The Tale of a Man, a Bear and the Cold Waters of the Hudson’s Bay
August 12, 2006 –4.43 pm
On Saturday a very tall man walked up behind our car parked along the Hayward Fault and asked if he should be worried that I was taking photographs of the area. I heard Steve laugh and say loudly,
“Don’t worry she’s Canadian!”
I chuckled to myself and wondered why Canadians are always considered a trusted lot no matter what the scenario. I looked at this tall man with a weathered face and long hair gathered into a ponytail under a hat. He seemed like he would be more comfortable riding the range with Sam Sheppard than patrolling the roads for rogue photographers in the Oakland Hills.
Without skipping a beat I told him I was indeed Canadian,and I meant no trouble to anyone. I showed him the landscape pictures I had taken of the area and he looked me squarely in the eyes and said he knew I was a storyteller, because he was one himself.
The man told me he had come to California by the way of Wyoming and had lost another two of his friends from the Vietnam war two days ago. With tears welling up in my eyes I told him how I had lost a good friend in the same war. He looked at me with blank eyes and said he no longer wished to talk about the subject.
Instead, he began to tell me about the legendary Hudson’s Bay,like he assumed every Canadian should know. With a lone tone he told me that the waters run cold and the polar bears are hungry. Not wanting to break his verbal beat I nodded my head in agreement and felt like I could listen to this man for hours.
As the story goes; within minutes upon arriving on the shores of the Hudson’s Bay in Canada he immediately came face to face with an enormous white polar bear. Apparently they stalked each other for a few hundred yards and he eventually made it safely to his cabin. He continues his story with moving hand gestures and increasing volume how this particular bear spent days throwing himself at the door of his cabin. I had a hard time digesting this part as I had to wonder why the bear would continually stick around for days on end when he probably had better places to feed than to wait upon a tall thin man with no meat on him at all.
By this time the story begins to flow into a strange literary tributary from years of it being told over and over to anyone who would listen. Through a small hole in the roof of his cabin our storyteller spies a plane flying overhead and decides he will face his fate to be rescued. Apparently the bear had moved on after all and our storyteller finds himself wading into the cold depths of the Hudson’s Bay waving at the plane that still is flying overhead. The pontoon plane lands on the cold chilly waters of the Bay and our raconteur pulls himself up to safety inside the plane.
Of course the pilot of the plane belonged to the Royal Mounted Police and as he throws our man of tales a blanket he laughs and simply says,
“I figured you might need a ride eh?”
The story stops dead in his tracks at that point and he tells me his publisher is waiting for him to finish his book but, he is having problems with his editor who is also his wife. He explains that she was an English major once upon a time and they are both arguing over the grammar he uses in his stories. We both agree sometimes proper grammar gets in the way of telling a story the way it is meant to be told and both of us will continue to tell stories from our heart and to hell with punctuation.
With that he utters a few more words to conclude the story, but I can’t tell you what he said, as the story belongs solely to him. So if one day you see someone looking much like Sam Sheppard wandering around the Oakland Hills stop him and you will hear one hell of a yarn about a man, a bear and the cold waters of Hudson’s Bay. I am sure by that point the story might be a tad longer because as we know the storytellers of the world are individuals with really good memories. They just hope the people listening or reading their tales don’t remember or care about bad grammar and punctuation. At least I do.
June 25, 2010 8:38 PM
She sat there quietly and remembered. The thirty years had gone by too fast, and now he was gone. What would she do without him?
While she softly wept, the crane walked slowly beside the fence. He was watching her carefully as the wise flower elves wept in the hollows. How could he tell her that he was there?
He flew over the fence in a gentle swoop, felt the drops of dew, and kissed cold tears from the grass.
He tried to get closer to her, one measured step at a time. The grass blades parted with sighs as he was trying to tell her that he was there. He had been gone for a few brief days but he had returned to tell her that he loved her. Yes, he would always remember the joy from the life they had lived.
He stopped during certain moments when people spoke of the love they had for him. He cocked his head from time to time while he listened to words of memory and laughter in the highlands. He tried to make a sound but it stuck in his throat.
