Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Home again, home again, into cool green

The trip home was long and grueling: three days of travel by every sort of conveyance--car, bus, taxi, airplane, light rail, airplane, car. We crossed borders and spectra, slipped from brilliant heat and reds and yellows into damp, cooler colours: blues, greens, lake-speckled landscapes.

The bus ride from Guaymas, Mexico across the border to Tucson was uneventful, air-conditioned, well-timed. We watched Jurassic Park dubbed into Spanish, unwilling captives to its gags and tricks and fantastical-paranoid story line--can technology defeat an ancient menace, especially when technology has recreated the threat?

Even the US border crossing was simple, stream-lined, unexciting. All the border agents were bilingual. No one was removed from the bus; there were no special searches, no dogs, no examination rooms, no grilling about the flu, just an outdoor baggage xray. Then our driver discovered he wasn't carrying his US license, so we sat in a parking lot and waited for two hours while Tufesa Bus Lines found another driver and transported him to the border. By the time we booked into our hotel in Tucson, most restaurants were closed. Thus the first night ended: with good rest but rotten food, the best of the lot greasy room-delivery pizza smeared in garlic oil.

The next day a blur of walking in exurbs in heat then sitting in airport lounges; one cramped flight, another; Houston surprises me--it is an ocean of green. There is a night on the floor in Newark, then gate change, terminal change, the last leg home--what are the odds destination Halifax would share a gate with my hometown, Columbus, Ohio?

We arrive in Halifax, answer questions from Canada Customs about the flu: Do you feel ill? No. Do you have a fever? No. Have you been in contact with anyone with the flu? No. 110 million Mexicans, a few thousand with the flu--what are the odds? Not too high. Then we are released with our luggage into the waiting room. A big reunion with Elisabeth, then we head to the car. Not quite two hours of bumpy backroads later we are home, where we pile with the animals on the bed and fall asleep in the cool green air. Later we get up and go for a long walk by the sea, overjoyed by the damp, the tenderness of the spring.

The next day I write to my friend Mary:

Just now the wind is blowing out of the west, whipping the laundry on
the line into a frenzied dance. The sea is deep blue; new flowers are
blooming every day in Elisabeth's garden--the lupins and lilies and
lilacs all promising to emerge; seagulls whirl over a returning
lobster boat, their wings flashing and glowing in the sun. And the
swallows swoop and chatter, aligning themselves on the telephone wire
to deliver commentary on all the world below. We walk about the
grounds taking stock of chores to be done this season: barn and studio
to be painted, wood delivered and stacked, shoreline shored up. The
air is clean and clear and smells of earth and sea--a big difference
from the searing dust and too-bright light of the desert.

She writes back, pleased with the imagery:

I know this landscape so well, how it smells, how it holds a person, how it offers only straight up comfort, no false promises. The right place to be a poet.

I think she too is working at a poem--straight up comfort no false promises friable solidity of rock.

We are glad to be here, home by this other sea, so far away.

Apple blossoms, Quoddy, photo by Elisabeth Bigras
Arizona mountains, view from the airplane
Gate signs, Newark International Airport
Close-ups of strawberry flowers, lupin leaf, anemone pulsatile with bee by Elisabeth Bigras
to see more of Elisabeth's photos go to

1 comment:

  1. You bet she's pleased with the imagery. Karin's visible poetry is exaclty that - visible to the inner eye such that it leaps about in great shapes, feelingly toned and colour-shifting. Houston as an ocean of green and the too-bright light of the desert.

    Here I marvel at the great, overweight raindrop cherished in the lupin leaf-heart. Leaf edges yearn inwardly honouring its fragility and impermanence.

    Thank you Karin.