Archive for March, 2010

The Plains

March 12th, 2010

The dew was still wet on the tall grass even as the late summer winds slowly gathered speed from the west.

There was movement in the grass that the wind did not account for, but it moved too slowly and intermittently to be dangerous and the hunter just stayed still, with soft, shallow breathing, lowered eyelids, and the patience of long practice.

For some time there had been no movement, but still he waited, curiosity piqued more than need or hunger. Finally she stood up… not much taller than the grass, young, thin with black hair shaved back almost to the scalp and a wary look of fear, curiosity, apprehension and readiness for flight.

Still he did not move. His head had tilted up when she first appeared, and now he lowered it down, looking almost asleep, or at most uninterested. Each sense however was alert and awake. If there was one, the rest of the group, family, clan or tribe would be close by, or at least looking. There was no danger from her, but the possibility of danger filled the air.

Neither moved for minutes. She turned and ran to his left. He tilted his head up, looked to the left for anything that was not prairie, and then, when he was satisfied, let his head rest down again. No movement, no interest. The girl continued running, looking behind in fear to see how close the pursuit is. The only thing more fearful than being pursued sometimes is not being pursued, and this causes a slowdown in the flight, then a stop to consider what is wrong with this picture.

The plainsman is not moving. He is leaning against a rock pile and almost looks asleep, but years of watching the wolves hunt has taught the girl the art of seeing through inaction.

She walks closer, first two steps, then three, followed by one, then a moment of stillness. The plainsman glanced over slowly and smiled. Looks like the dancing back in St Louis. He had seen the merchants and their wives in the town square, moving together to the music, and darned if it didn’t look something like this.

When he looked over she froze and tried to make herself invisible. The ancient mantras handed down from mother to daughter washed out of her mouth with ease of practice as she willed herself to be the wind, or a bush…. But there were no bushes in these open fields, and the wind was so easy to see as it rolled around her shoulders.

After a while, she stopped the words, and just looked.

“Where are your people?” he signed in the manner of the plains trading peoples.

“Following the buffalo… they went too fast” she replied in the hand language and pointed to the east.

He looked over his shoulder, but could not even see the dust of the great herd. “How many suns?”…


He reached into his bag and pulled out two strips of cured buffalo, dry and smoky. She came the rest of the way and took them from his hand to her mouth in a clean quick motion that showed that as a forager of food on the plains she had not been lucky. He poured a cup of water, warm and tasting of iron, from one of the several canteens and she swallowed this in one gulp.

“Guess I gotta do somethin’” he muttered to himself, and turned to the east back towards the trail he had crossed this morning made by the buffalo as they flattened all the grass in their path. Surveying the tracks he noted that they were headed east, and figured the girl did know something at least.

“You can follow if you wish” he signed and turned to follow the tracks breaking into a slow leisurely trot. He did not look behind, did not have to, for the ears trained by the years could hear the sound of bare feet trotting behind.

The sun would be going down soon, and he wanted to get to the round lake before it set…

This story nags at me for completion and I will probably do something with this pair that will have nothing to do with romance, although that would be the easy road for me to take

Cote D’Azur Redux

March 12th, 2010

And the sun came up, shy and virginal, greeting the lovers
still sitting against a tree; a purifying light allowing the
soul to breath and the heart to soar.

The two had been on the beach for at least an hour, leaving
love soaked sheets for the cleansing of the cool night air.
She lifted her head and opened sleepy eyes, acknowledging
the morning and the new day. He kept his eyes closed and
his arms loosely around her, providing warmth, although whether
to himself or her he was not really sure. He did, however, move
his head slightly and smile, a gesture more to make sure he was
awake than to preface any action. Leaning down, he softly kissed
her forehead, and she, eyes smiling, snuggled back against
him and adjusted herself for closeness and comfort.

There might have been words that passed between them, drowned out
by the soft purr of the ocean waves, there might have only been
gestures and touches, but they communicated, and radiated, and
bathed themselves in a soft and gentle love that was theirs alone,
a gift not to be shared, but only noticed and smiled at. This moment
was time stopped in its’ tracks, the world far away and forgotten, a
sea of solitude surrounding an island of caring.

And the sun continued to rise, the only timely motion in a timeless
universe. The warmth finally caused him to open one eye and stare
around as if surprised that they were actually in a tangible setting.
She had gone back to sleep on his chest, a rhythmic trust and
silent confidence in him, in them. Another soft smile appeared on his
face, and he once again shut his eyes, stopping time and reveling
in the moment and the sharing.

