Monday, June 1, 2009

Turning Water Into Wine

We've just come through yet another period of bad weather. New Brunswick was cold, wet and grey outside, and inside. Water was pooling inside my mind, and I dreamed of those warm days on the beaches of New Zealand. When I wasn't daydreaming I whined and whined and whined, then threatened to live the remainder my life in bed with the sheets pulled overhead. I wanted to hibernate until the sun shone again.

Hibernation is what certain mammals do to justify having Canadian citizenship. The Canadian winter is magnificent when you're asleep in a cave. I'm not aware that there are any mammals, other than me, that want to hibernate in mid-spring. I'm not even convinced that I'm a mammal. There are days when I'm certain that I'm a reptile. Some reptiles lay around all day until the air temperature gets high enough to warm the ice in their blood. That's me! I have some long underwear which would help, but I can't bring myself to wear them in late May. It's all psychological anyway.

At this time of year I should be foraging for roots and shoots, asparagus and fiddleheads. The only thing I'm starved for is warmth. It's pretty pathetic. When the phone rings and a telemarketer tells me that I've won a free cruise, I'm tempted to stay on the line and collect my prize. I quickly regain my senses and hang up the phone, knowing that a phantom cruise is not the cure. It wasn't always this way...

In February of 2006 I was suffering the most debilitating back pain of my life. I was taking hydromorphone, also known as Dilaudid, which is a morphine-like pain killer that left me comfortably numb. My life was in shambles at the time because I couldn't do anything that was fun. It even hurt to walk. When the phone would ring I would drag my wretched body slowly toward it. At least half of the calls were from telemarketers. I would talk to them because I had no life. One call in particular was quite memorable.

It was one of those free cruise calls. I had decided, before I picked up the phone, to use a fake voice. It was a froggish, croaky voice that lived somewhere at the back of my throat. I sounded like a monster. In fact, I was. I listened to an endless barrage of words while the telemarketress knocked down my wall of objections. She must have been pretty excited to have hooked a sucker like me. The conversation, albeit one-sided, went on for a record breaking five minutes. She was just about to reel me in when I dropped 'the bomb' on her:

"I can't go on the cruise."

"Why not Mr.Varty."

"Because...I have no legs."


"Because I have no legs."

Then she hung up on me. As soon as she found out I had no legs, she dropped me like a deep-fried beaver tail. She didn't seem to mind that I had no brain, but the lack of legs did her in. It just goes to show that brains aren't necessary to go on a cruise, or to work as a telemarketer. I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was a sunny day in February and there wasn't a single speck of snow on my lawn. I'm much more spirited when the sun shines.

I spent February 2009 in New Zealand. It was sunny for the entire time on the north island but I have to remind myself that it was cloudy and grey for much of my time on the south island. It rained for two days straight when I was in Akaroa, but I didn't whine or start to look for caves large enough to live in. I simply turned the water into wine. Not literally. Jesus! Who do you think I am? I simply made the most of the situation.

The image above was a compromise. It was raining outside my car, and the light sucked, yet I was still able to make an image that had meaning. Had I rolled the window down and taken that same shot, I would have produced a dead duck. There is beauty to be found in the rain. For me it was an important lesson (thanks Freeman!).

I now feel that I'm mature enough to go on a cruise. My back is once again healthy and my mind is clear. If the weather turned to rain during the cruise, I could photograph life through rain beaded windows. Now, if I could just find my sea legs I'd be all set.

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