What did I know, what did I know…

the shelves.jpg

In our quiet house, I woke at 5 and got up to work on something I’d put aside over the Christmas holidays. The house was cold. John is usually the first one up and he makes a fire, brings coffee to me in bed. Am I grateful enough for these things? Probably not. So many mornings I’ve propped myself up on pillows and sipped the first cup of dark coffee, smelling the beautiful odour of cedar kindling catching in a cold stove. This morning I made the fire and I can hear it snapping now as I sit at my desk and reflect on the past year, drinking coffee that somehow tastes different than that first cup in bed. I remember a few lines from Robert Hayden’s poem, “Those Winter Sundays”:

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Last night there was a new moon to the southwest of the house, with Venus nearby. I don’t exactly make resolutions but try to begin each year as I mean to continue it. Yesterday doesn’t count because we were in transit, returning home from Vancouver where we’d gone to see off part of our family. But this morning, I’ve made some corrections to an essay, thanks to Forrest’s good mind which caught a few errors (or maybe assumptions) about my father’s family history; at his urging, I checked old records and realized I’d miscalculated a few things.


I want to do good work this year. My own, and also something on behalf of the planet. I’m not sure what, exactly, but something. Recent health issues have convinced me that I have to proceed as though time is precious. It is, I know, and I’ve always thought that. But looking at writing files this morning, I see many beginnings and not a lot of conclusions. I’m going to attend to that. I’m grateful that I have space, a life that allows me to work in relative solitude when I need to, and the luxury of doing the writing I need to do. I don’t want to find myself out of time and full of regret for not having used what I had with care and respect.


Up early, grateful for the fire (and the person who usually makes it), coffee (ditto), and all the possibilities held in the hand, the heart, ready.

5 thoughts on “What did I know, what did I know…”

  1. Bonne Année, Theresa. Je te souhaite une nouvelle année 2017 pleine de joie, de nouveaux projets, de bonne santé et d’amour. For you and your family.

    I’d like to visit Vancouver Island in the near future with a view to staying awhile. I’ve never been there before. I did, however, live in Vancouver’s West End as well as Kitsilano in the 1980s. Can you recommend a nice town on Vancouver Island? Not too busy, but not too sleepy either.

    And what about the Gulf islands? Do you know of a nice island to visit?

    1. Juliet, Victoria is the largest city on Vancouver Island. I grew up there and it’s lovely in many ways. Pretty, good climate. A burgeoning arts scene (even a good opera company!). The Gulf Islands are idyllic too but there are often ferry waits in summers. I remember Salt Spring from my childhood — old sheep farms, gnarled Garry oaks, eccentric pioneering families. There’s still a little of that but the islands — or at least the more accessible ones — have been discovered by Money and many of the changes are sad. But for visits? Beautiful inns (Hastings House on Salt Spring), good food, small wineries, artist studios…And for sheer wild beauty, the Pacific Rim area — Tofino, esp. — is not to be missed. Happy New Year to you too! Best wishes for a healthy and productive year…

      1. Thanks so much. Hopefully I’ll be able to make the trip to Vancouver and its lovely islands in the very near future. I will look up the places you mention here.

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