There was movement on the beach now, tenuous feelers of life returning,
early morning seekers scouring the sand and sea for knowledge,
enlightenment, wisdom, or just the pure enjoyment. Some glanced over
at them, and recognizing the dream, kept on walking. Most completely
missed them and carried their own world around their shoulders and
off into the distances.

Moonlight Road

March 12th, 2010

The sky was clear from here to the horizon, the broad water in the distance seemed to fall off the edge of the earth, and the sun was being swallowed by the lake slowly but surely. The soft rush of the waterfall behind us just added to the quiet of the setting. I felt the gentle touch of your hand on my shoulders, as you slid around the edge of the garden bench and gracefully sat down beside me.

The hand slipped down into mine, and not a word was exchanged, although in my heart I had never heard as eloquent a poem as the caring that was written there at that moment. You leaned up for just a second and laid a soft kiss on my cheek, All I could do was smile, as the situation called for no words, and indeed, none would have been adequate to the moment.

We had poured more love, sweat, thought and energy into this place than should have been possible. And in the end, it was all forgotten, or more than worth it, when, on an evening where the wind was a symphony of peace, we could sit as the sole audience to this concert and enjoy the satisfaction that only perfection truly brings.

Not everything was in place yet, and I knew that even those things I looked upon as perfect would be changed, or re-arranged, or replaced, and always the changes would be even more perfect if such a thing were truly possible.

The sun was just a sliver now, and the sudden chill of the evening brought you closer to me. Still no sound had been made to break the silence.

A quick flash of a fish surfacing to feed in the pond attracted both our attentions, and you got up and went to the edge. I watched you sit there admiring the beauty that we had created, the true child of both our minds and souls, and felt so much contentment at that moment that I felt that the world could not contain that much feeling.

You turned, said one word, “Heaven”, stretched out your hand, took mine, and headed back for the house.

Each of the rocks in the path were familiar to us, even in the gathering darkness, for each had been put in place carefully, lovingly, sometimes painfully by us, and each was where it was supposed to be. The stream still danced downhill off to our left, singing us a constant song of life and joy.

The house welcomes us, first with the lights from the patio in back, then the small accent lighting to welcome us to our place, a home not just a house, a haven from the world’s noise. We enter through the patio door, and as I go in to brew up a small herbal tea for us, you stay in the greenhouse, just taking care of (or maybe just talking to) one or another of your plants. I always love this about you, the gentle habits, the constant quest for perfection with the full knowledge that it is the quest that is important.

I wander out onto the front porch as the kettle is warming up and listen to the soft wind rolling by. On a night like this there are few sounds and those that do come are lullabies sung to put us at rest. The moon hangs in the sky and traces a road across the lake that leads right to our home, and I think back on the path that has brought us to this place, this time, this night.

The soft whistle of steam, and the sound of the greenhouse door being closed brings me back into the house. I collect a small kiss (actually a few small kisses, I am by nature greedy) from you as I enter the kitchen and pour out our cups. You go out to the porch after turning on gentle music, now the sound track of our life, and I follow a minute later with both cups. Your cup is on the right as usual, and we snuggle into the porch swing, and relax, and taste our tea, and talk.

We discuss thoughts and happenings of the day. We talk of dreams and wishes. We mention plans and hopes. We open up our souls and use this time to sort them out with each other’s help. This communication and openness has always been at the core of our caring and it the one thing that I never wish to do without. Every once in a while, your hand will reach out to touch my arm just to emphasize a small point. Each time it still thrills me to feel the gentle touch, the soft caring, the desire to be near that is in that simple gesture.

You point out the moonlight road. I smile an acknowledgement that I had seen it, and that brings on a small silence as we look around at our surroundings. I look over at her, and say “You were right up there when you suggested that this is heaven, maybe it is, and we just had to work a bit to get here.”

You love the idea and turn around to snuggle up in my arms. I don’t know if it is the cool of the evening or the warmth of your caring that drove you there, and at times like these, I really don’t care. I just accept the situation, appreciate the feelings, and thank whomever should be thanked for the moment.

I look down the moonlight road across the lake, and enjoy the voyage….

Spaghetti on a Friday Night

March 12th, 2010

The smell of the sauce on the stove was worth just standing and breathing in, a drug, a road sign on the path to creation, a promise of sensation to come, a warm reminder that this was home.

