Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


We woke to teeming rain yesterday morning. It had rained all night, beginning with freezing rain. Overnight the temperature steadily rose and the freezing rain turned to ordinary rain, and plenty of it. While still in bed we heard the peculiar sound of a toilet gurgling. Then rose to discover that on our street were two huge trucks. The municipality was obviously attempting to forestall the potential for sewer back-ups and was draining the sewers. When we checked our toilets we found them to have been drained of standing water.

The rain continued, heavily, until mid-afternoon, when it finally relented. At which point, since it was relatively mild and the footing fairly good, we took ourselves off to the ravine for our daily walk. The packed snow on the trails had succumbed somewhat to the pounding rain, but they were fairly intact; our boots sunk slightly into the softened snowpack. Before we got halfway down the first long hill reaching into the ravine we could hear the creek raging below.

The creek had assumed proportions seen only with spring thaw; it was wide, and deep, and muddy and smelled strongly of marsh gas. Our jaunt in the ravine yesterday was fairly unremarkable, but for the fact that, on approaching our egress point to our street, after the hour or so we were out, we happened to spot, sitting on a bare branch halfway up the length of a tall old poplar, a great barred owl.

Water was still falling from the overhead tree canopy. And it was clear that the owl was continuing to be drenched, likely from the water dripping now off the conifers surrounding the poplar. He looked huge and bedraggled-miserable, his large wings hanging in a downward position as though trying to get them to shed water faster. And then he ruffled himself vigorously and positioned himself alertly, as one might anticipate a raptor would.

In the late afternoon there was the usual telephone call from our granddaughter. For reasons of her own she calls regularly on arriving home after school, even though her mother is usually at home. We speak for various lengths of time discussing matters of interest to her. Yesterday she was, she said, sad and depressed, and we spoke at length about that. Her best girlfriend, whom she had known for years, was behaving, she said, awfully toward her.

Nothing all that new in that news; on occasion this occurs. Her girlfriend will speak rudely to her, tattle about her to mutual friends, treat her unkindly. And she is not inclined to return the favour. She takes exception when I suggest to her that a solution exists; behave to her friend precisely the way she does her, and the message will get across. The message, she informed me, was given directly and there was no interest on the part of the receiver.

When she telephoned today things were no better. But more of the story began to reveal itself. The girls are in grade 8, they are thirteen years old, they live semi-rurally, and enjoy a circle of friends at the school they attend. This particular girl was the first one to greet and be friendly with my granddaughter when she attended the school for the first time, and felt herself to be an outsider simply because she was meant to feel that way, by her reception.

We had another ravine walk this morning, of course. It was still relatively mild for late January, but then this is anticipated, our annual January thaw. The creek in the ravine was still running wild and high. Today we saw chickadees, crows, nuthatches, and woodpeckers through the length of our ravine walk. No owl anywhere in sight. We'd had a short spate of overnight snow; huge clumps of soft crystals that glued themselves to everything, looking magnificent.

I heard, today, more of the same. How awful her friend is behaving toward her, when all she wants is to be her friend, to enjoy being with her, to ... help her. Help her? She's cutting herself, I was told. Cutting herself? What on earth might that mean? You know! she responded angrily, you know what it means, she said. I did, but could not connect the dots. Why would she? I asked. Because she's crazy, responded my granddaughter.

Crazy! She's not, she's just socially awkward at times, I said. Well, there's something else... What? I asked. I don't want to tell you, she said. Well, you should, and I'd like you to, I told her. I certainly asked for it, but better to know, after all. She was raped, said my thirteen-year-old granddaughter. What! Her brother, my grandchild said. I can't believe it, this innocent grandmother said, lying through her teeth.

She had, after all, occasionally given way to wonder. Her friend's parents are ardent church-goers, confirmed in their fundamentalist faith. They had 'adopted' a troubled young man whom the church had itself brought into the tender fold of their concern. They had taken this young man into their home, to live alongside their natural children, two young men slightly younger than he, and the girl, a dozen years younger.

Is there a moral to this story? Heaven only knows. I know now that our granddaughter is growing up faster than I might have thought possible, but then what do I know, after all? She is aggrieved that her friend has placed a distance between them. I told her, she said to me, that she shouldn't feel guilty about it all, it wasn't her fault, after all, she was just a kid.

Just a kid that was repeatedly and regularly taken advantage of, her trust violated. Now in her teens she has a better sense of what occurred between herself and her 'brother', and she is deeply ashamed and doubtless dreadfully guilty, feeling worthless and soiled. She is undergoing psychiatric treatment, while still attending school. She finally spoke out, informed her mother. She spoke of it to her teacher. She told her classmates.

She has been living, my grandchild tells me, at the home of a friend of her mother's, on the week-ends. Her brother has been banished from the family home. Charges, she tells me, have been laid; he may go to prison. I am confused. She is not. She is calm, collected, and angry with her friend for not letting her lead her to a place of comfort.

We take comfort in our daily ravine walks. Take little comfort in our granddaughter learning what a mad world we inhabit. That would have been inevitable, in any event. We can only hope that she meets with enough sanity to balance the psychopathy with which we seem to be surrounded.



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