January 18, 2008
The Thought Fox
Out in the middle of it there is a frozen-over pond, a small one, but it takes up most of the vista that we're permitted by the trees to see. Every direction reveals the same thing; white, crusty snow and evergreen trees, spruce and birch. I am strangely pleased when Gus takes out a cigarette and leans back on the ATV to smoke it. I move towards a particularly smooth hump of snow and drop my knees into it, deeply and snugly. Gus warns me to be careful but I am expert at ignoring warnings about the cold. No one understands how hot my resting constitution is; they don't get that it can be -20 and, providing I've got one thermal top on, I won't feel any cold at all. I love this climate. In this climate I can breathe. FInally, I can really breathe.
We don't see the longed-for fox, the flash of orange that I precognize every time I turn my head. We don't see a moose and we don't see a deer. We just see a loon, an ordinary loon on an ordinary pond. But this is not the real wilds. This is the easily accessible wilds, essentially Paddy's childhood back yard. Still, the air is like crystal and the colours are pristine. And all the moisture in the air has turned my complexion into that of a clean white peach. Again, I love this climate, I really love this climate.
We move though the trees and over sturdy wooden bridges. Despite the harshness of the environment, human life is taken very seriously in this part of the world and I feel safe in the ATV that Paddy's dad has prepared for us, and on the many little bridges that allow you to cross over a thousand icy streams. We stop at one of the cabins that we pass and Gus introduces us to two of his friends and we all share beers. They are hardy guys, real guys, in snow suits, who work off shore on rigs and eat the moose that they hunt when they're not. I look at Paddy, thin even in his snow gear, and quieter than the rest of us, and I know that he, too, is one of them, in his own way. That he is a real man of the land, though he does different work and has no interest whatever in killing animals. He is of this land, but he has escaped being from it. He is a Newf. And I can't stop looking at him in this new light. He comes from tough people. He is tough people, already.
But it is getting dark and a snow storm is predicted for tonight. Also, I am feeling the need for a hot chocolate and some of Paddy's ma's cooking. After we serially turn the snow yellow (the toilet was frozen), it is back on the bike machines and on to home. The beginnings of the snow storm have set in motion and we are riding back with tiny, constant flakes of snow flying into our faces and mouths. I can't stop giggling. The wind has always made me laugh---it is my favourite of the elements---but when combined with the beginings of snow, it takes on a more comical element; it has support, it's got back-up and the whole thing seems more fabled than without it. This trip has marked the first time I have seen snow. And I breathe it. I don't merely love it, I breathe it.
Once I am home I realise how tired all that fresh air has made me; I am tired to the bone. It is New Year's Eve but we are not up to much. When we finally pour our wine into glasses and toast to the years 2007 and 2008, I have already made my New Year's resolution and it is a long overdue one: that I will not actively pursue any more self-improvement. Period. Finally, mercifully, I am ready to make my way in this life. So there will be no more loathesome cross-examinations or tireless self-promotion on this blog; there will just be the directness of the hitting air and, hopefully, occasionally, something approximating the flash of an orange ribbon; the fox, my nature, running smoothly over this surface and into memory.
Posted by linda at January 18, 2008 4:24 AM