Tag Archives: passage of time

Five Shots for The Broken Anchor

 

Andrew heaved a sigh of relief. It had been a busy night but now the bar was empty and he was looking forward to cashing out and going home. Not bad for a summer gig but it was exhausting work. As he turned around to polish down the bar one more time he noticed a man sitting at the end.

“Hey man I didn’t see you sitting there, sorry about that. What can I get you?” Andrew looked expectantly at the man and wondered if he’d seen him somewhere before. He looked familiar.

The party in question raised his head slightly and quietly said “beer, whatever you got on tap”.

Andrew hurried to comply. The sooner this guy drank up his beer the sooner Andrew could get out of here. As the bartender turned back to his patron he noticed the man looking at the five shots of rum that were always kept at the end of the bar.

Ever a friendly sort Andrew proceeded to explain. “There’s a cool story about those shots of rum. The original owner of the bar and his four shipmates went down at sea in a storm. These are to honour them. Cool story don’t you think?” Andrew expected this patron to react the way everyone else did: to smile and then to go on to talk about something else. No one likes to talk about death too often it’s, well, depressing.

“It was’na cool, it was cold. Bitterly cold. You have’na got the story right.” The person speaking barely raised his head and he spoke so quietly that Andrew had to stop what he was doing and pay attention.

“Only four died that night. Tonight. 100 years ago tonight there was a storm. They thought they were safe. They anchored in a small bay and left one on watch to make sure everything was okay. Everything wasn’t okay. It was cold. Just one quick little sip of gin would warm you up. Problem is one little sip ended up becoming a whole bottle. It was a bugger of storm. But sailors are used to sleeping when the boat rolls. They count on their shipmate on watch to let them know if there’s any danger. But he fell asleep. Too much grog. When the big wave hit he got tossed into the drink. Saved his life. Shipmates were asleep below deck. The sea took ‘em. The sea doesn’t give back what she takes. She’s a jealous mistress.”

Andrew was stunned. “How do you know this? How do you know what happened? And what happened to the fifth guy that went overboard?”

The man looked up and Andrew could see his face and realized that he was an old man. He looked broken and sad. Andrew looked a little more closely and realized where he’d seen his face before. He took a step back and watched.

“Insurance money paid for this bar and its name tells the story of what happened that night: The Broken Anchor. One man survived and lived with the guilt of what he had done. He lived and for the next 40 years made a toast to his four shipmates every night with four tots of rum. Their ghosts can’t drink them but everybody should know how they died.”

“Cecil. His name was Cecil. I remember now. He was buried at sea. When he died he asked that the name of the bar never be changed and a measure of rum be added to the others so that there are now five. I love the history of the area and that one is definitely one for the books. Man that is so cool! You must be a relative, you look just like the picture in the office. ” Andrew was excited and turned away to grab a pen and a piece paper to write down this newfound knowledge. When he turned back the party he had been speaking to was gone. There was water pooling on the stool and the floor. There was another damp spot on the bar along with a piece of seaweed and an empty shot glass.

At first he was confused thinking he’d imagined all of this but when he looked to the end of the bar the remaining four shots of rum were also gone, emptied. A chill went up Andrew’s back and for the first time in a very long time he grew afraid of the dark.

At that precise moment he heard the local church bell ring 2 o’clock in the morning. Gusts of wind rattled the panes of glass in the front window and Andrew for just a moment was sure he heard several men singing. He couldn’t quite make out the words but was pretty sure he heard the name Cecil B. That was the name of the boat!

 

 

 

Days of Rhyme and Reason

 

There are more than 7 billion people in the world. I believe there are more than 7 billion, billion stories to be told. Some people are masterful with the written word. Some stories can only be properly told orally or visually. Sometimes that story takes generations to find a conclusion. And sometimes they never do.

My mother used to say that she was not artistic. She felt that she couldn’t paint or write stories. And yet my mother’s story was told through her children. And even though she is gone, her story lives on. I happen to think it is a wonderful story. Especially the way it intertwines with mine.

My story does include paintings that have evolved as I have evolved. My story also includes writing. The very first poem that I ever wrote was:

Eyes like a Hawk

Ears like a fox

Legs like a deer

To run through the year

I may have been eight when I wrote this. But I was proud of it. And so were my parents. They encouraged me. But my angst got in the way and I didn’t write again for many decades. My mother’s father wrote poetry during World War I. We found the originals a few years ago. I thought they were quite spectacular but then I’m probably biased. He was my grandfather!

