Sunnyside, Union Street, April 26 1964, Sunday afternoon
Magnificent afternoon, magnificent day, magnificent job and this magnificent
We have just had Sunday dinner, with the kids all talking at once. Mrs
Govia, one of the workers, shushed everyone up with an announcement, "Quiet
kids! Kevin is going to make a speech." And Kevin made his speech:
"For dessert we are having vanilla ice cream." Long applause!
There are many people you'll have to meet, but not all at once so you'll
have profiles scattered through most of the next few letters.
Today, I give you: Miss Allen, the director of Sunnyside. Tall, spare,
perhaps about forty-two, soft white hair in a Miss Grundy bun that is beautiful
and dignified on her, impeccible grooming. Everyone is a bit awed by her
but it is a respectful and affectionate awe.
Kingston this morning is one of the most beautiful places I've seen.
All over the city the lawns are over-run by tiny starry blue flowers that
begin by being planted in flowerbeds but soon overflow like weeds over the
whole lawn. The lake is smoking under a haze and everywhere Sunday hats
and Sunday shiny cars are going their way in a sort of stupor.
27 Monday morning
I was on duty for the first time last night, putting-to-bed time. Read
a picture-book story to three of the Littles (as opposed to the Bigs), helped
with homework, kissed and snuggled and admired and patted and shushed. Bedtime
is very pleasant for all of us.
I thought the profile of the man I sat down beside last night was Martin
Ware's, but he was looking at me and I didn't dare to turn and look at him
until he was concentrating on the movie again. Instead I took off my gloves
- French kid! - very slowly and smoothed them out in my lap and noticed
their good leather smell. Then I looked carefully sideways and it was Martin
Ware, with his hair untidy all over his large intelligent English schoolboy
head and his usual sprawl.
History. I could say to him, "I don't really care what you are like.
I don't care really if you are a dissipate or a homosexual or a lewdy. I
like you Martin Ware because I liked your voice reading from the Old Testament
in chapel one morning; and because I met you walking in the rain one day,
and when I smiled at you, you smiled back like a blessing on the joy of
the day; and because of the day when you ran and steamed and stumbled and
ran for an hour in the drizzle of Lower Campus in boots and cricket shorts
and a rough sweater."
The movie was a Japanese film with beautiful ghosts, passion, samuris,
gore, the usual..
In the intermission I opened my Camus (a red book, L'Etranger)
and had fumblingly found my place when the lights flicked off. He made some
laughing comment in the dark. I saw that he had noticed my child psychology
book. The movie had scenes of magic. I remember one scene of a flat boat
emerging like a ghost with the mists of the morning in shreds all about
it, the woman leaning on the large oar at the back and singing a song thin
and vague as the fog. A throat-catching beauty. Then there was a grim scene
of war, blood, plunder. But in Japanese movies even the heroes scrabble
about like beetles, darting here and there so ludicrously in fright that
they seem to mock themselves. In the large respectful silence surrounding
this scene Martin and I began simultaneously to laugh and we felt a smiling
closeness to each other in the laughter. I was glad for the obstructing
head of the man in front of me, so that I could lean sideways toward him
just a little. Eventually our elbows brushed very lightly, but it was warm
and chaste and friendly. But not that chaste.
And there was a scene that was unreal: ghosts singing "All the finest
silks, all beauty has faded" in the charred timber of an old warlord's
house. Ghosts singing, magic; answering a remark Martin Ware leaned over
to say to his friend, "Strange, but oh no, not boring."
Near the end, the pretty, patient woman-wife covering over her sleeping
husband and their child, then taking up his sandals, clapping them together
softly to knock off the dust of his travel, his sin, his honor, and arranging
them neatly on the domestic hearth.
I said "oh" very quietly to myself and to Martin Ware; and
he said "ooh-h" very quietly to himself and to me. Somehow the
sandals were a bond.
But the lights came on and we walked quickly outside and I saw his head
mirrored in the glass of the door behind me as I passed through. Rain outside,
unbreathing dark, splinters of light exploding in the hard black puddles
on the street as raindrops fell into them. Swishing tires of cars passing.
The books heavy on my arm, my hair becoming wet. Martin Ware somewhere with
his friend, blond Mike somewhere with a little girl in fragile dancing shoes.
Martin Ware ... I walked home in the rain muttering to myself, "Oh
darn, darn, darn, darn, darn," and telling myself firmly that if I
knew him he would probably be a disappointment.
The wet branches of bushes at the Sunnyside gateposts gleaming, the lighted
porch of this beautiful white house, apples and music and books in bed,
Saint Joan on television.
Saturday, May 2
Kevin last night when I came to tell him good night and bring him his
cookie was crying broken-heartedly. At first he said he was crying about
his rage at Bobby who was evidently the entire universal cause of his troubles,
but after a while, he pushed his hand under his pillow and pulled out a
fistful of cookies, "Here, stole 'em." And soon he was confessing
theft of sugar from the kitchen, lies, things going 'way back. Terrified
of going to hell, pauvre petit, crying terrifiedly. We let him talk it out
and cuddled him up and when he finally went to bed he was happier.
May 6 Wednesday
My opinion of Miss Detweiler rises all the time. She is stocky but not
plump, freckled, about forty five, brisk, capable, rather impersonal on
the surface; her hair is short, red and wiry, bristling up all over her
head; eyes a pale turquoise; sensible clothes (flat shoes and sensible laceless
slips etc) but she does add feminine touches like scarves and so on. Her
language is a mixture of gusty slang and technical psychological terminology,
a good foil for her very tart sense of humour. With kids she is no-nonsense
but warm and intuitively 'right' in her attack (I say with chagrin, because
it is piquing to be a green apprentice). More and more this job does seem
like an apprenticeship in psychology and social work, because our staff
meetings and my own research relevant to these meetings and to the individual
files I'm studying on these kids bring up all sorts of knowledge and questions
on the real behind-scenes workings of psychological and social work agencies,
especially because Sunnyside works closely with psychologists, psychiatrists,
adoption and childcare agencies, mental hospitals (some of the children
have a background of mentally ill parents, alcoholic parents, unwed parents
and so on - this brings these agencies into the picture as well).
May 8, Friday
The Sunnyside lawn is full of blue and purple and yellow violets, the
leaves are coming out slowly, showing now in a mosaic of all different shades
of green. I keep dragging pots of flowery leafy stuff up to my room and
the kids are dragging pots of it into the dining room, until yesterday Miss
Solomon gave up in disgust and moved some of the bigger branches off the
table to make room for food.
