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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 1, March 2018

Jake McArthur
Collingwood, Ontario, Canada

Halting in Halton Hills

Standing at this window, counting the seven Mute swans in the frigid green waters of the ice-cleared bay, I savor the thickly-rich flavor of this morning’s black coffee. Since I never measure accurately the quantities of fresh-ground coffee beans and water, it’s always a minor, though often unconscious, surprise to taste what I’ve created. This morning, it’s a dark delight!

Friday’s excursion to a friend’s forest-wrapped home in the Halton Hills runs through my mind in fragmented images, like the slow-motion ballet of swans tipping and grazing the dark bay bottom for the remnants of last summer’s vegetation. Delight also marked that time.

That day was overcast - rain first threatened and then made good on the threat. As we wandered the mixed hardwood forest, the snows were close to gone, though the ground underfoot still firmly held the accumulated frost.

Following well-worn and less-worn trails, we came to stand on the bank of Moss Stone Creek and discussed the receded water level that had been roaring days ago from heavy winter rains, evidenced by the jammed collection of branch and stick detritus lodged against a small footbridge.

Gently experiencing details is one of the delights of spending time in the presence of fellow poets and painters – the newly popped lime-green buds of the rock-havened moss; pebble-sized scat of deer and larger-sized of some mysterious beast; a hollowed trench in a cedar rail which we speculate may have been used in a maple syrup operation; papery orange-yellow leaves holding firm on juvenile beech branches; carefully crafted, balanced and positioned inuksuit …

I’m reminded of the words of Brother David Steindl-Rast:

Grateful eyes look at each thing as if they had never seen
it before and caress it as if they would never see it again.

The rain shifted from spray to pelt as we ambled our timely return to the friend’s home. The ambient warmth extending from the stone fireplace offered comforting space for the delights of hearty sweet potato soup and bread and salad and lemon poppy-seed cake and stories and poems and paintings and friendship … and coffee.

This gnarled maple
only needs to be –
Spring buds?



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