Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Eastern Passage

Marigold was happy at the prospect of a drive outside the city and her engine burbled gleefully as I sped along Pleasant St and through Shearwater towards Eastern Passage. The day was an unpredictable one, grey, sleet, rain, snow, wind and occasionally the odd glimmer of sunshine and blue sky bursting from within the heavy cover of grey cloud. A regular Nova Scotian day. The van radio had been stuck on a light rock station for a few months now, and the merry melody of Roy Orbison added to the mood of adventure. I had never been to Eastern Passage even though it was only a few kilometres down the road. The main thoroughfare eventually became Shore Rd, and there were fewer and fewer cars to accompany me on the journey. Marigold passed by rows of cottages, houses and the occasional mansion. A spatter of small stores and supermarkets appeared in front and gradually disappeared in the rear view mirror. Soon, all that could be seen were the houses on the left, and the wide expanse of the ocean on the right. I pulled over for a moment, to admire the view and snap off a couple of memory lane photos. I watched the rhythmic waves make their way towards the shore, casting small cascades of white foam as they broke upon the rocks. The colours were tinged with a grey melancholy, as if even the earth itself was trying to find cover from an expected snow storm. The waves gradually became larger, more powerful and impressive. Far in the distance, the shape of trees and outcrops became obscured as the rain and sleet began to build. I moved into the passenger seat, opened the window and breathed in the cold hard air. The heating in the van was non-existent, and the chilly air crept inside and clung to my fingers. I twisted the camera left and right, searching for interesting views and then captured them. Once saved to memory, I rolled up the window, changed back to the drivers seat and then putting Marigold into gear, I pulled back onto the road and continued through the village. I drove as far as I could, toward the golf course and then stopped when the road ended. A couple of surfers were preparing themselves for time on their boards. Their preparation almost ritual like as they donned dry suits, got their boards ready and then made their way down towards the waters edge. I watched them stand looking out across the water, gauging the force, the waves, the surge and building their anticipation.
The van was getting cold. Marigold doesn't like the cold much and bitches about it whenever possible. Realising that the prospect of having a van with no heat, no power and no will to return home, I revved up the engine, did a u-turn and then started back for Eastern Passage and Cow Bay Road. Considering the wind and weather, there were a few people out on the road, walking towards the village centre. Hardy people. I wondered where they were going, what they were going to do and if they were cold or not. I was beginning to feel it, and I was sat in the cab of the van, so I'm sure that they were either well insulated (which I was not), or that they didn't feel the cold the way I did.
I pulled into Cow Bay Road and began the winding course that would take me passed Rainbow Haven and numerous inlets, small shorelines and countless trees, stripped of all leaves by the winter. The scenery was quiet, damp and rugged. Every now and then a few rays of sunshine would break free from the cloud and illuminate the land with colours of warmth. Then they would disappear again, the view would change back to the mix of dulled fall and winter shades. Beautiful but somehow sad. I slowed the engine, cruising along at a slow pace to ensure I could take in as much of the passing terrain as I could. The ocean lay to the right, and between the trees, the hills and isolated houses I could see the white water of waves and spray build, roar and crash in cyclical fashion. Black dots of surfers moved backwards and forwards, waiting, searching for the rising water that would let them know the time to hop up on their boards and begin their journey towards the land, powered forwards by the strength of the sea. I drove onwards, up and down small hills and then the ocean left my view. I turned onto Bisset Road, the road that I knew would lead me back towards Cole Harbour, and Main Street which I would take on the way home. Bisset Road seemed long and empty, without the sea view, the scenery rolled by as Marigold hungrily chewed through the kilometres, winding effortlessly round curves. I was happy, I had not seen the ocean for a couple of months or so, and the short time spent watching the waves was calming. I drove with contentment, the van happy, the elements contesting gleefully and me sat in the driver seat viewing and feeling it all. As I eventually pulled back onto Main Street and started for home. I breathed in deep, a long sigh of satisfaction. I will return to Eastern Passage, to see it again. Hopefully when it is basking in sunshine and the ocean reflects the sky in shades of perfect blue. I look forward to driving there again and I'm sure that Marigold does too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Return

