Last several days in Hamilton. There is a warm breeze blowing in the garden, and predictions of very hot weather — feeling over 40C today. The big move was done last Tuesday, in the pouring rain — though it cleared up for most of the loading, and almost the whole drive in and the unloading. The flowers are beginning to face and look weathered, that end-of-summer attitude. The bees and butterflies — monarchs, and dark blue-black ones — are still eagerly fluttering and suck up nectar. The house is almost empty — though I am still finding nests of papers, yet more recycling, more shredding, more discard. I feel badly that I let so much clutter pile up — even worthwhile things (magazines, manuscripts, etc.) that could have been cleaned out much sooner. (My son: “We’ve been telling you to do this for years.” For an earlier move, years ago, he marked cartons Books, More Books, Too Many Books.)
Unpacking at Roger’s is going smoothly too — finding places for what we want, starting a “for a good home” box for the extras.
I sat in my garden yesterday, looking at the trees I planted — the ornamental cherry, the lilac, the weeping redbud — and thought of my friend Sharon Nelson in Montreal seeing a photo of the weeping redbud and saying “She is beautiful.” She — the tree with its delicate pink/mauve flowers, is definitely a she. I was glad Sharon could see the tree before she died in 2016. Sharon also loved gardens. (I had recently cut down two elderly cedars, and needed a new and beautiful tree to fill an empty space). I would like to talk to Sharon about this move, the changes in our lives and in the world. I read a poem I had written for Sharon at a memorial service on Sunday (Aug. 26) for another friend, Rita-Anne, a painter, poet, and a person of grace. Her love of nature also fills my world. The poem ends, “In the garden, new flowers appear daily. Deadhead the old blooms, allow new life to grow.”
New life, new light, changes, and growth. As summer ends, and — in Jewish culture, the new year, Rosh Hashanah, begins, with its wishes for health, happiness, and sweetness — along with saying farewell to the past, keeping the good memories, the feelings, the connections (it is just Hamilton to Toronto, commuting distance), and the stories.
Listen to Ellen reciting poetry.
“The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today.” White Queen to Alice, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, by Lewis Carroll.
peach and gooseberry
sweet-tart on the tongue
spread on toast, muffins,
bagel with raisins
and cinnamon –
spice of the sabbath
now her body is jamming
itself, cells stuck and clogged
blocking the vital
flowers jam in the garden,
jazz musicians gone wild,
cacophony of tulips
trill of daffodil
violin tones of violets
and weeping redbud,
one gooseberry bush
bursting into flower
to be picked.
Ellen S. Jaffe, 2016
for Sharon H. Nelson (2 January 1948 – 12 June 2016)
published in Persimmon Tree, Summer 2017
- Written On the Body #34, April 4, 2021 — New Beginnings, and a Memorial
- Written on the Body #33, March 8, 2021: International Women’s Day
- Written on the Body, #32, March 6, 2021: Some Uncertainty Resolved, Celebrating Black History, and Some Good Points for Uncertainty
- Written on the Body #31, Feb. 17, 2021: Hope and Uncertainty
- Written on the Body, #30: January 18, 2021, The Winter of Discontent