Anne M. Smith-Nochasak:
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Song of Joy
Today, I want to step aside and celebrate the approach of spring. Today the light is dazzling on the snow, and there has never been a greater day in the history of the earth. Tomorrow, there will be ice pellets and high winds, power failures and darkness, but today, my friends, my heart is full because the sun caresses my face, and I am alive in it.
I take my cues from Shay, The Happiest Dog. Shay was born outdoors at -26 C. Shay managed to eat rock salt when she was ten weeks old, and she nearly died. She has been treated for innumerable ear infections, is allergic to bee stings, and develops kennel cough despite her vaccinations. Her life has not been easy, but she ever presents that eager face, brimming with hope and love, to light up the world. Her pedigree name, spelt somewhat phonetically, is: Ae-Mah-Koo-Shay-Key-She-Kow, for she was born at Christmas, the time of feasting and celebration, her two favourite things. Shay lives to share her joy in life. (The dog Joy in my novel is modeled on Shay.)
I also take my cues from one who may soon be passing from our midst. No matter what the day brings, no matter how hard the news that comes to them this day, they find joy. To honour them, I must rejoice in the day, in the light, in the presence of true heroes.
Therefore, I am joyful this day. Tomorrow, I might be shattered, but I have the teachings of today to sustain me even then. Deep in my heart, this moment will shine forever, to bring light into darkness.
Perhaps a blog should be more reflective, less personal, more syntactically under control.
This might be simply a scattering of ideas, but I offer it anyway. Blessings, my friends, on the journey.
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For Petra and Joy
Anna, our central character, is not one who can trust easily. She never really opens up to her fiancé Terrence and is not one to confide in her mother. Her infatuation with Joshua, even as it blossoms to love, does not really open a dialogue. There is much, she reflects later, that she did not ask about him, that she did not know -- things that his wife Leah would have known and carried in her heart.
When she encounters the Husky Petra on the trail, however, Anna immediately pours out her inner grief to this being. As Petra's guardian observes:
"... You been like a shadow here, always ready for school, always doing things right, but never smile, never part of things. Politically correct, but like you’re scared not to be.
“I come along, and here you are, talking all out to the dog. Like she’s your therapist or something. And her listening all out. I think she’s your dog.”
I have often said that I do not choose my dogs; they find me when it is time. Thus it is with Anna and Petra. Petra is her mentor, her companion, and her secret keeper. Those who have been chosen by a dog will understand.
Yet Petra maintains her independence. She never loses her yearning to roam free in the Bush, hunting as in her youth. When she senses that Anna is about to leave her, she feels the loss, but survival dictates that she must find new connections, as she does with Natasha. I do not agree with Anna's choice, but I think it is in keeping with her character.
Joy is a much different dog. We are not told how Joy comes into Anna's life, but we sense that this is a dog who is simply amazed by the world and embraces every good moment. She loves Anna, but she loves all life, and will be Joy wherever she is. Petra is perhaps an "old soul"; Joy is childlike innocence.
Anna needs both dogs really: one to guide her, one to lift her from her inner intensity. Together, Petra and Joy bring balance to her life.
Both are modelled on the dogs of my own life.
Ten months ago, I had my farewell walk with my personal Petra. Each day, I remember her; each day I give thanks for the memories we made and for this time to remember. To me, dogs are a special gift from the Creator, sent to teach us how to be better people. They are sent to bind up our breaking hearts, and to lift us to joy.
Two years ago we waited while a family member had an emergency MRI. It had been a long day of sudden changes and fears for us, and the waiting room was crowded and grim. I turned to my friend and commented, "No matter how this turns out, think what it would have been like if we'd brought the dogs." A woman across the room put down her phone. "What kind of dogs do you have?" the former stranger asked. Within moments, the room was ringing with laughter and many dog stories were exchanged. We were offered rides back to the hotel; everyone hoped each other had a good Christmas. All because, by accident, the word "dog" was spoken.
