Thursday, December 20, 2012

Yes Cecil, A Long Story Short, Part Eighteen

Jerome van Starke
c/o Pascal Tessier
Galerie d'Art Crépescule
Montréal, Québec

Bergen, Norway.
October 22nd

Dear Jerome,

When I awoke this morning, I looked up at the ceiling and saw the reflected leaves moving with the breeze, and it was as if I was under water, and they were reflections from above.The reflected leaves will soon be gone. The plaster ceiling molding around the modern light fixture is quite old, as is the house. The faces seem intent on some distant horizon. How many people have awoken to this ceiling and thought my thoughts? She has witnessed, this woman in the molding, more sunrises than I. What history within this little room? Personal and intimate. What lives? What stories she has overheard, her perspective on the world, at an angle, one ear unseen to the heavens, the other to the mundane realities beneath? I enclose my poor picture taken from my bed. You can see what I see.

I am alone in the house. Martine is off to Stavanger for meetings. Stavanger, she told me is the hub for the off-shore oil business. Also, she informed me, it has a well-preserved old city section of attractive wooden houses. We must take the ferry and visit one day. Preferably in the late Spring when the window boxes will be brimming with fresh blooms. Whenever I see such old homes, I wonder who lives in them. Have they been passed down through generations? Have they merely changed hands to those with greater financial wealth? Then again, living in an old building which has been designated historic, there may be many restrictions on what can be modified. The deception of appearances. We see older houses and imagine qualities and realities that may not exist. I remember when I was very young and was fascinated with a very large Victorian home in Montreal, and how deflated I felt when I learnt that it was not the home to one family—that perfectly imagined family of many children and pets running amok—but a house divided into flats. I don't think I ever looked at homes quite the same again.

Such a crisp, clear day, the clarity of vision unequalled since I arrived. As sharp as the truth. But, the days are getting shorter, and already, at 4:30 p.m., the day is beginning to wane. Daylight savings will soon be upon us.

I know this letter must seem redundant, piggy-backing on the one I mailed to you this morning. You may receive this one first by some sleight-of-hand mistake, but that would not be of great concern. It is likely you may retrieve them both from Pascal on the same day and wonder which to open first. May the cancels lead you. Lay them out side by side and read them each apace.

There was a pleasant southern breeze today. I stopped at Krog og Krinkel Book café, a popular spot, and had a coffee and a skillingsboller—a classic Bergen bun with cinnamon and cardamon. I sat there looking down at the skillingsboller, and I saw a labyrinth in its circular beauty. I walked the labyrinth with my eyes thinking of our future. If others had noticed me, they might have been bewildered by my stare. Perhaps they thought I was praying before the finest bun available. They are very good. I walked my labyrinth and then I ate it.

I later browsed the books, and while doing so, I heard Pop Goes the World by that band from Montreal. Such a surprise. Might have been the owner's iPod mix. Brought me back. I have been humming the tune most of the day! I found a cheap paperback of Margaret Atwood's Wilderness Tips, and a mystery by Karen Fossum. Also, wonder of wonders, I saw a name on a spine I recognized: your friend P. K. Loveridge. The book was in Norwegian, but it was a translation of one of his novels. It was inscribed on the title page: To Felicia, may the moon be ever full. On the back of the title page it states it is a translation of The Olivaster Moon. I don't know his books but I bought it too. Martine may be able to judge it for me, translation notwithstanding.

I then made my way down the narrow streets to the open area around the Lille Lungegardsyannet, an inner city lake with a fountain feature. While taking some pictures, I had to be wary of the seagulls. They seem larger than ours. Seagulls and pigeons stick close to humans don't they. Or is it the other way around, by accident? A brief déjà vu moment of Hitchcock's The Birds. I asked a young couple to take my picture with the lake behind me and the beautiful red and white buildings reflected in the dark blue water. They told me it is used for skating in the winter. A large Christmas tree with lights in the centre—a Norway Spruce perhaps? Reminds me a little bit of Mount Royal's Beaver Lake. I stood there imagining us skating around the tree, smiling, laughter, sun. What would we do without our imaginations?

All my love,

photograph and text © ralph patrick mackay

No comments: