The Evening Mouthful

reasoned splutterings & hasty wisdom

Great Expectorations: Chapter VI

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Welcome to Great Expectorations by Dave Dueck. And welcome to 2009, and to midwinter.

Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours,
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze,
And cups o’erflow with wine;
Let well-tuned words amaze
With harmony divine.
Now yellow waxen lights
Shall wait on honey love,
While youthful revels, masques, and courtly sights
Sleep’s leaden spells remove.

This time doth well dispense
With lovers’ long discourse;
Much speech hath some defense,
Though beauty no remorse.
All do not all things well;
Some measures comely tread,
Some knotted riddles tell,
Some poems smoothly read.
The summer hath his joys
And winter his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys,
They shorten tedious nights.

~Thomas Campion (1617)

I walked upstairs in search of a mirror: it was 11:30 PM, and I was dressed in a paisley shirt with cuff-links, a black silk cravat, and a double-breasted sport jacket. The finery stopped at my waist, however. I was wearing faded blue jeans with a horrible tear in the left knee and a severe discolouration on the right front pocket where my cell phone is usually kept. My socks were mysteriously absent, though I have some notion that I may have removed them while watching “The Strongest Man in the World” earlier that evening. My hair was a feathery, dandruffy mess, rebelling and sometimes seceding from my scalp.

I found a mirror in the front entry-way and, pleased enough with what I saw in it, returned to my room, which was full of people. My bedroom has seen a great deal more than its share of company since the turn of the New Year. It used to be a rare thing to find more than two or three people in it at a time: now having a continuous stream of foreign company in the house has raised the record to at least ten, and it has not been uncommon to see six to eight people communing in my room of an evening. Por qua, as the Greeks used to say in ancient Rome?

Part of it might be that my room is cozy: out of the way: stocked with shelves of brilliant music: filled with great books: a good supply of Kleenex and cough drops. But the biggest reason, I think, is Peter Baehr: his company, however much I may tease him is certainly worth seeking, and because he resides in my room at the moment, it follows naturally that many should wish to descend to it in search of conversation with him. And that was what this great crowd of persons was doing in my room that late evening when I decided, in a spontaneous moment of inconsistent fussiness, to look respectable from the waist up and the neck down.

Peter was on my bed, a humble top-bunk affair which until recently admitted no custom accept from me: yet on Christmas Eve Paige and Grace sat on it while we watched Home Alone 2, and various members of our midwinter company have availed themselves of its comfy altitude since.

Rob was on my computer, chatting with Beka on Facebook. Mark was on Peter’s laptop, and Joel and Paige were hanging around talking to Peter. Grace was edging closer towards the sacred altar of soundtracks. The room was lit, as usual, by a single table-lamp in the corner, but it was unusually bright inside the place: the hour was late, as I have said, but those of the household who were still awake were in good spirits and were having a good time. Several had cups of tea, and a few people were wearing sweaters. I only mention all this because such simple conviviality is a rare thing. Especially in my bedroom, the second –smallest cell in the abyss.

Post-Christmas winter has an entirely different (but no weaker) appeal than Pre-Christmas winter. Before Christmas, even the darkest nights are bright with a light that emanates from one’s own mind: a hearty, vibrant mosaic of thoughts about giving, and cleansing snow, and hot chocolate, and cable-knit sweaters, and the Nativity. Even the strangest stranger on the street smiles at you, and you’re not sure which of you smiled first, and which is smiling back. Even the cold makes you feel warm, because it recalls warm sentiments, rendered inarticulate due to their quantity and longevity.

After Christmas (and, to an extent, New Year’s), winter no longer is a symbol of subliminal childhood sentiments, or a signal of cheery things to come. It becomes simply a season, longer and bleaker than summer. Snow is no longer a tangible, magical representation of renewal: all it does now is cover up the dirty snow and become dirty itself later on. The Christmas decorations, still up a month later, practically mock us for our complete and dedicated immersion in so temporal a celebration, of which the decorations themselves remain the only evidence.

The temperature drops: the ice on the walks thickens: the postman’s path is packed more solid every day: the lack of any really notable upcoming event makes each day seem less remarkable, no longer a stepping-stone or ladder-rung, but a treadmill or hamster-wheel.

It is easy to see why this time of year should be depressing or uncomfortable to many. Monotony, mixed with irritation, is a distasteful elixir. And yet…

Early nightfall. Raging snowstorms. Candlelight. Whispering oak leaves still on their boughs. Jewel-blue skies spotted with frozen whipped-cream clouds. Aromatic steam pouring out of the laundry vents on the side of the house. Hoodies in bed. Early-morning coffee on the porch before the sun rises. In all the excitement and obvious allure of Christmas and New Year’s, would we have time to appreciate these lovely tokens from Old Man Winter if he didn’t stick around for a few extra months? The appeal of January, February and March is not in the excitement of the moment, but in settling down to properly enjoy a time which favours close company, good books, late nights, and tea with honey. The constancy of the cold is comforting. Besides, having long winters makes summer shorter, doesn’t it? Last I checked, that was a good thing…

*****

Peter Baehr has been here since the 9th of January, and leaves on the 2nd of February. We’ve been editing his movie practically non-stop for the past couple of weeks. His presence has been an incredible blessing, both to me and the family, yet in a week he’ll be gone and life will be back to normal (or as close to normal as it gets around here) for the first time since before our trip to Duluth. Life was pretty crazy, in the best possible way, during this last month. It was a continual high: a never-ending festival. When it ends, reality will regain its grip on this house. I hardly know yet whether this is good or bad: all I know is that I’ll miss the little taste of Heaven I had this January. I wish every New Year could begin this way. Who knows, maybe next year will be even better and I’ll wonder what all this fuss was about.

Up to now, I have been intentionally vague about our movie project: we hope to have some success commercially with it, so the less I divulge for now the better. But in the coming weeks I hope to begin publicizing it a bit more, and shall be sure to pass any important updates about it your way. For now, I’ve got to focus on actually finishing the movie, while balancing it with other priorities such as taxes, job searching, article-writing, and the like. About these woes, you already know. So I shall leave you now. I’ve said all I have to say today, except that I’m awfully glad to know you. Keep being awesome, the world needs you to be so.

Love All,

Dave Dueck

Written by Dave Dueck

January 25, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Posted in journal

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