I was just laying in the tub, to soak, and to suck some of the aches out of my bones. It is occasionally necessary. I am reminded that I am older than I once was, and hopefully younger than I will be. I don’t know. I would need a crystal ball to have the answer to that one.
It is far into what will be known as the COVID summer. It has slowed down the pace a bit and laying in the tub is helped by the fact that I don’t immediately have anywhere to go, nothing driving me today but my own thoughts, and as everyone else is still sleeping, I am alone in my thoughts.
Well, not alone exactly. My thoughts are housed with the comings and goings of many people, in and out like a train station. Because a lot of time has already transpired, these people feel free to come and go in my imagination. Some visit my dreams. Some are even dead. They are all food for thought.
So, I am sitting here thinking about Peterborough, brought on by the sounds and smells coming through the window. They are summer sounds, like cars beginning someone’s day, a rogue lawnmower, and the birds. Peterborough is a place of lakes, boating, swimming, and all other such summer kind of things. We moved there when I was four, so Peterborough is among my earliest memories.
My Dad first worked for General Electric, a warehouse kind of factory building with the tall windows that had the white collar people in offices and blue collar workers on the floor. The town was mostly blue collar but no one seemed all that aware of their station. There is a great kind of egalitarianism there that still blows through my veins. The picture which persists in my head is of endless summer.
The sounds and the smells coming in the window, remind me of the many times that I woke up as a kid and wondered “what shall I do today?” There was also the matter of who to do it with. There were the stock people around that I took for granted. I looked at a family picture the other day while cleaning in the basement. It was a shot at my parents’ 35th anniversary gathering in about 1994. We all were standing bravely holding hands like nothing would change ever, and yet now when I look back my parents are both dead, which is something you never think about when they are alive.
There is also my brother, the one who has distanced himself from the family. It never occurs to you in life that some people will come and go. Because our family had a lot of kids, we babysat ourselves, and looked out for one other on the buddy system. We would go swimming together, walking about five miles even though we were about four and five years old respectively. Our mom used to give us a dime to spend, and between two people it went a long way. You could buy a lot of that shoestring liquorice in different flavours, three for a penny. We swam at the beach until we had enough, and then we came home. It never occurred to me that having each others’ back was an arrangement that would come to an end.
One summer, the two of us were sent out to stay with my paternal grandmother in northern Saskatchewan because of some complicated adult things going on in the family that we were not allowed to know about. Saskatchewan had a different vibe and a different pace of life. Because of our parents, we were “known” in the community and made to be welcome. Our grandmother couldn’t really cook very well but indulged us in other ways. I think knowing all those adult things that kept her awake at night, she somehow pitied us and tried to make up for it in other ways. God bless those people who do that, we need more of them, I think.
It makes me wonder in life if it would do you any good to know things in advance. Chances are I think, nothing would really change, it would add up a certain portion of sorrow no matter what. You would watch life unfold like a train wreck at times, and you would not be able to stop it. The ignorance of youth shields us from a lot of things. As Adam and Eve found out in the Garden of Eden, knowledge and understanding can also be your undoing. You are best to get it by degrees as life dishes it out I think.
And so I take in the smells and the sounds. There are also things I guess I don’t know now, and so I had better take today as I find it. The smells and sounds are a reminder and they are also a blessing. One day at a time, sweet Jesus, I think the song said. Time to be grateful.