REMEMBERING THOSE WE LOVED THIS VALENTINE DAY . . . The words of Dheeraj Haran

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A single rose to lane

A single rose to  slain

A single rose to hide my pain

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A single rose to turn the tide

A single rose to make roads wide

A single rose as my guide.

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A single rose to raise my soul

A single rose to widen the hole

A single rose to achieve a goal

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A single rose to melt the heart

A single rose to force the start

A single rose to cult

 

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A single rose to freeze my body

A single rose to mourn this memory

A single rose to short a life

A single rose to end the strife.

(Dheeraj Haran – poet extraordinaire )

 

Remembering those we’ve loved  this Valentine’s Day

REMEMBRANCE DAY IN THE TIME OF THE PANDEMIC

WORLD WAR TWO ended September 2nd, 1945.   That year winter came early to my home town of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  On November 11th with my classmates we walked in bitter cold  the two miles from school to attend the Remembrance Day ceremonies at  the Armouries.    For the first time in seventy five years I will not  attend a Remembrance Day ceremony.  We will watch the laying of wreaths on television and then my husband and I will place our poppies on the Cenotaph  in our village of Ladner, British Columbia.

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If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England.  There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed:

Gave,  once,  her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England’s, breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home

 

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And think, this heart,all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given,

Her signs and sounds; dream happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends;  and gentleness,

In hearts at peace,  under an English heaven.

 

My father-in-law  grew up in a quiet town in Southern Ontario.  He enlisted and his training as a flight sergeant took place in an equally small town in Saskatchewan.  This is where he met and married.    He returned from the war to live t he rest of his life in    Saskatchewan.  He is survived by his two sons.

 

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My uncle,  Bertram Henry Henderson grew up in my home town, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  He and his two brothers all enlisted in the Regina Rifles.  He died in action October 27, 1944.  His last letter home was dated October 27, 1944.  It was written in the dim light of a candle in a bottle.  The letter was in his effects returned to the family.

 

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My older sister and myself with my Uncle shortly before he was shipped overseas.

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This document shows the location of his grave in Belgian.  It also identifies the family who would be responsible for the maintenance and care of his grave site.

 

 

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Our Uncle’s grave continues to be looked after by the Belgian Family entrusted in their care more than 70 years ago.  Members of that family continue to maintain contact with our family.

 

My father grew up in a small village in southern England.  He fought in the war to end all wars (World War One).  When war ended he immigrated to Canada to join his older brothers in Northern Saskatchewan.  The only time he talked about the war  was to tell us how  he had befriended some Turkish prison of war soldiers and they had taught him  to make Turkish coffee.

Today we fight a grim and different war.    There are no battlefields.  The enemy is unseen.  If we follow  the health protocol that has been given us we will win this battle.

 

 

 

(  poem  … The Soldier – Rupert Brooke)

ZEN AND THE ART OF STRAWBERRY JAM

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She weighed the strawberries.

Measured the sugar.

The wisdom of tradition whispered to her.

This is state of mind.

This is a way of being.

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Her thoughts weighed heavy on her wrists.

She filled the jars

With the warmth of the sun.

The perfume of the crushed berries.

The  blue she had grabbed from the sky.

The music the wind across the fields.

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This alchemy of jam.

This seeing things without distortion.

She placed a flower on Buddha.

This she thought is the zen of strawberry jam.

EXTINGUISH MY EYES, I’LL GO ON SEEING YOU

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Extinguish my eyes, I’ll go on seeing you.

Seal my ears, I’ll go on hearing you.

And without feet, I can make my way to you.

With out a mouth I can swear your name.

Break off my arms, I’ll take hold of you

with my heart as with a hand.

Stop my heart, and my brain will start to beat.

And if you consume my brain with fire

I’ll feel your burn in every drop of blood.

 

(from Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke)

 

WE SHALL HEAR THE ANGELS

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We shall find peace

We shall hear the angels

We shall see the sky

Sparkling with diamonds.

(-Anton Chekhov l860-1908)

In the peaceful early hours of the morning it began to snow.

Giant snowflakes drifting from the sky.

I gathered a handful of diamonds and listened for angels.

ROMANTIC LADY OF SHALOTT . . . A DAVID AUSTIN ROSE

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I have a Camelot garden.  In it grows a  gorgeous rose of such fragrance and beauty the  very stars  look down in envy.    Its beckoning orange-red buds open to form  a magnificent chalice-shaped bloom.  A rose that perhaps long ago would have graced King Arthur’s table.

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There she weaves by night and day a magic web with colours gay.”  Each perfect rose petal blushes salmon pink  then quietly reveals a secret  that unfolds to golden yellow.    This Lady of Shalott rose has an old-fashioned  fragrance that conjurers up  thoughts of  exotic tea  spiced with cloves and apples.

