Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Between the Water and the Sky

It was a very touristy place ... with all kinds of visitors. The town was there because of the hot springs and the lake ... a small town, which looked as though, it had tumbled from a 50's sitcom television show. So much so, that if ... when I first came upon it ... it rose before me in monochrome black and white ... I think that I would have thought, it was ... as it should be ... captured in time ... like old VCR tapes of Mayberry.

The lake, on the other hand, was a glorious vibrant technicolor blue ... framed by a spectacular indigo mountain range.  Between the lake and town, there was a large hotel ... part old and part new.  After we had visited the area a few times, our curiosity won out and M and I booked a room there, for a night.

It was lovely ... though I couldn't shake the sense ... that we slipped … effortlessly slipped ... from monochrome to technicolor ... as we moved about the place.  It was as if, we were in some avante garde cinematic experimental film ... back in time .... and back to the future ... and back in time ...

The hotel was built around the hot spring ... with an expansive, luxuriously appointed pool and patio, dotted with tree shaded lounging spots. Definitely technicolor ... sparkling technicolor ... for, at night, it was lit up like a tropical paradise. The main glass doors, to this exotic oasis ... led out from 'THE BALLROOM' ... monochrome, definitely ... and straight-up thirties movie glam ... with a dinner-jacketed band straight-out-of the Big Band Swing Era.

Between the hotel and the lake was a lengthy meandering paved path, arrayed with little seasonal shops, filled with kites and beach balls and ice cream cones. Tiny buildings painted in fuchsias and mint greens, with polka dot shutters and candy cane striped awnings.  They reminded me of the cartoon towns where Archie and Veronica and Richie Rich and Audrey and Wendy the Good Little Witch once lived ... when I was a very little girl.

There was a bench on the lawn of the hotel, where you could sit and gaze out at the lake ... at the majestic mountains in the distance ... and, from time-to-time ... at the people on the footpath ... as they went by ... as they slowly faded to monochrome ... before, flat-out, slowly fading away.

Once, while I was sitting there ... something happened to me, that had never happened before ... and has never happened since. I thought I saw my kindergarten teacher coming down the path, towards me. I was surprised ... to-be-honest ... more-than-a-little shocked ... that I was able to recognize her. After so many, many years, I would have thought, I'd be hard-pressed to describe her ... let alone identify her ... though she'd hardly changed at all ... which, I must admit ... seemed odd ... eerie and odd. Nevertheless, the resemblance was so compelling ... it, literally, crushed all reason and reality.

As she drew closer, I realized that I had been staring at her ... fixedly ... gawking at her, frankly ... from the moment I first caught a glimpse of her. Shifting my concentrated scrutiny towards the lake ... I found myself grappling with what-to-do with my flagrant breach of manners ... just as ... she came to stand before ... in the very definition of AWKWARD SITUATION. Truly ... how could this woman NOT THINK that there was something seriously wrong with me.

"Beautiful Day," she remarked cheerily.

"Yes ... beautiful," I responded, red-faced with embarrassment. And then ... thinking to myself ... just-go-for-it: you have already been so rude, nothing you could say or do, could possibly paint your social skills in a more unmannerly light ... and so I began ...

"I know this is going to sound bizarre, but you look just like a teacher I once had.  Seriously, it's quite extraordinary," nimbly editing out the adjective 'kindergarten' from 'teacher', as I spoke ... I mean, good-grief, look-at-me, I'm circling old age.

"I thought it might be something like that," she said … and followed up her polite response with a friendly smile.  Clearly, she was one-of-the-nice-ones.

And so, I continued, "She was such a nice teacher ... a really nice person. I guess you could say that she introduced me to the value of nice.  In fact, I still think of her whenever I meet someone who is nice and pleasant and kind ... and ... I still think of her whenever I meet someone who isn't ... nice and pleasant and kind.  Though, I'm quite sure she would have passed away by now. Actually," I confessed sheepishly, "I know that she has passed." 

"Well, I'm pleased that I could bring her to mind for you, on this lovely afternoon ... although I think this place played a big part in that ... steeped, as it is, in eras and eons and timelessness. It has a gift of stirring up the themes of our lives ... and the ways in which we struck on them."

"Yes," I agreed, "I feel that very much too. Anywhere that sky and water meet mountains, has that effect ... that transcendence. But here in this place ... you feel it even more so."

