governments quarrel, bicker
to war, to war, comes a cry
not of you, or I, but of those
protected by cannon fodder
for pride of country!
sacrificing women, men
for the safety of our citizens
on the other side of the world!
as a blood spattered child, alone
weeps for his parents
© by DC Lessoway
I took this picture today on my walk. How it brought back an intense memory.
The fading light through the trees was soft owing to the smoke issuing from the line of lake-side cabins and adding to the vigorous smell of cooked pickerel. Sunday suppertime on Sturgeon Lake in North Western Alberta, 1973. My dad and I readied his red and white 1968 Chevrolet truck and headed home. It was Sunday and he had to get home (an hour West in Grande Prairie) to get ready for the week’s work.
My dad, by then 61, bone thin, just starting to stoop; yet, still towering over me. How after the truck was packed he’d take a moment, remove his cap, scratch his balding pate, then get in and off we’d go. Perhaps he was going over a mental checklist to ensure the cabin was locked up for the week.
It was always a quiet ride home, excepting for the radio. He wasn’t a conversationalist and thus, perhaps, is why I have an over-active imagination in having to keep myself occupied.
First stop, always, the garbage dump.
We are approaching the turn-off and suddenly it was like we were dive-bombed by a flying… something. Like an explosion of crazy in front of me. My heart was in my throat as it was on my side, by the tall steel radio antenna.
Dad laughed, “it’s a bat, caught on the aerial.”
My eyes were like saucers! A bat, mere feet from my head! Just waiting to get its chance to taste my blood!
We pulled into the dump and dad got out, gabbed a blanket from behind the truck seat, went around to my side, threw the blanket on the gyrating bat, pulled it up and off the antenna and snapped the blanket, like he was flicking off dust, and the bat, though hard to see in the twilight, screamed and flew off.
Dad folded up the blanket and put it behind the chair. He then threw out the garbage and again, we were on our way.
“The thing you should remember, never panic. Remember, early in the summer and that bear was in the dump? Keep your distance, yell and shout and he’ll go on his way. Never panic, you can’t think straight when you panic.”
He’d always give these, gems of wisdom to me. His favourite, “experience is the best teacher.” Loved that one.
Well, the excitement over, on the way again. We’d just turned off the dusty, noisy gravel and onto the soothing highway as it began to rain. Not much at first, but quickly grew into a monsoon with lightening and thunder.
“We’ll have to pull over, it’s too hard to see.” So we pulled off to the side of the highway.
That musty smell created by hard rain after a few, dusty, and hot days. I’ve never forgotten it; always cherish it as it instantly transports me to my youth.
Then more lightening, “one-thousand and one, one-thousand and…” boom!
That was close. Then. Oh but then.
This, imbued on my memory. I was looking out my window at the thick forest of birch and pine at the side of the road. A jagged bolt of pure white flashed in my vision. Like nothing I’d seen, but just like a kid drew a lightening bolt: sharp angles to a point. It seemed to linger there, a few feet above the ground; and then, it seemed like an eternity after the image, this, voice-of-god-like crash physically shook the truck.
I jumped over the side and grabbed dad. He laughed, “just lightening, we’ll be okay, we have rubber tires, we’re isolated from it.”
Immediately the rain subsided and we were off again. It was a few miles before I was back on my side of the truck.
Never forgot that moment and, I never looked at that blanket the same way again.
Photo and story © by DC Lessoway
to speak of her, in this time
salts my eyes, with pride
sea to mountain, her
nature, her strength
her diverse peoples too
yet we must face vile truths
darkness of humanity
those who first walked
this magnificent land
First People’s tormented by:
John A Macdonald’s “extinguishing”
stripping their sacred land
their languages outlawed
sent to brutal, residential schools
my eyes salted more to see
finally, finally, finally
reconciliation, not yet perfect
bringing people’s together to
say this, all of our Canada
our home, on native land
photos and poem © DC Lessoway
So went through the routine: check in, blood pressure check, answer questions, etc. Anyway, busy, no chairs, so I found a place to stand. The staff are patient and kind and everyone is also waiting patiently.
But then I found myself within earshot of this older man, clearly in pain, swearing loudly and complaining about having to wait so long to his clearly, if not overly patient wife.
I tried to ignore for a while, but started to get angry at his rude comments about the staff. I felt like saying: ‘you whinny little…’ but thought better of it.
He then started to complain about the Canadian health system. I heard myself, somewhat audiably, say, ‘it’s free asshole.’
Thankfully he didn’t hear, but the wife did, I wanted to glare back but could only feel compassion for her.
Yeah, we got lineups, but really I’d take our system not bankrupting me just for a sliver any day.
Why do we have to go down this narrow minded, hate-filled, route of murky, divisive politics of us vs them, right vs left, Canadian vs Canadian? And how it’s always politicians (of all shades), who cause these silly divisions?
Yes, we have differing opinions and beliefs (Is this not what it means to be human?), but it doesn’t give anyone the right to be hateful and put their interest above others.
For so long Canada was a beacon in the world because of our acceptance of multiculturalism and the rainbows of humanity. But the politicians came along and tore this to shreds, believing it was the right thing to do.
My Canada is not perfect, but she is a place of enchantment and beauty and acceptance and inclusion. Let us, together, keep her that way.