The clouds were sitting above the horizon this morning watching the sun come up, an orange skyline and orange clouds. I will never forget the first time I heard the saying, sun in the morning, fisherman’s warning, she’s going to rain today. My father said it as we packed up our freighter canoes and rain it did, all day, not your typical rain either, but a hard drizzle and it was cold as we traveled the Severn River, there was nothing I could do except bundle up in the front and watch my father smile in harmony with something crazy, he had something I didn’t, still don’t.
Those bushmen are something else whom all carry that something, my brother had it and my good friend Thomas Beardy has it, which made me think of Edith C Fiddler and their son Neil, a fellow comrade on the ice who left us too soon, who also had it. I thought of them this weekend as they remembered a hockey player, a hunter, trapper and fisherman. He was a lover of the land and all it had to offer, he played in a land of giants and smiled through its haunting wonders, which showed he knew the answers to the many mysteries out there, ones that remain unrevealed that only the blessed will see, a gift of our protectors, to which Neil was one.
Neil and my brother were blessed with a knowledge of their surroundings, gained through their love and need to be floating amongst the waters of our rivers. Many of us only find comfort drifting with a current, they found comfort paddling against it and in the elements that give the North a reputation of being desolate, cold and unforgiving. The strange thing about Neil and Darryl is that the land did not take their life, but gave it. The reasons for their passing to the spirit world was far from social factors non-existent in the wild to which they were born and belonged.
They were not wards of the land, but kings, as they will remain. We used to call Neil “crazy legs” on the ice because he would just giver. The energy in his body came from his spirit that continues in the land, like my brother, like my Ancestors, their strength and presence remains on the lakes and rivers, a presence we are unable to explain but one we acknowledge by carrying on their desire to protect and cultivate its uses, to which there are many used in healing, sustenance and prayer.
I hope that I do not ever have to feel the loss of a son, a cycle in life that seems illogical and wrong as parents should never bear the burden of seeing their baby leave this world before they do. But as one who has experienced the other side, the right to cross over is a blessing earned, a purpose fulfilled, in which we should celebrate the time we had with what we now know was an Angel in disguise, who left within us an impression and remembrance to carry on their message.
The message left from our hunters is one of a love for life, but more importantly, a love for our land, no difference between the two for our Bushmen. A promise to protect it and use it as they did but try to find the answers to the mysteries beneath the waters, maybe than we will have fulfilled our purpose as they did and earn the right to allow others to carry on our message, a lifelong goal for most of us. Neil and Darryl, never forgotten, always remembered and honored, their songs form the rainbows in our skies, a reason I am always looking for the end, not for a pot of gold, but so I can see them dancing.
As a summer nears its end and Autumn falls from the skies driven by the North winds, I remember to honor the memory of our hunters by hunting as they did. My sons will also leave soon and I will hug them, hold them and appreciate that today they are healthy and I will entertain their questions about their homelands as they look forward to the days we will roam the North together. They will learn as I did that hunting was never a sport, but a prayer in which we connect with our Bushmen, especially those who have left physically, but remain spiritually, watching us and teasing us, but always loving us. They will learn to seek the answers to the land and maybe they will learn to laugh and enjoy its gifts, however cold, harsh and unforgiving, just as their Uncle Neil and Darryl did, Ancestors they will use as inspiration to succeed then dream and write about as I do.