She glanced briefly at her watch, shrugged agreeably, and began to continue her stroll after remarking, "It was nice meeting you," giggling a soft giggle at her incantation of the word 'nice'

I watched as she walked away. Soon she would begin to fade ... on that long and winding way ... when suddenly, she stopped ... turned ... and looking back at me, called out: "You never know ... perhaps we'll meet again ... some day."

photo:  Harrison Lake, BC – W. Bourke (the beach in front of Harrison Hot Springs Resort )

© 2020 Wendy Bourke

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Nights of the Grand Soirees

Food doesn't seem to be nearly as much fun as it once was . But I suppose it is inevitable that all great enthusiasms wane ... at least somewhat, over time ... as we age.

I remember helping my Dad plant seeds in our back garden and harvesting what came from that. Long before I read that ambrosia was the food of the Greek gods brought to the heavenly feast on Olympus by doves ... I thought it was a recipe my Grandma made, from canned fruit cocktail and coloured miniature marshmallows. I remember my Mom teaching me, how to make Yorkshire pudding ... though she protested that I was far too young to tackle such a finicky dish. I wasn't ... Even as a kid, I guess I was a bit of 'Foodie'.

But, after I threw in with M … who was every bit as keen on all things culinary, as I was ... that interest became a passion ... ramping into overdrive, with a gastronomic gusto, it is hard for me to rap my head around, at this point in my life ... But, golly ... it was a blast.

What wonderful days those were ... as we gleefully sought out little off-the-beaten track delis and ethnic bakeries and fishing boats laden with fresh-from-the-sea bounty. Saturdays would find us at the seven-to-eleven a.m. farmer's market pondering which of the ten different varieties of potatoes in ten different colours we would ultimately determine to purchase ... or rhapsodizing over the size of a homemade apple and rhubarb pie ... or waxing nostalgically over a rare discovery of swiss chard ... which you could never get in the grocery store ... and which always carried the both of us back to our Mom's 1950's summer tables.

Even for folks, who don't have much more than a passing interest in what they eat, I think, that the sharing of food ... plays such a huge role in many of our most impactful memories. Food is often the centrepiece of an occasion ... formal occasions like holidays and celebrations, of course. But food can, also, create its own occasion. For M and I ... for a time ... we called those occasions: 'The Nights of the Grand Soirees'. 

A lot went into 'The Nights of the Grand Soirees' … hours and hours of planning, provisioning, preparing and envisioning was done. But oh ... what fun we had. It would begin with a theme. That, in itself was an excursion into a fantastical Xanadu-of-the-mind ... where nothing fell outside the realm of possibility ... coq au vin as served at a bistro in Paris replicated, to the last detail, in our dining room ... apres ski fondue and wine tasting a la St. Moritz ... likewise beamed into our extremely modest rental unit.  "We should probably take a course in Thai cooking," I might suggest … or even ... "Perhaps we should learn a little Italian."  From there, we would slowly work our way back down to earth ... as in:  "Can we at least afford a cassette tape of Mexican music for when we serve the avocado and black bean enchiladas?"   

After the planning, came the shopping ... the round of stops at every specialty food market and shop that might possibly offer up a hitherto never-heard-of morsel of wow-factor to add to the menu. And the ingredients for the evening didn't end with the edibles. There must be candles. There must be flowers. Occasionally, we would throw the budget to the winds and splurge on new linens ... Let's face it ... you can't 'fake' a Parisian bistro, without a checkered table cloth.

'The Nights of the Grand Soirees' were some of the happiest nights I have ever known. From time to time, I chide myself for not taking pictures, though it is hard to imagine, they would add much to my vivid recollections ... and, I do suspect ... the light-hearted merriment and laughter, was so spontaneously charmed ... in chance strokes of timing and nuance ... any interference with its serendipitous origins ... might, very well, have stifled its flow.

Thinking back now ... it is the merriment and laughter that gives me the warmest glow ... the companionship ... the clever wit and engrossing conversations ... the good will ... the happy, buoyant hours that sparkled effervescently like champagne bubbles bouncing from flutes ... well into the wee small hours.

And while the planning, provisioning and preparing played a part in the great anticipation of making everything come together to create and catch that 'lightening-in-a-bottle' ... it was the actual evenings ... that live on, in memory.