That really happened. If you have a story about a dog who made a difference, even just by being there, I would love to hear about it.
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Aaron: Silent Son
Aaron is the son of Anna and the son of Joshua in The Ice Widow. Much of the time he is a figure in the background, silent in the shadows.
Anna and Joshua never really sit down and make a firm plan for Aaron. Joshua would like to plan, and encourages Anna to settle in Endor and raise Aaron there. Although he is marrying Leah, he wants to remain on friendly terms with Anna, so that Aaron will grow up with both parents nearby, and will live surrounded by all his family history. Reah, one of the guiding people Anna meets on her journey, sums it up:
This is not seen as an awkward thing or a bad thing; it is the best of both worlds. For Anna, though, this is not possible. Her life with Joshua would have to be her life together with Joshua on her terms, and when she knows she cannot have this, she isolates herself more and more.
Anna’s mother worries; she suspects that Aaron is “Anna’s Joshua-token”, and that she loves him “but as a memory, sometimes, more than a real child.”
Joshua and his family are very accepting and welcoming people, happy to have Aaron around, and willing to welcome Anna. The offer for her to come to Endor is made often, and Joshua comes to visit his son each summer until Aaron is old enough to travel to Endor. Eventually, Aaron asks to spend more time with his father, and one day, he is simply living in Endor and visiting his mother each summer.
Some feel that Joshua and Leah and Anna work together for the benefit of Aaron, that they keep in touch and plan together for his benefit. A close scrutiny reveals that there is little dialogue; it appears that Anna simply lets things roll along that way. She does not try to enter Aaron's Labrador life, except that one ill-fated Christmas visit and his high school graduation, at which she realizes “that he had become a man without her bearing witness to his life.”
Yet Aaron turns out well, a tribute to all his cultural backgrounds. His mother is anxious to be a good parent, but there is little interaction between mother and son. His father is happy to see Aaron settled in his family, but the insistence on Anna’s participation leads to anxious moments for Aaron: “Aaron had his mother-home moments, and then his father-home-panorama-of-family. That way was comfortable. If the settings overlapped, he knew, he would lose both worlds.”
Why does Aaron turn out well? I attribute this to the gentle, loving presence of Leah. She is simply there, with love and a hug when it is needed. She is the one who grounds them all.
And that, my friends, is what we really need – one face that smiles for us, one set of arms that embraces us. Someone who believes in us, cries for us, and laughs for us. That is the face in the window that watches for us. I pray that each of us will find and honour that one who will carry us.
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Terrence: Creative Faith
Who is Terrence in THE ICE WIDOW? Many have had deeply painful experiences at the hands of organized religion, and so I will tell you immediately that Terrence is a minister. If you do not wish to read further, I will honour and respect that.
If you wish to read further, I assure you that Terrence is not your typical minister. I initially cast him as a fussy, somewhat tedious scholar, but a good person – filled with love for his neighbour, operating street outreaches for troubled youth, and falling in love with the innocent Anna Caine. Terrence did not really grasp that Anna was instinctively seeking a safe refuge. He began as an awkward student with an open heart and a naiveté that could only end in a broken heart.
Terrence had seen himself as one whose faith embraced the universe, and he was humbled to discover that he could not accept Anna’s affair or the child of that affair. He decided that her son would be the child from the North that they adopted. Better yet, he could be raised by his father, in his own culture, a further hurt to the child’s mother.
Terrence brooded over the Book of Hosea after Anna’s departure. “Had he become Hosea, most inept husband in the whole Bible?”
He just glanced at the Book of Hosea in its scriptural meaning and was soon carried away in a highly personal speculation:
Hosea lived his life as a model of God’s relationship to his covenant people. Or so, Terrence considered, Hosea would have us believe. God told Hosea to marry a whore—this was a deliberate, calculated act. He also told him to take her back. That was supposed to represent God’s willingness to take his wayward people back. Hosea was not a fool. It was not bad judgment or naiveté that made him such a luckless husband. It was God’s will!
