Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Maya Calypso Durham... nine years old today. Geez... Are you kidding me? This young lady is my daughter! (Said with nine years worth of awe at that fact.) She is as lovely in person as looks in this photo...

What I did to deserve the family I have escapes me. I don't know. Blessed by whomever does the blessing, I guess. I'm not sure how I got them, but I'm doing my best to be worthy of them now. Maybe I got them on credit, now I'm chipping away at the monthly statements - happily.

Maya was born in Scotland. We lived in the very small village of Forneth at the time, in Perthshire. (Go find that on a map - if you can!) I'm talking sheep and rabbits here, wonderful views, turnips and rape seed flowers (which bloom brilliant yellow). My in laws lived just down the road, around the bend, and my father in law, the poet and novelist and naturalist J Laughton Johnston, picked up the old quill and penned a few words to commemorate the occasion. The poem is included below.

Should you be inclined to read it do note that Laughton was writing from the Shetland Isles, where he was at the time of Maya's birth and where he and Patricia now live. Also note that my family is from the Caribbean, Trinidad in particular - hence the Calypso in Maya's name and the mention in this poem...

Maya (2.7.99)

The Flags are flying for Maya,

Yellow above the stiff green blades

around the mill at Bousta.

Overhead another raingoose rides the hypotenuse

and beyond the skerries and the tirricks

Brilliant white birds fold themselves into origami darts,

hurtle to the sea

and re-emerge as fish-stuffed gannets.

I look out over the Bay of St Magnus

And wonder what parallels, if any,

There might be between these North Sea islands

and those of the Caribbean?

What a hanself you have been given,

such a harvest of far-flung seed.


who can look out at seabirds from so many shores

and call each one - home.

J Laughton Johnston
Bousta July 1999

(Next year, on Sage's birthday, I'll post the poem Grandpa wrote about Sage as well.)

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Blogger Corby Kennard said...

Happy Birthday!! And hey, cool name.

Wonderful poem as well.

Just good on you, all around.

1:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful daughter, beautiful poem.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday regards to Maya. They grow fast, don't they? My daughter's three now, and she just seems so huge and girlish.

And nice poem. That's the sort of thing she can really cherish when she's older. Personal nostalgia is underrated, I've always felt. That's a wonderful connection to her family and her past.

My best, as always,
Bryan Russell

11:26 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Thanks all! It's funny. When I first began this blog I didn't say much of anything about my family life. I still try not to do so TOO much, but I guess I've also grown more comfortable with the medium - and with the good people that visit.


6:49 PM  
Blogger Dirk said...

Happy Birthday Maya!

7:20 PM  
Blogger Mark Lavallee said...

Happy Birthday Maya! All awesome people are born in July (with a few million exceptions, of course).

Excellent poem too, something to cherish for sure.

And this was the best map I could come up with:,+Scotland&ie=UTF8&ll=56.583692,-3.47168&spn=17.087204,38.496094&z=5&iwloc=addr

7:22 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Ah, man... That's the place all right. So funny to look at the map in close detail. I remember those roads well. What it doesn't show, of course, is how the place is all rolling hills, farm and pasture land full of sheep and a few Highland cows. Rabbits. And an occasional nutter speeding down the winding roads like they WANT to scare the hell out of the young couple pushing their new baby around in a pram...

Yep, I remember those days well...

Good place to write, too.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Dirk said...

Man, that place sounds awesome. I bet the weather sucked though, right?

2:21 AM  
Blogger Laughton and Patricia Johnston said...

I have been offline so just seen this post! Thanks David, flattered you included the poem. To aid some understanding ... 'flag' is another name for the yellow Iris, 'tirrick' is Shetland for tern, a 'hansel' is a present and a 'raingoose' is a red-throated diver. I wrote 'another' raingoose because I had written a poem on Maya's mum 25 years previously, in the same spot, under another raingoose.


4:27 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Well... if you mean did a rain a lot, yes. Was it chilly a lot. Yep. Were there many warm, sunny days to bask in the sun? Nope. But...

I don't know. Maybe my memory is warped, but I didn't hate the weather. There's something lively about it being so changeable - rainy one minute, then windy, then rainy and windy, then suddenly clear and sparkling, with a quality of light like nowhere else that I know. On summer evenings we'd walk the baby up around the hill road behind the village. We'd be out at 10 at night and it would still light, that lingering twilight that makes the peaceful evening hours last and last...

Let's say the weather wouldn't be for everyone, but I do think just about everyone would be left gap mouthed at how beautiful it can be.

Hi Laughton!

Thank you for the poem! (And the additional info.) I've always loved it, and I'm glad you don't mind that I shared it.

I tried to format it correctly, but for some reason the indents wouldn't work in the post. Still, it works for me.

5:21 PM  

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