To have experienced such happiness ... to be in a time and place where you know that life doesn't get much more jubilant than this ... that is happiness .. and that is a great gift to have had conferred on a life. 

"With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come." - William Shakespeare

photos: Shopping on Granville Island - Food Heaven, Vancouver BC Wendy Bourke

© 2020 Wendy Bourke 

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Water Spell

It might have been the colours of the wharf where I had sat myself down ... or the call and coast of the gulls ... or perhaps the water’s scent, that conjured forth a mid-twentieth century ambience that set off the familiar parade of phantoms … my childhood family … stirring, yet again.   All those happy times ... shared ... at water's edge ... with nary a single harsh word-or-worry, remembered ... to muddy-the-bliss ... Such is the spell of water ... Alas ... it is not without end.

I was, momentarily, jostled from my reflections as she joined me there ... sitting down beside me … We dangled our legs off the pier … though, they did not reach the water … I had brought a picnic supper ... a rather late supper ...  OUR salad (as we had dubbed it) of couscous and lemon and parsley and garbanzo beans which we began to scarf down, hungrily, with buns and ginger ale. "You seem lost in thought," she said, at last.

"Being near to a body of water, has that effect on me," I explained. "It seems to kick up so many memories ... like flames from embers … or rivers from rivulets.  We're making one now, for you."

"And for you, too, she hastened to add," to which I offered no response.

"Are they all good memories," she asked.

"The ones that surface most often, pretty much are ... but perhaps, 'bittersweet' would be a better word ... as many of the people in them, have passed." She nodded then and issued a plodding sigh ... acquiescence to the hard truth of mortality.

"I often read at water's edge," ... I remarked … handily changing the subject ... and I find now, that passages from the books I read, sometimes play out against a shoreline canvas."

And then, suddenly seized by inspiration, I added, "Look over there, below those cliffs. If you squint your eyes, you can just make out the image of a women ... clutching a thread bare shawl ... obviously, waiting for her sailor love ... to return from the sea."

"Oh there he is," she quipped, getting in the spirit of the tale "... in a red jogging suit
 ... Hm-m-m-m:  completely bald ... with a foot long white beard … Golly ... it has been a long wait."

And we both burst out laughing in sprays of champagne soda bubbles. 

The day was coming down from its peak ... far more sunshine having shone than remained ahead. Out on the lake, two sailboats met ... and then ... passed each other. One of them turned back to shore ... The other ... sailed further and further out ... until, at last ... I couldn't be sure if I had imagined that I could still see it ... Finally, I was sure ... it was gone from sight ... For a moment I wondered if I had seen it, at all ... or if it had just been an illusion.

"Can I interest you in anymore," I prodded, as I began to bundle up the remains of the repast ... in the remains of the day.

She shook her head, 'No' ... and commented, "It was really nice, though. Too bad … all good things have to end."

"They don't end, entirely, as long as someone hangs on to the thought of them," I theorized, philosophically.  

"You called those memories 'bittersweet' ... more sweet-than bitter … would you say?"

"Absolutely …  As you get older, they surprise you, with their vibrancy ... and their warmth ... and their depth of meaning … The quiet, gentle ones are the best … They cast a special light … a warm and calming light ... upon all the days to come.  You'll see." And I patted her hand, for added assurance.

The tide was coming in and the two of us scooched backwards ... That didn't slow it down for a second.

'Light tomorrow with today' - Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806 - 1861

photo:  the Picnic Place at Belcarra Regional Park - W. Bourke

© 2020 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 9 July 2020

The 'Lilac Lady of the Lake' ... or ... The Way of a Good Story

The summer that we leased a cabin, at a lake in the Okanogan, has the quality of a child's bedtime story, now, in recollection. A good children's bedtime story should be pleasant and comfortable, I think, though there should be an undercurrent of suspense ... as if something totally out-of-the-ordinary is about to happen ... or perhaps, is - in fact - transpiring ... if only you could put your finger on it.

Bedtime stories should kindle flashes of images like crackling sparks and glowing embers from a campfire. Best of all, even though you know that you aren't actually part of the story, a good bedtime story leaves you feeling as though you figure into it ... somehow. And later, when it comes to you on midnight blue slippers, it tip-toes to mind with the same velvety soft familiarity of all good faraway stories ... be they fact ... or fiction ... as is the way of 'The Lilac Lady of the Lake' story.

