Creature Comforts

It takes time for all the hundreds of faces to fall away and begin receding in memory. No longer riding the bus into Langley to work at the mega bookstore in the strip mall put me back in the village for the summer. I felt that I was reclaiming it again, settling in after seven months of leaving town. Oh the luxury of the post office and library, my two best pillars of society. Heading towards them was my familiar daily ritual, done at my leisure now, rather than sandwiched in between a hectic schedule. I regained the expansiveness of time again in which time cannot be measured and good times elongate and expand in deliciousness.

I needed to empty out. Live with my decision. I’d toughed out the hardest part of the year and trekked back and forth in wind, rain and snow. May is a good month to run free. And June. And July. But I was walking again, walking for my life.

It is a funny thing to defiantly reclaim your day for yourself. I am not retired, and my joke is that not only am I not out to pasture yet, I will be cutting through pastures for the rest of my life, on my way to earning my daily bread. But not right now. I am still young and foolish enough to know and relish the necessity of living in the now. And I insist on discovering the beauty of now.

At the intersection of Mavis Street and River Road there is a roundabout in the middle of the road, Spirit Square, with three regal carved panels on display; one each of wolf, beaver, and salmon. They are the artistry of Drew Atkins and with his permission I am reproducing the information about his carvings that is written on the plaque at the roadside.

Wolf – Inspiration for the first panel comes from the richness of Kwantlen history and traditions thousands of years before contact in the time of transformation. Kwantlen translates to “tireless runner.” Oral tradition tells of a great Chief whose daughter gives birth to wolf puppies that transform themselves to human form and become descendants of the first Kwantlen families. It has been said that the wolf blood gave the Kwantlen messengers stamina whose task was to run and deliver messages throughout and beyond the vast Kwantlen territory. Today, the Kwantlen government and Kwantlen community members continue in their efforts to work tirelessly in all that they do for their families and Nation.

Beaver – The Colonial History is represented by a beaver, an integral part of the fur trade. The fur trade brought the Hudson’s Bay Company fur trader fort and the signing of the proclamation in 1858 to Fort Langley. The beaver is also nature’s engineer and builder, symbolically building the foundation from which the colony grew.

Salmon – The Post Colonial period is represented by a salmon. The salmon industry is the original industry of the Fraser Valley and has always been the economic base that helped First Nations and other communities along the Fraser River thrive. It is also a reminder to us all that if we do not honour and respect the river and the environment, we will lose our precious dwindling resources.

Dedicated to the Kwantlen people; Past, Present and Future. Design and carving by Drew Atkins and Xwa-lack-tun. (2008)

When one walks, or sits, when one has time, it is amazing how the little faces come into focus. The sudden sideways iridescent glancing of hummingbirds on red flowers. Timid brown bunnies tucked beneath the wild blackberry bushes along the railway tracks. To blend in, to become a part of the life of trees where birds chatter and swoop. I walk across the Jacob Haldi Bridge down the road to the river to stand on that dock. Out of the corner of my eye the splash of the salmon jump, a sandhill crane steps daintily in the shallows and lifts off. Today I watched a lone duck paddle towards a one log boom and dive neatly under the water. I watched and waited for it to emerge, and it did yards and yards past it on the other side, to join its mate.

I am on Kwantlen territory when I walk past the bridge. There is an area of the woods that has been cleared ready for building. The long Spring rains left deep pools and ruts between tree stumps where frogs accumulate to sing their song. It seemed that every time I walked past this clearing the frogs were calling, louder, insistently, and I started to pay attention, began to read up on the significance and symbolism of the animal kingdom.

The Frog says, “It’s time to release all things no longer appropriate to bring on your journey. Then you can hop to the next lily pad, light and free. (Colette Baron-Reid).

I heard the frog’s song in places where I had never thought a frog could be. Where I stepped off the bus at night I was greeted by ribet. In the shrubs at the corner where I turned onto my street the chorus would continue. Frog speaks of new life and harmony through its rain song. The deep tones of Frog’s “ribet” are said to be a call to the Thunder Beings: thunder, lightning, and rain. The “ribet” is the heartbeat that comes into harmony with Father Sky and calls for the replenishment needed.

Frog sings the songs that bring the rain.

Frog teaches us to honour our tears, for they cleanse the soul. (Jamie Sams and David Carson – Medicine Cards).

I’m reading about the twin hemispheres of our brains that have different personalities. The left side dominates critical and analytical thinking, while the right side is all about creativity and intuition. The right side of the brain which controls the left hand will say things you don’t know that you know. There are exercises one can do to have a bilateral conversation. I picked up a pencil with my right hand and wrote a question, How’s it going? then switched to my left hand and wrote the answer, Like a tree frog in a burning forest.

Well holy shit and let the rains come! Leap, frog, leap!


On a sunny day a walk to the river in companionship with my dear friend. Roslyn and I stood on the dock, elbows resting on the railing, looking this way then that up the channel. Dusty barked, Bob called up from his boat, “Do you want a fish? Do you like salmon?” Would I! He chopped and sliced the long body, tipping the head and guts into the river and slid the great fish into a bag for me. I carried my catch home. We climbed the steps to my house sit where Roslyn sat at the counter reading the paper, golden sun falling from skylights. She would take home half for her household, to feed herself and her students. I stood at the sink, the tap running cold. The water poured across its sleek sides, cleansing the body of blood. My finger traced the silver scales over and over down its powerful body. Water flowed. I stood staring, hot sun on my shoulders. Through my finger I felt the cold wet strength of the fish and knew its journey. Felt its twists and turns through the shallows and the rapids. Began remembering. Knew myself nosing deeper and deeper into the gray green depths of the river, my powerful tail twisting and turning, disappearing into story.

Good Life

One Response to “Creature Comforts”

  1. Dale says:

    Holy shit ……Leap frog
    a late night read, always an enjoyable time…….. looking fwd to the book!!!
    love d

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