Initially published as a column in the AM News on Friday, November 28, 2014.
Except that someone else mixed the colours this morning. Not only that, it made sure to sift some sunlight on the north shore hills, a patch of brightness splattered here and there, as if some celestial egg was broken over those spots for a reason.
The only reason I could think of was to see. Not the whole landscape, which habitual browsing takes care of but often gets thrown at the back of the mind, but the small patches that stop you short, making you curious and grateful at the same time.
Curious to see more of the hills many times before, because today the sun is shining just so, making you wonder if you’ve ever realized just how pretty that particular slope is… Gratefulness is an automatic response your mind comes up with when you look long enough. I did.
Two hours later I took a walk with my oldest. He remarked on the murky waters of the Thompson River and the white shores hemmed with sand. By then, the cloud curtain had been pulled aside and a whole hill shone white and pretty. Snowy paths snaked their way behind unknown knolls and I wished to be there. I wished for the sunlight to keep on doing its thing many hundreds of years and beyond.
You could say it was one of those moments, which I am grateful to not be oblivious to.
There was something simple yet remarkable about it all: a growing boy, us walking and seeing the world around, a train going clickety-clack pulling its load through town, the light that kept on shifting revealing hill after hill and the realization that the world is changing, every day, and every hour of the day, and unless we make an effort to see it, we won’t. Unless we make an effort to keep it, we won’t…
Everything evolves, the slogan goes. Progress pushes some items out of sight to make room for new ones, and the phenomenon that promotes them. Yet the sun shone on the north shore hills way before progress was accounted for in the way we think of now, and the river kept shifting from murky to blue-green and clear since before this place had the name we know of.
I want my sons to grow up thinking of that as they go about their day. There are no ordinary moments in a day as far as nature is concerned, no matter how menial the daily activities become as we grow accustomed by them.
Like the walk to and from school every day with my youngest. One morning we woke up to snow and we walked through a blizzard that spat snowflakes into our eyes, on our cheeks and down our backs if the scarf got loose. You laugh yourself silly, because what else can you do…
Another morning we witnessed a most spectacular sunrise: a ribbon of sunlight, fresh and bright, rolling down from thick clouds to the bottom of the hill. Everything was shrouded in thick grey fog, save for the patch that looked like golden cotton candy. We were both mesmerized.
I wondered how many people got to see it that day and how many before us, and if they did, did they step out the next morning knowing that there will be something else to see, equally spectacular or more…
One of the biggest accomplishment as a parent and guide to life as it happens for my sons, is to have them point out the ordinary bits of everyday life that steal their eyes and hearts. Leaves that are too beautiful to leave behind even as they lay shriveled up by incoming cold weather, grey mornings that have a mysterious feel to them, the ever so perfectly shaped rock that sits among many on the shores of a lake yet somehow it stands out, the occasional mirror-like surface of the river and the miracle of snowflakes. They point them out, and I know what touches their hearts the most. They know of mine.
And then, there is the magic of reminders that are as poignant as they are unique. One night, past midnight and way too close to the witching hour, we heard noises in our sloped back yard. Boys sound asleep cozily nestled in warm beds, we stepped outside.
The next moment I was staring at a beautiful doe. She stared back. Everything was quiet. She walked towards the neighbour’s yard and before swiftly jumping over the low fence, she looked one more time.
We walked up a couple of steps and under the sleepy apricot tree was a buck; not moving a muscle, he looked at us, and he looked towards where the doe went. For a few short seconds we stood, species boundaries notwithstanding, united by the simple magic of being there when no one else was. I could see his breath and I felt privileged. Never so close… never so magical.
I felt like an intruder, but witnessing their graceful presence reminded me of the big world we should strive to keep alive. It’s a gift like no other.
Perhaps magic is, after all, not only what lies out there but the fact that we choose to see it and that we are, sometimes, given the amazing gift of seeing it. It is not without purpose that that happens. It’s the only way we can find reason to keep it alive; sunlit snowy paths, nighttime deer and all…