There were three public beaches on that lake, configured in such a way that - although they were all on the same body of water - they were not visible one-beach-to-the-other. The first beach was the busy beach - a wide, sandy expanse with an awesome dock to jump from and climb onto. The second beach was shorter and narrower with no dock - and thus - less children squealing and splashing and kicking up sand as they raced each other into the water. The third beach was barely a beach, at all. It was only about five or six feet wide and about forty feet long ... though it looked out upon a vista that was more remote and pristine ... which, for me, made it all-the-more-special. It was reached by way of a wobbly path that twisted acrobatically through a fragrant wall of needled trees that, no doubt, contributed to its lack of appeal to fellow campers ... all but one, that is ... the Lady in Lilac.

The very first time I wended my way down the wobbly third beach path ... and theatrically parted the boughs on the last of the evergreens ... she was there ... sitting on the sand, in lilac shorts and a t-shirt. Her face was turned to the lake and her back to me, She spoke without turning, "Beautiful Day," she remarked ... a salutation, I recall, that sent a faint shiver down my spine ... for her lack of curiosity as to who I was and what I was doing, invading her seclusion, was so anomalous ... it was, somewhat, off-putting. Surely, the flight-or-fight stuff of human nature would compel any 'normal' mortal to, at least, peek ... at who ... or what … was standing behind them ... in the middle of the wilderness. Nevertheless, I hid my consternation, and in my nice-as-I-can-sound voice ... as even then ... she did not turn, I replied, "Yes ... Perfect". After several more seconds, she, at long last, stood  and threw a glance in my direction. She was smiling. As the days and weeks went by, I came to realize ... she always smiled.

She always smiled ... and she always wore lilac ... different outfits, of course, but always in lilac ... though her name was Iris. "I love all the hues of purple but, I am completely wild about lilac," she explained. "It's such a glad colour, I indulge myself in it - intensely - when I'm on holiday ... though I do sprinkle a bit of purple magic through my 'other life' ... how could I not ... knowing the good of it."

She was mad about the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, who had died on the day that she was born - she told me - and occasionally whispered a line or two from her poems. Words that mingled in lake scent and floated across the lapping blue waves ... soaring over the trees on the other shore ... from then on, forever to appear in my mind's eye, at their reprise. "Poetry … we memorize by heart ... is a gift we give ourselves ... to open, again and again ... all the days of our life," she enthused.

All through that summer, we talked about our lives ... about our likes and dislikes ... of how we filled our hours ... about family and friends ... and the places we had travelled.  Iris had far fewer commitments than I, and had had many adventures ... some of them bordering on epic. She was fascinating ... even mystifying ... for many reasons.

But the most extraordinary thing about her ... and this is where Iris becomes 'The Lilac Lady of the Lake' ... was not her daring tales of captivating exploits and pursuits ... nor her penchant for poetry ... nor even, her unbridled enthusiasm for all things purple ... it was when she appeared.

In my mind, of course, I know that it was simply a strange coincidence ... that coincidentally happened over and over again. But all that summer, Iris only appeared to me when I came to the third beach alone. And while it is true, I often went to that beach alone ... I didn't always.  And yet, if someone accompanied me, on my walk to that place ... 'The Lilac Lady of the Lake' was no where to be seen.  At first it was uncanny ... and then it was mildly remarkable ... until, by summer's end ... it was - flat out - astonishing ... and heading for mystical heights ... as in: The Legend of 'The Lilac Lady of the Lake'.

Such chance encounters and happenstance, occur in life with regularity and are easily dismissed. The thing is: when - by chance - events take on an aura of mystery ... with a sense that something uncommonly un-hum-drum is afoot .. when moments unfurl - happily - in laughter and lilac, in lake scent and evergreen ... and in lovely lines of prose and poetry ... when they come back to you, in wonderful words, that never grow old … and become like a book that is never quite finished … lingering passages to be revisited and augmented … as time goes by ... then ... as we all know … THAT is a good story ………...

photo: Beautiful Osprey Lake Wendy Bourke

© 2020 Wendy Bourke 

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Getting There ... Slowly

Pausing for a minute here ... between happy dances … I have actually gotten my first book to the point of signing off on the proof. In a sea of bad-news-days, this feels like nothing-short-of-a-miracle.

