“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” Albert Camus
The land lies like sodden clumps of wool as winter inexorably crawls towards spring and the hope of warmth tantalisingly held out like an olive branch. This has been a winter of winters, unseen for decades, with icy winds and robust storms aplenty. I took shelter for the most part, unlike previous years when winter seemed more like autumn, which seemed like summer.
This winter has left an indelible mark on me like no other. It offered me reflection and hallowed retreat from the tempest. I have waited for emergence like a chrysalis opening to the world, seeking sacred islands with new eyes. Soon the clumps will dry. I will breathe deeply of August, knowing that its waters gift my spring.
If I could kedge your mysterious depths,
that I might navigate safely,
the channels of emotion
that course our veins,
and so, not risk the reefs of disappointment
and wreckage of love.
To fathom your feelings,
to know for sure,
that I am yours.
Note: Kedging is the old art of guiding a sailing ship into bays and channels using a longboat to row ahead and plot a safe course and drop an anchor allowing the ship to pull itself against the anchor and move the course safely. It helped many a tall ship avoid running aground, or hitting a reef. The method is also used to rescue ships that ran aground, technically using the anchor as a lever to pull against, thus setting the ship free.
Back in the nineties I was working in a country high school. One Friday I passed one of the teachers in the stair well, and I greeted her, as I normally would have done on any day. She looked up, and nodded, I couldn’t make sense of her grunted, terse, reply. But I noted her eyes, black holes, pits that never ended, and it startled me. I commented to a couple of people who merely retorted that she was under pressure, her marriage was struggling, and she was always terse. But that’s not what bothered me, they were merely symptomatic, this was deep.
I left that afternoon with a heavy heart. It was a long weekend ahead and lots to do at home, so I turned my mind to the journey home. I spent Saturday around the farm and with the family. But all through Saturday I felt a deep pressure. I wasn’t ruminating. It was just there, and probably stemmed from my meeting in the stairwell. I felt that she was on edge, at risk.
Come Monday afternoon I told Lyn that I was feeling like something really bad had happened, but I didn’t know what, but that my colleague was in trouble. It was oppressive. At around 5.00 p.m. a friend rang me to ask if I was aware of the news around town, and I said I had no idea, but now my mind was racing. My friend replied that someone who was always scanning the short wave news, had picked up a police report of a death, something to do with the teacher and thought I should know. I realised immediately that my feeling was real.
I later rang the deputy principal and yes, the teacher had shot her husband then shot herself in a carefully planned action. She had her resolution, sadly. But I had had a premonition. It was painful knowing, and painful not being able to use the sense of it. It was what it was, and nothing could have been done (as my training tells me). The use of a premonition is not clear to me, but somehow I felt connected to a process no matter its outcome. It was a diferent level of awareness.