There are the Alps. What is there to say about them? They don't make sense. ... You will have to go a long way round if you want to avoid them. It takes some getting used to. There are the Alps, fools! Sit down and wait for them to crumble! -Excerpts from “On the fly-leaf of Pound’s Cantos” By Basil Bunting
I grew up on the West Coast of Canada, in a land of mountains and ocean.
At a seminar I attended years ago, the professor spoke of the idea of an “internal landscape”. He spoke of how, having grown up in the prairies, his internal landscape was characterized by endless horizons and vast stretches of sky.
For me, it was mountains and ocean that shaped my consciousness.
Growing up out west, the moods of the landscape held me fascinated. Sunny days were dazzling, the mountains and the ocean sharp-edged, as if formed from cut crystal, the vegetation seething with the dark green of ancient knowing. Equally fascinating were the days when clouds streaked across the folds and crags of the mountains and blurred the line between ocean and sky.
This marked my early, visceral connection with the spiritual. It has stayed with me since.
But there was another side to my spirituality as well. My Anglo-Indian ancestors had lived in India for generations, and I grew up with colourful family lore. One of my favourites tells of how my great grandmother encountered Death at the bedside of her ailing daughter, my great aunt. Nor do I mean the abstracted idea of death, but rather Death, personified as a wizened, brown-skinned woman in a white sari. Continue reading