The glassy, frozen sky early this morning ensured that what remained of the ploughed snow on the blacktop was slick ice. Our cycling threatened to become a chance encounter with misfortune. Nonetheless by adhering to the dry portions of the road – some of which patches were only on the left side – we escaped injury while at the same time engulfing the crystal fresh air and capturing rays of warmth from the brilliant sunshine. By the time we rounded the corner on Church Street and headed to the library it was evident that our erstwhile railway right-of-way was covered in snow. We turned back.
In a paddock of one of the farms along the Appleton Side Road today I saw a Mustang covered with a dusting of snow. For the uninitiated it is a spectacle which incites a combination of novelty and a breath of regret for the animal. Neither is fully apt. The Mustang reportedly has a thick layer of fur beneath which it succeeds to muffle the snow from the animal’s body heat. This makes sense given the comfortable appearance of the horse and the perpetuity of the snow. It is noteworthy however that the horse should nonetheless have a lean-to or shelter from which to escape the wind and precipitation.
We awoke this morning – a raw and cloudy Sunday morning – to a “snowfall warning” on my iPhone Weather App. Thanks to hurried matutinal activity we luckily escaped the immediate peril until after we’d completed our routine 10 km cycle along the erstwhile railway right-of-way. I remarked how bare are the trees. While cycling I wondered when will be the last time we’re able to bicycle. For the past many years – since 2014 when we began wintering in southern climes – we have cycled almost every day of the year. I say this with an immoderate degree of approval at my age – if for no other reason than people marvel when seeing me: “Look at that old fogey still struggling along!” Cycling has always been my preferred exercise. It’s the closest thing to a car without the guilt. Even in Florida swimming was always more a diversion than a workout. Once though on Longboat Key I recall having swum parallel to the shore from our property on Longboat Club Road to the Resort at the southern end of the island and back. It wasn’t the first time I’d reminded myself that I prefer sitting, cycling or swimming to almost anything other than walking. For my entire life walking has provoked me. I believe the last time I walked any distance was in Rome.
In my experience – after forty years of hard labour as a servant to the rich – most of us gleefully acquaint the weekend with a trickle of one week and a glide into another. It is a stubborn custom. Though the measure of activity on the weekend and during the week is often no more than the slightest difference, that apophthegm about a change and a rest freely pertains. Otherwise we’re about as changeable as a retired greyhound; namely, from the moment we’re out of the cage it’s off to the races! However before that stimulus overtakes us there is the incomparably soothing Saturday slide – the truncation of effort and the collapse into everything good about life.
My grandfather – my mother’s father – had a notoriously peevish temper. I nonetheless dilute his abbreviations because he was an unremittingly pious man; and to my knowledge he never drank or smoked. Nor would I expect there to have been anything remotely lascivious in his behaviour notwithstanding he, like my mother, was devilishlly good looking. The last time I saw him I was no more than 21 years of age. I say this because my historic – and perhaps modified – recollection is that his paroxysms were more from annoyance than anger. Though this sounds an improbable distinction it is meant to capture the incongruence of events more than dispiriting encounters. To my deathless ignominy the authors of my own – shall I dare say “inherited” – snappishness inevitably amount to such trifling encounters as an unwilling App on my iPhone, or a casual bump on the side of my glasses when passing through a doorway, or an uncooperative salad bag whose top won’t properly open (and don’t get me started on those plastic bags in grocery stores for vegetables and fruits – they’re utterly impossible to open), or the myriad of other natural but insufferable repercussions of old age.
Today I have in the words of E. F. Benson’s Lucia been “terrifically busy about nothing“. Whether sadly or not the indisputable truth is that life in the country during this relentless pandemic has descended to a collection of mundane exploits. We of Sleepy Hollow reputedly have little to divert us apart from art festivals, film clubs, rides upon the alameda, rushing waterfalls, stone and brick homes and vast stubbled fields.
There is a wide range of apothegms which are available to provide direction in matters of the heart and mind. There is clearly also an application to business and commerce. I’d like to touch upon the sometimes delicate though predominant matter of trust. It’s possible that the trustworthiness of a person depends upon as little as the weather, so mercurial at times is the persuasion. Even associating someone with vastly superior ornaments such as intellect or rationality does little to advance the inquiry . In the end we make our own choice upon what credentials are convincing. Here are some suggested rules to ponder.
In a matter of hours – a measure which under any other circumstance would be inconsequential – the public news media has evaporated and in the process regained its erstwhile rôle as a colourless reporter of announcements, stories and tragedies. The inconvenience is, with President Donald J. Trump sequestered in the White House and uncommonly reserved, there’s seemingly nothing of urgency to report or read. Unwittingly I’m afraid we’ve become constrained by our morning, afternoon and evening toxin, “Now what!”
Trump’s daily sideshows succeed to the inferior denomination of another so-called “reality TV show” an incongruity I’ve frankly never fully understood. The last thing I’d attribute to a reality TV show is reality. Undeniably though Trump is engagiing – at least upon a curiously visceral level.
The vivifying eddies of Smetana’s Moldau River don’t compare to the recent counter-flow of Senator Lindsey Graham that is music to the ears of Democrats while surreptitiously promoting the Republican agenda. This commonality gives new meaning to bi-partisanship! Graham meanwhile proves he is a seasoned mandarin and fully prepared for the unanticipated changes in the flow of the river.
Bedřich Smetana (2 March 1824 – 12 May 1884) was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style that became closely identified with his country’s aspirations to independent statehood. He has been regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music. Internationally he is best known for his opera The Bartered Bride and for the symphonic cycle Má vlast (“My Homeland”), which portrays the history, legends and landscape of the composer’s native Bohemia. It contains the famous symphonic poem “Vltava”, also popularly known by its German name “Die Moldau” (in English, “The Moldau”).
Living as I do in the back country to the Nation’s Capital I am no stranger to a Lanark County twang or F-150s. My formal introduction to country living was unforgettably by virtue of a casual question from my predecessor Raymond A. Jamieson, QC who upon meeting me for the first time asked, “How’s trade?” The inquiry momentarily set me back on my heels. This was a cryptic glance into my psyche. As a young lawyer who only a year earlier had cut his teeth in the Supreme Court of Canada on behalf of West Coast Transmission Co. Ltd. regarding an attack upon the McKenzie Valley Pipeline Hearing, I was less than acquainted with the trades. My upbringing in a predominantly literary and philosophic atmosphere – and not having worked for a living other than among lawyers (unless you count being lifeguard at the golf club pool) – pointedly worked against my worldliness.