It surprises me to step outside after the rain. The grey air moves with warmth. So warm for fall.
A warm breeze, which stops when I turn my head to track it.
Plant-scent hangs over the heavy wet fields. The rain has cleared the air so colours are more intense than usual: deep reds and dark greens.
Somehow in the stillness I get a sense of motion. Where there is life, there is a pulse: I get down on my hands and knees to see: the throb in the throat of a dirt road frog.
I dig out my camera and try to take a photo. But my lens mists over. So I simply crouch down and watch.
The frog is watching me back. Black pupil in a bronze eye.
Do you know something that I don’t, frog?
And then he’s off.
The frog crosses the road in a few quick bounds, each leap several times his length. Across and over and down into the ditch.
never worked on surface, always underground
and the cage came down
swordfight-route10.mov [4.1MB QuickTime]
Route 10 between Chipman and New Zion, NB.
Music by me.
“I started when I was 16 and worked 28 years in coal mining. I started wheelin for my dad when I was 16 and when I was 18, I got my miners papers and a place of my own. If I hadn’t got my back broke when a cage came down on top of me, I would have kept on mining. I really enjoyed the mines. I never worked on surface, always underground.
You see, we had bad places in the mine. What I mean by a bad place is a wet place. You have water dripping out of the roof and that’s bad. Water on the floor wasn’t too bad. Water overhead got you wet all over. Down in the mines, it’s cool. If you stop to have lunch you got cold but when you had a nice dry place, it was good.
Well the mines made us a living anyway and I brought my family up. Everybody had 4, 5 or 6 children. And our family, they all went to high school. I don’t know how I done it when I look back now.”
in the backyard. New Zion, NB
10 PRINT “CHOOSE LIFE”;
20 GOTOO 10
?SYNTAX ERROR IN 20
I just ate a bowl of Life cereal. Sweet sugar crystals in a wholesome lattice. Every crunchy piece of Life is a microchip with its own program.
Shake the plastic bag. That sound is the rustling of permutation.
A mysterious energy source possesses me. I consume and obey, fuelled by alien intelligence. My human brain grows soggy through lack of use.
Soon it will be sucked out my ears through a straw. No one will know the difference.
Under fluorescent light, bright colours on the Save-Easy shelf.
Life cereal. You are what you eat. Although if they made Death cereal I would probably buy it.
Naturally it would come in a black box.
The packaging would double as a black-box recorder, so that afterwards you could play it back and figure out what the fuck went wrong.
Here is a movie I made for him back in the winter. He used to wear a conductor hat so when I was a kid I associated him with trains. Most of his life he worked down into the deep black pit of the Minto coal mine.
Route 10 on the way from Chipman to New Zion, NB.
Sorry if I haven’t been in touch in the past month, I’ve been occupied, I’ve been watching my grandfather die of Lewy body disease.
Slowly he lost the power of language, and so it seems did I.
I always remember saying goodbye for the last time. I remember the last time I said goodbye to my grandmother, also in the Oromocto hospital, in a room just up the hall. I remember the last time I said goodbye to Robin and it is a film that plays over and over in the back of my mind.
I’ve been saying goodbye to my grandfather for a few weeks now so it has all blended into one long goodbye, as the skin stretched tighter over his skull and his eyes grew paler and his hand rose from the bed to point at things that weren’t there.
Friday night they called the family into the hospital. Saturday they pulled a bunch of gunk out of his throat, cleared the airways. It seemed as though he’d stabilized although he wasn’t really conscious all day.
Today I said goodbye as it feels like I have said goodbye and goodbye. In the afternoon I laid my hand on his smooth forehead, still warm as he breathed the room into ragged peace.
On my back to Chipman I drove past his place, “up home,” right alongside Route 10.
I got back here and posted that photograph. And a couple hours later came the phone call.
You’d think I would’ve felt some slight sense of release, but no. I felt heavy and a little sick to my stomach.
The world just became an emptier place.