"Spin" in aviation training: a "stall" or loss of lift, a subsequent nose-down spin, the specific actions required for recovery, and the feeling, after recovery, that you could tackle absolutely anything!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Oh the Hilarity

I was back at the field yesterday. It's a good distraction from the search for a better job, a more inspiring place to live, and a soul mate. Plus I get fresh air. I arrived in the middle of the afternoon, and after three hours, had cleared an inner sanctum in the middle of the forest. There was an old tree that had fallen across the stream. I had intended to take the chain saw to it and pile it's parts up and out of the way, but the more I cleared the scrub from around it, the saplings and drifts of goldenrod, I realized how beautiful it looked and left it whole. I decided against an evening fire, preferring to hide in the dark and watch the crew change from day-beasts to night-beasts. I lit a cigar to keep the bugs away and watched the Sikorsky-like dragon flies run their sorties to snag dinner. Bats rolled and twisted higher up, dark like black satin, the birds quieted, and the spruces to the west posed still like a silhouetted back drop in some stage play. The moon was up, showing only half; bright though as if someone had ripped a hole through into daylight. Jupiter was nestled deep in the forest branches. I saw the space station pass and then decided, after the speed bump taste of my third cigar, that it was time for sleep. 


I have a Hennessy Hammock instead of a tent. It's a hammock with a mesh cover, and then a separate fly that sits above it to keep you dry from dew and rain but it allows you to see what's going on around you. There is a velcroed access approximately half the length of the hammock along the bottom. You open the access and shove in your inflated, foam-filled Therm-a-rest pad that, ideally, is supposed to offer firmness to your sleeping experience. Sleeping bag goes in on top of this. There is a handy hanging pocket for keys, flashlights, whatever you need close by.

Sounds great, huh? 

Well, it has been great in the past. Last night, I realized that my Therm-a-rest had a leak, and like a man in a state, could not stay stiff. Also, I did not have the contraption stretched out enough so I found myself sliding down towards the lowest sag-point, the bottom of the catenary curve.  I would pull myself up, and then slide back down as if in some physical slapstick sketch worthy of Mr. Bean. Several times, I realized that my flaccid Therm-a-rest was off-centre and sliding out from under me. I raised my hips up in an attempt to reach underneath and pull the floppy no-show back to home position but ended up winding my sleeping bag around myself until it felt like I was wearing the lower half of a mermaid suit; I could barely move. In addition, with all of these Cirque-de-Soleil maneuvers, I was working up a sweat. I found the opening to my sleeping bag and threw a leg out, only to find the night breeze chilling, so I pulled my leg back in. 

I repeated this routine over and over again. I did not sleep at all. I DID see a shooting star, and considered evacuating this ridiculous sleep-taco, which is a better name, watching the sky for a bit, then retiring to the back of the van which is what a person with sense would do, but I persisted. I heard something pad through and peruse the sleep-taco then leave. It could have been a rabbit, or a fox, or a Jehovah's Witness coming to call, then not. Shortly after, I heard light hooves approach, stop, then I heard the calf-like grunt of a deer. It turned and fled, and I think I heard deer-laughter. 

The eastern sky began lightening. I was in the middle of another, adjust-everything-until-you're-sweating-or-you-pull-a muscle flourish, when I realized that the sleep-taco access was open and the Therm-a-rest was half out, making a droopy break for it. 

Okay. I give! Enough already!

I grabbed my boots from deep down in the sleep-taco abyss and got the hell out. I threw the sleeping bag and Therm-a-disappointment in the van. I took the sleep-taco down as every mosquito in the county tucked into me for their breakfast. Moments later and a pint down, I was driving out towards the road. I HAD planned on staying for the day and over the next night, but I don't think using a chain saw on five minutes of sleep is something celebrated in any safety manual. Plus the bugs, and that derisive, Pan-ish laughter!

I was on the road before 6am, and basically solo. Most adults were still asleep in their non-taco, uber-comfortable beds.  This was good because I did not have the stamina to navigate the cottage traffic gridlock that would manifest later. I put on some Bach and, came up over a hill to see the sun, full, and intense, and red like a hot stove burner! It was beautiful, and it was all mine! I spoke out loud about how grateful I was in that lovely, special moment. I felt full, and present, and keen to get my life back on track. I really was grateful. Life is such a gift. 

