a place for woodsmoke

breakfast time

This morning the jay was waiting for me when I came downstairs at 7. Waiting by the sliding door, hopping impatiently. I took out a handful of sunflower seeds and it ate quickly. It had places to go.

Do you? Do I? We went down to the lake for our daily swim and it was so quiet. No boats. No kingfisher. A few moths on the surface of the water like tiny fallen angels. When I was finishing my third set of laps, I took a minute to tread water for the pleasure of my body upright in the deep green, and a small trout made a little leap very near my shoulders. When we came home, it was almost cool enough for a fire.

Two days ago I opened my file named Easthope. It’s my novel-in-progress. I wanted to see if it was still there (given the precarious nature of the world) and if I was still interested in writing it. Yes, and yes. I could almost smell the woodsmoke as the main character and her husband make a fire in the house they’ve inherited, a small cabin on the Doriston Highway. I could also feel the cobbles of Lviv under my feet as the character walks on her way to meet a distant relative she has discovered through the miracle of DNA tests. How do these stories connect? Right now I have no idea, or wait, maybe I have an idea but I don’t know if it will work. If it will hold water. If it will burn with a steady heat like the fire my character is making in the woodstove in the snug little house on the Doriston Highway. If it will be as richly textured as the rushnyk the distant relative is holding her hand, a gift for her Canadian cousin. We’ll see.

The jay is back, wanting lunch. It shows up three times a day at least. Last night we were having supper on the deck and it appeared in the fir with a click and a churr. It did a nervous sidle as it eyed us and wondered if what we were eating– mezes: hummus, marinated eggplant, guacamole, vegetables, warm pita–might be worth trying. Sometimes two of them come, one obviously a juvenile for the way it complains and wants to be fed although it’s the same size as the other jay. One of my grandsons remarked last month that the jays are very blue. It’s a blue I dream of, the clearest richest cyan. In classical Greek,κύανος, meaning dark blue. The colour of lapis lazuli. I have a lapis lazuli necklace the shape of a tear drop. Some mornings when I see the jay, I want to weep for its colour, its constancy.

There will be a place in my novel for the jay and its child, a place for sacred towels embroidered in fine red thread, a place for woodsmoke and old boat engines crusted with oil, a place for the wings of moths on the surface on the lake, and a place for cobblestones smooth underfoot.

2 thoughts on “a place for woodsmoke”

    1. Thanks, Beth. It feels almost as good as planning a trip! We drove out to Easthope, err, Egmont, yesterday and it was like travelling into the world of my novel, or part of it at least. The rough boards of the Community Hall, the tiny post office, the Doriston Highway. Maybe once the pandemic is under proper control, I can think about returning to Lviv…

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