I admit to a startled pause when I noticed this posting on a notice board in rural Ontario. Juxtaposed with an ad for a community pancake breakfast, it had something of a macabre flavour. City girl, I thought, get a grip.
The dilemma of the writer is to find the specific word that will properly portray his or her idea, her image, her concept. I remember a wise teacher responding to a student in a class I attended. The student said,” I know the answer but I don’t know how to express it in words.” The teacher replied,” Then the truth is that you do not know the answer.” The moment passed and the teacher was branded as “mean” or “picky”. This idea stayed with me, however, and I realized on that day that words are precise tools to express precise ideas. Some of my friends who are properly educated scientists rightly say that mathematics or physics also express precise ideas. As a young and inexperienced person with little guidance, I chose to drop math, physics and chemistry as soon as I could and so I am left with words as my tools in expressing myself and in appreciating what others have to say. Let us take as an example the picture above. If I want to say something about the snow that is hanging in suspended curves from the horizontal branches, I have to search for the specific word that will awake an image in the mind of my reader. Should I say the snow is folded over the branches? Somehow, to me, that evokes the notion of paper being folded. It feels stiff and angular and that’s not what I want. I could say the snow is draped over the twigs. That sounds better but for some reason “draped” brings up the image of something bigger, like a curtain. That means I have to modify the language and say something like ,”The snow is draped in shallow folds over the still branches. “. I’ll have to say something, too, about how still the air is or my reader won’t believe that these delicate folds can remain suspended over the twigs and the power lines. The whole exercise is a concious effort to use the words that will touch and inform the reader. The writer hopes to engage, retain and perhaps amuse the reader too. So, the specific word is pretty important. “It’s sort of like, eh, you know, kind of hanging-like.” will just not cut it.
Float down from silent trees
white bouquets of snow.
In the still air of early winter
bare twigs and branches are outlined
with layered fine snow. Like icing sugar
or impossibly fine sand a spotless mantle
sits contrasting with the dark, sleeping, Winter wood.
Last night in the silent darkness,
one by one in their billions, snowflakes
floated down through the dream hours.
In daylight, weak sunlight, shadow-casting light,
little clusters float onto the barely frozen water of the creek.
In this image two mountains hover, real or illusion?
For you to decide.
Who can resist? There’s more than the delicious taste of the taste of sugar, butter eggs, and vanilla on those beaters. Who was the one who let us lick the spoon as she made cakes? My memory of my mother making cakes is of her sitting close to the fire so the butter would be soft and beating for a long time wih a fork. She didn’t even have a whisk much less an electric beater. If she was making something that required a very light batter, my grandmother might take over and give her a spell. My grandmother was the one to pronounce on the subject of temptation. She would quote a Methodist hymn.”Yeild not to temptation, for yielding is sin. Each victory will help you some other to win.” The whole of life was a battle against temptation to do wrong. The greatest wrong was not to do your duty. That is not to say she never had fun. On the contrary, she loved to go out and it was she who took me to so many Hollywood musical movies. Westerns were also a great favorite. There was no question of not going on holiday or on an outing. She was a smart dresser and never skimped on good food. So, what forbidden indulgence would tempt her, I wonder? She hated the smell of cigarettes and had never touched any alcoholic drink since she ” took the pledge” as a teenager at a revival meeting. I think she struggled most with her temper. She had little patience with laziness or stupidity. She was a master of the one-liner and a scornful tut and a toss of her head was enough to stop any thoughtless talk. “How exasperating!”doesn’t sound like a very violent outburst, but the depth of feeling it expressed make us all realize that her iron will had somehow been thwarted,. Yes, I think for my beloved grandmother, not getting her own way presented the greatest temptation of falling into a fit of temper. Hmm…perhaps I inherited more than the nose, after all.
Here are some turkeys crossing the farmer’s field. His dairy cows are safe in the barn, their mild eyes turning to the door, their coats steaming in their winter home. The turkeys are wild and although they stalk around the properties around here, they are skittish of people or dogs. I even saw them take fright when a small deer approached. I never thought of turkeys flying but it was quite a sight that fall day. Yesterday in brilliant sun, I was surprised to see these bronze-feathered beauties slogging through deep snow. They walked in single file but stopped when we parked the car to take a picture. When the ground is clear the flocks cover the ground with their heads down, looking for insects or grass or other delicacies to eat. What do they like best, I wonder? Yesterday they came out of the woods, crossed the snowy field and even went over the road to reach the other side. Why did the turkey cross the road? Turkey Mysteries!
To my bewildered friends who will read these posts on Facebook, I am following the “daily posts” of WordPress. They choose the topics and I have to write to topic. I missed yesterday because the Internet connection in this neck of the woods is sometimes ” gone”
Goodbye beauty, goodbye youth,
Goodbye lovers, suave and uncouth.
Goodbye money in a finance crash.
Goodbye candles a a birthday bash.
Goodbye career and a book I wrote,
hardly sold any, that got my goat.
Houses and cars, they’re all gone,
Clothes of leather and of chiffon.
I’ve lost lots of things, people too,
now just hang on, don’t want to lose you!
Some lessons I’ve learned from what’s come and gone.
I learned from Mary and I learned from John.
Listen with care, take a careful look.
and whatever you do…..hide the chequebook!
First year, last year.
Future year, past year.
Year of grace, year of war.
Twelve months, seasons four.
Count the days, count the hours.
Work like a dog or go pick flowers.
Fresh and clean on New Year’s Day,
time races by and it’s all one-way.
Take this gift of a brand new year,
toast it in brandy, toast it in beer.
Remember, we loved 2015,
now it’s sent to the guillotine!
How to stop time? Well, that’s a trick
You may think me a lunatic.
Love alone stops the old tick tock.
That’s enough, I’ve got writer’s block!