Truth Be Told
Truth be told, I like the darkest season. Not for its chilly weather, but because it calls out to my primal side. It’s a once-a-year reminder that we are all travelling in a circle, solstice to solstice and back again for however long we have. There’s a simple beauty in that. A cosmic wheel. Nature’s game.
And yet with each passing year, it gets ever harder to take in the starry dome. More lights keep going up, dimming the constellations overhead. We now have to travel far from our cities and towns to get away from the artificial glow—so we can take in the real thing: the sparkling sky expanding from the ancient origins of everything.
Truth be told, a little holly jolly is fun, it really is. But too much is … well, just that. The decorations and jingly tunes have long since moved from December to November. Surely, they’ll stop there and leave October alone. Won’t they?
It is no surprise that Joni Mitchell’s “The River” grows more popular every year. More than 500 singers have covered it so far. A melancholy melody and a soulful storyline are factors in its popularity, but it’s the ear-catching opening that starts things off: “It’s coming on Christmas,” followed by the longing to find a river “to skate away on.” Who has not longed for their very own river when caught in some mall for far too long, or been unable to do everything on the to-do list?
Truth be told, what we call “the Holidays” is not much of a holiday. We may not be going to our regular jobs for those few days, but Holiday work is often more tasking than any regular toil. A holiday from the Holidays anyone?
A sister-in-law once remarked: “Wouldn’t it be nice if Christmas was like the Olympics?”
“What do you mean?”
“That it comes round only every fourth year.”
Truth be told, my body gets less keen on winter each one I make it through. Warmth has become my limbs’ preference, indoors and out.
That’s an admission tinged with regret. Many cherished memories happened outdoors in winters past. I loved to build snow forts, tunnels and igloos as a kid; and loved it even more as an adult, excavating and piling up white frozen crystal structures for my kids. Sweet as oranges, those moments were—where the doing was more important than any end result. I should dust off my mitts and snow pants and get back out there with my grand-kids.
Truth be told, I haven’t owned skates for more than a decade. I gave my last pair away, thinking I was done. Which means: I guess I am. Yet I recall some mighty fine moments gliding on ice.
Like the sunny lunch-hour my buddy Ken and I laced them up on the Fortress of Louisbourg’s Barachois Pond. Two historians passing the puck back and forth beneath the watchful eye of the spire atop the King’s Bastion Barracks gave the outing a surreal effect.
Then there was the perfect day on Morrison Lake, between Sydney and Louisbourg. That day, Ken and I and my two sons, Colin and Michael, skated miles on a vast sheet of glistening lake ice. Miss a pass or score a goal through either set of boots as nets and you had to skate five minutes to catch up with the endlessly gliding puck.
As good as those outdoor moments were, even better was one early morning at Sydney’s Whitney Pier Rink. Something had happened, I no longer recall what, but it meant that Colin, Michael and I were the only ones in the dark rink, other than the guy opening up the place. The three of us hurried to put on our skates and then had the barely lit oval kingdom all to ourselves for maybe half an hour. It was a father’s dream and maybe that of two sons. Up and down the ice, with the lights slowly rising to their full glow, we passed the puck back and forth until others began to arrive as well. Our pure play-time had come to an end.
Truth be told, truth can have many faces, sort of like the ever-changing moon, except it’s on a 28-day cycle and our truths are not.
One thing that is true for us is that we are together on this little blue planet of ours for whatever time we have. Alone we may sometimes feel, but we are all hurtling through the starry heavens at incredible speed heading we know not where. It truly is spaceship earth. Enjoy the ride.