He saw three people watching him closely and he knew that they realized who he really was. He was not really the proud graceful crane walking across the grass – he was the departed, trying to tell her he was okay.
The words stopped and everyone was silent. He knew he must go; but he must tell her somehow that he had read the beautiful card that she had made for him.
“The heavens part the high planets, blade parts back and edge; not even eternity can part souls that are sealed in love.”
“Yes, he thought. Eternity will never part our souls as we are forever sealed in love. Remember that my love; never ever forget.”
And with that, as quickly as he had appeared, he was gone. The three that had seen him spoke quietly and told each other their thoughts. They knew that when the heavens grew clear, he had come.
He had come when the mountain brims grew bright to tell her of his love. Others would tell her later on that he had been there. He had come to tell her that he loved her one final time.
May he rest in peace. We saw him Johanna, he was there!
Most of the words are written by me, BUT *** I also used a few selected words used in a scattered “here nor there fashion” *** from the card Johanna made for her husband, Bruce yesterday for his memorial service. I wanted her feelings in this piece. I believe she got some of the words from :
Journey’s End (Ferðalok)
Every day after that, at the exact same time he just seemed to find me. He expected nothing, and I slowly grew to love him despite my allergies. One afternoon I told him a story about why I was cautious of strange cats. Peering at me closely, he looked like he was actually listening to my every word.
Aug. 4th, 2006 at 12:48 AM
A small flea had been found earlier yesterday by my son, and he had told everyone it had not been found on the dog. After assuming the necessary precautions nothing else was found. All of us, with the exception of my oldest son, had green lighted everything. The crisis was over as far as we were concerned. At approximately 2:30 am later that night a large flashlight was pointed in my face while I was fast asleep. It was flea fighter son number 1 with a look of terror on his face.
“Mom, I have been in here 10 minutes shining this flashlight on my white socks and I have found two fleas”.
Apparently the white socks were used as bait and displayed whatever he thought was a flea in fine form on the white colour. “I can’t sleep upstairs,there are fleas everywhere.” he said. I strongly and silently disagreed with this as we have gone through this many times with other creatures and insects such as bats and spiders. It never fails that when the oldest is not Kosher with something he comes downstairs to his old room where I sleep so he can sleep in his old bed. His former room still holds his childhood. Bobbleheads, Beanie Babies, hockey posters, and two small pocket mirrors taped to one of his shelves across from his bed are still there. He constructed those mirrors as a plan to see if the boogeyman was coming into his room.
“Mom I don’t think anyone realizes how serious this is as no one will own up to the grave problem we have here,” he continued.
I shot him a look that said everything. How could I take anyone seriously that was going to walk around all day in the summer heat in long jogging pants with white socks pulled up over the pants almost to the knees and white shoes. Mind you the white shoes were very soft leather fashionable ones from Aldo. But still–no dice kid!
In the morning he cleaned his room for the upteenth time in 24 hours. He vacuumed, he sprayed, he vacuumed again, and then more spray. To appease my child I vacuumed everywhere also and he followed me and sprayed again. In this house that’s a big job and I was sweating like a dog– the same dog who caused this issue who was now relaxing outside on the veranda not worrying about fleas.
After lunch son number 1 yelled information down the stairs each time he thought he had found new alerts about fleas on the internet. Anyone who has been sick and looked up things on the web knows for a fact that you can scare yourself for life with some of those facts. So far, not one flea had been found but I began to Google “Toxic Brain Freeze from Sprays” on the internet.
That night Sky came down the stairs dressed in the same outfit as the night before. White shirt tucked into white printed PJ pants. White socks pulled up to his ankles, large flashlight and a cell phone. I was exhausted from his shenanigans, and so was the dog who was still crashed out on the veranda. I suggested that maybe for his birthday on Sunday we should all “do the chip in” and get him a tall mesh tent that zips up. He said,
“No mom, I saw something like that on DATELINE and it attracts spiders, and I can’t have that”.
With that he wrapped himself up in two sheets much like a mummy with a giant flashlight in one hand and cell phone in the other. I shook my head and realized that thoughts like fleas jump from man to man– but they really don’t bite everyone. The dog looked at me and nodded his head in agreement. Tomorrow was another day as Scarlet O’Hara said.