Hopefully, in the next few weeks, I can get back to the 'Whatnot' website and attempt to bring some organization to it.  We are still working on trying to get an explosion of info tucked in under 'click-on' prompts that folks - just-starting-out and established writers - might find helpful ... things from: literary forums to getting isbn/ismn numbers and bar codes for your book(s) … as well as,  new mediums (such as textiles and film) for poetry and prose:  basically, those things that broaden and add so much to the writing experience, but can be real 'hair-pulling head-scratchers'. 

I took on writing 'in earnest' 10 years ago and it has become my 'go-to feel-good place' ever since. Now, it seems, I am embarking on the next leg of this journey. Having written almost 400 pieces, I am finding that inspiration is flowing a little slower than 'early days' and I am interested in publishing more of my work in the hopes that, at least some of it will survive. 

Thus, while I intend to always continue writing, the plan is to concentrate on these two other priorities, at least until I see signs that they are 'coming together'. And as I have learned - the hard way - things come-together best when you begin with a plan.

lament to slow progress

it all began, without a plan ...
and then I hit a wall ...
at first, I just ignored it ...
but it never budged at all

I thought I'd go around it ...
but, alas, there was no end ...
I tried to meet it half-way ...
but that brick wall wouldn't bend

the catapult was overkill ...
I realize that now ...
pole vaulting might have worked
- I think - if only I'd known how ...

the tunnel was a waste of time ...
likewise the rope that broke ...
sledgehammers were gawd-awful ...
and the ladder was a joke

until - at last - I came ...
to where - the snafus - first began ...
to question-question-question ...
and to make myself … a plan

Graphic – W. Bourke 

© 2020 Wendy Bourke

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

the stuff of magic

much in the way ...
that a speck of sand ... clasped ...
in the heart-to-spirit winds
of a moment in time ...
is carried to a land

far flung from
that first burst of flight

so it is ...
that a memory
hour-glassed away
from scent or sight
lies still ... until
… the dawn of a new season ...
when ... the glass turns
and spills again ...
spilling sands

borne to present
from the past

and then ...
a deep inhale of lake scent
or the touch of snow on cheek ...
or ... the taste
of a mcintosh apple
... under-the-moon-in-raindrops ...

becomes ...
the stuff of magic

photo:  Graphic - photo edited by Wendy Bourke

© 2020 Wendy Bourke 

Thursday, 28 May 2020


These days ... I rest ... with a fan gently stirring the air around me. With eyes shut ... it creates the allusion of lying on my heavenly chaise lounge ... in my backyard ... in the halcyon glow of a perfect late spring day.

When spring came earlier this year than it had come, in over a century, it seemed like a good omen. Alas, it was an omen to-be-sure ... but, sadly ... not a good one. The Corona Virus, has robbed most of us of many of the season's simple pleasures. Thus, we have had to create our own spring ... In my case ... trapped in a high rise .. sans heavenly chaise lounge ... to say nothing of the missing back yard.

I can ... however ... conjure up breezes. And conjure them up, I do. Sometimes they come to me scented in floral emanations from my oil infuser. Sometimes they waft round me in notes of birdsong from the Sounds-of-Nature Channel. As with many things, the Spring of 2020 has produced a corona-ized version of something we love, put can't ACTUALLY enjoy ... The Zoom heads-in-squares visit ... without ACTUALLY visiting ... The shared Easter meal ... without ACTUALLY eating at the same table ... The Mother's Day Trip-to-the-Spa gift ... without ACTUALLY leaving the bath tub ... The time spent on the phone and in emails, to children and grandchildren ... without ACTUALLY hugging ... without ACTUALLY making memories.

In an email to my grandson, I reflected back on some wonderful trips that people in the family had taken and remarked that most trips begin with people dreaming about going to a place that has captured their imagination ... and I asked him if there was a place that he dreamed about. He answered that his dream was to go to a lake with his family - but that dream can't happen.

The unhappy truth about life is that there is seldom a substitute for the 'real' thing That's why we dream while we wait for reality to land on 'our joy'.

