Every April the thought comes at me
It’s Falkland Islands week
something in the air
the bareness of the trees
the close grasses, not yet sprung
the open pause between sugar season
and summer canopy.
This year I entered the Falklands
the day before the last boil
walking up the valley, near the Hale place
where the road crests, the valley opens
shining silver below a distant Skytop Ridge.
Other years I enter through mist.
In the Falklands
Sky, wind, sea
An absence of trees
When I’m there, no conversation either
Just walking alone across the moors
in a hand-knit gansey sweater.
Every May the song-thought comes at me
as I drop my body, a bucket of water, and a soft cloth
into the bulk tank we call The Submarine
where we store RO water
and I sing
I’ll Know When My Love Comes Along
from Guys and Dolls
I learned along with my younger son
who played Guy Masterson
in a full school production
The tenderness reverberates
off the stainless steel
And no one else can hear it.
Every March the memory-thought comes at me
standing on the concrete slab
between the filter press and the front pan
Elyse and I boiling
The news on the radio March 20th
The U.S. has invaded Iraq.
The news seared us.
Would it still?
I hadn’t heard of the Falkland Islands until the 1982 Falklands War when the U.K under Margaret Thatcher defended its claim to this archipelago off the coast of Argentina’s Patagonia region. I’m not surprised I felt an attraction, since the islands, though exotically remote, resemble the other islands I love, Cape Breton and Newfoundland. Apparently I cultivated the image for a few years until it grooved my brain; now, the thought fires annually as predictably as Old Faithful. Dwelling in the Falklands post-sugar season is an old, comfortable, no-longer-original fantasy.
‘Round and ’round go the sugar seasons with all they mean: weather, work rhythms, meals, community, fantasies, music, and memories.
And then in 2016 I broke my wrist the day before the first sap run, waited for and underwent surgery (an apt verb), and lived, and am living, day to day. Sound the trumpets to proclaim this rare event: a truly new experience!
We had a new experience making maple sugar: the syrup burned and smoked even at a low temp. What do you see here?
What does the mind do with the new? I have three new body projects: to heal the bone, to regain range of motion in the wrist, and to eliminate unintended muscular-skeletal pain. My left hand has felt as far away as the Falklands, and to get there I must pass through the war zone that is my arm and wrist. When the war spread to my neck and shoulders, all media attention shifted there.
My mind notices the word ‘broken’ as it pops up in the news and everywhere. Systems of all sorts are broken: campaign finance, schools, political parties. Families are broken; diplomatic ties are broken; dreams are broken. Ouch! I feel that brokenness in my frame.
My mind notices the conflict between working on range of motion in the mind and resting the mind. It’s easy – but hard work – to do the physical range-of-motion exercises, since a therapist is showing me what to do. I alone must choose a regimen for my mind. I try out images: thick honey draining out of my strained shoulders into my arm to soften it. No…it doesn’t take. An arm of silly putty. No…not quite right. For bone healing I could run the colors: red, green, cobalt blue, opalescent white, gold. Good, but too tiring on top of a day’s chores. Resting on the prayers of others. Good, but hard. God helps those who help themselves, my parents ingrained in me.
My mind notices the value of new applications of the familiar. Why not play Cape Breton fiddle music and stepdance away the anger in my shoulders? Yes, why not? Why not imagine sailing to the Falklands? The trip would take days and weeks and would be all very new since I’m not a sailor. My accident occurred at a moment when I felt like a human sailboat as I skated on my long blades across the sweep of a mountain-backed reservoir. Why not sail back to wholeness? This April, I am simultaneously walking in the Falklands and making my way by sea to the Falklands.