Saturday, June 27, 2009

Heart of a hero

In her short story Heart of a Peacock, Canadian artist Emily Carr wrote about a glamorous, noisy, nosy bird that played hooky from the park near her home. She first met him as he admired his plumage in the reflection cast by her studio window, but he soon drifted inside to watch her paint and after a few visits he skipped the narcissism and went straight for the companionship. The poor thing had been lonely, as the beautiful and brilliant so often are.

Eventually, though, covetous townsfolk caged the peacock, its colours dimmed and it died of a broken heart.

These days, there are half a dozen peafowl in the park along with a steady stream of visitors agog at the charming kids, waddling turkeys, and top-knotted llamas. 

The peacocks leap tall fences with a single bound and they get all the admiration they want.

The females, on the other hand, move around almost unnoticed. They visit the Muscovy ducklings, trot over to the donkey pen, and occasionally stroll right off the premises. Clearly, they love independence as much as their guys do; they’re just less…obvious about it.      

On the surface Emily Carr looked unremarkable, but inside she was smart, tough, independent and brilliant. Emily had that trait most admirable in a hero: she had the heart of a peahen.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Here's to the good guys

June is the perfect month for Father’s Day. When a man is honorable and kind (or if he’s not, I suppose) his traits show up clearly during the long hours of daylight. Lucky for me, my menfolk are the sort whose sweetness and generosity I can truly celebrate.

In June eighteen years ago, in an act of quite staggering bravery, my husband married me. My dad signed the cheques for the historic venue, flower petals on the lawn, and wine for 70; I like to think he smiled while he did it.

On our anniversary ten years ago, my husband proved his devotion again when he indulged my love of cycling by buying a pair of padded shorts and riding around Ireland with me for a month. I don’t even remember asking my parents, but they stepped up to look after the house and the cat.

Four years ago, my husband cheered when I quit my day job so I could spend more time writing novels. (Okay, he grunted. I like to think of it as a cheer.) That same month, I told my father I was going to ride my two-wheeler around British Columbia alone; he ratcheted a smile onto his face and then, with a red satin ribbon, tied a little bell to my handlebars to scare away the bears.

Last week, my husband told me he hopes I’ll keep penning those books. Then he kissed me goodbye and went to work so I could.

And yesterday, my dad arrived with a punnet of strawberries from a local farm.

“It’s supposed to be Father’s Day tomorrow,” I said happily as I took the little basket, “but instead you’ve turned it into Daughter’s Day.”

He and my husband exchanged glances. “It’s always Daughter’s Day,” Dad said.
I ate the strawberries while they laughed.

Today I offer a toast to my men: Thank you for supporting me, cushioning me, and keeping me balanced.
You are the air within my tires.