wintermaker + the pacific coast in february
by waaseyaa'sin christine sy
yesterday, in the early evening i decided to take a walk further up LAU WELNEW, the WSANEC people’s sacred mountain where me and nidaanis live in complicated ways — as uninvited guests who were later blessed in ceremony to be here for work.
yesterday, i was totally thrilled with the big snow that graced us over four days and i wanted to go be amidst the mountain under gabiboonike’s (wintermaker’s) magic. my anishinaabe bear genes miss big, fluffy snow!
climbing a small portion of LAU WELNEW via the road which is blocked for the winter was exhilarating. some of the little birds were out and about but other than them, it was just me and one other person heading up and two people who passed us heading down.
if you look close, you can see the person who was going for a run. i didn’t realize they were in the photo until after i returned home. if you can see them in an orange jacket you can appreciate the size of these mitigoog (trees)… what the WSANEC refer to as the tall ones/people (if memory serves correct).
so much greatness exists here.
eventually, the runner passed me on their way down making me the only one up there. i kept walking. i wanted more of the heart-beating, the beauty, the snow, and the silence of snow + forest. it’s so rare here.
i kept walking a bit more until i felt that i better not push it. what if the weight of the foreign snow broke a limb that came crashing down on me?
i found a water drinker and gave some tobacco, wondered how it was faring in this weather. (water drinker is the arbutus and the arbutus is The Tree in one of WSANEC people’s origin stories … check out Jack Horne or Phillip Kevin Paul for more on that.) i thought i heard someone coming from up the hill but there was nobody. i wondered about spirit and figured that was a good time to head down– i had taken enough time there. important not to be greedy. and, it was getting dark.
anyhow, as i was waking down, i thought i heard someone behind me. i looked back and again, nobody… nobody visible anyway. i was like ‘ok, don’t get freaked out. it’s spirit and it wants something. give it a song.’
so i did.
i offered two songs. the woman’s warrior song and a tobacco offering song. that seemed to work so good because soon i heard the little birds again. and then, rounding one of the last bends, nearer the bottom, there were people!
four young guys with toboggans just arriving to their starting spot. we exchanged a few words and i told them i was jealous they had toboggans. boy, going down that hill would be fun. dangerous but nothing a quick roll of the old toboggan wouldn’t fix. as i was walking down i said a few words of protection for them: please just let these young guys have a good time on this moutain in this snow. don’t let it be a tragic thing. we all know stories of young guys being young guys having fun when tragedy strikes. i hoped to witness them go zipping by me on the way down and hear them yipping away but didn’t. i got to my daaban and still they weren’t coming. they must have been savouring it all up as walking back up that hill would be another 15 min trek and not an easy one! going down though? must have been so worth it!
anyhow, two weeks ago folks were saying that yes, January is “cold” (lol, ok) and in February, the island explodes in flowers. well, as much as i love flowers, i love a good snowfall in February.
miigwech gabiboonike for bringing this little treat. it was so unexpected!