My brother and I both paint and we both write. Our forms are quite different. My sister doesn’t paint or write but she is an incredible party planner. We all have our strengths. And we all tell our story differently and to different people. It’s like bumblebees moving from blossom to blossom to pollinate. They deposit something and they take something away from each encounter. I guess you could say they spread the love. Our stories interact with others and in doing so becomes part of their story and theirs with ours.

We need each other to survive but it is our individuality that ensures that survival. The problem is that there are some people who don’t quite understand. As I have said in the past the ‘big picture’ is a mosaic made up of a lot of ‘little pictures’. And there are more than 7 billion of them. I wonder how many it would be if we were to count the stories of those who have gone.

As long as we remember those in our past they will live on. Their story will not die. Now is that not a form of immortality?

The Cowboy and the Pen

 

 

He rode the trails

For days untold

He slept beneath the stars

His pony and his saddle

With justice on his hip

Men were hard

And women true

It was so long ago

The law was in the barrel

A bullet the execution

Was it better then?

Now the cowboy has a pen

Justice slow but true

The pony now is stationery

Tucked into a desk

The stars are hidden

Far from sight

The days are foggy too

Justice now is talked about

And sometimes meted out

But times are slow

And opinions matter

Does Fairness have a chance?

The power of the pen they say

Is swift and it is blunt

But time goes on

And pens run dry

Is it better now?

Smuggler’s Cove . . . again

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Anita sat back, she was tired but she still smiled as she remembered. Today was an anniversary of sorts. Thirty one years ago today she was reborn.   She remembered the woman she had been, fondly. Actually, if she had not been the woman she was then, she would not be the woman she was today.

With a quiet chuckle Anita stood up and approached the bed where the object of her remembrances lay sleeping. She laid a gentle hand on his brow and he stirred for just a moment. But his breathing was deep, he would not wake for some time yet. So she sat back down and once again remembered.

*******************

‘John cupped her face in his hand, her beautiful face. She wore no make-up, she didn’t need any. There was no artifice to her. Everything she felt showed on her face. Right now it showed her dismay at alarming people and something else. John wondered what she was thinking, feeling. He took her elbow and helped her to stand.’

It was at that moment that the woman, who used to be known as Anna, knew her destiny. This man was her future. She once swore that she would never allow another man to get too close to her heart. But John had sneaked in under her radar. And she was glad. John too was having an epiphany. As he helped her to stand he could feel the weight of her heart in his hands. John knew that his future rested with this woman.

Anita sighed and shook her head. It had all happened so quickly. Without a word the two had gripped hands and decided to leave together. The woman who was Anna had never considered herself spontaneous. But here in the blink of an eye she was running away from a life that she had, with a man that she barely knew. But her heart was full and her conscience was clear. John too was leaving behind nothing that meant anything to him. He was not running away from life, he was running to it and taking with him all that had meaning.

*******************

All those years ago John had already been planning his escape. He loved the park, he really did, but he could never escape who he really was. Jonathan Edward Bellamy III was a curse, an albatross that John wore around his neck. So to that end John had been preparing for his escape for many months. Money had been secreted away, a temporary hideaway had been prepared, and all that was still needed was a push. Anna provided the final reason. So the two left the park quietly in a canoe that John kept in Smugglers Cove.

******************

Anita’s eyes flew open; she had heard a noise from the bed.

“John? John?” The concern in her voice was evident, but there was no response from the object of her concern. She felt his brow and it was cool, not fevered as it had been for several days. Anita was sure the danger had now passed. She wanted to weep as a release for her pent up fears. She had been so afraid she was going to lose him: this man she had loved for thirty-one years.

***************

“Woman, you are starting to annoy me!” The voice was gruff but the eyes still twinkled with love and with humour.

“The Doctor said you were to take it . . . “

“The Doctor can take his advice and . . .”

“John! Don’t you dare finish that sentence!”

On one side of the room was a slight, red haired lady with her hands firmly planted on her hips and a scowl on her face. On the other side of the room was a tall, pale man who was still recovering from a recent illness. The battle of wills was about to be waged and there was little doubt as to the victor.

“Okay, okay, you win! I promise to avoid marathons and mountain climbing for at least a month. Just remove the scowl from that beautiful face, please?”