Epilogue- 20 years later come Spring, when the spiders begin to venture out I get the occasional text photo about the spiders in his basement– which ladies and gentleman “are supposedly not found on the web”, and maybe he should sell his home. Things never change.
June 11, 2005 3:10 pm
In my dream the air eagerly grasps my face as the sound of my heart accelerates inside my ears. I struggle to breathe within the over-whelming rush while my body feels like it is free-falling along the twists and turns of the oncoming track. A gasp somehow escapes my pressed lips as my body is lifted over a portion of track that contains sharp edges and corners. Calmness prevails for the next few minutes until a downward spiral engulfs my body. The constant barraging visual cues make me wonder if I will make it to the end.
I force my eyes to close, and know another breath cannot be taken unless a scream erupts. My stomach feels like a feather fluttering in the continual illusion of danger. It is no longer the mind bending exhilaration of riding the edge. Now it is a groundless, weightless fall, compiled with an automatic inborn fear of crashing.
After the rise and fall of a deadly curve I now look to the ground instead of what it is ahead. Strong emotional feelings have now been triggered and I wonder if I am the only one free-falling through the tracks. The hills and valleys of the ride begin to subside and suddenly I wonder if life is measured by the breaths we take, or by the moments that take our breath away for good.
The alarm wakes me with a jolt and I run to the bathroom and remember being sick years ago on a wooden roller coaster called The Cyclone at Belmont Park in Montreal. My father said riding The Cyclone would grow hair on my chest. Once again after dreaming about that horrible ride I look down my PJ top to make sure there is not transient hair beginning to growing on me. Of course he also said if the fridge was left open the penguin that lives behind the block of ice would get mad and bite me. These are things I didn’t know I needed an answer to until now. For a few seconds quietly had a moment of shame as I realized I’d been duped for all these years.
January 28, 2018–6:30 Pm
In for an ultrasound the other day I saw Robyn at the Carleton Place & District Hospital. She looked at my shoes and suggested a new pair because of my recent leg and foot injury. I wanted to tell her I have tons of shoes, but my leg and foot are so swollen that these beat up old shoes are the only ones that will go on my feet. She had no idea that when I get home I have to immediately take my socks off as I feel like the right one is strangling my leg and put on oversized slippers downstairs. Actually, if I could wear shoe boxes it probably would be the height of comfort for me.
I wore trendy heels every day of my life until I birthed son number one. Two hours after the birth; the days of wearing anything with a heel were all over. I was left with a permanent slight swelling of my left foot, probably from grappling the stirrups of the delivery table like a monkey swinging from tree to tree for 28 hours.
Last year I walked into Walmart on a quest for comfy shoes. Instead I purchased two pairs of high heel shoes that cost only $5.00 each. I was thrilled when I tried them on and vowed to wear them everyday for one hour until I got used to them.The next day I donned the leopard 4 inch heels trimmed in red and walked from the car to the row of grocery carts. By aisle two I was hanging over the cart to support myself and my feet were now in excruciating pain.
A farmer in overalls was also checking out my shoes and followed me to aisle four pretending to buy peaches. He returned a few times still eyeing the shoes and I don’t think I ever realized the power of heels in a rural area. I paid for the groceries and literally crawled back to the car in pain. As soon as I sat in the car I ripped them off, and the feeling of relief was much like being constipated and then having it all disappear.
I gave away my last pair of leopard stilettos to a friend of mine after keeping them in my closet for five years. They had thin gold heels and the suede was soft as silk but had only been worn once for about 8 minutes. Placing them on my feet as I sat on the couch at a monthly church lady meeting; I gingerly walked over for tea with a performance worthy of an Academy Award. The ladies marveled at how I had walked in them all day and I never acknowledged anything different. What a shoe Oscar moment that was!
Now all I wear are flats- except for the next few months until the swelling goes down, maybe shoe boxes will be better. That’s okay. Life is always full of interruptions and complications and feet now looking like the Michelin Man..:)
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)