Large boats are going uplake now, more every day. They move quietly and
deliberately, hardly disturbing the water, and only a long time after the
boat has passed pulling its sky-fishline of smoke behind it do the ripples
reach the beach; and then they are nearly smooth. At night and in the early
morning we can hear their fog whistles very faintly, more like a smudge
than a sound.
A gale today, with whitecaps on the lake and seagulls struggling for
balance. My quiet bit of beach with its flat rocks was spray wet and the
wind was too cold even in the corners between rocks to stay very long.
Later: the music on the radio, folk music, makes me lonesome for the
Ban Righ Three crowd. During the last weeks we spent most of our breaks
in Sue's room singing at once exuberantly and sadly because we knew that
nothing would ever be the same again. By the end of the year we were good
at harmonies and variations, Sue was an expert on the guitar. We would sing
with the windows wide open to the beginning-spring and people going by below
would stop to listen. Our room was full of sound, the corridors echoing,
girls from the lower floors coming up to see us and standing rather wistfully
in the doorway. Now and ever after when we think of those times it will
be as if WE are standing wistfully in the doorway.
Last night I slid out to mail your letter, Mom, and decided to go for
a walk. Warm dark, a mysterious flower scent. And then, suddenly, on someone's
dark lawn, a pink tulip tree! You have never seen them, but at night they
are fairyland - small broad trees covered with waxy tulip-like pink flowers
shedding their petals on the grass. They take your breath away when you
come upon them by surprise. [Sounds like a magnolia.]
All of the trees have small leaves and dripping catkin blossom; even
the grass has a scent; and there is a hole in the Sunnyside fence that we
can creep through at night to get back to the house via the trees (one of
the trees has a distinctive squeak) rather than by the drive, and glimmer
in the kitchen door and up the steep winding servants' staircase to the
second storey where the floor is solid in some places but treacherously
creaky in others. I must draw you a diagram.
But most of all, Friday night. Our marks, you see, were posted on Friday
and we dashed out immediately after bedding the kids to the basement of
the old Arts Building to check the lists of subjects with their lists of
names and grades. While I was on my way down I met Maureen coming the other
way and she came along to check mine with me. The English marks weren't
posted yet. French - B. Sigh of relief. Psychology - A. Well I expected
that. How many others out there? Ooo - only four in the class, not bad!
But ol' Alistair McLeod has one too, and he beat me at Christmas, bad. Philosophy
- A. What do you know! Music, I'm afraid to look. "You look, Maureen."
"A." "That's the wrong column." "No, it says A."
Meanwhile, Peter had discovered that there was a separate list of people
to receive their BA's and that his name was on it. So he phoned Detweiler
and Allen, hauled out the rum and brandy, and we all sat around yakking
until three. There had been a strange big box waiting for Peter to hear
about his marks, and when he opened it now, there was a mortar board and
a gown which he immediately put on over his maroon pyjamas and blue brocade
robe, setting the mortar board at a foppish angle over his beaming redbearded
face. Detweiler and Allen appeared to admire him. Detweiler smoked cigarillos
and got slowly happier and happier (tho' by no means sodden) while Miss
Allen crossed her legs and sipped something delicate and frowned at the
cigarillos. You should have seen Miss Detweiler in her ballooning maroon
housecoat and her wild red hair, she made me think of the Ghost of Christmas
Present in Dickens. Peter as well got vaguer and happier on a strange horrible
mixture of rum, brandy, milk, and sugar. When he went upstairs finally he
was weaving like one of the kids playing train-going-up-the-mountain. Enid
and I washed up glasses in the kitchen!
It is the quiet Sunday morning, most of the kids are at Sunday School.
Quiet flamenco guitar music. A low ground fog outside with the wonderful
green shining through it, and fog horns from the lake.
Olivia has written, she has a job in Toronto selling magazines from door
to door. She tells about the sales pitch they are to memorize: "We
start off by saying 'Hi there.' (I am going to scrap that part and say 'Good
morning.') 'I represent the EDUCATIONAL department of the Better Reading
Foundation.' Then we mention that the radio and tv are sponsoring programs
for children, educational. This is nothing to do with the magazines but
that is beside the point. Then we offer them this Children's Guide to Knowledge,
FREE!!!!! Then we say that they will have to let us place in their
home two children's magazines at 25¢ a week. We don't tell them that
although they pay 25¢ a week the magazine comes out only once a month,
that it is cheaper on the newsstand. And that the Children's Guide to Knowledge
is a useless pile of paper! All the people there are absolute crooks. Every
time I say that pitch it makes me sick. I hate lies and I'm so blunt as
you know, that I find it impossible to smooth-talk people. But the leaves
are finally coming out, which is news for me because I think it's the most
important thing that happens every year. Oh to be a university student again
instead of a 'representative of the EDUCATIONAL department of the Better
I feel lucky about Sunnyside! We do have problems tho'. Kevin is terrified
of his plastic surgery operation. Joey is hysterical about his confirmation
this afternoon. Cathy is jealous of the new girl Helen who is a pretty,
sturdy, bossy little engine. I keep realizing how much work and frustration
you've had with us Mother! Getting kids up in the morning and putting them
to bed, oooooof. At the end of a day we tend to collapse in front of the
television set and stare blankly at some terrible show, munching passively,
listening to someone else quip with Peter or Brian. And shop talk about
Tuesday, May 19
Last night: had a walking date with one of my IH friends, Frank Nabotete
who is one of the most beautiful men I know, a Kenyan, in law school working
on his law degree. Very fortunately he 'belongs' to one of my girlfriends,
Heather Maki, who is at home working for the summer - so I have to keep
hands off but he is gorgeous. His story is very interesting: join us leaning
on the railing by the lake with the moon on the water and the waves piling
in on a line of foam, and hear about it. He comes from a town of about three
thousand people near Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, near enough to Lake
Victoria to sail across it to other parts of East Africa. He and his cousin
are the only people in his town who have gone to university. This happened
because his parents became Christians (missionary efforts - we had an interesting
talk about missionary impact on Africa - he is a living example of part
of that impact, and it is most interesting to notice how his religious views
have developed from the straight missionary-preached doctrine to a very
North American type of anti-denominational quasi-Christianity that is very
Campus) and realized the value of education early enough to see to it that
he got through the ridiculously tough elimination exams the Africans have
to go through as early as fourth grade. This continues: grades eight, nine,
ten, and twelve are weeding-out years for huge numbers of children. He is
taking his law degree here, after a BA in the US, and when he gets it he
expects to go back to Kenya to practice law as a means of living independently
of government supervision which would hobble him in a civil service job,
and as his real interest, work for improving standards of education and
living among his own tribesmen. He is very interested in this, and his face
lights up as he talks about it.