“John. . .” Anita spoke lowly and crossed the room to put her arms around her patient. “I was so very afraid, I can’t lose you.”

John raised his arms and encircled his beloved. “You will never lose me.”

*************

Later that night Anita once again thought through all the years they had been together.

It hadn’t always been easy but the one thing they never lost sight of was each other. That first night in the canoe had been amusing. They were acting like high school students, running away. It was a bit tricky canoeing with a cane and she would not give up her laptop computer, but they managed. They only had to go a few miles by canoe and in some ways it was quite exciting. She never regretted what she had done. She did always wondered what everyone thought about the two of them. They slept for the first night in an old rundown cottage that someone had left unlocked. Or perhaps John was just good at breaking and entering, she didn’t ask. It had taken them almost a week of traveling to finally reach their hideaway. John had planned well. There was a vehicle, there was food, and there was a place to sleep. Of course he had only planned on one person on the run not two, but they made do.

Perhaps the first month was the most difficult. They had to discover each other and had to come to terms with the lives they had left behind. Anita felt that she had not left anything important behind but she thought John had. After all he came from a family with money and position, how you give that up? But John thought about it differently. He hated who he had been and by definition the people who had forced him to be that person. But he had prepared well. They chose new identities and set about planning their life together. But there was always one thing in the back in Anita’s mind: returning to Smugglers Cove.

The money John had saved only lasted a few months but both were prepared to work to support their new lives. Perhaps it was nostalgia, perhaps it was guilt but Anita chose to write children’s stories that were quite successful. John once again took a position in an out of the way park. They had what they needed in life and they had each other. It was a good life.

*******************

‘He saw clearly in the sand the imprint of a man’s feet and right beside them a smaller pair: a woman’s. He look out into darkness, they were here . . . again.’

 

The Passage of Time.

 

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Today my breath is exposed

There’s a chill in my bones

I cuddle deep inside

Hiding from the winter air.

 

Soon flowers will rise

And life will spring forth

From their cold death

Sleeping no more

 

With bated breath

I await the warmth

Promised in the breeze

Of a summer’s morn

 

As days follow weeks

We fall once more again

To cherish the brightness

The colours awash and dying

 

Break not this yearly cycle

The beauty of each season

One by one they adorn the earth

And mark the passage of time

. .to thine own self be true

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This was originally posted in February 2013. I ask for your indulgence and your forgiveness as I re-post it. I have had an unforgiving few weeks with my health and I have nothing new prepared. I think this is still appropriate.

“. . .to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Hamlet Act I scene 3

William Shakespeare

 

Well you must admit that words written more than 400 years ago, and still relevant, today must be pretty incredible words!

I for one admire William Shakespeare and his works.  As he so aptly demonstrates it’s the human condition that we all agonize over.  And being ‘yourself’ is perhaps the hardest lesson we try to teach our children.  With the cacophony of advertisements that try to steer us in one direction or another is it any wonder we’re all screwed up?

Who was it that said you can never be too thin or too rich?  Well if you’re too thin you die and if you’re too rich, ummmm, I’m thinking.  Okay I got it!  If you are too rich then you become insulated from the human condition.  Okay maybe not.  I’m not too thin and I’m not too rich.  What I am is too damn tired of Hollywood and its environs telling us how to look, how to act, how to live.  They’re trying to mould us into perfect little automatons.

In order to be yourself you often have to disregard the advertisements that tell you what shampoos to use and how your makeup is to be applied, how to dress. If we can be true to ourselves and honour the person we actually are and not the image that society wants us to project, then I believe we have a chance. We need to raise children to be forward thinkers and not backward thinking sheep.

I don’t have any children so why am I so concerned about other people’s offspring?  Simply put other people’s kids are our future.  If I love this world then I should want it to continue.  The only way that will happen is if we have people at the forefront who care.

I was raised by parents who loved me.  They never taught me to hate.  They did teach me to care.  And I do care.  I care about the atrocities I see happening in other parts of the world and here at home.  I care about the horrible greed that exists around so many of our politicians.  I see hate, I see rage, I see iniquities, I see despair and I see fear.  What I also see is love, understanding and compassion.

We can give up or give in and wallow in our own self-pity, or we can look forward with anticipation and with optimism.  We need to believe in ourselves and in each other.  It only takes one step at a time to keep moving forward. Are you with me?