NUTS

You can’t have spring without a Magnolia tree in full, splendid bloom.
Feeling nearly faded as my flowers. I find a poignant beauty in fading flowers and that these perhaps should not have been picked at all, they deserved to be preserved in a photo.

I went to the grocery store yesterday (now a gauntlet indeed) and bought a pre-bagged sack of bulk mixed nuts. You can’t dip into the bulk bins yourself, you might cough. That leads to some obvious questions about bulk bins at the best of times and then there are the restaurants with buffets. And of course there the open markets in much of the world, where nothing is pre-packaged as it never has been since markets ever were. There are public washrooms, and water fountains and the Wailing Wall and the Blarney Stone and all those religious shrines which millions of strangers love to kiss…How the hell have we ever survived this long? Anyway this morning I took a handful of nuts and noted how the brazil nuts, cashews and almonds were on top of the peanuts.

So then: “Is life like a bag of nuts, the biggest ones rise to the top?”

Time to reload the hives and get the year’s honey crop in the making.

I am truly not in support of any political group or perspective, frankly my dear I think they’re all nuts. Some of the incredible stupidities we’ve seen in the past weeks bear that out and confirm the low datum of mass human intellect. If only, at the earliest rumour of this disaster, we had firmly stopped all international travel, perhaps things would be much different. Commerce remained more important than safety and here we are. I know I’m just a bog peanut backwoods boy but it is not space science to understand that if you close the barn door, chances are much better of keeping your piggies in and the wolves out. It seems simple enough. I am really weary of cynicism, even my own, but there has to be voices asking obvious questions. Frankly there is just too much baaing going on. But it’s Easter, so peace on earth and watch your blood sugar level. And beware the giant rabbit!

Popping out all over. What magic lets plants know when it is time to re-emerge for a new year?
The Hobbit Hostel. A favourite nook for me at the base of two conjoined maples.

The day outside is pristine. The sky cloudless, the air warming. There is just enough breeze to gently stir the bushes and let us know that indeed the planet still lives. All else is quiet. I had a horrid dream last night about some authority’s decision that all dogs had to be destroyed. Our pandemic was their fault. I firmly decided that I did not want to live in a world without dogs and…I leave the rest to your imagination. I awoke suddenly and had a hard time sleeping after. It seems wildly dark and irrational but I’ve come to expect the ludicrous and the biblically incredible. Jack is slumbering peacefully by the back door, so it’s time to try and return my brain to a default setting. Faulty is my usual mode so “Hi ho off to the woods we go.”

How many springs have these old beauties slowly grown another covering of new leaves?
It seems to be an especially good spring for Oregon Grape. the bright blooms are everywhere.

We went to our favourite spot but the local dog and gun club had taken over for the day. What better way to celebrate Easter? Plastic geese decoys, duck blinds, camouflage clothing, popping shotguns and bewildered dogs. They know what to do, in fact, they could probably teach the people a thing or two, but hell, it gets everyone out of the house despite current standing orders. Yep we were there too, albeit at a safe distance. Have your field, we’ll be back when you’re gone.

Not Easter Eggs. Button fungi adorn a slowly decaying log.
Easter leaf. Was it dipped like an egg?

Easter Monday dawns just as crystalline with warmer temperatures yet in the forecast. There is not a sound outside. Maybe everyone is….. naw c’mon! I recall a story about a man who came to believe he was the last person alive. To end his loneliness and despair he threw himself from the top of the tallest building in town. As he hurtled down past the third floor from the bottom he heard a telephone ringing. There is always hope, you’ve just got to hang on a little bit longer.

Is it possible? For a moment I mused that the snake in last week’s photo had followed me the twenty miles home. This beauty is about a foot long. It was sunning itself beneath the neighbour’s car.

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Albert Einstein

Lighten Up Eh!

Life goes on. Spring growth in the ditch.

At the best of times, there is inevitably minor power-hungry bureaucrats trying to save us from ourselves and so empower themselves. Our current virus has apparently given some of them a sense of license to post dire signs and try to impose closures wherever possible. We are not a species with high primal instincts of self-preservation anymore but really, I do not need to be incessantly reminded to go home, hide in a closet, put my head between my knees and kiss me arse farewell. I get it! OK?

OK? So who has been saved from what by having a small gravel parking lot blocked? The signs have dire warnings about Covid 19.
THAT’s better! You can see the blocked parking lot 100 metres away.
Nope! Nothing’s allowed. Go home.
Oh SHIT!
GERM. A sign of the times. I don’t mind this one at all.

Those who don’t understand by now, never will, so we may as well let the gene pool cleanse itself a bit. I was encouraged to learn that in some places where it comes down to which victim needs a ventilator, a smoker will lose against the non-smoker. Sad, but fair.

Plod. Poor old Jack is slowing down. He used to run ahead and wait for me. There is still a sparkle in his eye and the stubby tail is quick to blur in a happy greeting. The crows were engrossed in a lively mating ritual.

Sorry but I’m getting a little fed up. Folks, sick and dying is sick and dying, wherever you are. Don’t give me any crap after what your local infection percentile is. I just spoke with a nurse from tiny little Tahsis, (Population about 248) a village way up on the remote west coast of Vancouver Island, next stop Japan. They’ve had a confirmed case of Covid 19. If you want to having a pissing contest about who has the worst situation, please, walk on by. We’re all in this together. Dead is dead. Got it? Every community I’ve ever lived in has, by someone’s declaimation, the worst hospital ever. So stop it already. Lighten up eh! Look for some light.