The wind toyed with her hair as they motored along, windows wide open to absorb as much of the warm fresh air as possible. The engine hummed happily, bubbling with its own excitement at the prospect of adventure on the open road. She lent forward and changed the radio station, searching for a song that would reflect their mood. After rumbling through static and broadcasts in French, she stopped, the song was by Snow Patrol, its gentle melody and lyrics bringing waves of nostalgia. Looking around her, she saw the smiles on the faces of those that she held dear, a calm, contented satisfaction mingled with an anticipation of adventure. The mood was perfect. Reaching over she touched his knee. He responded, placing his hand on hers and looked into her eyes with his lips forming a wide smile. His eyes saw deep into hers, and seemed to open her soul. At the same time, his own appeared to open, and for that moment of time they were intrinsically interlinked, mind, touch and spirit spiralling in a dance of desire, passion and love. Together they looked forward through the windshield at the long straight road ahead. In the distance, mountains sprung from the earth, tree covered, green and welcoming. Nature had called them from the city, and they were answering that call. A primeval yearning to belong to the elements, and entrust the ebb and flow of life to them. Earth to sleep on, the air their ceiling, water to wash and swim in, fire for warmth, security and to cook with. They had prepared for this time, organising the family and gathering the provisions for the days ahead. Now they were on their way, kilometres had been covered, villages passed by them and disappeared in the distance while new landscapes contantly shaped, formed and grew ahead of them. Views that stole breath, and impressed images of bliss upon the mind. The children sat quietly in the back, watching the world pass by outside the windows, transfixed by the visions. Music and mood, the sensory calm and gentle rhythm of the motor combining hypnotically. They were smiling. Without words they let the road pass them by, curiously looking at each inlet, each cluster of farms and houses, signs of life.

The flamingo hanging from the mirror swayed as if dancing when small potholes momentarily bumped the steady wheels. The sun blessing the occupants with steady warmth as they continued, miandering along into the high ground. The map had been discarded long ago, now they were heading northwards, to a destination that they had only seen in dreams, a name that they had mentioned in hushed reverant voices - their Eden. Each of them had seen the place in their sleep, they had touched the cool running water and felt the warm, smooth texture of the earth between their fingertips. They had explored every part of the lake, touched every tree and absorbed the beauty of every flower. With each passing moment, they knew they were getting closer, as if the vehicle was driving itself, bringing them home. They could feel the pulse of life, a pulse weak and barely present when they were in the steady rush of the city, but that had been growing stronger over the days, beating with a comfort that drew them onwards. Not far to go.

The traffic on the road diminished, and they were soon the only vehicle to be seen. The sun cast the box like shadow across the grey worn surface. The sound of the engines approach picked up by the keen ears of the animals hiding in the trees out of view. They picked up a scent, a sensation of change. Cautiously, some of them approached the road to get a glimpse of the travellers, to match instinct with sight. As the vehicle passed them by, the animals watched them with curiosity. After generations, after many lost years, the travellers had found their way, and were coming home once again.

The road texture changed as they slowed down, and turned off to the east. A thin winding gravel road interspersed with grasses and wild flowers, the track long overgrown, overtaken and hidden by nature from casual passers by. The mood inside the van became more focused, more alert. Eagerly they looked at their surroundings, recognising the trees, the shrubs, the way the wind whispered through the long grass outside the windows. Above the low rhythym of the engine, insects could be heard chattering and singing, pausing in their performance while the van passed them by. The van slowed as it neared the final bend of the long journey, turning and twisting downwards to then open into an expanse of space felt as though it was welcoming them with arms wide open. The trees parted, the grasses flowed, the sun shone through leaves and cascaded light into their eyes as they glimpsed their destination in front of them.

He brought the vehicle to a slow stop and then turned off the engine. For a moment none of the occupants moved, silently grateful to have arrived, to feel the warm sense of belonging, of returning to the place that until now had only been in their dreams. The light was abundant, bright and warm, casting the shadows of trunks and branches across the baked earth that awaited their footsteps. The creatures chorus rose to a crescendo, welcoming them after so long an absence. Water glistened from the pool and the trickle of the stream bubbled over smooth shiny stones. The earth greeted them with an embrace of spirit. One by one, the occupants opened the doors, still silent, but each with a warmth and bond to each other and their place. This was the earth that they would nourish as the earth would nourish them. This was where they belonged, this was home.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunny Day

sun shines out in a sky coloured blue
the grey blizzard gone for a while,
cold surrounds, but fresh kind chill
that livens the soul, and sharpens
the breath envelopes while we wrap
in layers of increasing thickness.
the walk is welcome, the air cleans
lungs with its cool crisp taste
the clouds of our breath disappear
like incense in the wind.
marvel at the beauty, the bewildering
variety of life, its pulse.
those around amble on, they pass by
and continue on their way, shoulders
shrugged against the season.
what thoughts fill their time, what
life do they lead, what are their
dreams, what hope do they hide.
is it the same day as mine.
watching sun pass to moon, day to night
beauty pass by and all feel sublime.