come the New Year,
May your right hand be always stretched out
In friendship
And never in want.
•••

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Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

December 24, 2011 at 1:30 PM

DISCRETIONARY TIME

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One of the promises of retirement was the luxury of time.

I had lived a professional life of long days and working-weekends filled with projects dictated by deadline after deadline. The allure of time, free of constraints, was one of the key reasons I left the world of advertising. In my retired world, no one would be asking “when can we see the work.” I would be the time keeper. I would do things on my own clock, on my own terms, in my own way.

One of the first was reading Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, all three, two-inch thick volumes. Six and a half years later I have plowed my way through Volume One and only half of Volume Two. I got bogged down by his complex two page sentences and rambling chapter long paragraphs. Because I had so much time on my hands, it was easy to put the book aside until another day. No doubt I’ll finish it in another six years. It really doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that I made that decision without fear of consequence. There were no outside mandatories hovering over my head. This does not mean that I walk away from all my home grown obligations. I simply gauge the need and act accordingly. One can think of it as Discretionary Time.

Discretionary Time is budgeted according to need and desire. The ratio between needing to mow the lawn and the desire to do so depends on the heat of the day and your energy level. The balance between cleaning out the garage and the desire to sit in the shade depends on whether you want to read more of Proust and how cold the beer is. You get the idea.

Discretionary Time allows you to spend your days wisely without waste. It is an economic model, a simple algorithm, a sophisticated process that helps you regain your sanity while letting you get away with things you never thought you could.

Everyone should ultimately invest in Discretionary Time. It pays great dividends.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

October 21, 2011 at 5:35 PM

LOOK DEEPER THAN THE SURFACE YOU SEE

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The last day of the Huron Fringe Festival began with heavy rain and the promise of a wet, uncomfortable day. As we turned on Highway 6 toward the North Bruce, the wind came up the sky partially cleared and the sun played peek-a-boo with the clouds. That damp-day promise would not be kept. It was perfect for hiking the Alvars north of Dyers Bay.

We were treated to a guided tour of some carefully preserved properties under the watch of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (www.natureconservancy.ca). Two of which are not yet open to the public. Our guide gave us explanations of the history, flora, fauna and geology found on these natural wonders. It is amazing what the ancient glaciers left for us.

As we walked and listened to his descriptions of the what, how and why around us – some lines a well-regarded local naturalist likes to quote popped into my head:

The wonders of this world.

The beauty and the power,

Their colours, lights and shades:

These I saw.

Look ye also, while it lasts.

[On an tombstone dated 1560 in a Suffolk, England cemetary.]

It must have been one of those days for me because, later, at their private Cape Hurd property, on the east side of the Peninsula just below Tobermory, this line from Wordsworth kept running through my mind: “The world is too much with us; late and soon…”

Here I was amid all this impressive natural beauty and Steve Jobs is turning the publishing business on its ear while making millions off  the iPad and introducing the iPhone 4. Harper is spending wildly on the G8 and G20 to impress the world. And the world and its people – after all this time – is no further ahead. The one constant is this; the natural world pays no attention to us and adapts as it sees fit.

Wordsworth was right:

The world is too much with us; late and soon

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not. -Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

[William Wordsworth circa 1802]

Have things really changed between then and now? Exponentially, perhaps. But, back then people, pundits and poets had the same concerns, the same problems and world view as we do today.

We just get to blog about it.

Lakeside Daisies growing on a limestone alvar

Showy Lady's Slippers