Here I sit on the other side of an ocean and on the far side of North America, 73 years after the United States dropped two atomic bombs at the end of the Second World War— destroying Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945 and exploding over Nagasaki three days later on August 9. Hundreds of thousands of people, animals and other life dissolved in an instant.
On Hiroshima Memorial Day, August 6, 2018 I endeavour to expand my awareness beyond stock images of a massive mushroom cloud, the horrors of mass death and years of radiation sicknesses. I scroll through online articles grasping for nuggets of hope.
in a field of death
In 1949 the mayor of Hiroshima proclaimed his city to be a ‘City of Peace’. From there the city blossomed as a hub of memorials and advocacy for world peace and nuclear disarmament. In 2017 an International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for achieving a global agreement for banning nuclear weapons. What a concept! It has no legal force but the fact that a large number of nations agreed to ban nuclear weapons from the planet is a first step.
My third nugget of hope is that a United States President, Barack Obama, visited Japan in 2016 and spoke peaceful words of reason:
“That is the future we can choose…A future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”
The whole world needs to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki and recognize that mass destruction cannot resolve the world’s problems.
The long weekend, a time to get away, to wait for hours in lines of traffic from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning and again from Monday afternoon until late evening, bumper to bumper in August heat.Campgrounds are filled to capacity with people and noise all day and much of the night.I concluded years ago that long weekends are for local events and family visits avoiding the stresses of highway congestion. The inner city, so quiet and peaceful after the big exit.
Last week we travelled several hundred kilometres to take one of our dogs for a dental surgery in Oakville, a suburban town in southwestern Greater Toronto. The sun was scorching hot and the humidex was high, but waiting in air-conditioned places was not an option as our second dog was with us. Our solution: a shaded leashless dog park followed by a parking spot under a generous maple tree near Lake Ontario.
We saw children shrieking with delight on a modern splash pad with multiple sprays that they swivelled and aimed or ran under. A beach and the silver expanse of the Great Lake shimmered below.
Canada Day long weekend marks 151 years from July 1st, 1867 when three colonies of the British Empire merged into one Dominion called ‘Canada’. I remember it being called ‘Dominion Day’ before 1982, the year Canada claimed its Constitution as its own…from that year onward legal ties with the United Kingdom were cut and only the Canadian parliment would be able to amend the constitution. Canada also adopted a Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. I remember that part most of all…but getting back to Canada Day 2018…it’s a summer party, a long weekend celebration in parks and backyards… barbecues, ice cream, marshmallows, corn on the cob, red and white flags, t-shirts and hats, tacky red sugar flags on donuts, swimming, slip and slides, booze, bonfires and fireworks and a HEAT WAVE … a spike of heat and humidity not felt for a long time.
We partied Saturday night and now I write, freshly showered after watering the garden, sitting beside the comfort of a fan. Staying cool is essential these days with temperatures melting equanimity…I try to not dwell on how Prime Minister Trudeau and President Trump either deny or dabble with climate change treaty commitments. President Trump decided to add excitement to the international trade arena… he recently introduced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and this weekend, as a Canada Day present, our Prime Minister announced Canada’s ‘retaliatory tariffs’…sounds like a trade war to me…Happy Canada Day! Happy Independence Day! Let’s hope this tariff chest thumping is only a phase and that all involved will find ways to improve cooperation rather than create competition.
I travel back 300 years before my lifetime. I move in time but not in space staying rooted to this spot on earth. Who lives on this soil? What grows here? If I could, I would see the whole story unfold from the beginning. We are specks, our history a blip in billions of years.
Summer, a season of long days and short nights. I hear early dawn…heralded by birdsong before light seeps through the curtains…then I go back to sleep. I rejoice when evenings are long but how do I truly know the shortness of night? On summer solstice afternoon I see the white quarter moon relaxing in blue…borrowing time from the day perhaps? I whimsically wonder. I read haiku about summer bonfires and night parties on the beach and then I remember…sleeping bags under the stars.
There is no question that we are galloping towards summer. Cold nights are coming to an end and lately, days have been hot and dry. It was a tumultuous early spring for my partner and I. We both had health issues that kept us indoors. Meanwhile buds were bursting and grass was growing high. Some areas of the yard needed to be trimmed so we could walk the dogs and navigate around the house and vegetable gardens. When I was finally able to work outside, I had to accept that spring was in the lead.