Absent and Present

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It has been one month since I took a year’s  leave of absence from giving tours as a volunteer guide at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.  Do I miss it?  Do I miss walking into the Museum and feeling in a way that it is “mine”?  Do I miss looking for my friends guiding or researching or browsing the book store?  Do I miss checking out who is checking coats or looking at tickets?  Do I miss the nice feeling of waltzing around anywhere I like because I wear a tag?  Not yet.

I have spent almost all the month of July in Muskoka country.  It’s not a bad place for a guide who loves Canadian art to be.  Gliding in a canoe or swimming in a Group of Seven country lake can’t hurt, right?  It is a totally different world from the city environment of the metro or searching for a parking spot.  I have only read for pleasure here and happily concentrated on my own writing.

Some things remain the same though.  I think that besides a love of study, a good guide should have keen observation skills.  Here I learned how many kinds of grass there are.  I learned to look and see how many shades of green there are.  I learned how many minor treasures are to be found in a dump.  After all, one of the lectures we enjoyed in preparation for the Faberge exhibition opened our eyes to the opinion that the missing Imperial Faberge eggs are in North America. Our distinguished speaker encouraged us all to scour garage sales and recycling centers.  Although I haven’t yet found a Faberge piece, you would be amazed at what people throw away.  Yesterday, I came home with two beautifully embroidered tablecloths.  A quick spin in the washing machine and the table is set for the seven (yes, 7 ) visitors we are expecting here in Eden tomorrow.  I can hardly wait to show them the frogs.

The picture?  A certificate I was given just before I left town.  Seems I conducted over 500 tours…..but who’s counting.  I know I’ll be back because I can’t resist the thrill of studying for a new exhibit or for some obscure item in the permanent collection.  In fact, the only pang I have had about my absence was a stab of regret when I missed a reference on the Antiques Roadshow.  Chinese porcelain has been a bit of a mystery to me so far.  I wonder if there’s anything in the library here……..

PS.  Today I was published in an on-line magazine “The Lake” out of the UK in the August edition.  Lucky me that my name starts with “C” which means I get to be read first.  The other poets are certainly more widely published than I am and their awards are pretty inspiring.  Check it out on line.

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