noises off

nois·es off
/noiziz ôf,äf/
  1. sounds made offstage to be heard by the audience of a play.



Last summer I made a windchime with A. and E. We collected shells at Francis Point, sticks at Trail Bay, and spent an hour or so working out the best arrangement. Because they were flying home after their visit to us, the windchime stayed here. It hangs still by the front door. But the Edmonton grandchildren wanted to make a windchime too, one they could take back with them as they camped their way home. Yesterday we strung shells and sticks from a longer stick Grandpa John had drilled with holes for the wire. We hung the finished windchime in the woodshed overnight, from one of the wires in place to hold the garlic we will dig later this week and string up to dry under the airy beams.



Noises off. They left at 6:30, the children still in their pyjamas, big travel mugs of coffee waiting on the worktable for the parents, the windchime packed in the trunk of the car. Where will we hang it, one child wondered, and the other said, Maybe in the lilac, the one we climb? In the woodshed this morning, absolute quiet.

on the stick


The children were playing down on the grass when the dragonfly landed on the stick holding a tomatillo upright, the same tomatillo we picked fruit from yesterday for green salsa to have with our steelhead tacos. The children were playing and didn’t see the dragonfly turn one of its compound eyes in the direction of John and me, drinking our coffee at the round table where the blue sky was reflected. “Dragonflies can see in all directions at the same time. That’s one of many advantages of a compound eye; you can wrap it around your head..The spherical field of vision means that dragonflies are still watching you after they have flown by.”* Was the dragonfly looking at us or the children or all of us at once?


This morning we swam early, once we’d waved them all goodbye as they drove down the driveway to join the ferry traffic from Earls Cove. Tonight they will camp in the Nicola Valley. H. will use his whistle to see if he can summon loons, the ones we saw when we camped in the valley decades ago with our own small children, the ones that warbled at dusk, at sunrise, the ones that swam close to shore among the rushes. Where were their nests? We never found out.

This morning, we swam early, and Look, John said, pointing beyond us to the loon family quietly passing.


The towels and sheets have been washed, the toys put away. The extra plates and silver-plated cutlery will be returned to the cupboard. Noises off.

*biologist Robert Olberg, in the Smithsonian Magazine.

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