Portrait of the author as a mid life peony.

It is hard to write these days. I’m doing another amazing blog course with Kerry Clare and if I wasn’t, I don’t know if I could even manage to write my name on a page or type a title of a book, or write to a friend. I walk through these hot days thinking about blog posts, about essays. My words and stories fly in the sky of my mind. You too can learn to fly.

Here, A flock of clouds, a herd of clouds, endless, in a migration to the north, through the translucent blue land above. I looked up at this sky, back in May, standing near the harbour in Wolfville. I remember feeling a discouragement as endless as that progression of clouds, with lock down, two of my children away, my elderly mother relentlessly problematic. The weightless of the sky amplified my own heaviness. Why did I look up? I’ve trained myself to do this. When life presses in, I, in the most boring and cliched of responses, look down, unknowingly, until my sore neck reminds me life has tugged me back into a habitual pattern, an embodiment of despair. But watching these clouds parade across the sky, was a ritual which brought into my body, through my eyes, a sense of possibility as endless as that blue sky, as deep as that blue, as soft and determined as those clouds on their way north. The sky in my eyes. May the sky be in your eyes.

Heading west, to deliver food and laundry, with our minds on Covid time, lost in the days and seasons. Was it November? No, the grass was green. Was it Sunday? There were so few cars. No, it was lock down, only essential driving. “I have never seen clouds like those, never,” my husband said as he stared skyward, driving, eyes on the road and the sky as the same time as they both loomed before us, inescapable, as in conversation, the smudged charcoal of the paved highway listening to the poetry of the meandering pathway of the clouds. Again, reminding us that the destination is unknowable, and it is only the time we spend in passage which matters. Spend it well, my loves.

The blue expanse on a baking hot day in early June, and for all the world it felt as though we were in the dog days of summer, where the green leaves threatened to bleach out against the stark and relentless blue above. The boys swam in the reservoir and I gazed at the blue hem of the sky dipping into the lacy edges of leaves, then glancing back and seeing these three young heads, (were they seals or dogs, or my children) swimming to the centre of the reservoir, their laughter skipping over the surface of the pond as old and ancient and profound as the earth I sad on, as the call of the loon from the far side of the water.

a time in between, when stars and sunbeams and dirty wall splotches are indistinguishable…

I run upstairs to find a pair of socks and the evening sun glances in through the western gable and casts a sky through the room. It is not day and it is not night, but another time, a gilded time, when my dresses murmur and the walls remind me someone else once lived here, that there were many other feet padding into this back attic area, and the sun shone through the old glass in other times. My crystal perfume bottle caught that sun, from then and now, and brought a twilight, or perhaps a dawn, or perhaps a time in between, when stars and sunbeams are indistinguishable, and your bedroom walls disappear as you skip into the sky of mind, where you are at once a child and a middle aged woman, and from one window the birds call — are they evening birds or the birds of dawn? — and from down the hall, and down the stairs, the children call, and the fat cat comes in and meows and you think of the orange cat you had as a child, the cat who was called Crazy, and just before you take a step towards the hall, you know you, for that moment, understand that time is as fluid as the sky, as present and unknowable as that blue, the walls of the world, translucent walls, and the walls of your heart and mind, also fluid and sparkling. And then the fat cat meows and you see the prisms and the glean of silk dresses…and you are off again, to the kitchen, where the timer is beeping and the dinner bellowing, and the prisms following behind you, caught in your hair.

riding on the backs of eagles made of cloud

To the west, I glance to the west, the coppery light softening my skin, the trees towering overhead, reminding me the day has ended, that it has been a day well lived, and the fragrance of the twilight air is a perfume which must be inhaled deep into the lungs, a perfume which will infuse my sleep where I dream of riding on the backs of eagles made of cloud, soaring through wildflower meadows in the sky. And then my husband snores and I am awake, listening to the peepers, the tree frogs, singing their lullabies.

A photo taken by Wynken, 13, just after the shootings at Portapique, Nova Scotia, when the two younger boys were terrified by the danger in the world. But he knew to go outside at sunset, and look to the sky for something bigger than this society we live in, a society twisted by power and violence, a society below a sky where nature continues, bigger than we are, a reminder that there is always hope and possibility, that the sun always sets, and rises again and again and again. I wrote Crosstrees, an essay for CBC Books Transmission series, inspired by this photo and the photo below.

Blynken said the sun turned from purple and pink to a boiling red and the water was ancient, and his fears fell away, and the sky soothed him, and the colours were so deep and yet they changed, a kaleidoscope he peered into, a vast lens, which showed him that the world was more than what he was being shown on the ground. And for a moment, he was on the ground but also in the sky, and then he was just there, in the soothing sunset light. He knew he would be okay.

And we are okay. We are quiet and tender now, afraid, yes, but brave, looking up, listening, looking down, hearing, our minds expanding like this sunset sky expands and expands and expands, finally into night, and then again, into morning, that new day, where hope lies. Rest in the night. Find yourself in the sky. Blog on, my sweets, with your eye on the horizon of your mind.