Monday, April 12, 2010

In the Silence

I relish the quiet moments. All is calm, I have time to reflect and ponder. The house is still, the night outside cool and welcoming. I sit for a while watching the harbour, studying the flickering lights on the water across in Halifax. It feels too early in the week to feel so drained, but it has been an eventful weekend and I eagerly await sunny weather to recharge the depleting batteries.

My liver needs some time to recover, I have been punishing it mercilessly for months. On Sunday I made a choice, a choice not to drink. So far so good, not sure how its going to be when I'm at Darts on Tuesday. I'm playing at Neighbours pub which is just around the corner from my house and starting at 7:30. The crowd are a good lot and I'm looking forward to the game. Last week I threw well and potentially will throw even better this week.

There are a few things I wish I could rant about. Today is not the day. I grit my teeth, suck in air, swallow and change topic.

So.. the weekend. As weekends go, its been a really good weekend. I went to a barbeque at my neighbours house with a whole bunch of people, we ate like kings and queens (and princes and princesses too) and then after the children began to fall asleep upstairs, we shared a few drinks and continued with a fire blazing. We left at 2am, fuzzy but happy. Sunday was going to be a big day. I had planned a hike to Cape Split, over near Scots Bay up in the valley. The hike proved to be a good one, nice distance (16km) with some great views of the ocean. For the first hike of the season it was about right. Next one needs to be longer, or harder or more rugged or something. A real test next, some dirty, uneven, steep trail.

Blah, blah, blah, blah. Jeez, just filling in with a bunch load of random words so I can avoid the stuff that I really want to vent about. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. How very very frustrating.

Like isn't stuff amazing.

So, anyway, change of tact, let the other stuff subside for a short while. Perhaps for a couple of days, perhaps for longer, who knows really.

How about a couple of pictures of Cape Split? Maybe that will arouse the feet. Get the boots on and take a trip.

It was a great day out. The drive was smooth, light traffic with a car that didn't seem to mind going up hills. We arrived just after 1pm and set off on the trail with the tide peaking and the wind blowing agressively. I was beginning to think that I was a little under-dressed for the event, but as we neared the trees, the wind was held back by the countless lichen covered trunks and the air became more still. We headed along the route, passing areas of soggy marshland where the winter waters had not yet been absorbed into the earth. The trees remained bare, spring had only recently touched their tips with warmth and so the first buds of colour were not far away. For the moment, they stood skeletal, asleep. Their solid frames occasionally creaking against each other as we passed them by.

The terrain was varied, as were the people, groups and clusters of hikers, ramblers and bikers all enjoying the 16km spread on a welcoming Spring sunday. We started at a slow pace for the first kilometre or two, then began to increase until we pounded along for a good spell, bouncing over roots buried in the ground, stepping through wet ground without a care and leaping from stone to stone, log to log across small brooks and streams. Some of the inclines were steeper than the initial ones, and it felt good to feel the body take it in stride, breath quickening, but pace unchanging. We stopped only for a minute or two, here and there, to grab a sip of water, or to crunch down a granola bar. It took us just over 2 hours to cover the 8km out to the peak. Snapping off pictures while the wind howled, I absorbed the full magnitude of the elements. Here sea, land and air were in a constant battle with each other, with the earth slowly losing ground as each wave struck the base of its cliffs far below. I pondered a while, wind whipping around my hair. The cut of land where trees had disappeared far below was growing over time, and one day the earth on which I stood would itself become absorbed by the tides.

The wind was bullish and unrelenting, it was not until we started the return that the shelter of the trees was provided us. Our pace steady, no rush, no real hurry to return. Next to no word was said, just walking, walking. I played a game with myself, to see how silently I could walk at speed, and how fast I could walk across roots, rocks and logs without losing my footing. The walk became hypnotic and I fell into tangents of thought. What makes me feel free, do I feel free. Hiking makes me feel free, being outside makes me feel free. Running naked would make me feel free, so hiking and running naked would make me feel free. Jumping off trees naked while hiking would make me feel free. A beer would make me feel free.... hold on, where did that one come from. I laughed to myself, my temporary animalistic moment with nature had been dissolved by a yearning for an ice cold Coors. A grin spread across my features and I continued, now looking for the perfect tree to climb, or a puddle to splash through. (naked didn't feel quite right today, too many people were on the trail).

On the return, I planned to stop at a Church that I had seen by the side of the road on the journey there. I drove passed it by mistake, turned the car in a driveway and headed back to it. The church stood weather beaten and abandoned, the windows gone, the roof collapsed and the walls leaning. It looked like a fantastic place.

I have an interest in old buildings, not necessarily monuments, but buildings that tell a story of people. Houses, farms, factories and churches. They all interest me. In this case it was a tiny little church, perhaps for a congregation of no more than 20. It stood decaying in the spring sunshine, its congregation all gone, its furniture removed and its days of Sunday service long since faded. I love that kind of building, it tells a story. From the day when its builder stood back looking at the work and feeling proud of the effort to the day where perhaps couples had stood at the door after their marriage ceremony, families standing by watching with smiles across their faces. The minister a member of the community, knowing his flock by name, proud of his position, his church. Now it stands forgotten, covered with idle graffiti and meaningless images. Its time was ending, with each passing winter, summer heat and the expansion, contraction of the walls, the roof, the earth. The church was slowly being sucked into the ground. Slowly being stripped of its wooden floor, tiled roof, weatherboard walls. They were eroding like the cliffs. The sense of quiet was overpowering. I could listen and hear.

I snapped a couple of pictures off, then returned to the car and headed back for Dartmouth, headed back to the house. Headed back home. The journey was quiet, the radio chattering but with few words shared. We each reflected on the day, the weekend, the week to come. Monday, a moment of dread. Living for the weekend isn't fun. Oh well. Until the next one.