Grey Owl's Guests


Building my new camp
Lakeside
In this virgin Saskatchewan park.
Beaver family observes
My timber gathering
Patronizingly.
Little kits venture daily
Closer to the front porch
Mother observes
With occasional whine
Of caution.
I simulate her cries
And comforts
As I chink and place
The logs in age-old
Interlock.
Intentionally leaving
Water's edge corner
Of cabin unfinished.

Nine days into project
Mother drags healthy length
Onto front porch...
And then inside
To lapping water's corner.
Sliding effortlessly
Down mud bank with
First instalment.
So, a joint project now,
I guess?
Each visit brings
New-found respect
And growing common vocabulary.
Little kits observe
And lounge on my
Hardwood floor,
Or sun themselves
On the porch.

The mud I allow
Her for several days,
And marvel at her
Submarine pattings
And thumpings,
Barely audible.
Soon all furry activity
Switches to the outside.
I delight at the
Late afternoon
Aqua show.
Little ones joining in
With small filler branches.
I close in the remaining
Corner boards and trim.
Leaving thirty inch square
Aperture at lodge roof.
Happy, satisfied tenants
Co-habiting.

Note: Grey Owl, formerly known as Archie Belaney (1888-1938), was a Channel English youth drawn to the wilds of Ontario and enticed into living the assumed role of a half-breed canoe tripper and hunting guide, and eventually a conservationist. Northern communities such as Temagami and Biscotasing knew of this fascinating man and his love for the trail and canoe route. Europe would come to celebrate his writings of the trek and of the rhythms of bush and lake; the majesty of the loon, moose, wolf and beaver. Eventually he moved to a post as ranger-conservationist in Saskatchewan. Aboriginal friends always chose to overlook Archie's fraudulent misrepresentation of heritage.

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