I am a place that you may not know
I am birds that sing and the promise of spring. I am morning mist on marshes, a smiling sun at noon, the first star awake and the cry of a loon. I am turning leaves that fall and rutting moose that call. I am the long winter that comes early and stays late.
I am the light in dark at the break of day and the dark in light that first appears as grey. I am protruding rock ridges that are the bones of the earth and the streams and valleys they lie beside.
Alpine Lake on Darkwoods, BC (Photo by Bruce Kirkby)
I am a place where lakes reflect the world they see around them. And I am the ice that seals their eyelids shut in winter. I am a place where life depends on listening, and I am always listening and watching too. I am a place where the wind is a constant visitor and trusted friend. I am a place where ears and noses detect the sound and scent of danger long before alert and wandering eyes find it.
I am the white patch on the throat of a white-tailed deer and the dark shadow moving silently across the ground behind it, without snapping a twig or bending a blade of grass. I am hollow trees and black stumps and the black bear that rules over this place, which is a place without rules.
Mosses and lichens in northwestern Ontario (Photo by NCC)
I am the high, wide, swaying rack of a long-legged bull moose and the yellow eyes of a pack of timber wolves watching the tip of its antler dip lower than it should when its limp right hoof presses down on the soft grey moss. The wolves will come closer only if the moose tries to rest or eat, and they will let it do neither now. I am a place where killing time has a different meaning. I am a place with no beginning or end and, for some, no way out.
I am place where little has changed. I am the yellow beak of the blue heron, a living dinosaur and deadly impaler, who stands motionless and alone like a phantom laced in sunlight or veiled in shadow waiting patiently for some unwary creature to wander too close before spearing it.
I am the teeth and claws of the secretive fisher that uses its cunning to kill porcupines and its speed and agility to pursue squirrels up and through the trees.
Short-eared owl in flight (Photo by Tony Campbel)
I am tracks in the snow and the naked feet that keep the game trails worn. I am feathered wings that follow a path made in the mind across the trackless sky. I am the fur-bearing animal, the trapper’s line and sudden death without overtime. And I am the hunting camp where men live life a different way, heading for swamps before first light and talking across open fires beneath the stars at night.
I am a place filled with fatherless children where childhood ends early if it ever begins at all. I am a place where nature is the mother of all things. I am the harsh logic called instinct, which is the only gift nature provides her children to guide them on their journey.
I am a place that must rot to remain unspoiled. I am a place where nothing really dies. I am a place where the flesh of one animal becomes the flesh of another until it returns to the ground where rainfall and sunlight make it rise up again to be nibbled at and fed on during a never-ending cycle of life. I am a place where everything is connected and all things depend on each other for survival. I am a place where life seems simple, which means it’s complicated.
I am the flat-tailed beaver, the dams it makes and swamps it creates. I am water bugs scurrying across the surface of those swamps. And I am the world beneath the surface of the swamp, which is even more dangerous than the one above because it is a place where all things live and die in silence.
Snapping turtle (Photo by Ontley)
I am bullfrogs and black snakes and snapping turtles that hunt and are hunted along its shorelines. I am the scented cedars and white pines and soft maples beyond the swamps and the wind that makes them bend and bow and creak and moan. And I am the sound of axes and saws gnawing away at the edges of this place.
I am a place that was once like the place where you live now, but that was a long time ago. I am a place with a timeless spirit where light and dark, water and wind, rocks and trees, and all the animals that live and die beneath its sky can touch your spirit. I am a place that will challenge and humble and teach those who enter it. I am a place that we are drawn to and fear, for the same reason.
I am a place that you may not know. I am nature, and I am more than what meets the eye.