I felt your arm snake around my waist, and your cheek against my back. If there was anything that would distract me from the creation, it had always been you, even before I knew that you existed. There had always been that arm, I just never knew what name was attached to it, I always looked, always expected, always hoped for, but never found, until this moment, when the arm was there. I knew that feeling, I knew that cheek.

It fit.

A simple statement to a very complex emotion. I closed my eyes. I was trying to stop time. I was trying to hold on to the feeling of that arm around me, that cheek against me, that time of perfection.

The fragrance of the spaghetti sauce filled the air, and my mind came alive, storing memories, sensations, happiness, glory…. More emotions than a man should have at one time.

To this day, I do not know if the arm was just for a second, or for eternity. I did stop time and reveled in the feelings.

I reached behind and pulled your back in towards me. It made you no tighter against me, but made me feel as if I were adding to the moment, letting you know how important this was to me, how it filled my soul.

There are other sensations that, I believe, you think are more important to me, but it is the dancing to the music, the arm by the stove, the kiss in the dining room, the warm body under the fur throw that are important, fulfilling, manufacturers of smiles and contentment. You have probably felt that contentment in your life… watching a son grow up, hearing a grandson was born, feeling that son in your arms for the first time, making up with a daughter for the thousandth. These feelings exist in me as well. They are a moment of perfection, a moment when time stands still, a moment when you press the pause button on life and let the feeling pour in like a flood in spring. I do not know how else to explain it, but it was all here in a pot of sauce and a loving arm.

There are moments when life is crystal clear, when the meaning becomes apparent, the philosophers bow in awe at the perception, the tides of the economy, and war, patriotism and hatred are pushed aside and told to wait. These moments are sometimes passed without recognition, and that is a pity, for these are the moments that life is meant for. This is why we are given the gift, this is why we are born. I think that, if an afterlife is a fact, that these are the moments that we will be judged on. The universe will ask if we appreciated the present, if we knew the gift, if we saw eternity in a second.

I made a stirring motion in the pot, but it was my heart that was stirring. I turned for a kiss, but you moved to the left and came around front. No half kiss for you….. for you had realized the moment.

By the time the pots came out of the lower cupboard to be filled, one by one, the sauce was a collection of memories that could be taken out and tasted. You are the spices that fill the senses and enhance the taste of a memory.

You are here, the arm around my waist, the thought in my head for the millionth time in the last minute, the feeling that will give the sauce an appetite.

Thank you… on a Friday night… With your arm around me, even though you are miles away.

After reading this idyll I could see the possiblity of leading out couple into adventure, so I will slowly extend this story on line and see where it leads, or if the adventure is any good

The beautiful thing, other than you lying on my lap pretending to sleep, was that there was almost no noise. The Atlantic waters lapped gently at the sides of the boat, and the sails flouffed from time to time, but for us, even the wind held its’ breath.

The air was warm, and the sun positively hot, but the shade of the sail protected us, and, as a current or a shift of air moved the boat around, a touch on the rudder would bring the sun back under control. Once in a long while I would look around lazily, and call out to the computer in the cabin “Distance to Land”, and the computer with its’ GPS would say “4 miles” or some such figure. Once it had said 6 and I had to turn the boat towards land, for weather can change in a heart beat out here, and when you are touching me, my heart always beats a little faster.

You had just wanted a day of relaxation and rest, a touch of doing nothing in a race to see as many sights and memories as possible, cameras clicking, “I didn’t remember that”’s being recorded, lunches of questionable value being eaten, and yet, in the rush, it was just the fact that you were here with me that really mattered. Some of the sights were breathtaking, but maybe that was just your hand on my arm. Some of the drives long, but we took them as a time for conversation and laughter. Some of the nights were hot, but we answered by making them hotter.

Today was our day away, our nothing day. The phone was back at the dock tucked in the trunk, the internet on the computer turned off so it served only us on this day.

I felt your hand move against my leg, and warned you with a laugh that if it were one inch higher, I could not guarantee your pretend sleep. You smiled and thought of the possibilities. I just ran my fingers, through your blond hair, excited for a second by the thought, satisfied with the situation as it was, happy that it was you under my fingers, happy that it was me that you had chosen.

