Thursday, March 4, 2010

of dogs, baths, music and houses

I'm sitting in the home of some dear friends, for whom I'm house- and dog-sitting this week. The house is a little bungalow-type structure, down by the water of the Bras d'Or Lake, and today is a windy, stormy day. The windows have droplets of water running down them, and across a narrow channel, against the backdrop of Kidston Island, I can see some form of precipitation is being blown along. (Rain? Snow? Wet flurries? All I know is, it's a form of water, and it's in the air.) A red poinsetta sits in a square, gold-colored pot in the window, its red petals and green leaves reflecting light and somehow looking as neutral as the blue-grey scene outside, despite its bold crimson.

I woke up with a headache and I'm feeling off-center, slightly dizzy. When I stand up or change any position, it feels like my head takes an extra second to catch up with my body. I still have a sniffle in my nose. I feel like curling up in bed with the dog and sleeping for a few days. But I'll go to work and see how the day goes. Sometimes these things can be endured, and sometimes they call for self-care. One never really knows - and can only go on the moment, and whatever forces make decisions for us, whatever variables exist just then.

[Edit: I'm at work now and feeling less dizzy. This might be due to ibuprofen. Whatever it is, I'm glad.]

The dog is a border collie. This means she is black and white, of medium size, with a tail that looks like an exotic fern, frond-like. Always wagging. Her need of me is comforting, as is her affection. She frisks around, grabbing this toy or that, dragging it around with her. At night, when she hears me turn on the tap of the bathtub, she runs over from wherever she is in the house, and stops short just at the edge of the tub, staring intently at the faucet. Once the tub is filled, and I get in, she sits there with me, just as her owners said she would. She holds a ragged gray stuffed bunny in her mouth, and stares at the surface of the water until I flick a bit of water her way. Then she makes as if to bite it, only the bunny is still in her mouth. Incredibly, of the thirty-forty times we do this little act, me flicking the water and her jerking her head forward to try and bite it, the bunny only falls in once, and I retrieve it for her, dripping and soggy, slick with her mouth-slime.

As I write this, I'm listening to Ali Farka Toure's "Talking Timbuktu", which is an album that Ry Cooder produced. The music is African, and I wish I knew more about it than that. Like, which country in Africa, for example. So many times we Westerners think of "Africa" as this one big unified country with the same traditions, people, art, culture, history, all across its vast expanse. Kind of how we lump "North American Indians" all together, too. Anyway, the music is good. I can move my body to its rhythm, as well as let it sit in the background, weaving a tinny tune off my computer speakers. It also brings up memories of my brother, who is not living in Cape Breton these days, and who I miss. The memories are not distinct but more a mood - of the first times I listened to this music, and the fact that Mat was there.

That happens with music, doesn't it? The first number of times you listen to an album or a song, it seems like my brain imprints the music with all the other details of that moment in my own personal history - how I was feeling in general, what emotions I was processing, the people I was hanging out with. And it's more subtle than that - the music ends up acting like a hidden trap door, where you touch it and suddenly you are back where you first listened to it. Caracol, for instance, is a Quebecois singer-songwriter, and I got one of her albums just before Christmas. I ripped it onto my laptop, and took it with me to Montreal for my family's Christmas celebration, and because it was new to me, and because it was so darn good, and also because it helped me to release tension and to feel a certain way - cool, and more like myself - I listened to it a lot. (Really, it's likely there are thousands of minute reasons WHY we listen to music.) So now, just three months later, when I play it, I feel as though in a room just down the hall, just off to my right, my time in Montreal is still happening. And all I'd have to do to return there is turn around, nudge open the door and look.

Blog Archive