jealous winter

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i combed the ground of twigs and leaves. itched its head with my rake. made room for grass to grow.

smelled spring’s fertility. rising up from the womb of the earth. breathed deep the ungrown things.

then i sat by the fire pit. hubby lit the match. i heard the familiar crackle and pop. the flames licked and curled. i dreamt of camping.

went to sleep and woke to winter. a jealous layer of white. determined to steal back our attention.

how will it affect me?

they’re calling it a depression.

nothing much has changed for me yet. nothing save for food prices, sky-high… or the cost of gas–although with our veggie-oil car, that barely fazes.

but my neighbour just lost his job.

i sit here, sip my tea, and wonder: what will it take to fix this fragmented system? and how will it affect me?

people are lining up starved across the US bearing food stamps. the homeless are forming communities. canada’s unemployed is nearing 10 per cent. last month, 22 million chinese lost their source of income.

yet i sit here in my comfy life, contemplating my own sense of security. drinking tea.

will it take a war to heal our bruised nation? war–to mend our depression? it seems paradoxical. yet that’s what they’re saying. World War 1 solved the Great One. the Great cycle of poverty ceased with the onslaught of machine guns firing down the innocent.

what a mixed-up place, that it takes war to ease our battle.

another sip.

what does it matter, should it affect me? the question is rather, how will i affect the depression?

blue-cardigan Jesus

i hear her before i see her. humming to herself at the kitchen table.

“hello mum,” i call, shutting the door. the kitchen chair squeaks. the hums turn into determined grunts as she figures out how to stand up and come see me.

i walk up the stairs, and she’s standing there, beautiful blue eyes shining, pink-apple cheeks, her blue jean skirt tucked snug against her blue t-shirt. around her shoulders, a blue cardigan. she smells of baby powder and lavender lotion. mum always smells good.

“hello emily.” she enfolds me in her soft sweater.

“i love you,” she says quietly. then she begins to nod her head. continues nodding as i pull away. “yes,” she says seriously. “i definitely love you very much.”

sometimes i find it hard to take the Jesus from the Bible and put him into my very real, three-dimensional existence. when i pray, i try to picture him in my mind, so i know who i’m talking to. but, since coming home to care for mum, he’s become more real to me.more tangible.

because whenever i look at mum, i see him. i see his grace, and his joy. whenever i feel her hug, it’s him, enfolding me–accepting me. and her voice is his voice, telling me he loves me.

i think we all need someone who reminds us life is more than what we see. look hard enough, and you will find him. or her. someone who breathes life into faith.

Jesus, incarnate. Jesus, in the flesh. Jesus, in a blue cardigan.

demonic horses and placid beaches

march 16

i’m sitting by a river at Rancho Wendy in the Dominican Republic. the air is heavy with heat and the smell of fruit. palm trees are everywhere. this afternoon we’re going on a horseback ride. tomorrow i think we’ll be renting a motorcycle and scooting around on back roads. the countryside is freckled with tiny villages. the buildings are made of cement, painted in bright pastel colours which detract from the garbage littering the streets. everywhere, everyone is just sitting. seemingly waiting for something to happen. the children run around half-naked with the chickens. dogs stick out starved heads from gates and stare with haunted eyes. barbed wire-strands fence off lonely cows who moo at the lush surroundings. everything is a million shades of green. so alive. fall never comes to this jungle land.

this morning we went for a walk across a bridge made of bamboo. trent calls bamboo “nature’s steel tresses” because it’s so strong and hardy. our room is nothing much-just a concrete pad with a large bunk bed and a TV whose sound is warped, but that’s okay. we’re planning to spend most of our time outside, anyway.

there are so many bright flowers-pink, yellow and red. bananas grow in thick green bunches. horses and geckos show up sporadically. it’s a whole new world.

the trip here was really hard-in total, it took 20 hours of airplane rides, bus rides and taxi. we’re in a very remote untouched part of the dominican, outside of ‘bonao’.

a rooster woke us up this morning, and he’s still awake. when we were asked what we wanted for lunch, trent said “rooster.” 🙂 i don’t think they found it very funny.

i feel strange, like i don’t know what to do with myself. i’m not good at sitting and “being” but that’s what they do here. they sit. and they are.

