Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Camping (07/11/05)
TITLE: The Great Equation Cont.
By wil Twynstra
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That is where we found our selves. We had become a small band of travelers that had more baggage than one could see. The irony was that I was running away from my father’s death, where he was making a pilgrimage to his brothers.
The sun had set and the train rumbled onward. I was now farther north than I had ever been before. That’s the beauty of the Canadian landscape, you are both citizen and alien within it. You become increasingly aware of what you lack, but hold refuge in the knowledge that this presence protects you. We heard the train cry out before Marathon, and Red Rock. We heard the loons compliant on Nipigon Bay. Tree frogs desperate for rain harmonized in the stillness.
“They’re early this year.” Papa J said. We had been silent for the better part of two hours. I had finished the beef jerky, and an extra sandwich he had packed.
“Who are early?”
“The frogs. They’re three weeks early, but the weather’s been strange, and the heat brought them out sooner. Those things are so small you barely know they’re there, but when they sing, you sure know it then.” He reached into his pack and brought out the harmonica.
“So you’re a nature buff?” It’s as good a question I could come up with.
“One has to be if you live up here. I spent many nights camping in the wilderness with my father and brother. My father taught us the stars, the land, the lakes, the essence. But this nature serves better as a metaphor than for anything else.” He played softly and let his presence be known to the creatures.
“Yeah son. You can’t look at all this and think it’s good fortune, or dumb luck. Some say glaciers carved this. I believe glaciers were a type of brush the artist used. And if the artist painted them, than what would that make me?”
I just there sat there.
Papa J. answered his rhetorical question; “a part of the picture. Get the picture?”
I got nothing. I was not sure where he was coming from and why. I have a tendency to over think things to the point that I miss what needs to be understood.
“Are you talking about the Group of Seven artists?” I had a basic knowledge of Canadian art history, but was not sure if Papa J. was quizzing me.
He chuckled like a mentor does at his apprentice. “No, not the group of seven”. He sat contemplating. “Perhaps the group of three”.
“Never heard of them. Are they from the realism period?” I sounded like a fool. I felt it. It was like being back at University. I pretended to know something about something without knowing anything.
Papa J. stared at me. His old eyes laughed, but his face was sympathetic. I was embarrassed because I knew I missed his point. I would later blame it on my sense of displacement, of being on a train, and a lack of nourishment.
“Boy, I’m going to have to take you camping. That’s the only way I’ll ever be able to teach you what I know.”
“And what is it that you know?”
“That you might just be an answer to a prayer.”
He didn’t elaborate any further. He picked up his harmonica and played a song that I found vaguely familiar.
Camping sounded good. I had done it twice in my life; it had been with my father as well. I sat looking into the wilderness. I reflected on those times. I didn’t even expect it, but a feeling of warmth came over me. Reflection can be a good thing. But looking forward can be equally as good.
We marched onward to Thunder Bay.
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