Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ramble


The housework, more or less, is done. My apartment smells of clean laundry. I’ve ironed the kimono…my “morning coat,” and several other of the wrinkle-when-washed bali-print items I’m so fond of, and in the heat and humidity, I’ve cooked spicy food to be put away for my visitor, Koru’s Daughter (of Everyday Sutras). Pasta sauce with black olives and Italian sausage, beef cooked in vegetable juice and Tabasco. I’m not sure this food won’t kill her, but I’m pretty much bloated with preparedness and well-being anyway. It’s the thought that counts.

And then…

It’s trite to say that fog rolls in, but there’s no other verb to describe it. Rolls like a wave, entirely visible. When the first plumes pass by my balcony, after the bright sun, looking up from the steaming stove, I wonder momentarily if it is smoke. All through June, I’ve hated it, and now, after “feels like” 90 degree temperatures, it’s rolling relief – cool, damp and soothing. My neighbor and I stand on our next door balconies and compare notes on how wonderful it feels to stop suffocating.

Have I become a Maritimer? Native to Toronto, I once survived temperatures that soared past 100 F, that baked and scorched and made the bottom of my shoes tacky on pavement. I can remember waking from fevered sleep with the sheets plastered to my body. I used to run in and out of cold showers several times a day, just to keep from frying in my own skin.

Now, like any good Nova Scotian, when the thermometer exceeds 70 degrees Fahrenheit, I’m thinking it’s some jeezly hot. I’ve become a fog-baby.

But I started this to remember about kaleidoscopes.

I am little. Maybe five or six or seven. We are staying with my Aunt and Uncle.
The house is on the outskirts of Windsor, Ontario, situated on a flat country road. It is always summer there. There is always a cloudless sky and miles of pancake land. The house itself is propped on cement blocks with no foundation. Out back, there is a play house and beyond that a field with a brilliant blue block in it. “Salt lick” my cousin Lesley says, “for the cows.” She has a slightly superior tone. I am, to her, a city kid, and astonishingly ignorant of the simplest things.

She smells like brown sugar. The house is small and the floor feel wobbly. My uncle has fingers stained brown. My Aunt yells everything in a hearty, cheery voice, as if we were all slightly deaf.

The living room is small and crowded. I don’t remember anything but overstuffed furniture and the shadows in it and how my Aunt and Uncle seemed to fill it to capacity. I am sitting on the floor, with a kaleidoscope in my hands. It is a cardboard tube, about two inches in diameter and six inches in length. It has a glass bottom and you can see tiny scraps of color there. But if you look in the other end….”Hold it up to the light”…fabulous patterns emerge. They change with the slightest shift of hand, dividing and subdividing into infinity, becoming worlds and universes of pattern and color. To my cousin, it’s old. “Just mirrors and pieces of colored paper,” she says, dismissing it like it’s another salt lick I don’t know about. But I can’t put it down. Can’t stop looking into that other world.

There in a tiny cramped living room with my brown-sugar cousin, my tobacco uncle, my loud aunt and a piece of Made in Japan magic, one of my obsessions is established. Pattern and color speak to me like music. Even the word is magic….

Kaleidoscope.
Kaleidoscope.

18 comments:

Leazwell said...

"The fog comes in on little cat feet..." - Carl Sandburg - phooey, I can't recall the rest.

chuck said...

Beyond this world, a realm of wonder- the 'realm of Kaleidos'...

The 'wonder realm' can be hinted at...when viewed through a *kaleidoscope*.

Wenda said...

I love them and the word, too, and have a few with which to amuse myself. Thanks for visiting my blog and for the (0) idea.

LJ said...

Leazwell, I wonder how many of us have remembered that wonderful line and forgotten what it's from? (But the fog here has BIG feet. It doesn't creep or sneak. I wonder what Sandburg would have thought?)
Chuck, There's probably a list of things like that. Shadows, the way light hits water ripples, puddles of gasoline...all wonder-worthy things.
Wenda, welcome and you're welcome. I enjoyed the read.

herhimnbryn said...

Evening LJ!
Yes I found my first k.scope at the bottome of my christmas stocking when I was 3 or 4. Like you I was hooked and enchanted. Great post.

Handy Girl said...

when i was pregnant, it took every ounce of restraint to not pick the road salt up off the ground and crunch it in my teeth. in the ninth month, when spring had rid the country of road salt, i remember being at a friends house, and looking through a kaleidoscope, thinking how much the crystals inside looked like road salt and how much i wanted crack open the tube and eat them...

Jessie said...

Love your kaleidoscope memories, LJ--and I'm so with ya on the weather issue!

goatman said...

Hi,
Nova Scotia is it? We have a friend visiting from Austrailia who is going on tour, I believe, to include NS in September. She is asking what to bring to wear?!
Since I am in mid missouri, I have no idea what to tell her. For here, we would recommend summer clothing; but eastern seaboard of canada ?? Help.
Peace

phlegmfatale said...

wow, SUCH a beautiful post. I love it. Brown sugar cousins don't always have all the answers. Or at least not the right ones for us.

LJ said...

Handygirl wins for most unusual association with kaleidoscopes! I hope someone took it away before you ate the colored bits, HG. For your own good.

Fog again today, Jess - and temps of 32C (which is 94F)everywhere it isn't foggy...so bring it on!

Hi Goatman: September.VERY often, summer clothes. With jackets and sweaters for night time. But we mostly get beautiful, warm falls here (& the odd hurricane). Bring a raincoat. Umbrellas are nearly useless because we're a windy coast.
September, barring hurricanes, and October, are the most gorgeous months in Nova Scotia. Summer hasn't quit - but humidity often has. Tell your friends to have a day in Halifax - which is perfect jewel of a little city. And of course, the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton is amazing.

PF...My cousin and I were young enough to more or less get along, but strangely, I haven't had even the tiniest urge to make contact since age 13. Go figure.

goatman said...

Thanks for the info on your part of the planet, I will forward the advice.
Peace

zhoen said...

Love kalidoscopes, and Windsor.

I lived in high desert heat, and dewpoints in the high 60s are just opressive, at any temp. No sun worshipper here.

Katie said...

"Pattern and color speak to me like music. Even the word is magic…."

You are such a talented artist LJ. Both with your words and with the pictures that you post on here.

And oddly enough, Kaleidoscope is one my favorite words to say. It just rolls right off the tongue. That and I like the name Penelope. Don't ask me why...

Missed your writing while I was away. Hope you are doing well :)

Jamie

Mary said...

(o)

(o)

I loved Kaleidoscopes too ...

Lucas said...

Your writing deserves so much more feedback than I can possibly provide. I am, however, always here, everyday, reading and enjoying the insights and the imagery. Thanks so much.

john said...

nice post . i hope to be back. have a happy weekend !

Darkmind said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LJ said...

Lucas...I know the feeling. A (0) is fine, so I know you're out there. I like to know you're out there.

Darkmind. You can have my fog! And yesterday's and tomorrow's and last week's. But...umm...I don't really want your temps.

Mary. Hugs.

A girl. Same. Hugs.

Zhoen? You love Windsor? I haven't been there since childhood and remember it as looking flat - and much like my grandfather's house, with a gooseberry bush out back. Has it changed? Grinning.