Twortling connects coffee companion with C.S. Lewis

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, November 21, 2001

Last week's column on the twortling sounds of early winter ice evoked all kinds of beautiful thoughts from our coffee companions. The first response is from a former neighbor of British writer C.S. Lewis:

DEAR WARREN: Now, who would connect twortling to C.S. Lewis?

I grew up in Oxford and our backyard, on Netherwoods Road, backed onto The Kilns, the property owned by Professor Lewis, his brother Major Lewis, and maintained by the feared groundskeeper, Paxford.

The view from my bedroom window was of C.S. Lewis' pond which had been created many, many years earlier when clay was removed to make bricks – in the no longer existing kilns!

I remember those clear, cold January days when the surface of the pond froze over. I would gather some pebbles and, if the coast was clear, make my way to the side opposite the Lewis house. (The pond was no wider than 75 yards!)

The sound made by pebbles on the fresh ice seemed to radiate from the whole surface, not from just where the stone hit. And, of course, the challenge was to get the pebble to bounce as many times as possible so that the different tones could be distinguished as it made its way to the centre and then to the opposite bank.

The clear twortling sound pierced the frosty air, like mystical birds calling. For a pre-teen boy, this was music-making at its best.

That is, until a loud voice would shout, "Boy! What do you think you are you doing?"

Then it was time to run!

—Jeff Perkins, Calgary

Another long-time coffee companion writes:

DEAR WARREN: Thanks for the "twortling" column. We have had a difficult few months here in the U.S., and I find myself carrying a deep and abiding sadness within me these days.

Every flight I take across the country for work is filled with fear, despite my prayers and internal promise to "keep the faith." Every night spent in New York is filled with the sounds, smells, sights and other reminders of death and destruction. Every time I turn on the television or read a news article, it has the same effect.

Reading your twortling instalment reminds me that a world continues to live, that the beauty of God's creation ensues, even when our human creations crumble, and that waves of life move on. This is the story of human life on the planet, isn't it?

Thank you for reminding me, for giving me a little more hope and renewing my faith.

—Denise Youngblood, Houston, Texas

To top the week off, I received the following e-mail from our newest coffee companion, Edmonton jazz poet Dean Morrison McKenzie:

TWO OF YOUR coffee companions, Helmut and Winifred Schroer, of Smokey Lake, Alberta, forwarded your "Twortling and Tinkling" piece to me, mostly because they are fans of my prose/poems and know me well enough to predict my appreciation of your coinage. I was delighted to join you in spirit at your majestic institution, "Coffee with Warren."

—Dean Morrison McKenzie, St. Albert

After checking out his website, I phoned Dean and inquired about his moving poem, "The Guitarman's Dream", a eulogy to Christopher Schroer, Winifred and Helmut's son.

"He was my first guitar student," Dean told me; "he was taken from us by leukemia a couple of years ago at the very beginning of a promising creative career." The poem begins:

He saw the connection
     between the things of the world
          and the things of
               the human soul;
     between those things able to be
          and the sensual;
     between the harmonies of nature
          and those capturable by
               an artist's invention.

To experience more of Dean's own connections "between the things of the world and the things of the human soul," go to, click on Dean's photograph, and select "poems."

Thank you, all. Your words sparkle like the Leonid meteor shower.

© 2001 Warren Harbeck

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