Cornwall Cogitation (North America) #1 Friday 29 September 2017 For the foreseeable future I’ve incorporated “North America” in the tag I use to track my partial year blogs from Cornwall, United Kingdom.
The tag, or slug in newspaper lingo, helps me be “thoughtfully” present in a couple places at once.
Whether I’m in the UK, USA, Canada, or elsewhere, in another century, yesterday, in the future, or now, at the end of the day it’s all about coming home to myself. Thoughts as well as feelings, sights, sounds, smells and tastes come home to roost.
The paths of Cornwall have given me a gift in reveling–and thinking–in the open air along ancient paths, fields, coasts, woods, hills, and towns–and new/old friends. Cornwall is rich in history, prehistory, lore, Celtic heritage, and natural beauty.
We’ve continued to keep up the stride at home, as elsewhere, though with fewer options than provided even by the tiny part of Cornwall where we’re “home from home” part of the year, away from ice and snow.
I like how poet Dejan Stojanovic puts it: “I am the shore and the ocean, awaiting myself on both sides.”
Cogitation refers to thinking. Online I see “thinking” depicted in various forms and media, such as a baseball cap with the words, “Thinking Cap 99% Complete Please Wait . . .” Another cap simply shows an outline of a cartoon-like bubble that’s empty. A helmet sports the words, “Thinking Cap.” Beanies and T-Shirts capitalize on the same message.
Quiet reigns when you’re thinking. If you’re not careful, not so nice thoughts rouse themselves in negative speech; sadly the result is harmful verbal pollution. So it is good to think and talk nice and avoid doing harm to others and to yourself.
“A sick thought can devour the body’s flesh more than fever or consumption,” said Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) in La Horla et audres fantastiques. (The Horla and other fantastic tales).
If I let my thoughts steep properly there may be something worth sharing from under my beanie. What a happy thought.
I’m grateful for the role that both thinking and the five senses play in helping me understand our life and times, as well as probing what has gone before and finding hope in what lies ahead. Our thoughts form our reality, even as our senses, too, help us gain knowledge with certainty.
Ode to September in pictures
Lest this musing turns into more than it’s intended to be, I turn to pictures from our walks at the Wellfield Botanic Gardens and around town as an Ode to September.
A week with Pierre Berton’s, My Times (Doubleday Canada, 1995)
Those who remember Front Page Challenge, a once popular, long-running Canadian Broadcasting Corporation TV show, will remember among the names of the panelists those of Gordon Sinclair, Toby Robins. Betty Kennedy, and Pierre Berton. Pierre Berton, the man of letters, firm opinions, outspokenness.
Berton wrote 50 books during his lifetime. He was born in Whitehorse, Yukon and a year or so later his family moved to Dawson City, Yukon. He was born in 1920 and died in 2004. He and Janet, his wife, raised eight children in Kleinburg, Ontario.
I just finished reading Berton’s 440-page My Times volume. He was a first-rate narrative historian, journalist, TV interviewer, radio commentator, jack-of-all communication forms who said what he thought–and thought about what he said. People loved and hated his work.
From the flyleaf: “Berton records it all, the good, the bad, and the insignificant: the flowering of Canadian nationalism; the decline of racial discrimination; the change in attitudes toward religion, royalty, and sex; the rise of the women’s movement; the renaissance in the arts; and the dawn of television . . . Berton’s reporter’s eye for detail and his acute sense of the significant as well as of the ridiculous make My Times both a page-turner and an important source of contemporary history.”
I almost passed up the chance to buy the book at the New Hamburg Thrift Store. But who can leave that store empty-handed? In My Times Berton took me laughing, reeling, dancing, pondering, catching my breath, shaking my head, wondering, agreeing, disagreeing, applauding, feasting, hoping, frowning, smiling through half a century of living with history from the Yukon, to Seoul, London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, and back and forth all across Canada. In my youth Canadian history was still hardly a whisper.
Berton tells the story of his trademark bow tie and almost total reliance on a portable electric Smith-Corona typewriter. He would not condescend to a computer. His acerbic wit, capacity for just causes, grueling workload, and devotion to a family of eight children is nothing short of remarkably revealing.
A Louise Penny page-turner
An equally enjoyable read this week was Louise Penny’s 2017 mystery, Glass Houses. Makes a body pine for a visit to the Bistro in Three Pines, Quebec, a hamlet that exists only in the imagination–or if you’re lucky, one you’ll come across in a handful of places far off the beaten track. Bravo Louise Penny! Electrifying.
Voltage from Voltaire
A concluding thought from French writer, historian and philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778): “Men use thought only as authority for their injustice, and employ speech only to conceal their thoughts.” Voltaire spoke out of his life and times. What remains for us to do is not to be dismayed by the past or future as we encounter the good and the bad of today. We advisedly keep our thinking caps handy and use them.
Two more Wellfield seasonal and historical markers
Ode to September
Glorious shivers and sweat September days and nights deliver
Producing bounteous stores from field and forest and stream
Waves of migrant seagulls overnighting
V-shaped honkers, year-round residents, non-too-ready to leave.
Favor us now, ninth month of the Gregorian calendar, with chant
Of crickets, saccades, occasional crows, dehiscing seeds
A wondrous cacophony ageless and seldom seen
Abridging the flow of summer’s doings and dreams.
Change-rich September, so soon you pass
With shiver and sweat still fixed in our pores.