Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Be Still and Listen to the Sound of Falling Snow

I felt (and feel) as if I was throwing my Dad out. More sorting, organizing and de-cluttering my life. I had two huge boxes filled with carousels of Dad's coloured slides taken over the years. And a slide projector that doesn't (as far as I know) work. It's an antique. Slides are mostly from the 50's to the early 70's. How did I end up with all of them, I ask my favourite brother?

So, I sorted them yesterday afternoon into piles.. Tossed hundreds into a paper bag - for now - feeling, as I said, as if I'm throwing Dad out. He loved photography in the days when you had to know how to use a camera - not set it on automatic as I usually do. Flora and fauna. My birthday parties and Christmas when we were children. Three wonderful and adorable wee grandchildren as they were 1969 and onwards - Lisa, Kevin and Mark. EXPO '67. The cottage at Trousers Lake. Margaret, Percy, Grammy, dogs and the Farm.... Granny and Grandpa Weston, Fred and Barry...

It was sad, freeing, and delightful to discover the really old ones. I had no idea they went back to the '50's. Now looking to find how they can be transferred to DVD's. Found! René, who used to develop Dad's pictures and slides (and misspell his name) is still in business.

Image from Google - Last night I just went with the experience. Photos to follow.

After the great sort out - it was dusk when I went for a walk around the 'hood in the snow. Warm socks. Check. Billy boots. Check. Mittens, Check. Eyes and ears open. Check.  Memory in gear. Check.

Snowflakes gently falling, cold on my stuck-out tongue. Breath-taking soft beauty.

I wrote this poem many years ago in Boston - still at the convent on Louisburg Square. 

Be still and listen
     to the sound
         of falling

Image from Google

Snow! Joy. Delight. Heart open. New life. Hope....

When I reached our old home - what's left of it (paved parking for the apartment block) - I stood by one of the two elm trees that have stood sentry at the driveway entrance since probably before 1923 when Mum's family moved here from the city. I placed my hand gently against the rough bark, and then my cheek and ear. And I heard the tree's heart beating, and some of the memories it holds.

Joyful noises when Lorne was a baby - the first grandchild and the first baby amongst the friends.

The gasp and wail of tragedy, when Mum discovered foster baby Johnny had died of SIDS in the pram on the front walk - sheltered under the trees' branches.

Mum's silent scream NOOOOO that rent our existence as we'd known it, reaching to the edges of the universe from Gram's living room when the telephone call came that Lorne had drowned at Camp Kanawana in Saint-Sauveur.


Mum's rushing up the walk after work the winter after Lorne had died, terrified something might have happened to Jim or me.

Dad's steady returning from work at C-I-L, McMasterville, more hesitant if he'd been to Mrs. P's.

Jim's weary after delivering the Montreal Star, down Lafayette to Verchères and beyond...

Mine running, being chased home from William White School by one of the local bullies.

Peter's soft, finding a peaceful refuge with Gram upstairs when things were hard at home.

Other sights and sounds:

Dad's piercing whistle, fingers in his mouth, that reached all the way to Cheryl's, calling me home for supper. 

After supper until it began to get dark, all the neighbourhood kids played softball in our other lot. The elm remembers laughter, the crack of a bat or the swish of a miss, encouragement or yells to run to base (a huge rock by Salettes' fence) if the ball had been hit. 

Cheryl and I riding our horses à la Dale Evans and Roy Rogers, mounted on two large, empty metal gas tank steeds in the other lot.

Jim heading out with his little red wagon, wheels squeaking, to collect articles for sale at our summer Junior Red Cross bazaars held on the front lawn in front of the trees. One person's junk - another person's treasure was set out on tables. :-)  Or p'raps the adults were simply helping us raise funds.

Hallowe'en fun. Children ringing the doorbell during my birthday supper, trick-or-treating at 427 and beyond. Us leaving home in the dark in costumes to do the same at our friends and relatives. 

Children laughing, climbing mountains of snow deposited by the plows. No carting it away in those days.

All the youngsters, ready for hot chocolate, returning after singing Christmas carols in the 'hood to raise funds for Tiny Tim. 

50's - 60's music from our teenage dances blaring out the living room windows. Kingston Trio. Elvis.  Bobby Darin ...

Jim playing the piano by ear with enthusiasm and beauty.

Me sitting on the living room floor at Gram's feet while she knit Christmas mitts and socks (without looking) while we cheered on our Canadiens' - the Rocket, Big Jean, Donny Marshall, Doug Harvey, the Pocket, Boom Boom ...  Black and white TV. Gram was fiercely involved and had lots to say if she didn't like the action or inaction.  

Blacky, the hyper dog Granny thought she'd surprise us with, barking frantically - to the dismay and frustration of our neighbours, the Carlsons who then yelled.

Silent as snow falling as we left for St. Mark's Church on Christmas Eve after opening one present each and our new pyjamas.

In the silence. Trees. Memories. Snow falling. Joy.

AND - it's snowing again! Wind fierce. Winter has arrived. Learning again to be still

From last year until I get photos of this year's snow..


  1. Did I ever tell you I attended William White for Kindergarten?

  2. Ros you need to gather all these blogs and publish them.. They are so awesome, they reach such depths in the reader..(me)... I see you as the Annie Lamont of Montreal... no seriously.... Thank you once again. Hugs

    1. Jan - thanks so much. Curious, a number of years ago, Marcia Hollis said of my travel diaries that I my writing reminded her of Anne Lamott. I certainly love her writing, though i don't think I had discovered her at that time.

  3. What a marvelous read, as always, Ros. You're a gem of a writer! I agree with Jan totally re publishing!!! Thanks and a Hug from The Rock!