Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Luxury Car

Mr. Ton drove me to the airport today in his luxury car.  Which didn’t fit too closely with my own primitive standards of luxuriousness.  Still, it was a big black SUV, rode up high, was clean, spacious and comfortable. It was also neither new nor was it old.  Truth though, it was certainly several degrees of automotive quality above and beyond most of the other little taxis you find in Phuket.  


Mr. Ton was not the first person I had asked to drive me.  Coming out from the hotel I negotiated a long circuitous gauntlet of drivers.  All their cars were clean and ready to go, but each one, for a reason I cannot fathom was hideously overpriced for the distance I had asked them to travel.

 After several attempts of trying to come to some kind of sensible transaction with a scruffy scrum of cabbies, shielded behind dark glasses and puffing on cheap Thai cigarettes, I simply moved on to find a different thicket of hired cars accompanied by a different set of indifferent drivers, and try again. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

You Never Know Where You Will End Up

There is not always a simple plot line to all our life's little adventures.  A convenient beginning that then leads on to some clear and interesting story.  One that can be summarized, by just a few descriptive lines or paragraphs.

We all have memorable experiences.  Maybe just a few of which might interest others, if we can just find a way to breathe life into our memories.  Both the ones that happened minutes ago or ones that we have to dig deep from beneath our past.

Because I live in such a different sort of world, it is always a unique experience for me each and every time I take that long trip north to Goderich.  A pretty little town on the shore of Lake Huron.  A place, that for lack of a better description, I call home.

Going for a walk with my brother and his dog on my last day there.  It was one of those many cold snowy days that they seem to have a lot of.  Sometimes it takes a little extra push, just to get outside and get a little exercise.

You could say it is a place that not much happens, but if you had been here on August 21, 2011 you probably wouldn't think that way.   If you had been standing smack dab in the middle of town that afternoon most likely your life would have been dramatically changed.  You would have had an adventure that could not be explained or you could tell in just a few words.

This is a picture of the tornado that swept in off the lake that afternoon, and than knocked down nearly everything in its way, right up through the middle of town.  The weather service had predicted thunderstorms but certainly not this.  They knew only 10 minutes before it raged in off the lake that it was in fact an incredibly destructive storm.

I have heard a lot of the big and little stories that happened here that day.  Even now, all the bits and pieces have not yet all been conveniently put back together.  Recovery from something so huge as this is not ever a quick nor a simple thing. Some peoples lives will never be the same.

For now, in the short brisk days of January, the place is simply cold and quiet.  Or at least it seems so to me, especially when the snow squalls blow in off the lake almost for days on end.

There is always lots of snow shoveling, snow blowing, and quiet, and also probably not so quiet cursing going on because of that. I think that if I had to do this every day I would go just a little crazy.  But I suppose we all have to eventually get to used to, and accept where we are supposed to be, and then go on and do what we have to do.

Back out on the trail with my brother and his dog we managed to make it all the way across the Menesetung bridge.  Once, it was the only way in and out of Goderich for the CPR railway. Now it is just for hikers, and for those who want to get an incredible view of the surrounding countryside.

From the middle of its span there is a spectacular view of the Maitland river stretching out below.  Which somehow, whenever I try to take a picture in winter, simply doesn't come out.

I like this one better.  It is a picture I took while running early on a summer morning in July.  I ended up following the trail for a few miles, and then found my way back along the highway that leads into town.

 I am back at my other home now.  Far away from all the endless snowy Lake Huron days.  A little of that weather though seems to have followed me home to Queens.  The city has recently been caught up in a lengthy spell of severe cold.  Which looks like it won't release its grasp of the city for at least another day.

The main reason I make this trip to Canada is to visit with my Mom.  In less than a month she is going to be 96 years old.  She lives in a assisted living home in Goderich.   A place she could probably have never even imagined when she grew up on a small farm near the tiny village of Glassville New Brunswick. More than a thousand miles east of here.

She has had lots of adventures in her life.  Some that can be summed up nicely in just a few words and lines and others of course, that have no real story, but are simply the stuff that makes up who she is.  Before I left her the other day she surprised me though and told me a long story of how it once was.  When she and my dad once were living in a small rented room, just after the war.

I cannot recall just how or why her thoughts shifted back to this time and place.  What push or nudge took her so far back in her life.  Somehow a part of her mind simply shifted and she began to recall all the little details that made her words paint a picture in time that was real and vibrant. 

It was almost as though it had been just days instead of more than 60 years.  It was the moment in her life when she had been married just a few years, and not too long after my oldest sister Bette was born. 

She surprised me with just how much detail and with how much clarity she could remember.  I don't ever recall her ever telling me this story before.  Just how difficult things were when she first came back from serving as a nurse with the Canadian army in Europe.  How in those days it was nearly impossible to find a decent place to live. Or at least it was in Saint John New Brunswick.

As we left her apartment, so that I could take her downstairs for lunch, she carefully closed the door behind her, making sure that it was shut tight.  She said, "When you leave, you never know where you will end up."

Her hand paused for just a moment more upon the door and then came down and joined the other, firmly holding on to her walker.  Which she now pushed forward, as she made her way slowly down the long corridor.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Morning At Rotary Beach

You can never quite predict just how the currents and winds that push and blow across, and deep beneath the Lake, will shape and form its frozen appearance.  Over the past week, with each new day it changes.  Almost like a turning kaleidoscope, each display differing from the previous.   Sometimes even reforming itself dramatically over the course of a few hours.  At one time the ice stacked up tight to shore in great formidable ridges and mounds, or, like this morning, spread itself white and wide, as far as the eye can see.

At this time of year with almost continuous sub zero temperatures, one cold week marching in after another, more and more ice is gradually accumulating.  Both in great bergs tumbled up on shore and the slushy mass, that cannot help but remind me of the crushed ice in a soda glass.

In not too many months the summer will return and melt and thaw all the cold memories of this beach which is locally called Rotary beach.  On hot summer days the beach, which looks now that it composed more of pebbles than of sand will be quite a different place. One which will draw people to itself for leisure and to spend long slow hours.  Kids and older folk worshiping the sun or cooling off in waters, that when you enter, will not make you shiver at all.  Not even a little.

This morning I seemed to be its only visitor.  A solitary figure, except for 2 silent crows that flickered from tree to tree in the sparse woods behind me.  Who, despite the appearance of very little food or warmth seemed to be content nonetheless. 

In some few months from now I will return here.  Dip toe and hopefully find contentment and relief from the weight of a heavy hot August day.  And perhaps remember the quiet loneliness of the beach on a January morning, as dawn was fast approaching.