most people just stare, or ignore our white selves. one guy called out ‘hey you! how are you?’ trent loves that. he wishes more people would do that.

i want to take pictures of the adorable children with their brown bums and bellies sticking out. but i won’t unless i’m far away, because i think that’s intrusive. that’s why they just stare at us, i believe–or turn away… because we’re making an object, a post-card, out of their very real existence. and no matter how many ‘ola’s we say, or smiles we flash, in a few days we’ll be gone back to our fancy lives.

march 17

so much has happened. trent got thrown from a demonic horse (after being forced through an unyielding grove of trees) and his neck and arms are sliced up and bloody. he’s got a very good attitude about it though. yesterday afternoon we rented a motorbike and took it up the mountain. the bike jerked to a stop and i flung down my legs only to burn one of them on the sizzling hot muffler. THEN, while we were sleeping, our bed snapped, breaking in two (making us feel indecently obese), so we were given another bedroom. it’s been a whirlwind of bad omens, if we were to believe in those.

today we went up on a five-hour trek through villages tangled throughout the mountain.we swam in the many waterfalls and forged rivers. it was fun, but i’m oh-so-tired. the heat feels like two sweaty arms wrapped around my face. when we got back we had a lovely ‘siesta’ and now we’re sitting by the stream, awaiting supper.

it really cools off here in the evenings–and the bugs come. a choir of bugs serenading us from the forest. they sound like an electric current. and every night, around midnight, the bug-sounds fade and the rain starts. as if on cue.

today we tried three kinds of fruit. our guide (a young boy) climbed random trees and picked them for us. one isn’t ripe yet. the other, cracked open, is filled with sweet milky seeds which you suck like candy. it’s called “cacow”. the other, “guanabana” or something like that, has a sweet meaty-white flesh which you pull off like taffy. it melts on your tongue. every morning we eat fresh bananas for breakfast (picked locally–you can see trucks stacked high with bright green bananas zooming down the highway, no doubt to be sold in our grocery stores the next day).

march 19

well, to say “so much has happened” yet again would seem redundant but true. we are now lying on white sandy beaches studded with palm trees, listening to ocean waves crash against the shore. it’s quite idyllic–this place called San Pedro.

we arrived yesterday via motorcycle taxis. we arrived after waking up to torrents of rain drenching our spirits. we arrived after trent decided to get me away from the ranch with its enormous spiders and sewer-smells. (don’t get me wrong–the ranch had its moments. but they had passed. :))

we almost didn’t make it. trent realized he’d lost his wallet after getting off the bus at san pedro. he took a motorcycle taxi, caught up with the bus, and jumped on. he still couldn’t find it. then the taxi driver, who was helping him look, noticed a man had it hiding under his foot. he’d been trying to steal it! meanwhile, i was standing guard over our luggage at the corner of the road, being “baby’d” by a group of muchachos who kissed my hand and called themselves “Steven Segal.” 🙂

eventually we got on the motorcycle taxis with all our stuff and took off for “Fior Di Loto”–a lovely little Indian place with lots of colourful pillows, large sun terraces, quaint rooms, yoga and checkerboards. only $25/night, and it’s 100 metres from the ocean!

we plan to spend the next two days lying lobster-like on the sand until we need to go home. this morning we came across a lovely dinette on the beach where the woman (who’s from sweden) called us her “dear little friends” and made us eggs with tomato and onion.

and now, we lie, listening to the roar of unhappy waves and feeling content, at last.

march 20

this morning we’re lying in the shade. we plan to lie here all day, having taken the term “lobster-like” literally yesterday and burning our skin orange (save for random patches where we splattered sunscreen in an hurry). so in truth, we look like lobsters with chicken pox.

the breeze is a cool kiss on our tormented skin. we’re able to appreciate the frothing waves from a bit of a distance–versus yesterday, in which we spent six hours hiking the beach, our toes in the water, oblivious to the damage. we passed by huge, towering resorts; saw tourists doing touristy things, and ate lunch at an over-priced Italian cafe. then, at 3 pm when we’d decided we were ever thankful for our quiet, unelegant side of the beach and made our way ‘home’ to Fior di Loto, only then did we feel the burn. (which would later turn, for me, into into a fitful night of chills and hot flashes). needless to say i’m slathered white in sunscreen and glued to the forgiving shade.

trent plans to go snorkeling. i plan to watch. then it’s home in the morning (after another final breakfast at the lovely dinette).

