An Old Photograph

An Old Photograph
An old photograph resurfaced after many years in my closet ‘Collection of Artifacts and a Myriad Mysteries’. It was a picture I took of my husband, Roger, and our two children, Alissa and Aaron, both in their pre-teens.
There was nothing extraordinary or ‘special’ about our little family, but now and then we glimpsed the special magic of Nature. Perhaps it was just our receptive appreciation of Nature that often attracted messengers of the wilderness into our lives.
Looking at that photo, I recalled the journey of that first of July, ‘Canada Day’. My memory became more vivid, feeling the sizzling heat of the day and my aching muscles as we winched and coaxed our aluminum boat and fishing gear up the challenging portage. It was a slow, exhausting process that grounded our visions of carefree relaxation floating on the lake beyond. We all pitched in to make it through that frustrating, mosquito-annoying, hot and arduous struggle. I remember taking sips of cold water mixed with my sweat and a little fly-repellant, and being just too tired to care. I remember thinking The Eternal Question—‘Why are we here?’ Then, free of the hill and burden of ‘details’ we’d brought, we were finally back on water enjoying the luxury of a working outboard-motor. As we sped along, I thanked God for the millionth time and all the ingenious humans who’d ever invented labour-saving machinery. I have never been sophisticated enough to take such things for granted.
An hour or so later of cooling breeze and boat vibrations, we decided that we’d ‘arrived’ at our unknown destination. The lightened cooler was opened once again, and we hungrily devoured our sandwiches. Mine also had the added flavours of sweat and fly-dope and fish bait. I can taste the memory even now.
Shortly after our meal was eaten and our bait was put to work, we had a visit from an unexpected guest. A messenger of Nature surfaced near our boat to thrill us with a clearly communicating display, soundly slapping its large, flat tail on the water. Everything is truly the meaning one gives to it, and from our welcoming perspective we interpreted the warning sign to be the ‘Canada Day Beaver’s Salute’. The timing was perfect! We had worked so hard to get to that ‘special place’ of quiet peace and floating freedom, like the beaver who ‘greeted’ us. I understood the natural warning of ‘Don’t anyone even think of taking these values away from this place!’ That’s when beavers shape-shift into fighting creatures much more aggressive and fierce. A sanctuary of peace and freedom is what Canadian families, and so many individual Canadians, have worked so hard to create, to continually maintain, and to gratefully enjoy. We salute all who share such values and warn those who don’t.
Then I thought, recalling that extraordinary/ordinary event on ‘Canada Day’—‘For however long we Canadians choose to unite as a country, may Canada’s national pride aways be tempered by a healthy humility as it grows to be a co-creator of a higher vision of World Unity. That isn’t too much for any Global Citizen to hope for, n’est-ce pas?’
I placed the old photograph back into my closet ‘Collection of Artifacts and a Myriad Mysteries’ with a wistful smile.
April 27, 2006

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