Trees have always been a very important part of my life. See, I was raised by the Lorax.
My Mum has been speaking for the trees ever since I can remember: she once telephoned me when I was nineteen, very disappointed in herself because she had been lying down in the road in front of the logging trucks when the police arrived and threatened to throw the protesters in jail, and she had gotten up because she didn’t have the money to bail herself out. Whenever I was upset, she would tell me to go hug a tree.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is pretty impressive: it spans a deep gorge with a rapidly running river far below. I was more impressed by the tree walk: wooden walkways constructed high above the ground, circling the midsections of massive Douglas firs. And I was even more impressed to have almost the whole family together for the walk. I think this was only the second time that this has happened. Following so closely on the heels of Opening Night, I was feeling like I didn’t quite know what my place in this dynamic was, and I was grateful for the constants: Gramma, the boys, and my niece. OH, it was great to see her again! Also great was the way she and I could so quickly find the glue we needed to be close friends. She held my hand across the bridge, rode on my back through the walkways, climbed into my lap while we watched a falcon, and listened carefully while I showed her how to use my camera.
When she wasn’t hanging with her Auntie Jo, she was often close to her Dad. I could watch those two together forever. It is amazing to me to see this side of my brother: he’s always had that careful, nurturing nature, and to see it so explicitly moved something very deep inside me. Here they are picking huckleberries together. My niece fed them to the fishes in the little ponds. I preferred to eat them: I love sour things.
There was another feeling hovering in the air whenever my brother’s eyes and mine would meet: a kind of wistfulness. A longing. When we were separated, when my sister was only twelve and they moved to Salt Spring Island and I moved back to Montreal, she felt like I abandoned her. I had been a protective presence all her life, and I had taken that away. I think, at that point, she stopped trusting me. Since then, I’ve wished with all my heart that I could get that trust back. I know we can’t go back, that I can’t change the past, or try to recreate that big sister-little sister dynamic out of what we are now, even though sometimes I think that’s what he wants most. I also know, on some level, that he must trust me a little because he gave me his blessing to write a show called “My Pregnant Brother”. But a part of me was hoping that if he saw the play, he would understand that I couldn’t have done anything any differently, and he would forgive me. Maybe that will still come…
I made it back from Capilano in time for show number two. We had a pretty small house, apparently par for the course in Vancouver, but Brenda Leadlay, the new AD for Mag North was in the audience. She likened the show to Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life”, a film that I loved when I saw it with my friend Joe: we had an unobstructed view of the screen because the people in front of us walked out part way through. To each his own.
Tomorrow I have a sleepover date with my niece. I’ll leave you with a poem she wrote me under the Douglas firs:
I love you because you’re sour.
Sour like a flower.
White like a bite.