for the past week smoke from surrounding wildfires has shrouded the city, making my lungs burn and eyes water. the smoke-filled grey sky has transitioned to cloud-filled grey sky. the damp air is cool on my skin.
with the arrival of clouds, light plays trickery on the senses—the day looks as if it belongs to autumn, not summer.
i walk the streets and parks. a breeze moves the boughs overhead and carries a few fallen leaves across the sidewalk. a memory surfaces from close on five years ago: an autumnal walk with my partner. we were walking home from the market. while stopped on a street corner i spied a tree whose remaining leaf canopy only existed on its periphery. leaves quivered, some fell to the ground. with the leaves today and the memory, William Carlos Williams’s poem Approach of Winter came to mind:
The half-stripped trees struck by a wind together,
bending all, the leaves flutter drily and refuse to let go or driven like hail stream bitterly out to one side and fall where the salvias, hard carmine - like no leaf that ever was - edge the bare garden.
another gust picked up fallen leaves and they danced across the sidewalk. people are like leaves. they bud and sprout, grow and mature, weather the seasons. some die off prematurely, others fall alone or with leaves they have spent their entire lives beside.
on that evening five years ago, i could see my breath. then and now, the muffled hints of conversation, the din of traffic, the swirl of leaves picked up by the breeze — the interconnectedness of everything.
i am grateful for it all.
a tug boat horn pulls me out of sleep. it is still dark out, the wind blows. the trees are mostly bare as only leaf buds dot the boughs. the sound of the wind, a low whistle, as opposed to the wrestling of leaves as if it were full summer.
my thoughts drift: a brief conversation with a homeless man, a chittering sparrow, my grams's progression towards death, a woman who miscarried.
“i am hungry, do you have any spare change? i'm not lying about being homeless. let me show you what's in my bag—all i have is a blanket and a pair of socks. please, believe me.”
“thank you for talking to me. people don't like talking to homeless.”
the young sparrow, the corners of its beak maturing from a yellow colour to cream, perched atop a wooden sign post, chittered at its brethren before shitting, then flying away.
my grams, no longer able to chew food, can only eat pureed meals.
a woman who miscarried is surprised by how much grief she feels for the fetus.
the closing line of philip larkin's poem, The Mower, came to mind while the coffee steeped:
…we should be kind While there is still time.
everything in the cosmos is interconnected. our separation is bridged through compassion and kindness; to others, ourselves, and the world around us. it travels further than the pealing of a temple bell.
by the by, The Mower can be read in its entirety here