In Terrence’s final reflection, however, the pain of God’s commitment became real for him:
…. That was going to be their table, where she would smile and pass him his tea. Every day was supposed to start like that, but instead there was just a lonely fool, staring at the empty chairs through his tears. Just him, and his own personal wilderness.
“She doesn’t want me, God,” he sighed, “and now I am all alone.
“Is this how you feel, every time?”
In that moment, he recognized the loneliness and heartbreak of God.
This is the point at which I began to love Terrence, the man who grieved the crucifixion of our Lady of Shadowed Hope, Tonya, and saw Christ in communion with her, sprawled in the bloody snow by her body. This is the man who would embrace Anna on her quest into the North, the man who would recognize in his rival the presence of the risen Christ. Ultimately, Terrence would become the man who would accompany Joshua into his final journey:
He will be like the desert ancestors marching out of Egypt with nothing but the power of God to warm their hearts and fill their bellies.
Terrence would also recognize the worth and dignity of Sarah and perform heroic deeds.
When I started, I had no idea that Terrence was a great man.
Maybe I should look more closely at the people of my life, and see the blessing that is there, waiting to be discovered.
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Leah: Steady Flame
Leah, in the novel The Ice Widow, is the rival that Anna would like to forget. She is also the subtle character that we tend to overlook. She is in the background: a quiet and seemingly passionless being. She was Joshua's girlfriend, the one he did marry, wasn't she? She died, didn't she? We are sad about that, but after all, this is Anna's story, so we let Leah slip away and we move on.
Yet, some have told me that they really felt for Leah. Why does this "minor character" move us?
Why did Joshua marry Leah, when Anna Caine was clearly more exciting? Ah! Leah was expecting his child! Technically, so was Anna, but no one knew that at the wedding, did they? I do wonder sometimes -- Would Joshua still have married Leah? I like to think so. I like to think that he always knew, as he did in the end, that "her peacefulness was worth more than any passion with Anna Caine."
Leah was a steady flame, a low fire burning long and bright, a woman of quiet strength, loyalty, and integrity. When she did confront Anna, she gently reminded her that real love is not the passion of a season, but an inner strength that builds the good in others, a power that does not break hearts.
Leah raised her children and opened her heart to Anna's son. She brought dignity and honour to the last years of Joshua's grandmother. She was gentle, but she was powerful. Leah is the "worthy wife" of the Book of Proverbs who does all things with wisdom and grace, but is not a pushover.
At the same time, as her daughter Miriam sensed, Leah was often in the background as Joshua contemplated the mystery of Anna Caine. Anna was like the great mountains of the North, a raw spiritual power that challenged him. Do you see the dark, dominant mountains on the cover of The Ice Widow? Those are Anna's mountains. Leah's mountains are the gentler mountains, the mountains of home. Anna draws him away; Leah grounds him in life.
The name "Leah" honours her strength. In the Biblical story, Jacob falls in love with Rachel, and happily works seven years for her father to earn her hand in marriage. We imagine his joy on the wedding day, as his beloved Rachel, heavily veiled, is led into his presence. A happy wedding night follows. Then comes the morning, and then comes the line that many have chuckled over: "And in the morning, it was Leah." Jacob storms off to his father-in-law, demanding an explanation. It seems that Leah, as the eldest, is supposed to be married first, but another seven years of work and Rachel is guaranteed. Leah, receiving the promises meant for Rachel, feeling the caresses meant for Rachel, and then abandoned on the marriage bed meant for Rachel, must have been humiliated and hurt. Yes, they were disciplined and obedient in those days, I know, but still the story of Leah has always brought tears to my eyes.
I am glad that Joshua recognized his Leah's worth, grieved for her, and loved her. Even though he sometimes still thought of Anna Caine. Sarah, in the passage in the photo, recognized this, for her husband, Terrence, was still working through his own past with Anna. "All our wives," Terrence reflects, "seem to be Leah to Anna Caine's Rachel."
