What makes America great?

I first posted this June 5, 2016. Still more than relevant today.

Finding Hope Ness

statue-of-liberty

These days I think it’s more than fair to reflect on the nature of greatness; in fact, it’s an absolute necessity, as Donald Trump seeks to gain power and ascendancy over his great country.

trump Donald Trump

That, I daresay, fits his definition of greatness, as in “Making America Great Again.” It’s about power, but not the power of moral rightness and of a great Truth as expressed, for example, by the wisdom of those who wrote the American Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States of America, for the world’s first, full-fledged modern democracy.

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On riding a motorcycle in a barrel

I’m rather partial to this little story. So I thought I’d recycle it, just because.

Finding Hope Ness

Once upon a time when I was a young fellow at loose ends I ran away to join the circus. Strictly speaking it was a travelling carnival, but why quibble over minor details? Close, enough, if you ask me.

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I think it was shortly after I ran an ad in the classified section of the Toronto Daily Star. Young man looking for work was about all it said in so many words. I got one response from somebody who offered me a job as a shepherd on a large sheep ranch in Alberta. I was tempted, and maybe, now that I think of it, I should have taken the job. But I didn’t.

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Still waiting for summer

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My “cool” garden. Not doing too bad. Those are potato plants in the foreground, mulched with straw to deter potato beetles, and add organic matter to the soil.

My “cool” garden is doing okay despite the unusually cool, wet weather. After all, up to a point that’s what early-season crops like peas, potatoes, onions, kale, and lettuce like – up to a point. But they won’t thrive either without their good, old-fashioned share of sunny days and warm weather.

I’ve lived in southern Ontario for a good many years (indeed, I’ve got another birthday coming, and that will make me of an age that surprises even me) but I’ve never seen anything like this: Continue reading

Fear and Trembling in Hope Ness

Finding Hope Ness

cloud-979849__340 A storm clod taking shape

(Author’s note, May 23, 2017: since I first wrote and published this post, U.S. President Donald Trump has fired now-former FBI director James Comey. He has offered several reasons for doing so, including to relieve the pressure he felt he was under on account of the FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling into last fall’s U.S. election to allegedly help his campaign. It’s been widely reported Trump told high-ranking Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after the firing that he felt relieved the pressure was off. Turns out it wasn’t, as subsequent events clearly showed. His firing of Comey may yet prove to have been a huge blunder for him, setting in motion fateful consequences. We’ll see. Anything, and I mean anything, can still happen. Trump will not let the investigations, finish, including the one now in the hands of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.)

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Thoughts at Sunset

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The setting sun appears to be resting for a moment on the tin roof of an old shed at Cathedral Drive Farm before going down

Dark hills at evening in the west,
Where sunset hovers like a sound
Of golden horns that sang to rest
Old bones of warriors under ground,
Far now from all the bannered ways
Where flash the legions of the sun,
You fade—as if the last of days
Were fading, and all wars were done.

The Dark Hills, by Edwin Arlington Robinson

That’s always been my favourite poem, ever since I first read it as a teenager and put it to memory.

It’s a poem with more than one level of meaning, including the most obvious one that usually brings Second World War General Douglas McArthur to mind – mine, anyway. I don’t know if he was recalling this poem when he uttered his famous, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away” line in his farewell address to Congress after being relieved of command during the Korea War by President Harry Truman.

If so, his sentimental reference didn’t do justice to a great poem.

Though it certainly works on the literal level, it’s always moved me – and I hesitate to risk breaking the spell by trying to explain what really doesn’t require explanation and, God forbid, analysis – on a deeper level of pathos that speaks to being alive in the world, and then the end of it. Perhaps even the end of all things.

That may sound morbid. But I sometimes find myself, like tonight as sunset approached here at Cathedral Drive Farm, reciting it quietly over and over to myself, for spiritual consolation.

It’s comforting as well to know that their was a man – an American, by the way – who once lived in the world and was so wonderfully inspired to write such a great poem, so simple and accessible, yet so utterly, and mysteriously profound.

I am reminded of my favourite moment in music, a few minutes into the first movement of Sergei Prokoviev’s last piano sonata, the 9th. I first heard that too as a teenager listening to a recording of it played by Sviatoslav Richter. Prokoviev dedicated the work to Richter.

I am approaching an age now where the poem is becoming more meaningful for me, and the state of the world, which I confess I find depressing. But that’s not helpful, either for me or the world. So I’ve got to do something about that.

And one thing I do, perhaps too often, is bear witness here to the reason why I, and, I think, a lot of other people are also feeling discouraged about hopeful prospects for the future.  Continue reading

My little climate-change reality

Now, this much is for sure, in the wider world a whole lot of people are having a lot worst experience with climate change than I am here in Hope Ness, southwestern Ontario, Canada.

Hundreds of homes near Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River waterway systems in parts of Ontario and Quebec have flooded in the past week as a result of unusually high rainfall amounts in the the past month; and then on top of that a storm system bringing several days’ more rain to make those matters even worse.

Extreme wet and unseasonably cold weather has also descended as the deep south states in the U.S. where the turbulent weather has already spawned a lot of destructive and deadly tornado activity.

So, I have to put my little climate problem in the proper perspective and count my blessings.

But I’ve been growing vegetables for a lot of years in this area and I’ve never seen anything like this. Continue reading

Let’s make a miracle

 

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Cathedral Drive Farm homestead

It’s a lovely spring day here at Cathedral Drive Farm. The sun is shining in a clear, absolutely cloudless, blue sky.

I walk around making mental notes of all there is to do: a big pile of scrap wood to sort out and do something with; new eavestroughing to put on the new roof I built last fall for the extension on the house; a big barn-door to rebuild after it got blown off during a winter storm; and last but by no means least, garden-ground to cultivate when it’s dry enough, maybe by the end of this month. Continue reading