For coffee we dropped into the 'African Embassy,' the boarding house
where most of the African boys are staying. Music - African and Western
pop - and coffee and toast and stories about their boarding school days
in high school. Stories about how they used to get around the eleven o'clock
curfew by studying under blankets, about sneaking away to the bush to curl
up and read with the snakes in the trees, about forbidden feasts of 'gali'
(a stable something like potatoes) after lights out; as prefects or head
boys, they could not be punished openly for their écarts in order
not to lose face with the smaller boys, and so they were set to walk six
miles along a specified route and leave their initials at regular intervals
on the rocks along the path to prove they had been there. That is how they
began to leave their mark on the world - and they like to go back now to
show their friends the initials.
May 20, Thursday 2:15 a.m.
After a while tonight I went for a walk, in my old dirty tennis shoes.
Miss Detweiler was alone in front of the television set in her huge maroon
bathrobe, with her red hair on end. The curving lane in the dark, the gateposts,
the auburn glow of red maple leaves from the underside, from the street
light. Houses quiet. Only a few secret curtained windows lit. Then a wonderful
upright white house with its shutters and brick steps and now a lilac tree
in the backyard. Masses of shadow. Apple blossom, a scent of lilac untraced.
An armful stolen from a bush already bare on its street side.
A vase of lilac, the small pitcher of apple blossom. The sad joy of Mozart
Tuesday May 26
On Thursday night at nearly ten Miss Detweiler mentioned leaving for
TO in the morning. At seven thirty next morning I was with her (a fortunate
weekend off) on the way to an Ontario Welfare Council annual meeting at
which Miss Allen was to speak. We had three hours worth of good talk before
we got there. She told me the story of how Miss Allen ("Boss"
is what most of the senior staff call her) began to work at Sunnyside and
built it up to one of the foremost child rehabilitation centres in Canada,
and certainly the finest in the province. She mentioned something that is
especially exciting: she feels there is an overwhelming need in the field
of on-the-spot workers who can articulate their experience - she says, "I
know so much, and I understand so much, but I can't verbalize it and it
will be lost - most of the people who write about kids-work don't know anything,
they write clichés about what should work, but it doesn't."
And when I mentioned that I was studying English because I would like to
hyphenate free-lancing onto social-type work, she seemed excited with the
idea. Excitement from Miss D is valuable, and I'm pleased. This feels good,
it is an indication of what my leanings are tho by no means a commitment.
Sunday afternoon train back to Toronto in the rain, with the light dimming
gradually and the countryside seeming to glow from a strange inside light
- I've never seen such green! So many of the trees, the wild as well as
the orchard-kept, are blossoming, the hedges are full of lilac. During the
whole four hours of the trip I felt that I was moving through an Eden with
its old stone houses and strange stone fence-remnants and glimpses of some
vast misty grey sea.
Thursday May 28
The funeral you heard mentioned I know was my friend's - there is only
one Ed Luddington. Fuzzy white hair, querrelous old voice demanding attention,
laughing softball yarns, thumping cane on the floor, stubborn shuffling
walk, craving for cocoa-bars and coffee, company - the long tale of horse-dealings
and the funny defenceless mouth with its ring of white stubble, rocking
chair and pale blue eyes and a reluctant concern about other people, affectionate-wistful
inspection of some youngster's pitching arm - a mind full of things remembered:
old trees in the town where he grew up and the hot afternoon when he got
drunk on a jug of cold whisky he thought was water, anger and disappointment.
I hate it when people's minds die.
Yesterday the Annual Meeting or 'Sunnyside's Birthday' was held in pomp
and glory in a perfectly sterilized house with gleaming kids in their Sunday
clothes and a house full of elaborately arranged flowers. I remember: Brenda's
face shining because she was "smelling pretty" (my 4711 cologne),
a horrible boardmemberwoman in a stern yellow plaid suit with a monsterous
wildly flowered hat, Bobbie passing cookies shyly at the tea party shining
with pride and our scrubbing, Marlene and Sherry conducting a charm-sopping
house-tour for a dubious reporter, pouring tea from a silver tea service
myself for the kids after the VIPs had moved on home: "Will you have
milk and sugar Miss Cathy?", Joey quivering with excitement and stuffing
himself with cookies, supper with the kids getting sleepier and sleepier,
watching Carol's freckly-monkey-imp-beautiful face falling asleep and sitting
on the floor beside Bobbie's bed as he drifted off.
And then staff had a party downstairs, everyone strangely unrecognizably
elegant (at last I could wear the orange dress), a beautiful bowl of pink
punch called 'bowle' made by our house manager's beautiful German husband
(strawberries soaked in brandy, wine, cognac, etc), heaps of food (smoked
oysters, shrimp, caviar which I dislike intensely, baby tomatoes, fresh
pineapple and heaps of grapes). A fire in the fireplace. The party was pretty
dull or is that just the nature of parties? Anyway, Sushila was feeling
low because of Nehru's death, Miss D was wit-congested with a cold, Peter
got slowly sillier because he cannot stop drinking. The good things were
talking eating pineapple and sitting outside ALONE after the ghastly socializing
Peter H is sporting something new and Daring - a pair of 'trousers' whose
pockets are red-lined so that it looks as if he is wearing red underwear
and his pants are side-split. He loves them and he is wearing them constantly
"so that you can get used to them."
While he was happy last night, he started telling stories of the boobs
he used to make in English before he understood implications etc, and then
there was the morning when he got up sleepily, went downstairs, heard his
big dog Buffy shuffling in around the corner and said "Hel-lo muttikins-baby,
sweetie-puss, howareyuh honeypatch doggie er, Miss Allen! I thought you
were a dog I mean, I know you aren't a dog, but I thought you were
... I mean ..." And Miss Allen, coolly, "Why Peter, that is the
nicest welcome to Sunnyside I've ever had."
A record of Handel's arias is on - it meets Peter's record of Maria Callas
at the corner of the hallway.
A wonderful many edged plot is underway at Sunnyside, to hoodwink both
the Board and Miss Allen in one blow, and instead of getting one dog to
replace Buffie, to get two dogs, a labrador and a Saint Bernard.