In the words of Rogers and Hammerstein in the musical South Pacific:

"You gotta have a dream
if you don't have a dream
How you gonna have a dream come true?"

photo:  The Family at Lake Cowichan, Southern Vancouver Island - July 2016 - Wendy Bourke

© 2016 Wendy Bourke 
* * * * *

note: This is not part of the Prose ... but is rather, an update on the Poetry Project (for anyone interested) ... which moils on ... and is slowly being added to (and I do mean: slowly) ... rejigged ... and even, in places, flat-out done over from scratch. Like many new endeavours, it has required far more effort than imagined (and Pandemic Angst is not helping). It seems as if you just clear one hurdle and a brand new learning curve stretches out before you ... but we are learning a lot, as we ride those curves. 'A Walk in the Woods: A Tanka Celebration of Life Lived ... with a Dog' is now posted on the 'Whatnot' Website (www.whatnotpandp.com) Check it out, if you like the idea of exploring poetry rendered in alternative-mediums (in this case: video) ... or simply just feel like checking-it-out. ~ smiles ~ 

As well, I am continuing down the path to self publishing some of my pieces ... which I also have found to be fraught with dead ends and missteps ... but, hopefully I'm getting closer ... to achieving that dream. Regardless, I can't think of a more feel-good way to shelter-in-place than ... embracing creativity.   

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Earth Day Anniversary

number of cases ... number of deaths ... jack-of-hearts-on-queen ... 50th Anniversary of Earth Day ... April 1970 ... Michael ... the banana split we shared the day he left ...ten-of-spades ... and the smell of hyacinths that filled the kitchen on Oliver Road ... number of cases ... number of deaths ... as we pledged weak promises – we doubted life would let us keep – that we'd find our way back to each other ... number of cases ... number of deaths ...

sometimes ... when the world is fast asleep ... solitaire is the last place open for a mind that will not settle ... I remember there were posters all over the University ... that 1st Earth Day ... the day the world would begin to heal itself ...the dizzying thrill of being lifted up by a movement for positive change ...the sense of personal empowerment and the synergetic zeal of joining together with like-minded human beings ... the palpable heartbeat of activism ... number of cases ... number of deaths. ... four of clubs – and there's that suit out ...

after midnight ... this city ... these days ... is as quiet as a tomb .... quiet as a tomb .... most hours of the day ... except for 7:00 in the evening when people – interned in prickly apartments – open their windows and cheer and bang pots and clap ... to thank the COVID front-liners who … with extraordinary valour … put themselves out there to save lives and stock grocery shelves and drive buses so that the rest of us can ... live ...

Michael goes to the window ... most nights ... and joins in for a bit ... he's always been one to try and do right by people ... “It's the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day today,” I mentioned earlier, as he closed the window. “I heard,” he had replied ... pausing at the edge of my deep well of aching incredulity. “I know, how you feel,” he added with a ragged sigh ... as a voice from the TV chimed …

 "analysts say it is too early to know if coronavirus will push global CO2 emissions onto the downward path that is needed if the world is to have any hope of keeping global heating to a relatively safe level of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.  That depends on how far the outbreak spreads, and whether the economic effects are prolonged?"

number of cases … number of deaths … three of diamonds … almost there …

note:  The excerpt (in italics) is not my writing.  It is from an April 2020 Guardian web article (that unfortunately, brings me slightly over the 369 word limit) … but editing was not an option.  It was not mine to edit.  And its message is one of the most cruel and haunting ironies, the human race has ever had laid before it.  

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day was Wednesday, April 22, 2020.

Photo:  from a rather small and blurry picture taken of Michael and I standing on the stone wall that edges the Bluffs of Thunder Bay (Port Arthur, back then) in 1970 (it really was taken in the early spring of 1970), edited in the free fun effects section of Pho.to - W. Bourke

© 2020 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Bear in the House

Linked to Weekly Scribblings #15 and Writers' Pantry #16 (with apologies to Magaly for not finishing (barely finishing) this piece in good time for her excellent COVID-19 history prompt … I'm currently filling the hours by sewing 18 COVID masks for my circle of nearest and dearest - several of whom are taking turns, grocery shopping for Mike and I)

How is the world dreaming these days? My dreams are often a reflection of my state of mind. Lately, of course, COVID-19 is on my mind.

A couple of nights ago – after what seemed like hours of angst – I finally, dozed off. And then ...

