Last fall, and again a few weeks ago, a friend and I hiked and snowshoed on the Skyline Trail. This trail is located in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The path is mostly flat, being on a plateau, and it winds its way through stunted, moose-chewed trees and bushes, ending at a long boardwalk which snakes down to near the edge of the mountain.
What a view! Gorgeous. Fantastic in the fall with the sun setting in the west, turning the sky and ocean into a curtain of brilliant colours.
And what about in the early spring, when we last snowshoed the trail? I’d give it a totally wonderful grade. The ground and trees draped in snow, the ocean covered in scattered white puzzle pieces with sugar-coated mountains floating along the edges.
Matter of fact, we passed a moose as we headed back to the vehicle. It was dark by this time, because we had stayed to bid the sun farewell and bon nuit. So we were forced to use flashlights to illuminate our way. The moose was huge.
I stopped and tried to get a picture of the moose. However, my camera was new and still unfamiliar and I couldn’t get the shutter to snap to. Meanwhile, the moose stood thirty or forty feet away, watching us excited ninnies getting all hot and bothered.
My hiking buddy kept saying, “It’s big, Larry. It’s really big, Larry. Really big.” I finally gave up, partly because I kept hearing this ‘really big’ alert and partly because my damn camera was being as stubborn as the proverbial ass. And as we walked away from the night-time forest monster, my friend said, “It really was really big, Larry.”
How could we not feel awe? How could we not experience the chill of wonder? Reverence? Fear, but in a good way. My friend and I felt this was a very special place. A sacred pathway. We felt at home and safe, even though we knew there were plenty of moose roaming around in these here parts.
But, do you know what I’ve heard? I’ve heard that wonder and awe are not among the main emotions of the majority of us western world, scientific homo sapiens. Maybe being able to feel the natural fear that comes with the majesty so obviously permeating everything around us, can help us be less fearful about what we tend to get all neurotic about.
“After several thousand years, we have advanced to the point where we bolt our doors and windows and turn on our burglar alarms - while the jungle natives sleep in open-door huts.”
Maybe, when we see everything as a resource, that also helps to remove the sense of awe and fear we feel when we look at the world around us. Heck, we even see ourselves as a resource to exploit. I think a tendency to see through things, so we can better manipulate them for our needs, is a mystery/majesty blinder.
“You can’t go on seeing through things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. To see through all things is the same as not to see.”
Folks from other, more populated parts, sometimes say to us or hint to us, that they wonder why the hell we would choose to live in such a tough environment. I say, see above. Reading the first part of this blog should give those folks some understanding of the why.
Some tourists from a big city passed through our island two summers ago. They drove through the forests and mountains. Through the out-ports and towns. Stopped in the mom and pop stores and observed the lack of big box monstrosities, mile-long subdivisions, clogged streets and roads, and noticed miles of empty places to park and think, and then they declared that Cape Breton was mainly uninhabitable. How can we battle against such unarguable wisdom?
But actually, I’m thinking, “Yes. Keep thinking that way.”
When I told a local that this fella had declared Cape Breton to be uninhabitable, he said, “Good, that will keep those )(*& away.”
What an attitude, eh? If he had only a little bit of that asphalt sophistication, then he might not so easily discount this fella’s declaration of wisdom that came from afar.
What a crock of shipwrecks. What a wad of Buster doo-doo. Buster has a memory like a snapping turtle clamped onto a big toe. Why, his memory is so good that Sue and I are worried that he may actually not be our pet but our care-giver. Our fire alarm. Our defender against big bad men and wild animals. Our reminder of where we left our plate of toast and other goodies. Our trainer. Our organizer. Well, I guess you get the point.
Example: We let him out one night. He encountered a raccoon. Whom he barked at and treed. Thank god. I mean, thank god that the raccoon climbed a tree and didn’t, instead, decide to whip Buster’s ass.
Anyway, the next evening, at around the same time as the night before, we let wee Buster out and he was off like an Arctic winter streaker toward the tree. No memory? Instinct? Bull chips.
Example: Recently we took our little man to the beauty parlour, where they bathed and clipped him. And by the way, we’re still trying to figure out if we picked up the right dog. He looked so different. They clipped him near bald, but I guess that will be good for Buster in the hot weather. Anyway, we think he’s Buster. One of the reasons we think this is that the groomer told us she didn’t do his nails because, well, he made a fuss. I can imagine the fuss.
So, back to the memory thing. As we were paying the bill, Buster was given a dog treat. He was so excited about getting the hell out of there, that he didn’t pay the purple coloured artificial dog bone biscuit much mind. So Sue put the treat in her coat pocket.
After we got home, Buster kept going to the closet. He’d scratch the door. Whine at the door and at us until we finally figured out what he wanted. He was after the treat in Sue’s coat pocket. No memory?
Buster’s bear-trap memory, his brain fartless memory, has led to my beginning to worry about something. You see, I’m beginning to think that all the time Buster and I are going for walks, he is mentally making a bucket list. A bucket list of places to dash to if he ever gets off his leash. Because at each place, Buster will stop and sniff around. Then he gives a little tug on the leash. I’m assuming this is to see if by some miracle, I’ve had a brain fart and have forgotten I’m walking him. That maybe I’ve dropped the leash and am sitting down on a snow bank so I can have a little drool and a wee confab with my lonesome.
Then Buster would be off, running through forest, fields and over the mountains, checking off his Buster bucket list the things he’d sniffed, whizzed on and pooped over.