Leah was not simply eliminated to serve the story of Anna and Joshua. No, for she remained present in every moment going forward. I grieved for her passing, and as I write, her quiet strength, her grace and compassion, are with me. Let us cherish those who are Leah, and celebrate them in our lives.
In life, there are no minor characters.
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This is Anne's first blog of 2023, the one about ice widows and windows, hopes, dreams, and happy endings.
The Ice Widow is a story about incompatible youthful love that finds a new and surprising fulfillment in maturity.
The Ice Widow began as a typo: A good friend texted me about the ice window he set in his snow house wall. Only he wrote “widow.” The images raised by “putting an ice widow in a snow house wall” evolved. That fall, while waiting in a hotel room in St. John’s, I picked up my Tablet and Anna’s prologue began to take shape.
The story hangs on one word: “wi’dow.” To Joshua, it is window, a simple structure that brings light and joy to the occupants of a snow house. To Anna, it is widow, a metaphor for her life: Rigid and unbending, she has carried love “like a dead coal, never allowing its light or its heat.”
This is really Anna’s story, but I want the reader to know too the integrity and honour of Joshua, the wisdom of Deborah and Reah, the humility of Leah, the compassion of Terrence. Above all, I want people to hope as Mattie hopes. Until they rise, as Anna rises.
I witnessed both great pain and remarkable beauty during my teaching journey, and the incidents of Anna’s career are shaped from my impressions and memories. In Mattie, for example, I grieve for every tragic moment, but I also include her triumph, for I have met many heroes in my career.
Medical escort duty can be humbling. I wanted to honour those who are dying and those who support them. As the dying one stumbles through Hell, in all their bewilderment, pain, and anger, the escort is charged to walk with them, affirming their nobility and dignity. I wanted a story about this, too.
A Canoer of Shorelines is the story of my heart; The Ice Widow is the story of my soul. It is, most of all, a love story with a joyful ending – for I believe all the characters deserve the riches of joy.
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To the People of Home
"I want to raise them up in benediction, for there is a divine spark in each human moment to be blessed. These are real people I lift up, people who may have gossiped and hated, but have also dreamed and loved. They carry you in their hearts, whether they understand you or not." Rachel Hardy, in A Canoer of Shorelines
I grew up in a small rural community, and yes, we fit the stereotype for curiosity. At the same time, we always have each other's back.
Rachel, in A Canoer of Shorelines, learns through her journal reflections the intimacy and love that define a small community; her counterpart Julie, in the present, is in the process of learning this.
Julie, in the novel, is suspicious of everyone in her new surroundings, imagining that they are slowing down as they pass, evaluating her past, present, and future failures. She dreads leaving the staffroom, sure that the moment the door closes behind her, they will be analyzing her failings. She "knows" that the neighbours will race for the phone to let her landlord know that she has set his lawnmower on fire. The truth is, people are interested: I wonder how she'll manage that big place; will she want help? Does she know the long history of that place? Now she'll remember to check the chaff around the engine; no harm done at least. The judgments are generated in the mind of Julie.
Those of us from small communities are used to the infrastructure. During my travels, a member of an isolated community commented that whenever they saw me out walking, they appreciated the way I waved to everyone. Well, if I went walking along the roads of home and didn't wave, people would probably stop and ask if everything was all right. People care about you, so you wave, and let them know all is good.
Do we watch one another? Definitely! Once, I stopped to visit a friend, and a sudden rain came on. I closed my car door and sprinted the few metres to her door. By the time I reached my friend's kitchen, someone was phoning to tell her that the person in her driveway had left their windows down. I will take that attention any day and thanks!
And then there was the time that I arrived for Christmas, having been unable to do so for years. As my son and I strung lights around the front verandah, a car paused at the end of the driveway. Then the horn was blowing, lights were flicked on and off, and the car moved on. And I felt the joy of knowing that my homecoming was seen and blessed.
