spoken words could be a little fire at which you warmed yourself

These elders were not in a hurry; they were country people. They kept an eye on passersby, greeting the people they knew, sometimes calling out to a child who seemed out of line to them. It was they who taught me that a conversation even between strangers could be a gift and a sport of sorts, a chance for warmth, banter, blessings, humor, that spoken words could be a little fire at which you warmed yourself. Many years later when I spent time in New Orleans and other parts of the South, they felt oddly like home to me, and I realized that this bit of the West Coast had been an outpost of the black South in those days.

Rebecca Solnit, Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir (Viking, March 10, 2020)



My grandfather is asleep in an old brown armchair that is for his use, and his use only. He has read the local newspaper and fallen asleep in it after his midday meal. He is old and tired because he starts early and works too hard for an old man. But I wish he would wake up. Sometimes when he is not working he tells me stories. He loves to tell stories. True stories. This is how he passes on his values. How he tells me who we are. They have morals, these stories.

We don’t give up, even when things are bad.
We pay our debts.
We work hard.
We act decently.
We help our neighbours if they need it.
We do what we say we will do.
We don’t want much attention.
We look after our own.
We are proud of what we do.
We try to be quietly smart.
We take chances sometimes to get on.
We will fail sometimes.
We will be affected by the wider world …
But we hold on to who we are.

It was clear from his stories that we were part of a tradition, that long pre-dated us, and would long exist after us. The stories left you feeling proud to be part of that tradition, but very aware that as individuals we were bound by duty to carry it on, bound to try and live by those values. His main lesson was above all to get along with people; don’t burn your bridges or they will stay down for a long time. Having the same families live and work alongside each other for many centuries created a unique kind of society with special values.

~ James Rebanks, The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape.


I couldn’t tell you…

grandpa, photograph

My Grandfather. Deda. Walter Cecil Kanigan.

He was born on March 22nd. Yesterday.  In 1909. 103 years ago.

I couldn’t tell you with certainty where he was born. Believe it was in the Ukraine. In a hospital? Home delivery?

I couldn’t tell you what he did as a child. Who were his friends? Did he have toys? A bike? A cat?

I couldn’t tell you of his journey to Canada. Where did he land? Did he ride the rails to get cross country? Was it Spring time?

I couldn’t tell you if he attended high school. Did he learn “his figures?”  Did he know how to write?

I couldn’t tell you how he met Grandma. Baba. Did he ask her Father for permission to marry? Was she his first choice?

I couldn’t tell you his dreams. He mentioned that he wished he could fly. Just once. I couldn’t tell you if he ever flew in a commercial airliner.

I can’t tell you much about Deda.

But, I have moments.

He mixed different cereals for breakfast.

He slurped vegetable soup off his spoon.

[Read more…]

Life. At beginning and…

Thank you It’s Always The Quiet Ones via creatingaquietmind

Related Post: Cranky Old Man

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