Sometimes our lives are marked by events and sometimes events mark our lives. Michael Lebowitz writes about a Thanksgiving memory that has left an indelible footprint on his mind.
It was cold. Damn. I had just moved into a new house. Blue walls, Day-Glo mandalas, no legged couches and a general sense of the ending of the Age of Aquarius, mostly due to boredom and bad dope. The phone rang. It was Rainey, a friend of mine, conversant with cultural artifacts and deeply wounded in love to the accompaniment of endless Leonard Cohen songs, was still enamored of the great Canadian north and the idea of setting canoe upon blue lake amid rocky shore for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day weekend.Algonquin Park in the fall is cold and colorful. And foreboding. Not the heaven on earth of summer skies, drifting smoke, Northern Lights. But, more the Tom Thompson paintings of singular pines and rocky cliff, solitude and survival in every brush stroke. We put in at Canoe Lake, eight of us. We were an odd group, some us close to some and unknown to others. No matter, we headed up to the portage, moved across it, kept moving. Eventually we made it to Big Trout lake, made camp and set about the odd business of having to be at home in the woods as simple men and women.
The mist burns off the lake much later in the morning come October. The tripping of summer is replaced in the Fall by a heavier, slower rhythm, a beat that one feels in one’s bones, as if the water is hardening,the earth slowly closing down. There are few birds, the geese are gone, the horizon flat. A fire in the pit and some coffee. We watched as smoke swirled into mist; eventually everything fades, all conversation disappears, these strangers who are friends of mine sit silently in worlds of their own. It would go on forever, this sacred silence, as if in the temple of our dreams, knowing that our losses were made easier by the promise in another sunrise.
These days I run early. The other morning I hit a turning in the trail and those days come to mind; Rainey running flat-footed, easy stride, canoe aloft, pack bouncing on his back, the others running easy behind. I have traveled many crooked roads to get here but come early October every year I am for a moment or two on those rocky shores, sitting side by each with friends, watching the mist rise, drinking coffee, saying nothing, dreaming of the days ahead. Some of them are gone now, but deep inside where I live most days, I sometimes wish I had enough of something to bring that thanksgiving back just once more. I had no idea, none of us did, of what was waiting for us once the mist lifted and winter came, bringing with it as it must, the rest of our lives.
all photos-©2011 Michael Lebowitz
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