Friday, April 11, 2008

Blogging Winchester: Birds and Tulips

I have not finished last night's screed ... I crashed out in the middle of the third period of the second hockey game, and when I awoke just in time for Malcolm in the Middle at 12:30, I did not have the writerly urge. So that post, which will probably be below this one when I finally finish it, will have to wait a bit.

Mother, Father, and I are at the round breakfast table with little Hershey on the pillow watching the birds and squirrels at the feeder outside the window. It has been off-and-on light snowing or raining, but the birds are busy at work, of course. There is a small black bird that looks like a Junco to me, and Mother and I get out the bird book. Sure enough, it is a Dark-Eyed Junco .. and there is another one and another one. We are swarmed by the little things. There are plenty of grackles, and the robins are back, the odd mourning dove. We've seen a few Downy Woodpeckers as well. And lots of Common Redpolls.

I am sure that anyone with aging parents can empathize with this ... I am so happy that Mother and Father are in a secure little complex with a bunch of sweet old ladies and men who are friends and support. And I love their picture window on the little parklette. Father gets tired as the days waxes and wanes, so the long breakfast is the best time. A care worker comes daily, always at a different time, to bathe Father, and Mother gets to read the paper and clean up.

Father says that he once spoke about tulips at Carnegie Hall and made what amounts to a minor faux pas by forgetting to thank one of the organizers. He still remembers that moment. He was speaking on behalf of the Ottawa Tourism Board of which he was three times President, and which had rented Carnegie as part of a tourism marketing push. Father addressed the idea of a Friendship Garden which he says, went from country to country. After Ottawa, its next country was Greece and the Greek Ambassador was present. One of Father's friends and colleagues had huge paintings of tulips in honor of Ottawa's famous Tulip Festival.

This discussion arose because of those tulips. The Tulip Festival is in a donnybrook with the Ottawa International Writers' Festival because the former, under the rubric of its Celebridée program, invited Salman Rushdie to speak and because they "stole" the writers' tagline which is "This is Where Ideas Live", as opposed to the new Tulips' tagline "Where Ideas Bloom". A nasty cat fight in a tight corner. I tend to side with the writers because writers are not getting the financial benefits of the busloads of little old ladies who like the spring flowers. But this is certainly a case of "surely we can all get along."

Dad was once very involved in all those sorts of things in Ottawa, and he still follows its every in and out very closely. I think it is hard for him not be in the thick of things ... I can feel that.

I wish he could let it go and watch the birds a little more. But the drive that makes a mind like his go is not something that can be discarded. Stroke or not, he is still a sharp observer of the human condition. In that, he is my model and the one who sparked my mind to be whatever it is.

Shortly after breakfast and bath are over, Father puts the House of Commons on the television when it is in session. He listens to it closely ... he has the personal and political history of most of the members down pat. Old Canadian that I am, I find a spirited Question Period more fascinating by a long shot than virtually any aspect of American politics. I doubt that 5% of American politicians could handle Question Period. Ooops, being a Canadian snob, an occupational hazard, here deep in Ontario.

Photo by Arod, the view from the parental picture window in January 2007. The view today is so gray and messy that I cannot bring myself to photograph it.

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