I was in the backyard of the home where Michael and I had raised the kids ... with Mike, the kids and one of my sisters ... everyone as young as they were ... back then. Suddenly, as five or six people – I did not know – arrived carrying birthday presents for my sister … I noticed a medium-size black bear. From that moment on, I was terrified. Yet everyone else – family and strangers – seemed fine with it. I insisted that we move the party into the house away from the bear – but, even then, I didn't feel safe.

And I said to the strangers: “I think, you people brought that bear to my house.” Immediately, I felt embarrassed, as if I was disrespecting the bear – to say nothing of the guests. And my sister said: “Relax, it's not as if we've never had a bear in the house before.” She was right ... well, sort of right.

And I clarified her remark : “That was just one of Grandma's stories. A bear got into her house when she was a girl and carried off one of her brothers.” And then I noticed ... Michael wasn't there.

Oh-my-gawd, where is Michael. Petrified ... I started to search for him ... going through every room in the house, until I concluded that I would have to look for him outside.

“Oh-my-gawd,” I gasped aloud: “This is a nightmare” ... and then ... I woke up ... and, instantly felt a balm of relief wash over me ... much like Goldilocks, must have felt, I'm sure, waking in Baby Bear's bed to discover Papa Bear glowering down at her – before making her hasty escape from that fairy tale.

A strange dream ... in a strange time ... tinged with disturbing headlines, family history and lore and the ever-present wish that all-will-be-well, when we awaken from our nightmare.

Note: (This is not part of the prose - just posted for those who might be interested in a bit of P.E.I. history.) My Grandmother grew up at the turn of the 20th century on Prince Edward Island – and what a tough coming-of-age it was. Though, there never was an actual bear in her house, her stories of that time, were filled with – almost unimaginable tribulations – terrible diseases that ravaged communities (between barn dances and strawberry socials). She, herself, had her tonsils removed, while lying on her family's kitchen table, anesthetized with a few gulps of spirits that her parents kept at the back of the cupboard for 'emergencies'. When she was 10, her father was killed, before her eyes, when the blade of the axe he was using to chop wood, flew off and hit him. Interestingly, her family was near-neighbours of Lucy Maud Montgomery, writer of the Anne of Green Gables books ... idyllic stories of life on 'The Island' – back then – which, to hear my Grandmother tell it: had a bit of fairy tale pixie dust, added to the pages … because … in those days … for, almost all ordinary folk … life was very, very hard … almost all of the time. 

photo:  Vera May Campbell - circa 1915. 

©2020 Wendy Bourke. 

Friday, 3 April 2020

The Poetry Project

Greetings Poetry People:

I have taken a break from posting to my blog, as Mike and I self-quarantine. Finding oneself, firmly in the 'most vulnerable sector' in a densely populated metropolis, at this time, has been challenging. Suddenly a fire has been lit under my 'to-do' bucket list. I have been working on two books for what-seems-like forever, and am resolved to finish them – NOW – if I possibly can.

As well, one of my sons, Patrick and I fast-tracked a project that we have been tossing around for years: that of short webcasts of poetry. Websites are a better vehicle for this than blogs, and so, Whatnot Press and Productions was born. The seed for the website was planted years ago when a friend, who was convalescing, mentioned that my poetry was 'just right' in length and content, for a brief respite.  That got me thinking about all the wonderful qualities poetry has that are so restorative,  

The worldwide CO-VID 19 pandemic was the catalyst, that got this moving – an idea I would love to see 'catch on' with other writers. I would so appreciate it, if you could find the time to take a peek at our first video (a tanka sequence) – at:

                           dog walk at day break (www.whatnotpandp.com)

If you choose to leave a comment, I would ask that you leave it there (no email will appear). This project is totally a lovely act of generosity on Patrick's part.

Obviously, the name of the website comes from my blog name but the other reason we chose it, is because it is a 'Whatnot' work-in-progress. Poetry videos and books (if I ever get them finished) will be posted there, of course. I'm kicking around ideas that will inspire creativity and calm in others (possibly in people who would like to begin writing) such as 'Why is this a good time to explore writing tanka' (for example). As well, links to websites and blogs that promote creativity and calm, might be a possibility. As I mentioned, the site and video went up quickly and we are still fine-tuning and exploring directions to go in. - Thanks, Wendy

Photos: Dog Walk at Day Break and Jackson the Dog - P. Bourke

© 2020 Wendy Bourke