An island swam over the horizon and the boat seemed drawn to it. I called to the computer to watch depth and warn at 10 feet, and was comforted at the acknowledgement of the order. The island was small and crowded with trees. No houses were to be seen, but then, there is more than one side to an island.

I pulled in the sails a bit, as you sat up and stretched and my thoughts went off down that heartbeat path again. You looked around sleepily and asked if we were going to stop on the island. I went inside and checked our position with the computer. There was an island shown here, and we were only 2 miles from shore. No name or warnings were showing on the map, so it was fairly safe to land if we should want to.

I asked what you wanted to do, and you walked to the front and dropped the anchor… I hustled to bring down sails and slow our speed quickly and looked up to see your eyes smiling with the confidence that I could perform this tiny maneuver, if only to impress you…

“Lunch will be served soon, my turn to cook” you said, disappearing into the boat. A moment later a cold can of Ginger Ale erupted from the galley and was caught, opened, and cleaned of overflow in what looked like a single motion. A few seconds later, I heard “Fore!!!” come out of the dark. Better late than never I thought and could hear the laugh floating on the wind. I felt a slight lurch as the anchor finally caught on something at about 20 feet, and slowly swung the boat around. I went aft and lowered one of the sails completely, unclipping it from the mast and clipping it to the front bow rail to provide shade….

“If you have a chance, you might want to be on deck”

“Why?” from the galley

“About 10 manta rays and a whole school of yellow fish surrounding them”.

I heard the light feet scampering up the stairs, and half a “Where” get out of your mouth before you saw the solemn procession that was emerging from the sunny side of the boat. “Beautiful” you said, and I agreed… except that I was looking at you. I headed down and brought back some pieces of bread which I soaked, then threw into the water. The yellows immediately gathered around it. I wet some in my hand, and without letting it go, put my hand into the water where it was surrounded and tickled by the yellows until the pieces of bread had gone. I put some in your hand, and holding on to your waist, leaned you over the side as you very, very slowly put your hand in the water. I could see the “Are you sure about this” look on your face, until the yellows were tickling your hand too, and you giggled, and looked like a 14 year old girl with your twinkling eyes and a smile bigger than your face…. Slowly you opened your hand and the bread, then the tickles disappeared…

Just then one of the rays glided to the surface. “watch” I said, and put my had under the ray with a bit of bread in it. When the hand came up it was empty… “Try it”

Again we had the “Are you sure look” and asked “Will he bite?”. “Trust me… just try”. The hand went in, and under, and then I heard “the laugh” as you were startled by the suction of the ray. “No teeth” I said “they suck things up life a vacuum”. You were way ahead of me though and had a second handful of bread for the ray before I finished talking. The yellows were swarming under, catching the crumbs that the ray let drop, and the scene was like a wonderful screensaver, or a Disney movie… too perfect to be real.

We heard the boat long before we saw it and the sound of the engine being pushed to its’ limit and sometimes beyond was an intrusion on the interest and potential of the afternoon. The boat came around the far end of the island, skipping over waves and driving through the water with an almost maniacal desperation.

“Look” you said, as a bag, or package was ejected from the boat.

I saw it as you did and watched as the boat skimmed by and headed for land…

“Look” you said again, and I followed you finger to see another boat come around the edge of the island…

“Looks like a race of some sort”. The truth was that I was starting to get a bad feeling as both boats sped out of sight towards land.

The sound faded until there was only the lapping of the Atlantic against the side of the boat.

We lay back again to resume the idyllic moment, and I let your head fall back into my lap.

“I wonder what was in that bag” you said echoing a thought that had been going through my head for the last 5 minutes. “Should we pick it up?? What if it was something important that they did not know that they lost?”

“I think that it was very important, and that we should not touch it with a ten foot pole, or even an eight foot German”. The old joke sounded stale even to me, for I was as curious as you were and the package lay there. Thoughts of lotto wins rolled through my head as did thoughts of drug stashes and a hundred other possibilities none of which were good for us.

“Let’s just look, and if it is none of our business, we can throw it back..”

“No” I said “this seems like one thing we should just let go” and I rested my head against the mast and closed my eyes.

That peace lasted about 30 seconds. Your curiosity was peaked and I knew at that time what was going to happen even though every thought in my head was how to avoid it. Adam must have felt like this when Eve mentioned the apple and I knew that the exit sign from Eden was flashing somewhere above me.