Today is a flawless spring day. The sky is cloudless, the breeze is light and warm. It’s a T-shirt day. (16° C /61°F) The air is filled with pollen. Folks will be sneezing, coughing, farting, blowing their noses and all thinking they have the big C. I swear that soon we’ll have officious little-minded people on the street corners in fluorescent space suits, with 2 meter long grabber sticks, leaping out to install a headbag on anyone so cavalier to venture out.

It’s a jungle out there, but so much nicer with the sun!
Well woof to you too. Welcome to my wading pool.
This way a wet dog came.
“The vandals took the handles and now the pumps won’t work.”  …Bob Dylan

Our premier goes on television to tell the proletariat how to properly wash its hands, to stay indoors but also get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Yep, I’ve broken out into some good old blue collar epithets more than once.

It is Good Friday and struth, usually the weather is cloudy and stormy. My fundamentalist parents used to explain that it was God reminding us of what a terrible day it was when the evil ones executed Christ. That the bad guys were the local religious factions of the time seemed to elude them. “Hurry up, we’re late for church!” But then, which army has not had God on ITS side? I am presently wading though a novel called ‘Stones From The River’ by Ursula Hegi. It is set in Germany during the era leading up to the second world war. I can only read a few pages at a time about the darkness of spiralling self-serving values, terrible behaviour, attitudes and practices of many inspired by Mr. H and the boys. The country had doomed itself before ever marching across any border. My personal cynicism can draw parallels to the mass mindlessness of our present pandemic. The ripple effects of this panic and terror will be far-reaching and with us for a long time. As the Australian man said, “Brace yourself Sheila!”

“Now what have I pushed?” Banana fingers and mobile phones are a poor mix. The inadvertent selfie. Scary!  “More lines in his face than a street map of London.”
The poet’s desk.
New boots broken in, it’s time to say goodbye to the old ones. After three years of bilges, mechanics shops, welding, hundreds of miles of walking, one boot finally fell off my foot. I usually get about six months from a pair of working boots. Blundstones are more than just a fashion statement.

Our governments are trying to bolster our spirits by throwing money at us. Funds they don’t have and we will pay, and pay. There will be little happiness for a long time. Historically, countries pull themselves out of a crisis by starting yet another war. Pay attention! That’s all I’ll say now that I’ve depressed everyone even lower. While we ponder the extent of our weakness it is also a time to consider our strengths and develop those to a higher level. Kindness has no substitute and even a little has far-reaching implications. Common sense is clearly not common, so it is time to take a breath and think things through before letting someone else’s knee-jerk stupidity dictate the direction of your life. Smile. It’s Easter. Eat chocolate. It’s bad for you!

Bump! A stable air mass. Two intersecting contrails dissipate very slowly in the high spring sky.
The crack pansy. Does that sound rude?
Natural light, natural beauty. Trilliums are especially beautiful because they are so soon gone.

I understand how I may come across as crass and insensitive. In actual fact, I am an emotional flower and I am saddened when people demean their own god-given potential by refusing to think and feel for themselves. This blog finds me in mourning. Covid-19 took one of my few heroes and human inspirations this week. John Prine, gone. Oddly, a lot of folks don’t know who this incredible singer songwriter is/ was. His music will live on and on. He was of more value to me than any politician. Here’s a link to one of my favourite Prine songs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIWotODqidE

And here is a poem I wrote the day after his passing this week.

Rough Draft

Bad news travels fast they say

But I didn’t hear Prine was gone

until only yesterday.

I won’t begin to list his works

some may perhaps have saved my life

Certainly they helped me get along

just a postman, but he sure as hell

could write and sing a song.

It ain’t right

that a humble man with

a quiet sparkle in his eye

and a raging fire in his soul

who wrote blue collar eloquence

about the beauty and the tragedy

of the common man

should find himself such a terrible way to die.

You’d expect there would have been a flaming wreck

some stark drama to mark this sad, sad day

but goddamn it, he’s gone

and it never even made the evening news.

Just another victim of a plague

randomly snatching us one by one

that gravel twang silenced forever

his pen lies still

beside a worn guitar

and a book of blank pages

yet to be filled

all those unwritten tunes

he is gone far, far too soon.

I wander the Covid streets

of my deathly quiet little town

there’s no-one around.

Even the accosting God-botherers

handing out road maps to heaven

have abandoned their strategic corner

and stayed home to pray in their closets.

Passing down the broken hill

in the cold early morning light

there is an old hotel with a pub

often filled with blues and country song

a reek of cigarettes and spilled beer

clinging by the battered door

the sort of joint John played

for so very long.

He was one of those guys

with whom you thought

you’d like to share a beer,

or ten,

sipping pints of rough draft

thinking up something witty

that would have made him laugh.

I don’t much believe in heaven

but if there is

I hope there’s a tavern up there

with a crowded little stage

John steps up and joins their ranks

Rogers, Petty, Cash, Nilsson, Haggard, Williams, Snow,

and all the others standing there.

They make room for John Prine and he begins to sing

He Was In Heaven Before He Knew He Died.”

I did not know the man

but still I’ve cried.

Stupid is as stupid does.” …Forest Gump