Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free
The other day, as I headed to my car in the back parking lot of my office building I was struck by the bitterness of the cold winds. Flurries were swirling above the pavement like fairy dust lost. It was cold. Winter had finally arrived. We had been lucky. November had granted us a overflowing river of rain, but the breezes had been palatable. The cold winds demanded the respect of wool. The transition between seasons, especially from warm to cold, from lightness to early darkness is cruel.
As I drove away, I wanted to shake off the thought that this weather is only going to get worse. It is Canada for God's sake. The cold is going to drop to inhumane temperatures and the snow is going to dump from the heavens. Ice will make walking treacherous. Slush will only bring misery. It is what we're known for........winter.........well, that and making love in canoes.....we do that well too..... oh, and we have an abundance of maple syrup and men who dress in red uniforms and chase bad people through the woods. oh, and humour.....thank the Lord we've inherited the absurdist humour gene....well except for Clyde Wells. He's a defect. I mean really, who ever heard of a politician from Newfoundland who didn't know how to tempt our palate with wit??
So....where was I? oh, yeah starting up my cold van ....... I thought to myself ..... hmmmm .... beautiful self ................... if I could choose to be anywhere else right at this moment, where would it be? And, surprisingly a little shack in the woods clearly popped into my internal slide projector. My old craft shop. With a blink of a thought, all at once I was transported to a little cabin tucked into the familiar woods of my youth. It was blinking back at me. Not only that, the visual recollection was accompanied by a simple yet haunting Beatles tune.
Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.
I've always loved that song, probably because it has such a deep connection to my old craft shop. There are very few places I can think of which resonate a sense of comfort and joy for me. Its not "comfort" as in a soft sofa sense either. It's a feeling of being connected to a collective sense of belonging and all that is right in the world. Do you know that feeling? Its rare, but when it is there, it is a whole mind and body feel.
The craft shop was a sanctuary for many. It sat up the beaten path behind the painted rock off on its own away from all the other fluttering, bantering commotion of camp. Every morning when the kids signed up for activities, crafts would fill up first. We always had a full shop of happy campers in search of a place to be creative, but more than anything a place to catch their breath after a more rigourous activity of swimming, snorkelling, paddling, sailing, water skiing. They would arrive and line up by the painted rock until the bell chimed to announce the beginning and then scramble inside....the screen door banging behind them as they grabbed a spot on the benches which were smattered in years of paint. In fact there wasn't a spot on the walls, ceiling or the wooden beams which held the place together (barely) that didn't have a name and dates painted on it. The craft shop was Kawabi's signature palace. 40 years worth of names decorate the little shack. Mine is in red.......Dana/Muskie, 1970-1981......the summers where my voice was a part of the echos.....
There was no chapel building at camp.....no need really because anyone who embraced the place as their own knew it was all a little piece of heaven on earth. Chapel services moved from one place to another most Sundays........in the middle of the woods, in the lodge, down on the beach, even across the beautiful blue lake on an island not too far away. But, if I had to choose a place where I always found a sense of awareness and fellowship, it would within the walls of that little craft shop.
It doesn't exist anymore and neither does Camp Kawabi.....except in a wide range of kindreds' memories. It will live on...... Actually, the craft shop began to sag a while back and was replaced by a more fancier shmancier place right off the road into camp....definately not the same. So, it has had time to begin to sink back into the ground.
There's a melancholy feel to my memories of the times shared with friends, both during the daytime and in the evenings after the campers had been tucked in for the night. That was the time when quiet enveloped the whole camp.......and if you wanted to be still with your thoughts or share a spot alone with a friend, you could always find it up the beaten path away from it all. I can still "go there" in my reflections whenever I need to.
Melancholy...... it seems like a sad feeling when you look at the surface of it. It was what I was feeling when I got into the van that night......cold at twilight.....but it led me to a place of comfort and a moment of joy. Not a bad drive home. The flurries never touched me.... only bittersweet comfort and joy........ and the melancholy of the blackbird.....