Twenty minutes later I had my flippers on and my mask rescued from our carryon and I was falling backwards into the shallow waters. It was fairly easy to find the satchel on the sandy bottom, especially when we had seen where it entered the water, and I brought it up to the surface and handed it to you.

I knew I was going to regret this, but I confess that my inquisitiveness was as strong as yours and the greed in my soul was looking for the powerball to strike me now.

You pulled up the satchel as I climbed out of the water and I could see the disappointment in your face as you opened it.

“Only a small bag” you said and pulled out a velvet bag that I recognized as a Crown Royal drawstring sack. You pulled at the drawstring to look inside and I saw the expression on your face change immediately. You left the sack open and passed ti to me without a word…. The “without a word” part should have alerted me immediately, and it did in a general way as I felt the contents in my hand for the first time and looked inside.

There were dozens, maybe hundreds of what looked like diamonds and my heart stopped for a second, maybe three, maybe four, and in the days ahead I often wished that it had stopped forever.

“Let’s throw this back” I said, for I knew there was nothing but trouble here. I have to admit that I was hoping that you would say no, for then it would be your fault, or at the very least, not mine, if we went ahead..

“No, let’s head back for harbour and think about this on the way.

Parades in the key of Life

March 16th, 2010

This was one of those wonderful “first meetings” in a coffee shop in downtown Montreal. We had chosen, not on purpose, the morning of the Santa Clause parade and the participants were all around us for the first hour. The lady still remains a good friend and wonderful conversation (and too long, too fast walk) partner, but the setting and the wonder of the meeting were very special, and this was written the day after..
Capricious elves danced in her soft blue eyes, as the waitress brought the coffee, and the gentle stories flowed from a soul that loved lives. The participants of the Santa Clause parade streamed in and out of the building and could be seen in the window behind me, throughout the coffee shop and reflected in anything I was looking at, and right now, it was those eyes.

The smile on my face was a combination of the surprise that some people can be better than your hopes and dreams, the realization that the stories were a painting of the lives and loves that flow around us every day, and the contentment at just sitting back and listening to someone who is truly interesting. I could understand why over a million people would want to participate in her thoughts every week, but now, it was just me, and I was receiving the benefit of that million person energy. Her words tumbled out one after the other, sometimes waiting and waiting as the answer to a question was unfolded, sometimes exposing stories like strings of pearls, each a part of days past, futures hoped for, and today. Each story was a clue to her soul or a reflection of her heart, each gathered carefully and considered, each put in their place for remembrance and reflection.

We had arrived here on the wings of my writings, and the hopes of the incredible, a chance taken with no road in sight, just a starting place, but for today that was sufficient. I must confess to being a man who will go off at full speed in one direction to get to where he wants, and sometimes needs, to go, but today was a day for standing still and admiring the surroundings and the beauty.

We listened to tales of sadness on sadness, history and recollections, redemption and rescue, hope and plans. Dreams were scattered all over attached by a string of determination and energy. Visions were tacked on the walls, each an unformed picture, a vague idea, a realization of destination without the requisite roadmaps. Each of these was, in fact, just a piece of a large and complex puzzle assembling itself before my eyes…. large tracts of the puzzle were missing, but apparent from the joined pieces that surrounded them… small areas were indistinct like a Monet painting, but I knew that some would come into focus as the surrounding pieces were added and others would stay indistinct and wonderfully mysterious, to be wondered at and admired, guessed at but never questioned. Jagged button edges lay just at the edge of vision suggesting that the puzzle, the future, was larger than imagined at this time if only the right pieces could be found.

I listened to the plans and in each were the seeds of action to be taken immediately, and the laughing “Whoa boy!” in the back of my head as each campaign laid itself out in tenths of seconds, and was packed away just as quickly… items in a hope chest, well wrapped, preserved and not to be forgotten. Each dream of hers was accompanied by a corresponding idea of his, like couples pairing up at a cotillion, marching in double file, around a corner and out of site as the next couple were presented and paired.

She was beautiful and timeless but still the minutes and hours flew by way too fast, not matter how much they put off other obligations, and tried to stretch the hours, life caught up to her first. In the street goodbyes turned into conversation extensions, each trying to put the parting further away, then into hugs to hold on to the thought, the memory, the feeling.

The walk away was gentle and dreamlike, happy and sad, regretful and triumphant, the lingering feel of her arms around his neck and the wonderful warmth that brought, a look back and an eye on the future. And the only hope was a single word…… soon.