“How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way, Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?”


How lucky I am to live where I do.  Even in this urban setting there are places and moments where a wider world breaks into my consciousness.  Walking beside Dartmouth Cove one day I heard small waves lapping against stones and that gentle sound seemed to still other noises.  I became aware of dry grass beneath my feet, frozen ground, birds on the water and in the sky.   I wondered whether other creatures are, like us, focussed only on their own immediate needs, the desires of the self.  Or are they like William Blake’s bird, “an immense world of delight clos’d by … senses five”?  An animal knows nothing of Mozart or Michaelangelo.  What cares she for Austen or Shakespeare, Copernicus or Curie?  Yet perhaps she is forever finely  tuned to rhythms, colours, seasons which great human minds harvest and weave into wonders for the rest of us.

Short Short Story


What was the moment of no return when you understood you had stayed out too late and you had no way home having spent your last coin on the slots or in a bar or wagered on horses, and the sun was setting in a dirty yellow mist beyond the smokestacks and shifty faces peered out of the shadows at you and you walked quickly with pretended purpose, your heart in your mouth, striding as if you meant it although you had nowhere to go and the last bus left without you and you knew if you stopped moving that would be the end?

On Being a Crone


I asked Google to define “crone”.  The top definition is “an old woman who is thin and ugly”.  But there is another.  “A woman who is venerated for experience, judgement and wisdom”.  In other words, an “elder”, one in whom the word “senior” means one who is appreciated for their life experience, not dismissed as “senile.”

So I imagine how I look to others.  I was sitting on the library floor, listening to a young man play jazz piano and another young man sing along.  Two small children were climbing precariously on an armchair beside me, stealing the show.  What, I wondered, would be the reaction if they toppled over onto me, a not unlikely scenario until their father decided to add his stabilizing weight to the chair.  Another time, waiting for the laughing, oblivious young persons approaching me on the sidewalk to ease over slightly so that I did not have to step into a snowbank, or onto ice to avoid them.  Does grey hair and a lined face make one invisible?

I remembered the time I was buying something in an electronics store and I mentioned something, I forget what, and the young sales clerk asked me how I had found out about it.  When I said I had looked it up online he praised me, “Good for you!” and told me about his mother who was taking classes in using the computer.  It was only later that I realized he had been thinking of me as some decaying relic from a distant past who could not really understand technology.  He didn’t mean it unkindly.  It was just the way he saw me.  How could he know that I had spent the better part of two decades using a computer to help other people find information?

Inside, we “crones” and “elders” are the same people we have always been.  The sixty year old contains the thirty year old, or the three year old, and will one day grow to contain a ninety year old, eventually returning to whatever version of infinity brackets birth and death.