Revanchist Review

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Memories and a Ben Trovato

“Only costumers may make us of the washrooms”. I was tempted to put on a fake nose and outrageous glasses and attempt to use the facilities of the little café in Duncan, B.C. but lost my courage. How many folks stop in on any given day and ask to use the washroom on this quiet street in this small Cowichan Valley town?

I am always on the lookout for a good ben trovato and today I found one as I walked through downtown Duncan. I was moderately grumpy at the time, having discovered that the Bank of Montreal closes at 4 p.m. It only opens at 9:30 for goodness sake, how do these banks make billions? Most of the years that I worked for a living, ten-hour days were normal and there was an entire decade near the end of my working life when 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. was the norm.

The window sign brought me back to the more pleasant reality that it was a lovely spring day, I had accomplished all my chores for the day and the bank could wait another day for my deposit.

I know that some people read my scribbling as I have had an occasional inquiry as to my well being, my blog site having gone silent for more than a month. I have much admiration for those who write for a living. Writing seems more a winter activity for me – those short days and long nights more befitting the task of crafting one’s thoughts into what will hopefully be an interesting and enjoyable combination of words than do the expanding days of spring.

The other problem I encounter is that if I produce too many essays, Nancy questions why I have not accomplished more of the tasks in the bottomless job jar? If I have time to write blogs and report on rugby matches why can’t I build a new shelf for the storage room or replace that ugly bare light bulb with a piece of track lighting salvaged from the old house I am tearing apart?

I have discovered new muscles and stimulated them to the point of frenzy. I have nicks and cuts and blisters on my hands, nail punctures here and there, scrapes on my forehead from hitting a 6 foot door header (cured by my neighbour with two whacks of a sledgehammer after he made the same mistake). I managed to nick a water pipe with my chainsaw and fall through two deck joists while prying at a particularly stubborn old piece of decking, but no permanent damage was caused.

When I am inclined to be nostalgic for the friends I have left behind I am comforted by the words of Alyosha in the Brothers Karamazov in his speech at the stone in the novel’s final pages: “You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days, and if one has only one good memory left in one’s heart, even that may sometime be the means of saving us.”

Fortunately I have many more than one.