Tuesday, January 31, 2017


"We went to the store where you just look at things," my granddaughter says casually, by way of making conversation. "And they have animals there that are like statues."
"Oh," I muse,  a light dawning. "Cabala's. Yes, they have many animals don't they?"
She nods soberly. "One was looking at me Gramma and I was terrified." I hug her a little tighter. "It had hair all over," she says. "And I didn't know what it was," she adds, her eyes wide.
"Goodness," I exclaim. "Was it a bear?"
"Gramma," she says, "I know what a bear is."
"Oh, yes, yes of course," I murmur, "Was it a cougar?"
"I don't know what a cougar looks like," she admits.
I describe one but she looks skeptical.
"Was it a raccoon," I ask hopefully.
"It was big Gramma," she exclaims.
Off we go to consult Google but nothing seems to fit.
I am left pondering a strange and hairy creature with wild eyes.
It has made me remember a mystery creature I once looked at with my own wild eyes.
Fortunately, it never saw me.
I was fifteen I think.
I had hiked up Mt. Cook near Blue River.
Up into the mountain alpine country.
A morning trek alone brought me down to the edge of a small lake. As I stood gazing out over the water I heard the strangest sound. It was almost a jingle. A tinkle of claws on rock and a growl repeated like a chant.
And there it was.
My mystery creature.
I had absolutely no idea what I was looking at.
The creature looked fiercely to the left and right before quickly lapping water. Then It turned and trotted stiffly off.
It hadn't seen me, shielded as I was by a bush.
When I rushed breathless and wide eyed to the cabin, my cousin listened to my description with an incredulous look.
"It must have been a bobcat," she said.
"But it had a tail," I cried.
She gave me that look.
You know the one.
Years, and years later, in a museum display that included taxidermy I spied my mystery creature.
It was a Wolverine. 
Do you think it was too late to be terrified?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

at his feet

We've had ice. That fact is so unusual it has made the news more than one evening this January. Ice, ice, ice. Of course, it began as snow. We all rushed to our windows with gasps of joy when the first flakes began to fall. Most of us did. And we gasped with joy as the snow continued and STAYED OVERNIGHT!  
Cue a change in the background music.
There is something unnerving about coastal snow. Something not so joyous. One moment it's as airy as fairy cotton candy. And then....where ere foot or tire treads it transmogrifies into ice.
Rain usually rescues us.
Snowmen droop and lean and slump.
Lawns green up.
Roads shine wet and dark.
Children's lips tremble....
This year though, rain was busy somewhere else and couldn't come. The thermometer dipped down low and the ice held sway.
There was ice absolutely everywhere. Great chunks of it.
And that was how my grandson made his amazing discovery.
How he found something both amazing and startling frozen fast in a chunk of ice.
It caught his eye.
The colors.
The prism of light and color.
He bent, wonderingly and picked up a chunk of ice.
Inside, glinting and glowing was a piece of the rainbow.
Has anyone ever found a piece of the rainbow before?
The Boy Who Found The Rainbow.
Sounds like the title of a fairy tale.
A strange, bleak wind howled across the polar seas.
It raced along the Rockies and plunged down, down through forest and river towards the sea.
A rainbow hung glistening in the pale evening sky.
A blast of icy breath and it was frozen.
Frozen, then shattered into a million pieces. 
And one lay at his feet.
At the feet of the boy and he bent and looked, surprise alight in his eyes.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

zero and beyond

My granddaughter told me this morning that her doll is zero. She is referring to its age of course. Zero. Poor dolly; so young she doesn't even register on the Richter Scale of aging.
I was zero once too. And then I was one. Oh happy day. Then I was big enough to ride the wonderful galloping horse that was pastured in my grandparents living room. It was an amazing contraption and took up nearly as much space as a real pony. I think it really belonged to my cousin who lived downstairs in a compact suite. Too compact, and so the marvelous steed was stabled upstairs. It looks like my grampa made a small modification to the joy ride. A pretty stout two by four allows equestrian spirited toddlers to mount and dismount all by themselves. It is good to fan the flames of independence.

This is one of my favourite photos of myself.
I remember the horse.
It was a Palomino.
And I remember the wool rug with kaleidoscope flecks of color.
And I can even remember glancing over my shoulder warily as I rode grimly onward.
It was because of the cuckoo clock high on the wall.
I was scared of the little bird that lived inside.
It was so unpredictable......

But still I rode ever onward into two and three and four and beyond.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

gathering dust

My littlest granddaughter asked if she could have a bath.
She happily sang as water filled the tub.
She called for toys.
And more toys.
Her big sister arrived from school.
In a blink she had joined her sister.
They played 'otters at the aquarium' and 'otters in the sea.'
They splashed and rolled and splashed some more.
Their long hair turned into seaweed.
Waves lapped.
Soon they were huddled under fluffy towels and pointing toes into pantlegs and socks.
Hair was de-tangled while we debated braids and ponytails.
We settled on the blow dryer.
It has been gathering dust in a bottom cupboard.
I plugged it in.
There was a loud bang.
And a puff of awful, acrid smoke.
I don't know if I threw it down or if it lept out of my hand on its own.
We fled to the fresh air of the living room.
My poor blow dryer has shuffled off this mortal coil with a flourish.
Hey...doesn't it give new meaning to the old expression, 'going out with a bang.'?

two little chickadees

Two little chickadees.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

monarch of the mountain

My grampa the skier.
He learned as a boy in Norway.
There he is,
perched on the edge,
surveying his vast kingdom.

in winter

More than half of the long ago photos my mother took in Blue River were frozen in winter but then again, more than half the year Blue River is frozen in winter.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

fast away

Snow fell,
salt shaken over a plate,
sawdust on the wind.
Afternoon light faded to night 
and flakes became a blanket 
ever thicker
over all, 
softening edges, 
outlining branches. 
A great silent whiteness. 
Fast away the old year passes,
and the new born year awoke 
fresh and silent
Silver bright and silent....
Until the bells of St. Dunstan began to ring,
And I had a Courier and Ives sort of moment.