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The Lady of Shalott is a fairy tale  rose.  Eachmorning I visit my Camelot garden and gather a  bouquet of rose.   And every morning  the rose bush is covered once again with more sweet roses.  If your soul yearns for romance  whisper the words LADY OF SHALOTT ROSES by David Austin  and the glorious days of Camelot will enter your garden.

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The very, very best part of this unique rose is –  it is simple-to-grow.    It is highly resistant to disease and blooms with unusual continuity.  It is low maintenance  and will bloom from early spring until frost. It’s highly recommended for rose beds and border.  It would be spectacular in a flower bed with deep blue flowers.  It can be trained against a wall or trellis  or  planted in large pots and containers.  It loves full sun or a little shade.  If you are an inexperienced  gardener you will adore this  Lady of Shalott David Austin rose.

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The Lady of Shalott was a popular l9th century  ballad inspired by Arthurian legend.  It was written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.    Reading this poem one discovers the  words and phrases that inspired the naming of this old-fashioned rose .

THE LADY OF SHALLOT  …  Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road runs by
To many-tower’d Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro’ the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil’d
Slide the heavy barges trail’d
By slow horses; and unhail’d
The shallop flitteth silken-sail’d
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to tower’d Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers “‘Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott.”

Part II

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving thro’ a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair’d page in crimson clad,
Goes by to tower’d Camelot;
And sometimes thro’ the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror’s magic sights,
For often thro’ the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights,
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
“I am half sick of shadows,” said
The Lady of Shalott.

Part III

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro’ the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel’d
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter’d free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon’d baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell’d shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn’d like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro’ the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
“Tirra lirra,” by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro’ the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.

Part IV

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower’d Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river’s dim expanse –
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance –
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right –
The leaves upon her falling light –
Thro’ the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song.
The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken’d wholly,
Turn’d to tower’d Camelot.
For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame.
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross’d themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace.
The Lady of Shalott.”

 

 

 

 

 

DREAMING OF GARDENS

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I dream of gardens.

Camila petals soft and seductive.

I dream of roses.  Roses warm against an old brick wall.

And, splashes of violet.   I would  gather these stars and weave a robe to wear in the moonlight.

 

The whitest peonies I would hang  from a crystal chandelier.

I would braid garlands of irises and create a throne.

Then sit in the gloaming and listen to a weeping violin.

A crimson tulip would light my way into the night where I would close my eyes and dream of joyful gardens.

“Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities no doubt creep in, forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a day, you shall begin it well and serenely.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

VIOLETS IN THE SNOW

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(women holding a violet nosegay – William Worcester Churchill)

It was at  this time of year I was in San Francisco for the first time.  Desperate to brighten a bitter cold prairie winter  I returned home with a nosegay of violets.  I had wrapped them in damp paper.  Tucked them into a plastic bag.  And kept them safe inside my warm coat.   While outside a Saskatchewan blizzard howled and raged my room was fragrant with my tiny bouquet.  For me San Francisco will always be about flowers and the tiny violets that gave me such pleasure.

Each violet peeps from it dwelling to gaze at the bright stars above.

The eyes of spring, so azure are peeping from the ground;

They are the darling violets, that I in nosegays bound. (h.heine 1856)

 

 

 

And shade the violets, that they may bind the moss in leafy nets. (john keats)

 

Deep violets, you liken to the kindest  eyes that look on you, without a thought disloyal    (elizabeth barret browning)

 

Cold blows the wind against the hill, and cold upon the plain;

  I sit by the bank until the violets come again.

Here sat we when the grass was set

With violets shining through,

And leafy branches spread a net

To hold a sky of blue.

(richard garnet)

 

STRAWBERRIES AND THE SUMMER SOLSTICE

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The early sun caught the ragged edges of the mountains.

Across the fields the river mist staggered into the ditches

Fleeing from the brilliance of the morning.

She turned her face to sun and thought

“And what is so rare as a day in June?

Then, if ever, comes perfect days.

Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how

The heart forgets its sorrow and ache.”

She stepped into the field.

The field sweet and calm.

 

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She gathered the luscious, ruby-red treasures.

Filling box after box with strawberry and cream.

Strawberry short cake.

Strawberry jam.

Then tucked a white strawberry flower into her pocket.

“Mr. Lowell is right” she thought.

“It was going to be a rare day for picking  strawberries.

A summer solstice day.”

 

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We pick strawberries on beautiful Westham Island.  This tiny island of lush farmland is located in  an arm of the Fraser River just outside our small village of Ladner.  You reach the island by a single lane bridge that  occasionally opens for passing boats.

(James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) was an American romantic poet, critic, editor  and diplomat.)

 

 

BUDDHA IN GLORY

 

BEL’OCCHIO   …   the beautiful eye

BUDDHA IN GLORY

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Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet–
all this universe, to the furthest stars
all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

 

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Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,

 

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a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

 

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(Rainer Maria Rilke wrote the poem BUDDHA IN  GLORY when he worked as a secretary for the sculptor Auguste Rodin, Summer 1908)