...Then, I spent the remaining drive home, taking that very gift away from the blood sucking mosquitos that had stowed away in the van. Bastards all.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Field

I went to the field yesterday. This is a seven-acre piece with stream and small forest attached to the farm that I grew up on. For me, the field is a portal to quiet while the world reels and grinds from the callous posturing from juvenile, dangerous egos. I can see the barn through the trees which is both a delight, and a source of tremendous sadness that I don't expect will ever disappear. While I am glad that my father is not around to experience this arrogant, political, humanitarian crumbling, I continue to struggle and wonder about the lead up to his death and the things we all could have done had we been a family that communicated at all. There's that done.

The field itself is a soft landing from difficult, surreal considerations; it is so full of life. As a hay field, it's terrible and needs to be reseeded, but as a meadow, it is astounding. I stood in the middle of it and was amazed at the industry going on at all levels. There was buzzing at ground level through remnant clover and wildflowers seeded by wind and chance over the past decade. My calm started with a Monarch butterfly, one of many, sitting, posing on a disc of Queen Ann's Lace. His orange and black wings remarkable against the white. The late afternoon sun caught him and lit him up as he took off to somewhere else, following what looked to be some drunken flight plan betted out on chance. There were dragon flies with heads tricked out with nature's best flight helmets, and myriad other bugs that were impressive, of names I do not know. There were birds chattering in the forest, and several downs around the field where deer had slept. I know there are deer in the far end of the forest so I did not go there. No need to disturb them in their home. 

I worked for a time, clearing bush, sung to by the stream whenever I shut the chainsaw off. I freed one tree from some vines that had it bent almost to the ground, and was delighted when it sprung up to full height like a patient coming out of deep hypnosis: "Hey! How's everybody doing? I like your hat! Uhm, what day is it?" I left when the shadows began to roll out from under the grand spruce trees at the west end, feeling the good kind of tired from physical work. 

I shake my head and wonder at all of the lunacy, troubled to have the world tip so badly. I know so many kind people who are frustrated, finding the crevice between the political agenda and the needs of the human heart difficult to straddle. There is nothing for it but to remain passionate and loving, but perhaps with a new intensity, vibrant and robust enough to counteract the startling and divisive meanness . If that should be our demise then so be it, but to give up, withdraw from protecting and caring for this beautiful earth, and the kindness here, well, that's a complicity I can't endure. There is too much at stake here.

Monday, 17 July 2017


There are mysteries winding through this world of ours that bow and arch just out of my reach. They hit the ground, change a thing, and then vault into the ether, leaving their handiwork for us to puzzle over. One of these mysteries messed with a friend of mine not too long ago and I have been pacing and trying to figure ever since. 

One minute, a fellow is primed and busy, and the next he has a hard disagreement with machinery. His familiar reality of the world and time tips into a completely new paradigm, confusing and gut-wrenchingly strange as he wakes into it. And here I am, at my desk watching the rain-soaked leaves of the trees nodding and shifting in the last thoughts of the evening sun. There he is, in the hospital room, rallying, but with a helluva fight on his hands; unfair on a herculean scale. He is surrounded by family. They are mighty, but also wonderfully soft; kind like he is. Damn it if there is anything I can figure to do.

I am on the outer edge of that family's social circle. I had only met the man twice. Everything about our meeting was strange, like it was important for some reason. To have been there on the day of the accident; to know that there was only a trickle of a few hours until the beginning of the biggest challenge of his life, bothers me, worries at me like some idea or a theory that I just can't see. I can't solve for x. I can't find the criminal. There is nothing to swing my sword at.

So I meditate, and I send my love to him and to the whole family, and I pace. I try to sort it out but it won't sort. I know others have been through similar scenarios but this is not the time. I don't want to hear of those. Maybe later, but right now, this is the one I am lost in. This is the only mystery I am trying to solve. I imagine most of his friends are twisting themselves in an effort to find an answer also.

Nothing for us but to wait. Still, I clench my jaw. I grab the sides of my head and in a flash, try to imagine what in hell he is going through at that very moment. I can't imagine. I can only sift through what I am learning about the world and myself from this, and continue to try to tap into that one good stream that connects us all to send him and his family everything that I can. It seems a pathetic gesture, but in the confines of time and healing, there is nothing else.