Fetching A Starfish For Zoe

Happy Canada Day, Internet!

This is the first year in…maybe twelve years?

I don’t remember?

That I haven’t spent Canada Day in the little cove of my soul, doing ecopoesis everywhere:  straw-hatted, just out of the range of the postcard picture, and liking it that way.  Teaching kids to dive for shells, throwin’ axes, hauling chain and cable (that’s what the header-picture is, by the way), down on the moss with a beer yelling at the geese, a shirt that smelled like grease, and rust, and salt.  All in bare feet.  It is, indeed, a change of life not to be there now;  a new chapter in the ol’ autobiography.  Years ago I did stay in Vancouver over summer, down-at-heel on the curbside, racing through the park to the pay phone;  being driven by strange girls, to strange far municipalities…playing snooker in ninety-degree heat, taking time out to go and drench my shirt in the bar sink, coming back to hollering booze-and-chess animals, boulders in the stream.  Now, however…I am making it all up again.  Everything’s different.  Well…

…But maybe not that different.

Because there really are no “little coves of the soul” — I’ve lived on this coastline my whole life, gone all up and down it, and I can truthfully report that it’s really all one big place.  Everywhere you go, you always somehow think you’re at home.  I used to say to my mother and father on boat trips, “I’m so glad we’re back here, I love this bay!”  And they would say:

“Uh…we’ve never been here before.”

And I’d say “of course we have, look there’s the big grooved rock that’s like a chair, over there’s the flat place where we cooked the salmon…?”


“The tree with the crooked arm, where Stu put his tent?”

The truth is:  they were right, but so was I.  We’d never been there before.  But all this place is just one big place…!  So you can’t help but recognize it.

Because that’s how big the soul is.

…What, don’t believe me?  Think it sounds too Oprah?

Look then, I’ll prove it.


2 responses to “Fetching A Starfish For Zoe

  1. Best wishes on your national day!

    The first time my family visited the place where my parents had spent their summers before their children were born, which means they’d been away for some fifteen years or so, my parents reported that all over town they kept seeing people they’d known back in the day. But they weren’t the same people, they were the new people who’d come along to fill the same roles. There were just a limited number of types of people to go around, apparently, and a particular niche in the social ecosystem will be filled from the same stock of character types. When I go back there now, I have the same experience they did then. “I remember you from thirty years ago, how are you still fifteen?”

    There’s a bit in an episode of M.A.S.H. where Hawkeye is talking with a wounded patient, and when the soldier mentions his hometown in Indiana — or wherever it was — Hawkeye says, “Sure, I know that place.” And sure enough, Hawkeye starts reminiscing about this town, painting a perfect verbal portrait of the place. The soldier is amazed by the coincidence that his doctor in Korea comes from the same small town in Indiana. What are the odds? “Oh, I’ve never even been there,” Hawkeye explains. “I just grew up in the same town in Maine.”

    I guess what I’m saying is, it’s all one place, and all of us are the same people, over and over again…

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