Miss Allen is in love with a lab puppy who has "such a marvelous personality"
but Peter wants a Saint Bernard too. So Peter is going to buy the labrador
puppy himself, have the kennel man tell Miss A that her darling has been
sold. According to plan, she will then resignedly okay the Saint Bernard,
which the Board's money will cheerfully buy. When this other puppy is safely
a Sunnysider, Peter will sneak in the labrador. She can't and won't
object, and the Board has no voice over worker's pets - then, gradually,
the labrador becomes Sunnyside's dog rather than Peter's, and we've won.
That record of Handel and Bach arias is so good. It is wonderful to come
home from a party of sociability and listen to it.
It has been a wonderfully sunny Sunday - how was your day? Do you still
sleep in the afternoon and have a cake-lunch late in the afternoon and then
do chores and then - listen to records and CBC Sunday Night?
Tuesday June 2
Joey today explained very earnestly that Sushila Solomon is a "skwak"
because she is Indian and Indian women are. Another of the kids' bloobers
is in their skipping song where they sing "He goes corking one, two,
three." A prize example of adult bloobers was the letter Joey's worker
in Toronto sent him. She explained coyly that she was one of the "kind
big people" who tries to "help children," and ended by saying
"We are trying to find a new home for our nice friend Joseph."
Staff found this - ugh - thing a demonstration of how not to write to children.
Mrs Thompson has such a refreshing way of waking one up in the mornings.
She slides into the room, touches one's toe very gently, and says "Miss
The Board has approved our Saint Bernard! Our schemes are going well.
Tuesday June 9
Liebe Familie in der? Die? Ferne -
I would like to send you a newsreel of how it feels to whiz down the
campus streets on the bicycle in the late afternoon green-saturated sun-sopping
AIR smelling whiffs of trees and flower beds and the distinctive smell of
the library. There is a sculpted head of some dignitary in the middle-floor
row of windows, that looks like a staring human face from the sidewalk below.
It sees a large number of people on bicycles passing on University Avenue,
girls walking barefoot on the grass with shoes in hand, workmen in helmits
puffing on coffee-break cigarettes, funny dirty alive Mr Ferguson with his
head stuck forward on his shoulders and the grizzly hair on his neck (like
a scraggly mane) shedding over his inevitable, filthy, black suit . High
school students using the library to cram for senior matric finals (and
I look at them with a condescending fondness that says - I've been through
all that!). Lilacs are past now, and iris are blooming in daffodil-recapitulation
yellows and orchid-dotted browns and terribly royal purples. And hawthorn
- aren't you curious about hawthorn? I always was, because I loved the sound
of the word. Hawthorn is tree-bushes with small red flowers in clumps, very
pretty - I have some with white maythorn in a yellow jug, on my bookcase.
And iris next to my quaint, friendly Rembrandt. Robert Frost is in comfortable
austerity on the back of my door.
Last night's prowl was at 2 a.m. of course, coat over pyjamas and delightfully
sneaky slippers, out of the big red front door, down the black drive in
the deep shadow of all our trees, through the street-lit gateposts with
their "Sunnyside" sign, no cars, empty streets, warm air tossing
a little under the restraint of a ground-fog, pockets of light in the trees
near a streetlamp. The long hill down to the lake, white ghostly mayflowers
spilling over a fence. One street to cross, pause until two people have
gone by, holding hands. Then the long cool lawn, the edge of the beach,
and the lake moving in and out on a line of white spray in the dark. Lying
flat on the grass, a line of trees and streetlamps stretching in one direction
along the lake, stars like powder. Terrifying and peaceful at one time.
The staff has given Miss Detweiler a dozen red rosebuds with a note,
"To Det for braving the Board." (About the Saint Bernard which
is due to be picked up next week.)
Thursday 11 June
What a kooky and rather wonderful lot of people these Sunnyside staffers
are! An example - I come downstairs at two a.m. for a brief walk outside,
and there in the sitting room are a touselled Miss Detweiler and a lounging
Peter listening to Bach's Saint Mathew's Passion and passionately
discussing prison reform! And when they catch me sitting on the stairs listening
to the music, they say "Why don't you come in and sit on something
softer? We'll not talk too loudly." Then the three of us listen, they
drink rum and I drink lemon Coke and we all discuss prison reform until
at three thirty a.m. I leave them to go to bed, and they are only half-way
through the Passion.
I have to be up by six for kids getting-up duty, so there is no point
in going to bed. Read a novel until five thirty. It is bright out, and Kingston
must be asleep. Bicycle, empty streets, the campus already warm and green,
but deserted. A fat lady walking to work, shouting a bit of conversation
after me. A worker in a steamboiler room leaning from his window to whistle,
later a newspaper boy, a taxi driver too grumpled from night duty to smile,
no one else.
The bike's wheels turning through the reflections in street-cleaner puddles,
strange white-washed sky, paths in the parks clean and bare, the black iron
lion and the statue of John A like signs of imagination in the town, a black
door with an elaborate knocker, a tall elegant old house with geraniums
and underclothes on its back balconies, the lake by the yacht club dock
smooth as if there were a thick transparent milk-like skin over it. The
boats moving ever so slightly on the water, their black and wood masts in
swaying reflections that seem to be screwing straight into the water, the
"Royal Tramp" with its stateroom curtains pulled shut, the "Second
Try," the "Enigma" perhaps there somewhere too. A red freightboat
on the horizon. A long time standing and looking at it all.
Monday 15 June
This morning Tom Murphy who is long and thin and hollow-eyed, put on
his monster-robot act in which he freezes his face to steel-mask rigidity
and shuffles with stiff legs like a machine. He was chasing a screaming
Helen around the tables where we were eating breakfast. To get a little
order, I had to grab the 'control box' on his back and put him out of commission.
We could almost see the springs and screws popping out as he crumpled slowly
to the ground. All the children unexpectedly began to clap and cheer until
the ceiling rattled - the land was delivered from the monster robot! I shudder
to think what would have happened to the good time if Mrs Govia had been
on, because she pounces on every little disturbance, but Peter was with
me and both of us could only manage to laugh. So the morning left everyone
feeling a bit light-hearted. Times like these make you like the kids.
Sudden softnesses of myself today, during the warm afternoon, the child-full
morning, are fragments of last night's melting.
After babysitting until twelve fifteen last night, I flew to the International
House party on my bicycle, and the cape-streaming shadow was so ludicrously
Batman that I laughed aloud.
A few shapes still moving behind the curtains at the House, music and
light. Striding in (in a cape you can stride) to the doorway, pausing to
see Dennis' face alit in the chair below me, flourishing him the cape and
falling quickly into the pattern of his dancing. Light, precise, sway-right,
shift-sway left, step quickly step. Face and cheek. Peace, and an almost-oblivion
like a trance.
