Greg S. Monks, a professional writer and musician, has written seven published novels: The diary of Pamela D., Electric eBook Publishing; One Lost Summer, The Road to Port Haven, and The dance of life continues still . . . parts 1,2,3 and 4, by Fairgo Book Publishing, Western Australia. He is about to publish a 186-page book of piano music, including Ragtime and Classical music.
A Canadian by birth, Greg has lived in several of Canada's major cities, and is presently enjoying the -30 C of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. (Fahrenheit and Centigrade meet at about -45) Greg says it's not as cold as it sounds. Like northern US prairie states, the Canadian prairie provinces enjoy dry cold outdoor activities like skating, skiing, snowmobiling, and ice-fishing. He reminds us that ice-fishing involves dragging a pre-made shack onto the ice, drilling a hole and fishing through it, keeping warm with a small propane heater, getting drunk, and generally having a great time.
Greg informs American readers that Canadian beer is, on average, about 5.3% alcohol, and in some cases is up to 7.5%. "If you visit the Great White North, drink our suds with due caution," warns Greg. "Alcohol allegedly acts as antifreeze for our colder Canadian climate, but years of very rigorous testing, though pleasurable in themselves, have failed to prove this, though many are still trying with great diligence."
Greg also writes historical overviews of musical instruments for a number of websites, including Al's Tenor Horn Page and the Saskatoon Brass Band. He's a collector of antique brass instruments, and one of the world's top experts on the mellophone. His findings on this instrument's origins are published on Al's Tenor Horn Page.
Greg says, "The test of genuine quality in a book is its ability to stand up to endless repeat scrutiny. That means tremendous attention to detail."
Now that's a truth! Now - read on to see why I'm glad to have discovered this hard-to-freeze Canadian . This short excerpt from The dance of life continues still . . . is, in my humble opinion, poetic prose at its best. (Note: I've left classic English spellings rather than converting them to US.)

Photo(c) 2009 Pieter Mayer


(from "The dance of life continues still . . .", an epic Fantasy in four parts published by Fairgo eBook Publishing, copyright 1999, all rights reserved)

White silence has fallen, becoming the landscape all in itself. Haloed by ice-crystals, the full moon hangs suspended in darkness above a frozen lake, its opaque reflection at once dreamlike, timeless.
Disturbed solely by the cracking of the land's arthritic bones, the gelid night becomes a lens of ice, magnifying cold and bitter solitude. Through this invisible boundary of curved planes passes the light of stars; an unsteady flickering light, pale and hard, a light which illuminates nothing, except, perhaps, its own enigmatic purpose.
There is, on the horizon, the grey silhouette of a country church and its attendant graveyard. The church is a small, fragile wooden box with darkened windows, with doors locked and walls whitewashed against the stain of human need. It at once appears spectral, devoid of substance, as though its promise of eternal life were an empty one; yet the standing stones of the graveyard appear permanent, the smaller cousins of some ancient forgotten culture.
Dawn. A blush of colour, and a false promise of warmth. Yellow stubble juts through its thin crust of snow; the open prairie is as tired, rough, and unshaven as its inhabitants. From inside farmhouses with unpainted exteriors and sagging roofs come the muffled sounds of pots and pans, and dry kindling being split. Soon, grey-white smoke billows from chimneys, stoked by eternally tired and long-suffering women in print dresses and aprons. Within each house and without, eyes open. Movement begins. Before breakfast, old men, remembering days when their labour was useful, are outside shoveling a path through last night's snow. In the barns and under shelters, livestock, huddled together for warmth, shake off quiet and sleep, and remember as they do every morning, that they are hungry.
Dawn passes. The illusion of warmth fades, revealing an ash-coloured sky. Fire crackles. Burning wood shifts in the belly of the stove. The kettle hisses like a tired old cat until lifted; shortly, hot water steams from its upraised elephantine snout into a bowl of dry cereal. Stumbling sleepy-eyed, wooly-socked, sweatered and denim-clad, issuing forth from the darkened tunnel that is the hallway, we gather in the grey light of the small kitchen, greeted by the smells of wood-smoke, bacon, coffee, and ancient worn linoleum. Half-noticed sounds punctuate the business at hand; the floor creaks, a chair shifts, newspaper rustles, the percolator gurgles, the toaster springs, utensils occasionally clank or scrape against plates. A cup of coffee, stirred vigorously, rings like a porcelain bell before being carefully lifted towards cautious lips. Events of yesterday, half-forgotten, lay thick about, while in the living moment, anticipation and routine are one and the same.
Day has begun. As though concealing some hidden profound truth, all across the firmament, grey tattered clouds like the ragged sails of a shipwreck, part to reveal the presence of a pale blue sky, as smooth and round as a robin's egg. Beneath our feet, like a hard reminder of the difference between truth and the sort of illusion that all-too-many call hope, the earth's uneven black crust is hard and barren.
Though the sun appears briefly, echoing through the storm-strewn heavens like a fanfare of trumpets, the only sounds that reach our ears are those of the prairie wind and the dull clanging of the church bell, which together, instead of instilling hope, serve as a reminder that each peal brings us a heartbeat closer to death and silent oblivion. We gather and listen to the words of the minister; words about damnation and redemption; about eternal life and reward for human suffering; about a just, magical, and powerful god; and though we would like to believe, to our ears, his words sound like those of a man falling into the abyss, as he promises to those above that he will catch them even as they fall. But he is a good and kind man, all the same, and when his sermon is over, we thank him, more for trying than anything else, I think.
Inevitably and all too soon, another brief day comes to a poignant end. As though trying to remember the imagined lost glory of youth, or simply because it is faced with impending death, the day expends its last moments in haunting, ephemeral images of heartbreaking beauty and innocence; cold ash-grey clouds stoke themselves into life once more, blazing like some would-be creator's brand-new forge, for a time making the world look as it must have done when it was new; like a Baroque painting on a cathedral ceiling that has somehow, impossibly, come to life; only to burn itself out once more, this time forever; to fade by immeasurable degrees until it merges with the growing and inexorable darkness.
The mercury plummets. Breath comes in frozen gasps. Cold bites. Brings tears. A cup of hot cocoa passes from hand to hand. Night falls once more. Above the church, darkness and the moon contemplate one other, two worlds forever separate. Alongside, however, the indivisible world of the little graveyard has somehow been carved from that same moonglow and darkness. The world grows silent. Eyes close. And all is dreaming. And all is dreaming.


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