“Here, at the edge of heaven…”


Late birthday cards arrived this week from two of my grandchildren. When they called on the day of the birthday, my grandson asked if there were presents. I told him there were. Good ones. Chocolate, books, silver bangles, a gift card for my favourite cidery, flowers, a white cotton nightdress trimmed in lace…He didn’t ask about balloons but his sister has drawn them for me in living colour. In her hands or mine? I like the jauntiness of the lifted leg, the fanciful cake or hat being carried into the rest of my life. I hear music! Will there be dancing?

My actual birthday was memorable for the quiet. At least it was quiet here. Friends delivered bouquets and stood at a distance to talk for a few minutes. Instead of opening sparkling wine, I promised them cake as soon as it’s safe to gather again. So yes, quiet here, though it was also the day of the insurrection in Washington and the news was filled with images of mayhem and terror. Sometimes the rest of the world feels very far away, messages coming such a vast distance that meaning can be lost in the gap.

This morning the light is subdued by mist but I think it might be clear up the mountain. We’re going to bundle up and see how far we can walk, John with his cane and special orthotic device in his shoe to support his recovering foot. I’ve been watching the snow line, the lovely sight of fresh white on the high firs, though at our level the daffodils are emerging from the soil and a single hellebore blooms.

In the midst of quiet and the ever-troubling news about the rising numbers of dead from Covid-19, there are things to celebrate. My collection of essays, Blue Portugal, has been accepted for publication by the University of Alberta Press. (More on this as details are confirmed.) John’s new book—a selection of his poems translated into Czech—is on its way from Ostrava to our mailbox near Ruby Lake. The greenhouse we ordered just after Christmas has arrived, in 3 boxes, and is waiting in the carport for assembly; a friend will help with that in February.

Yesterday, when we came out to our car after our swim at the pool, a gaggle of local geese flew overhead, loud as children at play. This morning, filling the bird-feeder, I could hear chickadees buzzing in the bare wisteria and ravens klooking in the woods, their courtship in full whirl. It’s cold but the sky has that February blue in it at dusk and the other night the sky was filled with stars. Soon we’ll be hearing the barred owls calling, the coyotes mating, loons down on the lake choosing the best sites for nests.

Tribal songs rise, rifling the stars. Here,
at the edge of heaven, I inhabit my absence.

–Du Fu

4 thoughts on ““Here, at the edge of heaven…””

  1. Congratulations on the publishing news! It’s a celebration too for the readers among us who will have something new to look forward to. The card is a treasure though where you saw a hat or cake, I imagined a tugboat, perhaps festooned with lights in your honour like the Christmas display you described earlier. Signs of spring on the prairies are limited only to the sun no longer low enough to glare off the snow into my eyes as I drive home from the grocery store. So please, keep news of daffodils and loons coming.

    1. Thanks, Susan! Yes, maybe a tugboat? Her brother’s Christmas card had a large and colourful creation on it that was helpfully labeled by a parent for easy identification: Swiss Army Knife. Many blades and attachments!

  2. Hooray! What wonderful news, Theresa – though it was of course never in doubt that they’d want to publish your beautiful words. I look forward to holding “Blue Portugal” in my hands. Perhaps your grandchildren will paint you another festive picture on that occasion too. Much to celebrate. Love to you, to John, to John’s foot.

    1. I’m really thrilled, Beth. Thank you for your generous words! I hope the Edmonton grandchildren will provide visual documentation for sure. (There’s an essay about a little adventure to Drumheller with them.)

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