Thursday, March 03, 2011


The month is now March, heralding the end of the ice, but the calendar insists on a warmth that is rare. Not for here; not for the Philippines. Where I come from, the Canadian winter is slowly deciding to call it a season, but this island I’m on never got with that program. Here in the north, it’s cool in the morning, cool in the night, with the random odd shower to liven the mood, but how cool can it be if t-shirts and shorts are the norm that I need? All the day long; all the year round. Something right out of a TV commercial, where ocean waves and ice tea conspire for my coin. A life where the sun’s yellow rays might be shrouded by clouds or gray skies, but exposed skin won’t freeze up after only two minutes. No silver clouds in small clusters breathed out from one’s lips. A steady stream of snot snorted up and then back, up and then back? Not here. Back home over Christmas I noticed my teeth chatter for what seemed like minutes on end, and this common facet of winter seemed rare, almost nostalgic in nature. Years since I’d felt my mouth go off in that manner. Chalk it up to the shock of the wind and the ice that gave form to my bend, greeting me with good cheer, a blunt form of face-smack. Welcome home, you’ve been missed!

Nature and nurture, indeed. Let the sociologists debate those two rigid poles of self-growth from which our minds might then sprout; a childhood in Canada offers other, more flexible angles of proof. Why don’t the academics consider the sound of a skate on the ice as it stops with a slice? You repeat that, over years, a dozen winters, let’s say, and you have an approach to the world that is clear and quite neat: The balance required to start and then halt on a frozen slick surface says more than enough about a life’s subtle needs. Or consider: the snow’s sudden melt. Spring as a bully, demanding some time. A thick sweater discarded, a thin coat your new sheath. Toques with small pom-poms replaced by a cap. Gloves stashed away in the drawer, your fingers now able to flex in the air. That first hint of warmth, when long pants are an excess. If you want to know how the human mind and its heart might react to life’s sway, a southern Ontario season could be a good start.

Now, I’m not even sure what season it is, which, believe me, is an odd place to be. Right here in my ‘fall’, the rain returned each day around three, for an hour’s shower and cleanse. Every few weeks, a typhoon might stop by for three days or four, cutting power, wreaking wrath. The skies would be dull and ash-dark for a good month or more. No winter to speak of, and now here in March summer starts in a month. I can’t figure it out. My body resists. Add to this confusion seven years in Japan (with bi-annual returns as I write), and two more in Cambodia, each nation chock full of dry and wet seasons and regional quirks that come complete with their own cliques of strong winds and deep deluges in circadian rhythm, and what do you have left? A Canadian, one who wonders, whether or not he can weather all this weather for much longer at all, this annual mishmash of seasons, this timepiece that ticks past each unbearable snowstorm and godawful rainfall, and yet each change of tide, I admit, does tend to wash in oddly shaped conks on the beach, ones that I still, more often than not, even after all of this time, dust off and inspect and hold close to my ear for what I might hear.