A special time involved the installation of the security system. After the installation, I went to town, and returned to discover the alarm had gone off repeatedly. An elder and veteran from World War II had started his car and driven up, fearing that the place was burning. "You should not put yourself in danger like that," I told him. "That is a burglar alarm, and what if you had been hurt?" "Not much danger of that!" he replied. "Everyone else was already there!" Are we curious? Definitely! But it is not an idle curiosity; it is the curiosity of community that looks after its own.
The people of home have guarded my going up and my coming down. They are the ones who know all my story and love me anyway. Yes, I have a little fun sometimes when I write, but anyone who reads it all knows that they are everything to me.
Home can be a physical place or a place tucked deep in the heart. Home is the people who guard your memories.
I cannot describe how moved I was when people of home stepped up to support my writing journey with A Canoer of Shorelines. I tell my stories by fiction, but they are rooted in the world that has been with me from the beginning. And I have discovered that people far away share that world. They have their Meadowbrooks, their Lailas, their aunts like Rachel's aunts.
My next book, The Ice Widow, takes place far from Meadowbrook, and is again fiction. I have tried to work out some things, and fiction is the way I do it.
Some day, though, maybe I will gather the stories that have made me smile all my life, gentle stories of truth and warmth, the precious stories that define my people of home. Blessings, my friends.
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Acadian Grandmothers Vs. the Plague
My Acadian grandmother did not mess around while polio raged through her world; she prayed fervently and washed every surface, especially the doorknobs, with Dettol. In my mind I see that little figure marching down the road, one fist raising her rosary beads high, the other brandishing a bottle of Dettol and a cleaning rag.
In this ramble, I am not writing to promote my books; I mention them only to lead into my topic, which concerns our relationship with vaccines and illness. I mention my books only to point out that, for better or for worse, I seem unable to escape the topic.
My first novel, A Canoer of Shorelines, was drafted long before the current pandemic came into our lives. Editing during the pandemic was an emotional experience, for the characters seemed so innocent, not shadowed by the dark events of our times. Even their grief seemed uncluttered and gentle. My upcoming novel was drafted during this pandemic, and makes references to pandemics past, present, and to come. It is driven by love, not by vaccination hesitancy or pandemic mandates, although the mandates will be the catalyst to a most interesting winter.
It is officially autumn, and I have received my fall dose of the Covid vaccine, which will provide protection against the newer variants featuring letters and numbers that make me think of the additional exit ramps. Exit 1A lies between Exits 1 and 2, 1B lies between A1 and 2, so a new exit between 1A and 1B would be....1Ai?) Anyway, I have a good level of protection.
Which brings us to polio. As a child of the fifties, I was part of the first generation to receive the polio vaccine. Vaccine and booster time at school was exciting. The arm would throb for days, and we would do our best to get it in our dominant arm, so we could get out of school work. Alas, in those times that would result in a conversation along these lines:
Child (whimpering): I can't write. My arm hurts too bad.
Parent: Didn't you tell them you were left-handed and needed it in your right arm???
Parent: Well, it serves you right then. Fill the wood box and get to your homework.
A variation on the conclusion might include: That will take your mind off your arm.
Perhaps some of you will remember the aftermath of the booster -- being punched in the booster site by the playground bully. Or, classmates lining up to punch the booster site. If you got through that without flinching, you got real playground cred! You displayed your throbbing arm with a smile. Until homework time! Those were different times.
Our parents were not mean; they expected good decisions from us. Since they had grown up with polio, they were grateful for any intervention. I recall my mother saying how her family always dreaded summer, for that was the season of polio. Her mother, my dear Acadian grandmother, raised eight children through many summers when polio was all around them. At one point, they even moved from their community to escape the worst infection. My Acadian grandmother did not mess around while polio raged through her world; she prayed fervently and washed every surface, especially the doorknobs, with Dettol. In my mind I see that little figure marching down the road, one fist raising her rosary beads high, the other brandishing a bottle of Dettol and cleaning rag. My Acadian grandmother would have brought the current pandemic to heel without batting an eye.
