The seemingly sudden silence.

22 11 2009

Hello Dear World, Summer hung around with an increasing reluctance. Instead of begging me every day to come to the beach I noticed a shift in our relationship.

Now it was I who sought out the sun instead of hiding from it under great trees.The trees too sensed the change of attitudes and advertised the new consciousness with patches of yellow leaves among the green: an alliance with the snow queen. And then suddenly it seemed that  the insects were gone. The sound of their wings was missing from the days silence. The linden tree which all summer long had hummed was now silent and though I loved the new tranquility, the new freshness of the morning and evening air, there was a subtle sense of sadness in the day that tinged the beauty of the leaves with nostalgia. ‘Hey! Just a minute!’ I could hear my soul crying like a left lover. ‘ I am not quite ready for this! Yes I do love the cleanliness and freshness of the morning air, but please, don’t go Sun. Stay a little longer. Lets talk this over.’ All of which was too late. The skies darkened .Cool winds stripped the remaining leaves.With little warning snow began to fall in great wet discs and now six inches sits on the ground as my startled mind tries to remember the viridian lushness of the grass which two days ago had lured three beautiful does to the front of my house. They watched me and listened with their great ears as I ambled slowly past, not frightening them by looking at them too attentively, though their leggy beauty was so graceful I wanted to stare.Then they too strolled off into the woods and, like the long hot summer, were suddenly gone.

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    Today, Dear World  I am introspective and saddened , by a letter from my dear travelling companion Patricia telling me that she is in palliative care in hospital in Switzerland with terminal cancer of all her female parts. She is on morphine and still experiencing some pain as the tumours strangle her intestines. Patricia is a greyhound girl/woman of 41, a bicycle guide and mountain loving world adventurer. We would meet in Bangkok and then set out on our journeys which invariably took us way way off the beaten tracks into mountain country where no buses could penetrate and our movement was by foot or on the back of motor bikes after the usual prolonged, crazy-making bargaining. We would end the days in tiny villages where there were no roads and no hotels or guest houses. And there we would negotiate our nights sleep with some hospitable village woman who, perhaps honoured by the  rare presence of a foreigner, would cook us marvelous meals of fish and rice and vegetables with rice wine to follow. Invariably our beds were mattresses of some sort on the floor with a curtain rigged up for a little privacy. Patricia was the ideal travelling partner, fit, healthy curious, friendly and totally adaptable and fearless. We would get lost by taking wrong turns as we did in |North Vietnam and end way up in remote mountains where the main road in was a two foot wide bike trail and people had never seen a bus or a car. We hiked until my knees and legs ached when unscrupulous bike owners asked too much and we had to walk to the next village. Her energy was amazing. Sometimes we would arrive at sundown, find somewhere to stay and dump our little  packs and Patricia would announce that she was going to climb a nearby mountain. I would try to dissuade her. It would soon be dark, she didn’t know the trails, and it could be dangerous being up there alone My knees were telling me that there was no way I was going to hike a single kilometer more that night. But she would go, and arrive back and hour or more later when I was wracked with worry and guilt at not accompanying her and wondering which direction to set out on to look for her, and of course, none of the locals knew English. She would be exhilarated by her experience and eat like a wolf at some little street restaurant. Anything the locals ate was good for her, including roast dog in Viet Nam. A whole roast chicken was an hors d’oeuvres for her. She would grasp it in both hands and gnaw at it like the healthy, hungry animal she was, finish it off and lick her fingers.Together we ended up in some really fleabite crashes when we arrived in some town too late to begin the game of bargain hunting for accommodation. Then we would take what we could get. After all a tired night’s sleep in a hen house is as good as in the Hilton. But one night in Oudamacai (spelling?) in Northern Laos she had arrived before me and booked into a dormitory in the back room of a Chinese restaurant  so I joined her and took the bed beside her. We didn’t know it was also a brothel and a gambling club right beside our room with it’s paper thin walls. There was no lock on the door. I had to jam it with a chair. There was one other sleeper, a woman. As the squeals of the hookers and the shouts of the gamblers  finally began to die down a rat began gnawing some sounding board above us. I had to get up and stand on the bed to thump the ceiling. The rat scampered off until I was back in bed and just beginning to sleep. Then it returned to its music. This was repeated for an hour or so. When I needed to go to the toilet I discovered that the unscrupulous owner had locked us in and the toilet was inaccessible behind a padlocked door which I managed to kick open. Had there been a fire we would have been burned to death with the rat. But that was the worst, and in Viet Nam the hotels were very cheap and good–$5 per night off-season price.Now she lies in bed in the palliative care hospital overlooking  a lake in Switzerland. And I, wrapped in a sacred silence in a little clearing in the forest on a mountain side contemplate the strange phenomenon  we call death. I look at the world and see that everything has a death: that there is only motion at differing speeds towards that mysterious closure. And I realize that such a universality for all things indicates its importance in the cosmic machinery. It doesn’t seem to be plausible to imagine an ending associated with such process. And I have , when I examine things carefully, realized that I have never experienced an ending – or a beginning: simply process. And mystery. And an energy called love.

