One thing that I have noticed having reached the proverbial “middle age”, and I am sure I am not alone here, is that I find myself thinking a lot about my youth. Over the years I have both painted and poeticized my thoughts and feelings about growing up in the north and about living along the Athabasca River. For the most part I can remember them as the good old days and as I think hard now, not many bad times get past a sort of happy filter in my memory banks. I guess I have repressed the awful times enough that they are somewhere in a deep closet at the bottom, covered by layers upon layers of other things that I think are better for me now.
I can remember a lot of things from the past and I am asked by my brothers to tell them stories of what it was like when we were young and they are amazed that I can remember so many things and in such clarity. I have always been like that and many times as a kid I would lay in my bed I would recall all the things that I did that day. And as stories go I would also tell other people of my stories and I remember one person saying that I lived the life that they only read about in books. Sometimes I can imagine that Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and I were good buddies – how I miss them now. I too have read these books and I think everyone should read at least one Mark Twain novel in their life-time; he has a way of letting all of us relive our youth over again.
So as I begin another stage of my life I am once again contemplating life; past, present and future. I guess I have done this often enough that they come now in stages. I’ve been thinking that I would like to write a book about all of my youthful trials and tribulations but I can’t get past the fact that everyone and their dog and/or cat, has done or is now doing just this. I don’t really want to be another dusty book in a long forgotten pile, in a dusty corner of the room or at the back of a shelf hard to get at. What do I have to offer all of you that is any different than anything that you have all experienced in some manner or to some degree that is reflective of my life? This may be a confusing statement but it is just an explanation that I am contemplating all those things that life offered me.
I took many dives into unknown waters, but I can say that at least I took them. I have travelled the road less travelled and yes it has made a difference. But I am not done yet and though I have things to say that may be exactly what others have already said – I have decided that I am going to tell the stories anyway, whether they are told with paint or pen. Truth be told…. I have always wanted to be a poet, perhaps more than being a painter. Vincent Van Gogh has always been my one favourite great painter; perhaps it is because I understand him too well! But there are many poets that I admire for just having the balls to say what they felt. I like the plain truth that Frost writes about his loving country, I like the esoteric realities that Yeats has given careful considerations and I also like the angst and othernesses that Poe cleverly penned. Mark Twain and Will Rogers always had poignant thoughts that they orated so sincerely and I can go on and on about so many writers.
So as I sit here contemplating my life I go back to where it all started. I hope you enjoy my newest poem. It is in free verse as it expresses the freedom that we had in our youth. Thank you again for taking the time to spend here – have a wonder-filled day….
It Was An Extraordinary Beautiful Day…
It was an extraordinarily beautiful day!
The birds, the bees, the bugs, the bears, and the beavers, breathing,
And I, imagining they all went about their business like they do each and every day,
Walking with my brother Roland, and with my thoughts, we began our journey,
Traveling along a rutted road our father had built.
This is the memory of that moment when life begins!
Our mother made sandwiches for our father for his lunch,
And I remember so well how we begged to be allowed to take it to him,
So eager we were for that journey alone, all those years ago,
Wanting to break free, beginning the long walk to now.
It was like no other time in our world to be 5 and 6 years old!
The sounds, the smells, the sights, are all feelings that still touch me today,
And all those youthful arguments that we had, like who should carry the lunch,
Echoes again, but it really didn’t matter cause we took turns anyway,
Quickly moving along, one skip ahead of time.
They did what they did for what they called growth!
The road on which we traveled had been hastily and easily cut,
And it was carved through a never-ending northern boreal forest, along a great rolling river,
In my thoughts it lies still, softly and silently tucked away for me to reach when needed,
Like now, not knowing the significance of the end and its’ unpredict-ability.
Then there came faintly, at first, the hard noise ahead!
I knew my father would be focused on the work intended for him that day,
And I knew this because of all the times he worked at home, building and constructing,
He would be intently watching from under the brim of his dusty hat,
Bulldozing, clearing the fields and forests, making a living.
The sounds of destruction scared us yet strange how were drawn to it!
We moved more slowly as we cautiously carried out what we said we would do,
And in those tense seconds we walked side-by-side moving to the danger, together,
Eventually reaching the edge of the clearing, seeing the dark trails of engine exhaust,
Rushing skyward, then out of sight, and into the great unknown.
It was a bright noon sun and a cool breeze was in the air!
I can still see that look when he turned and smiled and how is face lit up,
And all our hearts together were lifted into the clouds and beyond, into the ethereal,
We ran towards what was just a moment before, unreal and frightening,
Without hesitation, like squirrels we climbed the tracks to be by his side.
There is no way to explain how we felt right then!
My brother and I sitting on his lap, feeling how love wrapped us in his arms,
And both taking turns at steering that big, dirty, yellow beast, guided by his hand on ours.
Yet here in the future, and for other times past, I am at peace with the thought….
It was an extraordinary beautiful day!