Today is the first day where I came close to the edge of danger. I lost control of the canoe, I had to surrender to where the waves wanted me to go. I was alone being pushed and pulled by large swells of water, the fear moving from my belly to my throat like a see saw, back and forth. As I looked ahead I could see the open water I was being sucked into. I was terrified.
It all happened so fast. I woke up to a nice sunrise on a long sandy beach just around the southern tip of Eskasoni. The water was moving in from the south west and looked calm: Slight ripples. As I began to paddle I saw onshore my first autumn tree, red and yellow leaves. I could feel fall’s fingers running through summers ‘s hair. The lows at night are single digits and my hands felt cool and slow.
A few hundred feet later as I came around the corner I got nailed by a strong North wind on my left. I started padding hard and deep to cut through the waves. When I realized how futile that was I tried to head into Eskasoni.
That was when I realized I was no longer in control of where I was going. I could not take the force of the wind, the current, the waves and swells. The lake was a water dragon who woke up mad.
Everything was stronger than me. I had to turn the bow of the canoe to go with the waves. The waves were taking me to a 5km stretch of open water heading to Big Pond. My mind raced as the swells got bigger and I got further and further from shore. I started thinking of a plan to deal with the real possibility of ending up in a windy sea.
I realized I would be instantly seperated from everything in the canoe. I realized I could die. It took dozens of attempts but I managed to get one cell phone call off by just hitting the buttons blindly. It was my friend Ed. I screamed to him with the phone on my lap frantically paddling,
” Ed I am in over my head, I got sucked out to open water by strong winds and I think I am going to end up overboard. Call coastguard and tell them my gps coordinates and that I am in trouble.”
All I heard was, OK and fuck. Then the phone dropped to the floor of the canoe and that was that.
At this darkest moment of fear I could taste blood in my mouth and my heartbeat pounding in my throat but my thoughts were of a beautiful stone I found in the red brown clay cliffs of Castle Bay. It was a red stone that sparkled. It was deep in the ground exposed by erosion as are thousands of years of our sedimentary past, layers and layers accumulated over time. I saw the small red stone sparkle in the sunlight and I dug it out of the clay, washed it in the salty water and put it into my pocket. Just before I left I saw a grey rock with white rocks on it, like a natural temple in the wild. I thought I should put ruby red on the rock but I was already attached. Like Bilbo the hobbit the rock had already become ‘my precious.’
Now, in angry swells coming at me all I could think about was the ruby stone and I shouted into the wind,
” I promise to return the stone as soon as I get to shore.”
An hour later like a shipwrecked fool I stumbled onto a sandbar, kissed a stone on the ground, dug out ruby red from a coat pocket buried in a packed bag and threw her back into the sea.
Ruby red was now back where she belonged. With the stories of this land and the ancestors in the sea. I have come to learn and listen.