Last weekend I took myself into the river valley, though I thought I had a thousand things to do: duties, commitments, chores. No, into the river valley I went on my trusty bike, down the wooden staircase at the end of 92 Street, down into my soul, a forgotten part of the city, past someone’s spilled garbage, past dead spikes of trees.
Down to Dawson Park I went, carrying my bicycle when it couldn’t carry me. Perhaps I was inspired by the children I’d seen in my neighbourhood lately of mornings, clustered around their mothers, waiting for a bus, waiting for a ride. Jumping like feeding birds at the bells and flashes on the light rail crossings. Pointing, waving to all who will hear (let those who have ears), to anyone on board the passing LRT train. Thrilled to be.
It’s the trip down the staircase I remember. Here’s what I found: someone’s garden caragana spilling into the valley. Someone’s garden sowing lilac, rhubarb. Fireweed. Someone’s damp blanket, tin cans, old sweaters. Yellow warblers playing treetops, then hide and seek, pitching their sweet-sweet-shweeeeeet call from dead poplars to green willows, all to one purpose: bugs, bugs, bugs. Robins merry-merrying, clay-coloured sparrows buzzing, crickets in the shady patches humming. And here’s what I thought: “It’s funny how the place with richest life in the valley is the most neglected.” And … “All of this is what soil is made of.”
So it is with my own life this solstice: some of it groomed, some of it feral and wild, some of it dead and rotting. I may wonder, and you too, what can be fed here in the chaos. We may hesitate to celebrate the now, always looking for that ideal state of balance, that somewhere else, other than here. It’s not perfection in the literal sense, waiting till I get this or that together, figured out, mastered. Solstice just comes, demands to be celebrated.
Go greet the wild rose.