When the vaccines began, no one challenged or questioned. Many children had been lost, and survivors suffered with effects for the rest of their lives. There was loss of mobility. There were heart conditions. The vaccines meant the worst of shadows had been lifted.
My Acadian grandmother continued to pray her rosary and scrub the doorknobs anyway. There was more than one disease out there, after all.
Just before the pandemic, I read Anne Budgell's We All Expected to Die on the impact of pandemics, focusing on the Spanish flu, on the coast of Labrador. The stories of the survivors are horrific; the abandonment and the hopelessness endured shake the soul. When pandemics arise, their stories are a warning for the present.
Illness and our coping strategies might be the defining characteristic at this point in time. That does not mean that joy is past. My Acadian grandmother did not just wipe down pump handles and doorknobs; she made delicious rappie pie and raised her children with laughter. I see her with her rosary and Dettol bottle, yes, but most of all I remember her smile.
As the throbbing in my fall dose arm receded (possibly from the exercise of sawing small trees), I heard on the news that, due to extended power outages during the hurricane, a number of vaccines in storage were now invalidated. I guess some of us will be getting a letter, advising us we have to line up and roll up again. I guess we will have an especially sore arm to display on the playground.
I will roll up, if I get the letter, but most of all, I will carry my Acadian grandmother's lessons always in my heart.
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Musko, the great black dog, is Julie's mentor and friend in my first novel, A Canoer of Shorelines. His legacy lives on in my upcoming novel, The Ice Widow, in the husky Petra. Dogs take on subtle leadership roles in my writing because that is what they do in my life. Today, I share with you a few lessons I have learned in the companionship of good dogs. This is an amateur's viewpoint; for care and management advice, please consult a reputable professional trainer.
Lesson One: Flat Snakes Do Not Rise from the Dead.
Walking along the back roads on a summer evening, we often discover snakes that have stretched out on the warm gravel and met their end when a vehicle rolled over them. The first time the golden Shay discovered one, she touched it with her nose, nuzzled the body end to end, then stood head down, unmoving.
She was mourning, not investigating.
Then came the day that she leaned forward to show her respects for a sleek, round-bodied snake. She sprang back as it darted away, and then she stared at the snake-less spot. She hovered hopefully over the next snake, a flattened one, and stepped back, waiting.
It took surprisingly very little time for her to recognize that, although she mourned all snakes equally, not all snakes would rise to her call.
Lesson Two: Border Collies Will Entertain Themselves If You Are Not Vigilant.
Recently, a Border collie joined our family. Since the golden Shay is part Border collie, I had an inkling of what lay ahead. Now, everyone knows that Border collies are very intelligent, high energy dogs with a strongly developed herding instinct. Unfortunately, many do not realize that the dog does not always develop strong rapport with a less intelligent, lower energy human who regards them as adorable. At this point, I caution all potential Border collie enthusiasts to seek professional guidance from a reputable trainer -- these ramblings are strictly amateur observations!
First, do not talk soothing nonsense in the hopes of calming them. They require intelligent conversation. However, although they have a well-developed vocabulary, their skill with verbs is still limited. "We will go on a car ride tomorrow, not now" translates "Mumble, mumble, CAR RIDE mumble NOW!" "Be good, stop your pulling" translates "Mumble GOOD mumble PULLING!" and they will pull harder.
Second, these are working dogs. When you go to the clothesline, take multiple trips with small loads. They will guide and guard you for each. When you go for a ramble in the woods, accept that you cannot wander with your head in the clouds. Involve them -- call them back to the trail, send them ahead and direct them somewhere. Never assume they will trot serenely at your side. They crave interaction. The other day, I came out of a daydream and called Flo in -- but she did not hear me. She did not hear me because, since I was entertaining myself, she had decided to cut back through the woods at an angle to her favourite swimming place, then cross country over to the clear-cut where we hunted berries together before. I pieced this together from the drenched and muddied coat festooned with brambles when we were finally reunited. I could have lost her to coyotes that day. She could have become entrapped in brambles. I received a second chance, and now our walks are shared experiences, every minute.