Then sitting in the chairs and talking to Dud while I could feel his
fingers on the back of my neck.
And by the door as he stopped to open it for me, his arms slowly drawing
me close to him; and his hard lean body nearby, cheekbone and shoulder,
arm and thigh. For myself, response to the mystery and the darkness in his
face, and to all that he is, unknown but believed in.
"Are you trembling?" "Perhaps. I don't know." "Are
you afraid of me?" "No." "You should be." "I
have a habit of being very trusting." "I don't like to tell you,
but you shouldn't."
Walking home together, close, he wheeling my bicycle and holding my shoulders
with one arm. The shadow under the tree, beside the bicycle rack: close
and warm, his ears cold, the books clumsily between us, the soft curly hair
on his neck. His head once softly on my chest like a small boy's.
"Sweet little Ellie."
"If it wasn't for that," (oh, I thank you for this honesty!)
"you would be one of the most beautiful girls in Queen's." Dennis
you must know that I have a shepherd's face and that what I have of beauty
is only expression of my life.
But the mirror, two a.m., in my room smiles at the petunia in my hair,
smiles to remember his secret face and his gentle hands, at the hair tumbling
down. Says I am pretty. And so I smile to myself today in softness.
Tuesday June 30
Yesterday morning when I was on duty, a visiting lady-psychologist and
I took Kevin, Bobbie and Tom on a hike. We took the boys' route, not the
conventional one: through a truck yard, down the railroad track on the waterfront,
over railroad cars, under a truck in a garage that was getting a grease
job, with a detour to sample the used oil and talk to the garage man, over
a fence, and pell-mell down to the bridge. It is a favorite bridge of the
boys because it is a lift-bridge and goes up with much fascinating creaking
and sighing whenever a boat wants to pass under it. While we were there
the many-sailed brigantine Saint Lawrence II passed under the bridge and
so we saw it creeping up and then down again. The workmen who had been painting
the bridge watched it with us. When I said to one of the boys, "Why
don't you wave at them?" a rumbly voice behind me said "Why don't
you? They are more likely to see you."
Tuesday July 7
Lake Ontario is warm this afternoon and was perfect for swimming.
Yesterday night Peter went out to the Old House and asked if I'd like
to go along, so you shall hear about the Old House too. It is a large two-winged
stone building erected somewhere about 1882 as a farmhouse for a man who
came from Bristol as a pioneer after dodging a debtor's jail sentence. Miss
Detweiler and Miss Allen own it now, and are renovating it slowly and beautifully.
They also have a large barn and 22 acres that a farmer cultivates for them.
It has a long rutted drive with trees on either side, and rabbit thickets.
The back verandah is covered with grape vines, and the back door opens directly
into their favorite room. The dining-living-kitchen has a huge stone fireplace
built into one end, with an array of brass and iron cooking pots and pans
on the hearth. They use it often. Other furniture in the room is sand-colored,
simply-built pioneer-style; the windows have rush curtains in red and gold;
there are candles everywhere, and two beeswax tapers frame Miss Detweiler's
big iron goddess sculpture in one deeply recessed window. There are large
books with wonderful pictures strewn everywhere, and many paintings (a number
of them by Peter) on the walls. Fruit, sea shells, bottles, curios, rugs,
books, everywhere. Next to the fireplace, built into the wall, is a little
black cast-iron door - the bread oven. Baskets hold firewood. There are
three puppies leaping from person to person - Miss Detweiler is sitting
in a big chair in her pedal pushers and an old college sweater with paint
on it, reading a book on early Canadian history, chuckling often and reading
us bits. The rest of us pick up books of our own or cuddle the dogs - delightful
place to visit. You know how often you've been embarrassed, Mother, when
your children are visitors and they straightaway pick up a book and ignore
everyone - here it is natural and the hosts do it too!
Got the nicest letter from Grandma K who says "Grandpa und ich schliefen
in eurem Mädchenzimmer. Habe mir oft den Halbmond mit den Sternen angeschaut
und gedacht was wohl die Mädels fur Luftschlosser bauten, die möglich
bis an den Sternen und bis zum Mond reichten? Ja, o wie schön ist die
Jugendzeit mit all seinen Träumen und Wünschen!"
Canoeing with Mike to Cedar Island - the exaltation of sitting at the
canoe prow slanting across waves with the free lift-fall of the water -
a feeling of being completely in the water and feeling the fluidity of it
in reality. Pulling up on a flat rock, climbing while Mike swam (long thin
body thrashing quickly in and out again). Running over the island exploring,
like a child, but thinking, as I picked berries, "gathering berries
for your supper, Mike" - undertone of cave woman and sexuality in that!
The small fire under a wall of rock, built on a ledge among cinders.
Twisted elm tree nearby. The lake lapping near us in a finger-lagoon below.
The silhoettes, lights on the water. Smell of smoke, rustling of trees,
large grinding of water. We had bacon-steak-tomato shish-kebab on green
sticks turned over the fire. Apple pie squashed flat together, two pieces
pried apart on the wax paper. ("Here is the piece de résistance.")
Then dark and the comfort of lying on your stomach with face in the firelight,
talking - about all the people in Hemingway that we remember, about progress
and science and ourselves in this. Later, about love. "It's something
in yourself. It has nothing to do with the other person besides being a
"You are very pretty in the half-light. How old are you?" "Nineteen."
"Did you ever make love?" "No, I guess not." "I
wish you liked to make love. It's such fun!"
Later, leaning against the rock with his arm about me and his fingers
moving, I saw a girl's face in the embers, very alive and young. "I
wish you could have something more than bricks in your arms, but -."
July 23, Thursday
Peter Hagedorn teases me no end about all my 'lovers'. And he choked
with glee last night when I was making a snack in the kitchen, wrapped in
pyjamas and my bedspread, with all my clothes in the washer, and suddenly
I had an unexpected gentleman caller, but ha for Peter, the visitor was
Harsh Bhargava from India, who thought my turquoise chenille bedspread a
perfectly respectable sari! Harsh has just finished his MA English thesis
and wanted to talk about it.
The clippings of the Frank J Doerksen silver wedding were interesting,
thank you for sending them. They made me sick. Platitudes and saliva. I
think the Frank I know hated it. It would make me sicker if I didn't think
he hated it. I hate to think of him existing in that East Aldergrove MB
muck, and trying so hard to reconcile himself to it. That is the worst.