(the above is taken from excerpts of a letter written to a friend)

photos:
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=5780247&id=623670098#/album.php?aid=229822&id=623670098
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=5780247&id=623670098#/album.php?aid=229847&id=623670098

two videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUWeeacXJV8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHkuYCeG5po

my date and i

the phone rings.

i’m in the kitchen. pick it up–it’s my husband. he’s sitting in the TV room. wondering if i want to go on a date with him.

“sure” i say. he slips outside when i’m not looking. runs around the house in the snow in his slippers.

i hear the doorbell. he’s standing there, shivering. “i came to pick you up for our date,” he says with a cheeky smile.

he invites me to his place, “down the hall.” we head towards the TV room, where we cuddle on the couch and watch a movie.

my date and i.

post-script

i do realize the intrinsic value of words. they can inspire. they CAN provoke change. i do not intend to stop writing.

but it’s easy to hide behind words. so, while continuing to write, i also intend to raise my hand a little more when vehicles pass me by. to smile, to look people in the eye, whenever possible.

because loving humanity is what life’s all about.

plastic words

i sit here in my fuzzy white bathrobe wondering how many people are hurting beyond my door?

wondering, how am i really helping by tapping out words on this box of keys?

i live in a speck of a village. even so, when i step outside my door, and wander frozen paths to the local store, i am too shy to look up at passing cars. too shy to wave. as if i might bridge some unseen gap and suddenly become engaged with humanity.

yes. it’s much easier to sit here, disengaged, and tippity-tap on these plastic keys.

yet, at the end of the day, that’s all they are: words. frail, flimsy, wobbly in the wind.

and people are still hurting.

spring is here

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it’s been a long winter.

i stand by the window. see the grass, drenched and flat, beneath our wooden lawn chairs. see the way the trees are bursting into new skin. yellow crocus heads peek up shyly–i urge them onward. forward. “spring is here” i whisper. the sky laughs, spilling rain. the ground soaks it up like a sponge. i want to wring it out. plant flowers. make life a patch of colour. instead, i stand by the window and wait.

can you feel it? new things are growing. new life, happening.

i’m hoping. expectant.

photo albums

we sit. me in my grey sweats. her in her fuzzy greens.

glance through photo albums–days gone by in a smudge of colour. captured in brief by the camera lens.

snippets of a life so fast we sometimes have to stop and catch our breath.

instead, we pick up our tea cups and drink. take tiny bites of chocolate.

mum tells me about her morning: it took her an hour to get dressed “because of the buttons,” but she did it, all by herself. then, it had been mocha time–her favourite time. after that, her nap, “which was the perfect nap! i went to bed at 2, so i could be up at 4 for when you came over!”

i wish i hadn’t been late. she’s so happy her cheeks are like raspberries.

i write these things so i won’t forget. my words are like photographs. snapshots of days when mum feels good enough to dress herself. rare days, fleeting fast in a smudge of colour.

‘dead’ locks

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it’s ironic.

i back-comb my hair, twist it to oblivion, and slather it with beeswax. then i order expensive ‘dread’ products to maintain what’s left of my destroyed hair.

dreadlocks: i used to think they were a way of escaping details. a hippie-way of living.

i spend more time on my hair now than i ever did. but i do this so that my dreads will mature. according to Google, they’ll mature in 3 or 4 months. that’s 3 or 4 months of intense hair destruction so that, in the end, i’ll have a beautiful head of ‘dead’ locks.

but seriously, there’s an analogy here. so many things in life seem like they should be easy. falling in love. making babies. finding a job. loving your neighbour. but they’re often a lot messier than we bargained for. each day is a dance between life and death. a tug-of-war between good and evil. but, the harder we tug, and the longer we dance, the more mature we’ll become. for some, it will take 3 or 4 months. for others, years.

but no matter what, the end product will be beautiful.

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