Sunday, May 30, 2010

Water and Wilderness

I have moss between my toes. My tomatoes are drowning. The roof, sadly, still leaks, and help seems moons away: you can't replace a roof while it's raining.
I didn't need the media to tell me that this is the rainiest spring on record. That was already all too clear. Dad confirmed it for me: when someone who loves to farm is cranky about the rain, you know there is a problem.
If I wanted to live in this climate, I would long since have moved to Vancouver.
While I do have my tomatoes in, all other planting is on hiatus. How can you cast tender wee plants into the soil when you don't know whether it will frost, snow, and freeze? I'm not much of a gardener, but I'm pretty sure my seeds would be washed away.
When it began to pour buckets yesterday (as opposed to just the continuous, driving rain) I decided that was enough. Someone was to blame, and Someone had better turn off the tap before I became irate and decided to hurt Someone. Yes, the rain drove me to irrationality.
I tried to think about Quebec, where fires rage, or the Gulf coast, where five thousand barrels of oil a day are spewing into the water and washing up on the shores. It could be worse. I think.
On the slightly brighter side, there was half a day of beauty and peace on the lake last weekend. Sunday was dark and wet; Monday morning was cloudy and cool; but Monday afternoon was a panacea.
The sun actually shone, painting the trees with light and colour. The water was pristine and (relatively) calm. Even the fish were biting.
Ken caught 10 fish that day, keeping four -- three walleye, one pike. Yum. He also caught Leviathan, a massive pike that decided to chomp on his rapala. His head was so big that Ken couldn't grab him, and probably shouldn't have considering he was in a canoe. He was at least 20 pounds and nearly as long as my outstretched arms, if my hands are at right angles.
Sometimes fish are scary. I began quoting Moby Dick. Please don't call me Ishmael.
We wandered the trails and looked at the little explanatory trail signs (did you know this lake emerged from a melting glacier?) and sat on the deck and paddled around in the evening. I tried not to think; just watch and listen.
Two loons were the noisiest things on the lake, calling so loudly that their voices echoed back in a chorus from the trees. Only one other boat was out, a small fishing boat quietly plumbing the pickerel hole near the public beach.
When it's hard to find yourself, among the work and the house and the errands and the busy, Saskatchewan's north is a good place to go looking.
Two days later, juxtaposed unpleasantly against the quiet moments of the lake, I saw a kid with a knife.
I had visited Mom and Dad, and was taking the shortest route home -- straight down Third Avenue, then across the bridge and down Victoria Avenue. I stopped at the light on Third and 23rd, and watched three youths dance across the street in front of me.
One of them -- the smallest -- was flipping a knife (closed -- it was either a fold-out or a switch) around in his fingers. I couldn't miss it; he was right in front of me. Then he pulled his bright green hoodie down over it (it was somehow attached to his belt loop) and the three boys walked over to talk to three other kids waiting for a bus. Were they friends? I hope so.
I have to say, and maybe I am naive, but I was quite shocked; shocked enough to call the police, to ask them if I should have done anything. To them, I think, this is probably pretty common. To me, it was a wake-up call. That, on top of the assault of StarPhoenix reporter Bob Florence and last week's east-side shooting of a 17-year-old, is seriously disturbing. We -- as a city and a society -- have to get a wider grip on our issues before none of us feel safe.

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