If he ever stops fighting it the Frank I care(d) about will be lost.
Do you know about our new little boy, Simon? He is three and a half,
and tiny, with huge blue eyes and almost white hair. His legs are still
a little curved, from rickets, but he runs, walks, jumps, and takes his
tumbles without a wimper. His mother, who finally married her stepfather
after an incestuous relationship, had twelve other children, one nearly
every year. She had the first when she was thirteen. And so Simon hasn't
had much of a life! But since he came to Sunnyside he has begun to radiate
happiness - at first he trusted no one but Peter Hagedorn because the only
decent relationship he had before was with his male case worker. Now he
likes most of the women here, and is beginning to trust them. At first he
would allow no one to help him with anything - he dressed, fed, toileted,
himself by himself with a fierce and desperate independence. Now he has
begun to let us help him, and this is wonderful. Simon has of course become
the Sunnyside pet: all the children dote on him because he is so small,
so sunny, and so game: and the staff quite naturally make utter fools of
themselves over him. But this little boy won't get spoiled. Even the kitchen
staff are always hugging him and sneaking him cookies! Frankie, who is our
temporary cook, stood in the kitchen and cried her eyes out when he came
because he was so tiny and bow-legged and tough -
Carol and I have a 'thing' - in Sunnyside jargon, that means that we
seem to have developed a special relationship that is just a bit more than
the child's relationships with other staff. These special 'things' are very
good - they show that the child has progressed to the point of being able
to handle a more personal and intense relationship trustfully, and when
he is able to do this, he is nearly ready to move into a home, and the kind
of special relationship that will hopefully develop with the parents. The
symptoms of a 'thing' are mainly preference for that person, confiding of
troubles, telling of good news. And Carol sneaks into my room sometimes
at night to sleep with me for a while. And I'm delighted that Carol has
a 'thing' on me because I'm very fond of her - she is such a quicksilver
child, moods, humour, depression and delight. And she is a beautiful child
as well, more from expression and movement than from actual features because
she has a thin body full of angles, freckles, a defiant chin. But elfin
eyes! And naughty. I chortled to myself yesterday morning when I heard Thompsie
chiding her for singing in bed. Thompsie said "That is very impolite.
Don't you know that little girls should be refined and cultured and QUIET."
Carol, with her tomboy ways and her raucous voice, cultured and refined!
Wednesday July 29
I am in my room, listening to Les Préludes by Liszt, I
think: slow exquisite music. And I'm rejoicing in my new clothes - a pair
of cut-off blue jeans like the ones that were Ban Righ III uniform, a beautifully
tailored blue shirt, sneakers.
It rained one afternoon about two weeks ago, and rain is my undoing -
I got onto my bicycle and peddled madly, waving at people and grinning insanely
all the way. And I took all my money, eight dollars and seventy-six cents,
in a plastic bag, most of it jingling change. The record shop: a sale, twenty
percent off everything. !!!!
Do you know, there is a different sort of magic about nineteen. It is
still ingenue and girlish, but it has a suggestion of worldliness and wisdom
that sixteen suspects nothing of. It seems to be an age that appeals to
men very much. Twenty is such a placid-sounding age, and twenty-one has
a smug I've-arrived quality. But nineteen still has a questioning many-possibilities
piquancy that I'm very much enjoying!
Kingston is very hot and very lovely now, with an intensity of color,
scent, contrast. I like to swim at night, where it is shallow and warm in
my favorite spot. Especially when there are small waves, it is very peaceful
to float on your back and look at the stars, the lights on the water.
I met a man swimming last night who has been here from France about four
months - he is a swimming instructor with a beautiful body and a very strong
face that seems to flicker with light and intelligence. His name is Michael.
We had a long talk after we came from the water, and it was one of the ships-by-night
meetings that make me realize as I so seldom do, as anyone so seldom does,
that another person exists in the same very real, urgent, and CONSCIOUS
way that I do myself.
I have been dreaming over cameras, poring over photo magazines and hanging
about photo shops - the camera I want is a Leica of course, for about $432
with case. But I'd settle for a Super Contaflex B, about two hundred dollars
less. Dreams! And Europe too. But that isn't a dream, it is a reality unless
the world falls apart.
28 July Friday
Peter is in the sitting room now, watching the moon-shot coverage on
television. A press conference is being shown now, and it appeals to me
for the many faces listening so intently and everyone leaning forward in
their chairs, firing questions into microphones. Moon flights are suddenly
less chimerical, and we can begin to feel the slow apprehension of Change.
But I'll always remember Mrs Kinderwater when I hear of moonshots and new
exploration. Do you remember the afternoon when we were having tea with
her and she said, "I wish I were growing up in this age. It is a wonderful
time, so much happening, so much changing." I hope to feel the same
way when I am an old woman, and I think I will.
I have been sitting and talking to Betsy tonight - I'm becoming very
fond of her because she has an enthusiasm, warmth, humour, joyfulness, that
is rare and valuable. I'm just beginning to realize how important a capacity
for joy is in the people I love. My best friends are the people to whom
I confide - sometimes my troubles but not necessarily - my joy. It is irritating
to go out with so many perfectly nice boys because they are so flat-toned.
5 August Wednesday
Summer seems to have come to a standstill: the flowers have stopped blooming,
cold days alternate with hot ones, the leaves aren't yellow exactly, but
seem to be less green.
I told you about my cut-off bluejeans didn't I? They come to about three
inches above my knees so they are bona fide shorts. They are so comfortable
that I only change out of them to go out - they even go shopping downtown.
The reason that I'm relating this mundane detail is that it is not really
mundane at all; it is quite a victory. Mother will probably have grasped
that already - remember the girl who used to refuse to get the mail from
La Glace without socks on? I think I'm all through wincing; and it is good.
August 6, Hiroshima Day
One of our daycare children is Harold, who is eight I think, but retarded
- he is blond, blue-eyed, pink-skinned, very silent except for flashes of
temper in which he jumps up and down and gibbers indistinguishably. His
speech defect blurs his speech so that children and even his parents can
usually not understand him. His family is a family of good minds and liveliness
- they can't stand him. Another of our daycare kids is very much the opposite
- David Mead is ten, a 130-plus IQ, freckled, inventive, flashingly green-eyed
and red-headed, a troublemaker. The school and the neighbourhood watch him
from the corner of their eyes - he's an accomplished liar, thief, cheat.
