A radiant glow
As day begins
And dew creeps from the barley
And songsters pipe
And smells ignite
And workers up right early.
What news they ask
How fares the world
And will it note my passing?
Few bob to earn
Few friends to greet
But nothing spare amassing.
And soon ’tis gone
The clock rolls on
And muscles ache and falter.
Will Ted be missed?
A grand-son kissed
And christened at the altar.
And evening’s glow
Helps us to know
A shadow world is creeping.
But not for long
Hope’s glowing song…
The Son will raise the sleeping.
(suggested by Psalm 65: 8b)
Doug Blair, Waterloo, ON
He is out there
Riding the updrafts
Trimming his pinions
A thrill in coming commotion.
Watching rollers arrive
Skimming close to their spray
Adding his cry
To the rising hiss and grumble.
Seeing new darks and blue
In day’s last light.
But there are safe havens back yonder.
Inlets where boats bob and creak.
Simple perches, safe from the blast.
He will turn
Wings rightly positioned
Running free in that final dash.
But not yet…not yet.
He is a bird of the waters.
In this moment.
Doug Blair, Waterloo, ON
One midnight, deep in starlight still, I dreamed that I received this bill: (_________ in account with Life): Five thousand breathless dawns all new; Five thousand flowers fresh in dew; Five thousand sunsets wrapped in gold; One million snow-flakes served ice-cold; Five quiet friends, one baby’s love; One white-mad sea with clouds above; One hundred music haunted dreams Of moon-drenched roads and hurrying streams; Of prophesying winds and trees; Of silent stars and browsing bees; One June night in a fragrant wood; One heart that loved and understood. I wondered when I waked at day, How-in God’s name-I could pay!
Cortlandt W. Sayres
Have you ever hiked by a river in winter? The cold and haze lay all around like a shroud. The ice grips the flow, seemingly. But here and there the water’s movement breaks through. The hiss and murmer assertively claim life. The ducks congregate. The promise of greater melt-waters comforts the heart. The chill is, after all, only transitory. The snow-laden evergreens wait for spring like indomitable sentinels. The hollow of the water-course shelters from any harsh winds.
A walk by the river in winter
My Father and I undertake.
The bush is all glaze from the ice-storm,
Affording a needed wind-break.
The City with all its white panic
Seems much farther off than in fact.
The Country calls us to adventure,
With lunch and hot drinks duly packed.
We’ve done this before, but in springtime
With wildflowers and vine in the bloom.
But this day holds different promise,
Somewhere in the gray and the gloom.
The trees are bereft of their songsters
Save only one brave chickadee,
Who scolds from his perch in the low brush,
My Father and I cannot see.
Approaching a bend in the river
My Father, with much softer gait,
Binoculars pulled for a sighting,
And signaling me just to wait,
Steps out to the clearing at shoreline,
Where ice has been broken away,
By storm sewer’s much warmer waters,
And ducks are out there, and at play.
The first that I see are just landing,
With synchronized drop, skimming wake,
And greeted by others assembled.
What strange, raucous music they make!
The mallards, mergansers and pin-tails
Who CHUTTER and MUCK and RANK-RANK.
My Father and I are now laughing
In spite of ourselves, at the bank.
He watches their moods and their movements,
Their matchings and sparrings and play,
Their discourse and dunkings and flappings.
My Father’s their student today.
And with insight gained from the outing
Will turn to the woodcarver’s skill,
And fashion remarkable likeness
Of feather and pose, wing and bill.
Now this is the best kind of hunting.
To live and let live is the way.
And trophies we’ll have of the visit,
And memories of this good day.
I may be a teen in a tempest
With thoughts much too awkward to tell;
But here with the ducks and my Father,
I know that he knows me quite well.
Doug Blair, Waterloo, ON
This morning talking with some seniors I mentioned that post about my Dad and I in the fishing boat with the late sun glowing off rocks and water.
One of the men started to recite by memory a poem from his school days, “The Unnamed Lake”.
It sleeps among the thousand hills Where no man ever trod, And only nature’s music fills The silences of God.
Great mountains tower above its shore, Green rushes fringe its brim, And over its breast for evermore The wanton breezes skim.
Dark clouds that intercept the sun Go there in Spring to weep, And there, when Autumn days are done. White mists lie down to sleep.
Sunrise and sunset crown with gold The pinks of ageless stone, Her winds have thundered from of old – And storms have set their throne.
No echoes of the world afar Disturb it night or day, The sun and shadow, moon and star Pass and repass for aye.
‘Twas in the grey of early dawn, When first the lake we spied, And fragments of a cloud were drawn Half down the mountain side.
Along the shore a heron flew, And from a speck on high, That hovered in the deepening blue, We heard the fish-hawk’s cry.
Among the cloud-capt solitudes, No sound the silence broke, Save when, in whispers down the woods, The guardian mountains spoke.
Through tangled brush and dewy brake, Returning whence we came, We passed in silence, and the lake We left without a name.
We were up at the cottage of one of my Dad’s good friends. It was on Lake Temagami, known throughout the continent for its lake trout and walleye. I was in my twenties.
Dad would always say that it wasn’t about catching the fish; it was about touring and discovery on the open water by boat. He had real insight about the strategies of the angler. Habitat. Time of day. Temperature. Sunlight. Recent rain or not. Depth of bait/lure.
I was the greenhorn in that small aluminum Springbok. We were trolling slowly in a narrow side arm of the lake edged by tall rock cliffs. The late afternoon sun was casting rich copper shades.
Suddenly Dad stopped the motor. We coasted slowly. Neither one spoke as we looked at those radiant cliffs. Not even a bird seemed to sing. The water was still and bearing the unaltered reflection of the cliffs.
“It’s almost impossible, isn’t it Doug?”
“Look at it. Where does reality stop in those rocks, and the reflection in the water begin?
“Yeah, beautiful isn’t it.”
Nothing more was said for a while.
It was the most religious moment I ever shared with my wonderful Father (Jack Bernard Blair, 1922-2010). It held none of the words of the Apostle Paul, but much of the wonder of the benevolent Creator/Sustainer Jesus.
And in that marvelous moment… we were the fish. Captivated in a boat.
Doug Blair, Waterloo, Ontario (A copy of this goes to my brother Scott. He also knows that certain northland “feel” with Dad.)