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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Yesterday was the Remembrance Day holiday here in Canada. Kimmie and I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon walking in East Vancouver, marveling at the windblown trees in the low light of the sun. Storms knocked out power for many thousands of people, but we saw our lights flicker only a couple of times.

Today I thought I would offer up another one of my lifewriting vignettes of my earliest memories. This one I called "Clouds":

I'm standing beside Grandma in the living-room. Grandma wears sweaters and pants, and scarves on her head. She has big eyes and she blinks hard. She stands with her arms crossed in front of her. She doesn't talk like Mom and Dad. Sometimes words are hard for her. We're looking out the window over the table. There are white clouds in the blue sky.

"Look!" I say. "The cloud's moving!"

When I turn I face the side of her pants.

"Yes," says Grandma. She is calm. She is not surprised.

"Why do they move?" I say.

"The wind...blows them," she says.

"Where do they go?"

Grandma unfolds her arms to move one of them in the air.

"Around the world," she says.

I feel something deep and big and mysterious. I turn to look up at Grandma. I am in awe.

"Grandma, do you know everything?"

"Oh no," she says. "No!"

Now she's surprised. I'm surprised at how surprised she is. I don't understand how she doesn't know everything. She knows where the clouds go.

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