Category: Memoir

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Tyaughton Caonoeing, Tyaughton Lake, Chilkotin Mountain Range, British Columbia, Canada

Fathers ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #197

Paddling
On a perfect day

I remember days long past
Of sunshine and calm
Depths still clear
At forty feet

The rod held
Expectantly
In your son’s hands

Paddle in yours
The strokes
A gentle
Powerful
Grace

You didn’t care for fishing
But I did
So out we went

My youth
A stream of summer memories
New England lakes
Bass and wallabies
A pickerel here and there
The perch and sunnies
Disdainfully thrown back

Paddling today
On a perfect day
I reflect on those times
And the times that would follow

Times of storms and dark clouds
Murky shallows
When we were not always
So gentle with each other
Awkward
Sometimes graceless
The depth of you
Forever unreachable

But still I knew you
As the father who’d take me out
For no more than the pleasure
Of my pleasure

That is
I knew
Always
That you loved me

You’ve been gone now
For longer than I ever had you

For your eulogy
I used the metaphor
Of the missing wingman
A natural for the pilot father

But on this day
Of sunshine and calm
Of depth and clarity
I notice a second paddle
Laying against the empty seat
Wishing your hands were upon it
So that once again
We could take on this task of living
With the harmony of paddling
Together

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Prayer Wheels, Labrang Si Monastery, Xiahe, Gansu Province, The People's Republic of China

Prayer Wheels

Clockwise. Always clockwise. Clockwise round. Walking, spinning. Always clockwise. The wheels turn, continue turning, after they pass. Some turn and turn and turn while others fight against the inertia. Pilgrims, bright and tattered, or bright, or tattered. Some of these too will turn and turn, always clockwise, round the cluster of buildings capped in gold and brass at Labrangsi.

I will not count them: the prayer wheels, the meters, the pilgrims, the steps, the number of times I will feel the smooth patina of wood against my palm. I say to Emma: “I want to do this.” She assents.

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Near Joshua Tree National Park, California, United States of America

Velocity

The world reels by, unfurling at 90 miles an hour. At this speed, travel gains the sense of dance even on a relatively straight, flat interstate such as this section of I-395. I am aware of the countryside, the gentle undulations of the valley floor contrasting the angular gyrations of slowly eroding hillsides; I am aware of the thinning stands of Joshua Tree and can pick out a few individual shapes for their magnificence or their decrepitude; I notice the snowline band so evenly frosting the hill tops, that I am climbing toward the line, that I am now above it and that the snow along the roadside proceeds from spare dollops to a thin crust with mesquite poking through.

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Wat Arun, from Tha Tien, Bangkok, Thailand

Tha Tien

I am sitting over a bowl of Tom Yum soup and a Singha, both a perfect antidote for heat and humidity. Large prawns spooned out of an oily, spicy broth. Baby corn cobs, fresh picked, are an explosion of flavour, like an entire cob of spring corn in a single bite. I chill my burning lips with a draft from the Singha, an ice cold lager which makes up with chill effervescence what it lacks in taste.