10:00 am, and the bells are ringing at Immaculée Conception. Joggers go by with their golden retrievers, the old neighborhood women with their fluffy little dogs. Everything seems normal for a Sunday morning in May except for the snow that calmly falls, turning the window and my unbelieving mind into a blank television screen of fifty years ago.
Last night we watched a video about the frozen seas of the arctic and antarctic. Thousands of penguins riding waves that fling them onto the cliffs where they'll lay their eggs. The curved white backs of beluga trapped between ice-floes, rising to breathe in a small hole and diving again, as rhythmic as the turning gears of a giant clock, their backs scarred from the claws of hungry polar bears who wait at the edges of the hole. The underwater dance of fur seals feeding on a mass of pink, transparent krill. The bloodied muzzle of an arctic fox as she tears at the remains of a beluga carcass left by the bear.
I've moved north, and it's snowing in May.
Last night I dreamt of water, too. I was at the lake with my mother, and after talking to her inside the house I went out along the shore. It was the way it used to be, the water full of frogs and minnows that scattered and splashed at my approach, reeds and aquatic plants growing undisturbed. A frog with moth-wings attached to its back crawled out of the water, and I stooped for a closer look, finding myself on a pebbly shore beneath an eye-level, rocky wall where I tried to get a hand-hold, all the while looking at the plants growing in the crevices. I looked down at my feet; my leather hiking boots filled with water, but it wasn't cold, and suddenly I didn't care and let myself fall backwards into the shallow water, laughing, my jeans and white shirt soaking wet. Then I was walking back up the hill to the house to tell my mother to come down and see, but it wasn't her I found inside, but my father-in-law, lying on his bed under a blue sheet. He suddenly leapt out of bed, as nimble as a young boy, and quickly hopped back in again, a sly smile on his face as if to say, "You didn't see me do that!"
This morning I watch the snow falling and think of them, but mostly I see the moth-wings, patterned like old brown calico with a light blue eye, walking along the shore on the back of a frog, and a thin green stalk rising out of the water, bearing a flower like a white rose, that my mother needed to see.