But there is so much fundamentally terrific about him (Miss Detweiler's
phrasing) - our first problem here is to make him understand that we know
he is intelligent - that we are intelligent too - and that we usually
know what he is up to. And that he can succeed and manage without his old
tricks - at home, his wealthy but penny-pinching parents (his father is
a physicist) and his three other siblings can't understand or stand him.
He is beginning to trust Sunnyside.
I'll see you soon. I'll bring some records. Am I welcome?
There is a plum tree growing beside one of the Sunnyside walls, leaning
over what was once the stables and is now the school. The children have
been throwing stones and sticks up to knock down the half-ripe plums all
day. Tonight, now that they are safely asleep, I climbed the tree myself
to pick a handful. Do you know about my nightgown? Blue checked with lace
and long sleeves, very good-girl. It caught a bit in the tree, but the bark
was rough and good for footholds. Picking fruit in the dark is like receiving
gifts. Judy will remember last year, picking cherries in the rainy dark
at Mr Dyck's. You put out your hand to brace yourself, and the tree puts
a plum in your hand. Tonight the cat, Tinker, climbed up with me but refused
to have any part of this mad and night-gowned plum picking.
Now it is several minutes after midnight, and I'm afraid that I am having
one of my orgies. How I hate to go to bed. There are too many books, records,
things to think out. Could we not perhaps change things so that the day
started at noon and ended at three a.m.? But oh! Oh! No! I refuse to give
up my mornings.
Mama, Mama, I knew you would fly out with all sorts of anxieties when
I told you that I'd done weekending with Peter. You seem to have read things
in lilac ink between the lines: some of them may even be true, but not nearly
as dramatically violet colored true as your romantic heart will timorously
like to think. Unfortunately! Explosive, I'm afraid, it is not. Who will
explode? Me? I've found very disappointingly that I have not a single passionate
inch of tissue or bone or brain. The only things I can get passionate about
are nonanimates like plum trees and waves. It is a great shortcoming. And
if you knew Peter a little better you would know that he is not in danger
of exploding either: he is very security-minded and that includes emotions
too. And besides, I'm overweight! How does he feel about me? Affection,
attraction perhaps, gemütlichkeit, friendness. And who cares about
the particulars of it? I hope that you are not terribly relieved or
disappointed at the absence of grande amour Mother. Maybe another time.
I've wanted to tell you about the masquerade party we had on Saturday
afternoon. This was the afternoon after the no-sleep night.
All of the children had costumes and we had a flurry of tying sashes
and putting on makeup and admiring in our rooms (an invitation to a staff
bedroom is very special): the front verandah was decorated with large purple
and black abstracts (paintings the children had done with their feet earlier
in the afternoon); music was broadcasted onto the front lawn from loudspeakers
in the second floor bedroom windows.
The kids: Brenda, who is naturally a helpless giggly little female, was
glorious and fluttery in a red ballet tutu, diamond earrings and several
necklaces, broches, bracelets, and her plaid bedroom slippers. Carol, in
a short pleated satin skirt and peasant blouse, with a pink satin rose on
top of her head looked half-majorette and half-colt. I gave all of them
exaggerated black eyes, red round cheeks and Scintillatingly Scarlet mouths.
Peter dressed the boys: blond Stevie was swashbuckling in a flattened-with-age
velvet chevalier hat, wicked pointed black moustache, and sweeping gold
cape. He naturally looks so appealingly naughty that the role was a perfect
fit. Tom was very long and I'm afraid monkey-looking in a soldier suit,
because he has such lengthy bare bones and sunken eyes. Teddy was a wild
Injun. With half-moons painted on his cheeks. Simon tumbled about in a baby-soldier
suit with cape, sword, cap.
When everybody was ready we went out in the front and started the music.
Then we had a Polonaise - an old Polish folk dance. Two by two with Peter
and me raggedly leading (but enthusiastically - hops and skips and confidential
grins when the kids weren't looking) a very shaggy line of couples through
promenades, ducks under our London-Bridge raised hands, circles and turns.
Then we had minuets. One-and-two-three, one-and-two-three, turn and bow.
One-and-two-three Peter's voice with its comical Dutch accent and spontaneous
glee leading mismatched couples who were always two counts behind him and
the music. Walzes - the staff picking up one child each and whirling him
front-wards piggy-back through all sorts of walzing turns and glides. Then
ballet: first, the Nutcracker Suite which the kids know backwards and perform
beautifully; then Peter and the Wolf acted out delightfully with Tom as
a comic Peter, Brenda as a fluttering red-net bird, Marlene as the purring
Negro little cat scooting about on the ground, Carol as a hair-tossing,
snarling, leaping wolf caught to the tree, Teddy as a buckskinned and stalking
hunter, Sherry as the plump waddling little duck. The kids are exciting
actors and they do the play without any selfconsciousness. In the Nutcracker
Suite they are languidly awakening flowers, leaping Russian Trepok-dancers,
flashing twittering Sugarplum Fairies, everything with so much energy that
I found myself joining them in spite of myself. I'd give a great deal to
be able to skate and to dance. There is something very thrilling about creating
and expressing in motion.
These children in many ways are a blessing: they develop the children
in us I think - I know that my affectionally and expressively rigid personality
is loosening just from dealing with them. You become emotionally more spontaneous
and expressively much less self-conscious working with them. And these kids
are absolutely matter-of-fact about my awkwardness in dancing. All they
really care about is that you are in there with them. I'm crazy about lot
of them, and it is so easy to show it. And so necessary. Love is our working
material and personal relationships are our technique. Creative work, and
for me at least, a sort of creative becoming.
Perhaps that is why Peter Hagedorn is such a remarkable person. Aside
from the intelligence, awareness, and creative imagination which he has
enormous amounts of, he has as well a seemingly completely free personality.
He is a cynic in theory, but he lives like a child who loves things and
times and adores himself and the world although and because he knows they
are so ridiculous. His plans for the children - the ball and the masquerade
this time - are always imaginative and he participates with them, as one
of them. He seems to have no self-conscious feelings and not a sliver of
inferiority complex. He is ugly in a way, crooked front tooth, bristling
hair, but we find him very attractive. His body is part of his attractiveness
- very active, running, painting, toe-wiggling, built like a bullfighter's.
