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still warm

It said in the newspaper today that Friday was the warmest Nov. 25 on record. Today, still mild; through the rain, I saw two men in shorts. That’s the problem with global warming – in the fall and winter, it’s harder to be outraged when the air feels so good.

On Thursday, I went first to a memorial event at the Y – a runfit instructor of many years, Len, died a few weeks ago when his car was struck at a train crossing. I knew Len only as an instructor, one who’d stopped teaching the classes I attend years ago, but wanted very much to go anyway – because we runfit nuts are a family. None of us had met Len outside the Y, and yet there we all were in a meeting room at the Y, eating pizza with Len’s wife and son and watching a video about his life. Several people spoke about him.

How I love and respect the Y. It has been an important component of my sanity for most of my life.
I rushed from there to the theatre to see “Red,” a play about the painter Mark Rothko. Funny, not long ago I saw “I send you cadmium red;” must be this season’s theme. My friend Nicky Cavendish was given opening night tickets she couldn’t use, so she kindly gave them to Wayson and me. It was a fascinating evening of theatre, no question, the portrait of the irascible, volcanic Rothko giving a powerful view into the life and process of a painter. I loved re-imagining the Rothko works I saw recently in the Abstract Expressionist show at the AGO, and thinking about the other painters mentioned, especially Jackson Pollock. But it was a flawed production – a director getting too busy with distracting, unnecessary stuff – bits of music, lighting changes – and good actors starting too high, so left with nowhere to go. Mr. C. and I went out to eat afterwards and gossiped about the play and the theatre. My idea of fun.
Friday night, my francophone group – two of the men are impossibly erudite, I often feel like a dumkopf. This time, a discussion of the German philosopher Jurgen Habermas, of whom I’d never even heard. They then discussed the perilous state of European finance, a conversation I could barely follow, and then we dove into genius and art, avoiding, for once, the divisive issue of Israel and the Palestinians. We ate chili, salad, cheese and pear-marzipan tarts and drank the Beaujolais Nouveau I’d brought. Gilbert talked about the first time he ate with a family in France, he from a Wasp Ontario farming family, tight-lipped and guarded. “They didn’t stop arguing,” he said. “The father and the daughter, screaming about Jean-Paul Sartre. I thought they were going to kill each other. And then suddenly the father said, in a normal voice, ‘Cherie, could you get another bottle of wine?’ and when she got back, they just chatted as if nothing had happened. I’d never seen anything like it.”
Mais oui, that’s the French family at mealtimes.
Went to the Y today, for a bit of a Zumba class – great music makes all the difference – and then guided meditation, a group run by Judy Steed. It’s a wonderful experience to sit in a small group with eyes closed and be led on an inner journey. We spend a lot of time hanging out up in the right brain, the centre, she says, of creativity and emotion. My heart slows, and my breathing, and I relish half an hour of stillness and contemplation, led by Judy’s voice, just listening to my own body, my own life. I’m spending so much time inside there anyway, with my memoir work. Tonight, I saw the last few minutes of a documentary on memory. “Your memories are you,” it said. “Your memories are who you are.” Especially interesting for someone who’s actively working with memories, to get them down and true and vivid.
Floating around in the past. On a warm November night.



2 Responses to “still warm”

  1. Rondi says:

    I am heartbroken about Len. I didn't know about his accident and then ran into someone from the Y who heard he had passed but did not know the details. I googled "Len" and "Y" and "runfit" and found your blog post. I am pleased there was a memorial with so many in attendance. I used to love his old Thursday night runfits, because a slow-poke like me could keep up! And of course, Len was easy on the eyes, especially if you ever ran into him when he was wearing a suit. Thank you for writing about him.

  2. beth says:

    Rondi, after watching the video about Len's life, I turned to his wife and said, "He was such a good looking man – and what a gorgeous smile!" He hardly changed over the years, except that his glasses got smaller, which is a good thing.

    Yes, it was a wonderful event to memorialize him. So sad that we don't celebrate good people when they're there to enjoy it.
    Take care.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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