Thailand and Viet Nam spring o8 111

The peddler Time, Dear World, carries in a bag on a stick souvenirs for us to choose from, and potions for erasing parts of memory. Hastily we select items to keep and others to forget. We are but fleeting ghosts calling pathetically to our progeny as we fade from this manifestation of spirit. We receive no answer. We cannot be heard.The distant moan of a locomotive on the Canadian Pacific Railway floats through the darkness which now arrives at six thirty. The driving distractions of summer have gone, the crops are in, the fruits are dried and preserved and I, sitting in the attic alone in this vast wilderness examine the souvenirs I bought from the peddler Time and tell myself that this year I did not spend enough hours rowing my canoe on the lakes. How long it takes us to learn how to live!

From my solitary asylum I send you love, Dear World. What else is imperishable?




7 responses

8 03 2011
Cherry Payne

Hi Laurie its me again Cherry Payne do you know I am your cousin in England I have been searching for you a long time it would be good to hear from you.

9 03 2011

Cherry Payne, I have replied to about four of your emails notifying me of your conviction of our familial relatedness.You havent replied to my questions in those lettersthat is, what was your fathers name, where did he grow up.Without that information you might well be a mad Lithuanian named Payne ( they’re all over the place) stranded in Mongolia with a stolen laptop looking for a way back to Facebook.So, dear lady get your act together and give me more details of our relations etc.All the best Laurie Payne

19 03 2011
Cherry Payne

Hi Laurie I am Cherry Ann Hackett nee Payne my father was Charles John Payne B.1901 on the I.O.W. my grand father was Herbert Charles Nelson Payne B.1874 -D.1959 buried in Shanklin cemetary he had three brothers, Percival 1881-1941 Charles 1876-1958 Henry 1878-1938 I googled you and found your blog and reading it you seem to match what Iheard from your dad back in the 1960s have you childeren called Krishka and Rasa? I have been filling in the gaps on the family tree via and have contacted Eleanor Payne Cooper, whos grandfather was Henry as above she is living in

25 03 2011

Hi Cherry, so thats how you discovered me!.Actually I have four kids Krishna, Dorian( he used to be Rasa) Alisoun and Jesse— all by the same mum Robyn Thornton of Wangaratta New South Wales. Ii have one more child Jesse by another mum and he goes by her name Jesse Bogs.

19 03 2011
Cherry Payne

Anacortes Wa. U.S.A. I have been married for 43yrs have 2 sons 38&36 and live on the south coast of England near email is do you have email address kind regards Cherry

25 03 2011

Dear Cherry, please keep our family traffic to my email addy which is When I get back in Canada I will try to sort out Dads family tree which I think will interest you. It goes back to a Mary Read around 1700.All the best Laurie .

10 09 2014

The sun instead of ambuscade from it beneath abundant trees.The copse too sensed the change of attitudes and advertised for All lovers.

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