He loves crazy clothes like plaid ponchos and red-pocketed tight black trousers
or a pair of pale green bamboo-looking skinny pants. He capers, dances,
sings, whistles, hugs and tickles and shouts at children all at exactly
the right moment, drinks rum and listens to Callas, or talks all with the
same tight joyousness. He doesn't give a whit about the opinions of other
people, he doesn't worry about a thing and despises money-worship, he knows
how to enjoy food or art or music or books intensely and critically. If
I didn't have some of the sense of the ridiculous that wears off from him,
I'd probably fall laughingly in love with him, but his insouiciance about
such a giddy myth makes even the idea proposterous. Another reason for enjoying
- And Miss Detweiler too. Green querying mocking eyes like a large cat's
over the rim of a rum glass, hair tied back wildly with a white shoelace,
flat shoes and striped pedal-pushers, large mouth and alert but womanless
body, freckles and blond hair on her arms. She has an arrogance about her
too that I like very much. She never says anything nice to or about anyone
else except for a good reason, her humour is half-grin and half-grimace,
biting. She is interested in everything worth being interested in. She refuses
to listen to you unless you are talking about something interesting. But
if you are, she gives you her full green-eyed and dangerously sardonic attention.
She is delightful. She knows it.
I don't seem to be getting any sleep but I seem to be becoming more energetic
and happier if possible with every late night. But then to sleep in in the
morning. How are you all? Please be fine: else I shall feel guilty at being
so coddled by Olympus.
12 August Wednesday night
Photography becomes more and more of a dominating interest. I love the
creative possibilities of photographs, but I also love the technicalities
of it as an art. I think this is related to the part of my brain that loves
algebra and philosophical devialities and what Frank used to say was "thinking
like a man."
Last night it rained, and the lane, gateway, tree-framing and street
lamp made a wonderful light-shadow-form composition that was so exciting
one had to run into it down the drive through the warm puddles and become
part of the enchantment. Perhaps part of joy is absorbtion into beautiful
things or vigorous things.
Thursday Aug 19th
Olivia did appear for the weekend. Spent the afternoon bumming around
on bicycles, getting "Sorry but we've just rented" from all our
On Sunday morning I left Olivia fast asleep while I got up at seven to
take Musical Panorama, the 8-12 Sunday morning classics show with operator
Bruce Robinson who is delightful company, as well as the music. Began with
Bach and ended with twentieth century stuff, quite 'hairy' and potboiler.
The apartment we have now if nothing disasterous happens before September,
is the third floor of an old brick house. The downstairs and hallway is
very shabby and smells of countless suppertimes, but the third floor is
airy, clean and all ours - bedroom, living room, kitchen, and a shared bathroom.
Olivia will have the bedroom and I'll sleep on the couch in the living room
because she is much too untidy for me anyway and will be sleeping later
when I have to get up at six thirty to go to work. More about it later.
The landlord is Hawaiian, a very hearty warm sort of person I think, and
his wife is untidy and probably stupid, but friendly. The family is quite
large, going down from a fifteen year old girl to two babies. Several other
students live there. It is near the cathedral, a grocery shop, a drugstore,
and five blocks from University. Near downtown too. It is is sixty five
a month which is very cheap I suppose.
Mother, you will think this is cupboard love in demonstration, but I
have been thinking of how much I am going to enjoy some of your cooking
- notably: a-hem! stew with fresh vegetables! Bran muffins with many raisins!
Warm biscuits! Fresh bread both brown and white! Onion rolls! Buns! Jam!
Oh this is ridiculous, I'm rattling these off with as much excitement as
if I hadn't eaten in a year. I'm excited - that's good? I have my ticket.
August 25, Tuesday morning
During the weekend Norm was here. Saturday night we did nothing but walk
miles and miles in the pouring rain until our shoes squished at every step:
we waited carefully at every traffic light and did not cross until it turned
red. Then we had egg rolls and Chinese tea that tastes like perfume in a
little restaurant, and then we walked home while it poured still harder.
When we got home at midnight-plus we lit candles in the TV room and set
them on the floor for warming fire, had hot chocolate and watched the late
show while Peter H and Miss Detweiler got higher and higher in the sitting
room; when they get really high, after four or five rum-and-Cokes, they
begin to tease the dogs. The two puppies have a ball, and horrible Johann
(the hideous daschund yaps at all my boyfriends whenever they come to the
door and I detest him), goes into a howling frenzy of jealousy. Miss Detweiler
doesn't become noisy, but she does begin to giggle most appealingly. Peter
just becomes terribly witty (he thinks) and wonderfully silly (I think).
La Glace September 8
The Brothers Karamazov and the red sky-ed tapestry on the wall.
Ivan speaking his anger and his disbelief tersely to Alyosha in a Russian
café. I shouting my anger against the God my mother believes in,
and I shouting anger against Mother's hard work, Father's blind heart, Rudy's
bent thin shoulders. Peter - against the realization of his energy and anger.
I love this energy and anger of him. We had supper together here, went
driving, stopped at Saskatoon Lake to watch black reeds moving in the textured
water; spun and swerved through a sort of nothingness on the merry-go-round,
clumped and tilting close in the centre. Holding hands in the car and stopping
at the corner in La Glace for just one moment. Sluffing through grass to
the small house [where the Dycks used to live]. Rain on the porch, wet dripping
from the roof, hair wet, cold water on my back and a strange thorough kiss.
Gentle and stirring rather than sharp, as a cat-kiss would be. Opulent.
At Sexsmith today, brooding from the office window, over the wet grass,
the small roofs shining, the blue shack and the footbridge. The pebbles
on the gymnasium roof still and calm-colored under the racing rings of light-drops
on the water. Anger at goodbyes and the desire to look at Peter and shout
Damn! Finally a wordless exit.
I hate to say goodbye and yet I love the ceremony of Lasts. I love Sexsmith,
I love Mr Mann and Peter and Wayne Lock and the corridors and corners. Why
not say long words to bridge having and not having them? But the uselessness
and the dissatisfaction of it.
Masks? Mrs Bellamy - and the impulse is always to say "Bless her"
- said "Oh, we could talk for years. It is so seldom that you meet
someone you can talk to. Masks. Everybody." She hugged me when I came,
and again when I left. She bubbles joy and warmth - small, sturdy, many-colored
bubbles like champagne and like soap. Small, round Mrs Bellamy with her
open face, her girlish hair around her face, her long goodbyes and her eager
questions. She is innocence and youthfulness - wistfulness. Briskness and
gentleness. "See my beautiful children: look, etherial, almost."
And she introduced them to me one by one, her really beautiful grade one
children. "Compassion is the word I remember" and "You must
read The Agony and the Ecstasy, Michaelangelo. It made me think of
you. Fury, or dedication. It makes me think of Peter Dyck too. Taking the
hammer and the Pieta!"