My title might be an unconscious imitation of Tom Robbins’ Still-life with Woodpecker.
I suddenly felt the need to make a parenthetic google search. Tom Robbins. Is he still alive?
And I see that he was born in 1932, author of lots of books, several that I’ve read. Holy cow he’s going to be 90, and seems to be alive & well.
Yes he’s an influence on me, someone I realize I’ve long been imitating for better or worse. Robbins is one of my touchstones of writing & coolness.
I am thinking about this as I read Hermione Lee’s new biography of Tom Stoppard.
He’s another writer named Tom, another hero of mine come to think of it. Stoppard & Robbins both manage to be funny, to be cool, to be profound, sometimes in the same sentence.
I was already doing lots of retrospective thinking, pondering who I am and where I came from in this curious time-out that has been upon us since 2020 and continued into 2021.
Stoppard was born in 1937, five years after Robbins. Both men are engraved in my head as the witty writers of my youth: even though they are no longer youthful.
Whether you work at home or continue to work in the front-lines, everything looks a bit different. Rush hours tend to be quieter. Pedestrians in Toronto often behave in new ways, usually honoring physical distancing but eyes twinkling behind their masks.
It can be an opportunity if you notice.
Every day I walk Sam. I worry about her mortality looking for evidence that she’s healthy while disquieted by symptoms like lumps (the big one in her side is growing).
And yet she seems okay. She outruns me, which come to think of it isn’t such a great achievement. But she runs..!
When we’re outside we watch the sky. Okay, she looks up and I think she sees the moon sometimes, where I’m probably being a little more finicky in my observations. She’s very calm, grounded in the here and now, at least until she begins barking at possible intruders or meals.
When someone walks by I can’t be certain whether she thinks of people as threats or appetizers.
Are we humans overthinking? If it smells good taste it. If it tries to hurt you, bite it.
Of course humans have invented lawsuits & liability so maybe we had better not be quite so quick to bare our teeth at others.
The sky is a safer place to look. Will it rain? Will it be cold? I can’t deny that I have all sorts of help, from the weather network, from my iPhone’s weather app. In February & March these are important questions to ponder before venturing outside, given that the temperature variation can be rather large. Last Thursday we hit +19 while just last night the wind chill was -17.
No wonder the plants seem confused.
I hope those cute little flowers will be okay.
The path that the sun seems to follow changes every day.
I say “seems” because of course it’s not the sun moving, it’s the planet. We’re circling the sun once every year, and rotating on our axis once every day. Every day there’s a time when the sun seems to come over the horizon aka “sunrise” and later a time when it seems to go under the horizon aka “sunset”. Because of that orbital traveling each day the sun’s arc (the path from sunrises to sunset) in the sky is a wee bit different.
Being outside with the dog I see the changing seasons in the sun’s daily arc. If you find a reference point, you can see the differences in where the sun is rising and setting. It varies ever so slightly each day just as the length of day varies a tiny bit each day. On the shortest day of the year I made a note of where the sun set. Currently it’s a bit further north, moving yet further north every day. That makes sense right? In the depths of winter, the sun is further to the south of us, its rays indirect and not terribly warming, giving Argentina & Australia their longest days, while leaving those who are further north, like the Scandinavians, let alone the Arctic, in darkness. And on the summer solstice (that longest day), the sun will be more overhead, its rays more direct: and for that reason, much warmer.
With the help of my iPhone weather app I see the times for each sunrise and sunset.
Sounds like a song doesn’t it?
Today March 15th for example, it tells me that the sun will rise at 7:26 and set at 7:23. It’s almost exactly 12 hours. That makes sense. The equinox will be upon us soon. Equinox comes from Latin, when the night is equal to the day. The magic day is probably sometime next weekend (around the 21st), and after that date the days will be exceeding the night, gradually getting longer and longer until the peak is reached sometime around June 21st. And then it all turns around the other way, with the days getting shorter, the nights getting longer, and equal on or about September 21st.
The last of the snow has melted this week, although it was still very chilly this morning with that -17 windchill.
Sam likes it all the same.
I hear people complain about the weather. Never mind that it’s beyond your control (although if you’re living in Toronto and want the weather to be warm why stay if you could move south?). I have the dog as a reminder. She appears to be happy when she’s warm. I meant to get a photo of her this morning after being outside in the cold , when she basked in the sunshine on the living room floor like a big pussy cat.
And she rolls around in the snow when she gets the chance.
As I have mentioned before, she’s a good teacher.