Hydrogen and oxygen bind precariously together, hanging in the air, creating a barrier between me and the clock at the top of the Baptist Church that sings out each hour. This church, built in 1837 when the thought of Canada was still a gleam in Britain’s eye, expounds its hours. The estate-turned-insurance-company-office next door boasts “1799” over its doorway. What kind of building in the West has that kind of longevity? I can’t even imagine. Pictures of downtown Lethbridge in the 1920’s are enough of a novelty. I’ve been to exhibits at the Galt with items from the 50’s. New England is old.
As exemplified by the clock that reassuringly tells me on dark star-lit evenings that it’s not nearly as late as I thought it was, or on mornings I watch the light expand from the the sun rising fresh from the water’s edge that it’s ok to sleep a little bit longer. No need to grope for my watch or a cell phone. I can know the time simply by counting as I listen.
When the fog drifts in it’s not the same. As if the world of sea and land become even further apart. Being on the other side than most of the western world on the running water divide makes my experience of sea life unique as it is. Yet when we’re on full sail we’re running on water. Dipping my hand to the sea I feel it rushing past, rising and falling with each ocean swell. I like this kind of running water.
When it hangs in the air in an opaque smear and clings to my flyaway bangs as I sit on the bow in morning meditation I can’t hear the time as readily. Do I need to hear the time so readily? “Hear the time” What a strangely accurate and at once convoluted sentence. I watch my mornings turn into frenzied rushes, attempting to get places on time in a way that can include a 20 minute row to shore. I watch my energy dissipate in all directions: to community events I volunteer at, to ensuring other’s mornings go smoothly, to communication with people far away. My new practice is to reign it in. My ear infection tells me I need to do this, the best medicine being placing plantain-leaf poultice’s soaked in oregano oil in affected ears. Me, with my dominant sense of hearing being what feeds me the most information from what I perceive of what goes on around me. ‘Shut out the outside world a little bit’ I am told with with malady, ‘turn energy inwards.’
This isn’t in a solitary, secluded sort of way, other than the fact that I’ll need a little more rest to recover from the slight temperature increase. No, this is in a way that continues to interact with that world around me and the people in it but in a way that directs energy to myself. It means I’ll put extra care into making my lunch. I’ll rifle through the cooler for every single sandwich topping I want instead of listening to the quiet voice inside that tells me it takes too much time and I should focus on doing necessary things in order to leave right away. It means I’ll put my money towards things that I need to sustain or improve my quality of life. It means I’ll pull the rusty, off-key guitar out of the bow and put the effort into tuning it before I belt out some tunes, wondering how I’ve gone so long without accompaniment as I sing.
The clock measures out the time as I mull over these thoughts in the morning. The morning time is when I get to feel boat-life utterly and completely. I don’t want it to turn into a frenzy. Waking early lets my sleeping consciousness spill over into the sunlit day, I putter around, breathe, make breakfast, and feel the forward movement of time. More of it passes and I once again become one of those land-dwellers, content to step on solid ground, making it unnecessary to heave to and fro with every swell. Regardless, my body does it anyway, unable to give up the habit.
As the morning continues on the fog begins to do the same. I’ve been watching wafts of it pass by and eventually open up to blue-lit skies. These, too, are old. The fog, the sun and sky, all of it. They may not have the prestige of elegantly engraved year-markers above their bowers yet, nonetheless, continue to captivate. Noticing them helps me to be within myself, helps me to remember my own sphere of influence and remain correctly under it rather than succumbing to that of another’s. Moments of time taken for myself have the wonderful effect of expanding into more moments for myself. I re-group, re-centre, and am able to step forward with the right amount of energy directed outwards versus inwards. As with the lifting fog.