Lesson Three: The Last Walk Is a Forever Walk.
In January, my beloved husky began to age. In late March, she suddenly manifested seizure activity. A month later, she died, an aggressive cancer claiming her.
On her last morning, we walked our favourite woods walk to the fork in the logging road, where she would usually choose the direction. This day, she walked at my side, sometimes glancing at me. "This is our walk," her eyes told me, "and always will be." At the fork in the logging road, she lay down and gazed at the pines sloping down to the swamp. I just stood there, present with her, the Shay dog huddled behind her, eyes bleak.
When the time was fulfilled, my lady rose, and we turned homeward.
That evening, we buried her physical remains under a great pine tree in the woodlot.
Her spirit is free in the world of spirit.
And every day, when I walk, I walk for her. I live on, as richly in each moment as I can, for her.
____________________________ * * * ____________________________
These are but three of the lessons I have learned from dogs. If I recorded all the lessons, as John says about the life of Jesus, "Even the world itself could not contain all the books that should be written..." (John 21:25b).
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I Am the Canoe
Earlier this month, a person I met at the Lunenburg Craft and Food Festival suggested that I write from the point of view of the canoe. I loved the idea. This blog is an attempt in that direction, and if blogs can be dedicated to people, it is dedicated to the person who inspired me.
I AM THE CANOE
The heat presses my body,
powders the finish on my gunwales,
Crowds my thoughts as I yearn to recall
The rush of water dancing over me.
I am the canoe. I do not see. I feel.
That gust of cooler air,
That shudder beneath my side –
That is cabin door opening,
Her feet on floorboards.
I am the canoe. I do not hear. I feel.
I roll to touch the softness, the dryness,
My side numb from the long coma of winter –
That is carpet, then porch.
Now my belly glides over the slick and the cool –
That is ferns, meaning rocks are coming.
The sharpest gouges my skin, deep,
And I cringe for I am the canoe and I feel.
I feel the rock edge drag deep
Then the cool ease of mud
And now! Now I float!
Water caresses my flanks,
Eager, too, for our run.
Water splashes into my body,
And that softness is her foot that touches me,
And that scratchy softness is dog.
We will ride together,
That rush of water against my side is paddle.
Oh! Welcome, paddle. You complete me, my friend.
We surge into the lake and that dip of shadow,
That moment of cool,
That is Eagle, passing above.
Welcome, Eagle, Thank you for your blessing.
Sun sears my gunwales but
Water brushes my belly and my sides,
Waves part before me and now,
A touch of roughness taps my gunwale in passing
Now softness, fur-ness, at my side.
That is Dog joining me in the water,
And now we swim together once more.
And the long winter of waiting is past,
And the summer of rippling water is with us.
I am the canoe. I do not speak, but I sing. I feel.
I am the canoe and I love this season,
When I lie in the shade, cool mud beneath me,
Dog often pressing wetness of nose in the evening,
Coming to the lake because Dog is friend.
And she is friend,
Sharing lake moments,
Sheltering me from storm.
Do not go, please, let us explore always but
Oh! That dryness fluttering over me.
That is leaf falling.
Our season is passing.
I am on my side, pressed to carpet.
Thick air pressing my thoughts, no cool of wind or water.
I sink into autumn, into winter, comatose but images still darting in my mind.
I am the canoe. I do not see. I do not hear, or taste, or scent,
But I touch. I feel.
A press of hand, a moment of paw,
A paddle pushing water along my flank,
Waves parting for my bow,
These are flashes in memory now.
I dream of her. I dream of Dog.
I dream of Eagle, hovering over me.
I miss, oh, I miss them all.
Memories and yearnings crowd around me,
For I am the canoe,
And I feel.
How I feel.