Sunday, 15 May 2011

River Spirit (A grandmother shares the river with her grandchildren)

Grandkids, did I ever tell you about walks along the St. Mary’s river?

Well, when your daddy was a little boy we would stroll along the river every day. At the Locks he would run around the fountain, play peek-a-boo or run and hide. When we were hungry we had a picnic lunch on the grass. As we went strolling back and your daddy fell a sleep, Grams liked to watch the rolling water. Some days it was dark and mysterious; other days it was very blue and peaceful.

I was very sad when we had to move to a busy city. That’s where your Aunt Kim was born. We no longer had the river to stroll along, but one house after another. Grams missed the moving water. The river was nature in its glory. Sometimes I would close my eyes and think about the flowing river. It was an awe inspiring memory. After a couple of years living in the big city, we got a surprise. We were moving back to Sault Ste. Marie. How excited everyone was! Grams continued her beautiful strolls along the scenic river with your daddy and Aunt Kim. But all too soon, school came. So Grams had to stroll along the river by herself. Sometimes I would ride my bike and sometimes I would walk. Without being able to share my walks with someone the river looked lonely and cold.

As your daddy and Aunt Kim got older they no longer walked along the river. That’s when Grams got her first dog, Ubu, the Labrador retriever. Ubu loved walks along the river. I would throw a ball or her favorite king kong toy, and she would jump in to retrieve it. What fun we had! Do you remember when you would visit Gram’s house? All of us would take walks along the river. We took turns throwing the ball into the river for Ubu to retrieve. Then we would climb the rocky banks of the river doing a balancing act. When we got tired of doing that, we would skip stones into the river and listen for their splashing noises. Finally when we were totally exhausted and hungry Grams planned a picnic lunch along the riverbank. However we had to share a bit with Ubu and the seagulls. Later that day we took a walk to the canal. I still laugh even today remembering what you said, Clarissa, “Grams, the river is moving so rapidly as if being chased by a mongoose.” Well, Ubu and Grams did river walks watching it flowing continuously for 10 years, and then one day, Ubu died. Indeed, it was a sad day.

I didn’t think I would get another dog, but what happened! Grams got Ruba, the alpha male, Labrador retriever. Life continued with daily walks along the river. Ruba never cared about retrieving but loves to swim in the water and chase the geese. He’s a funny big guy and loves all the attention he receives from people we pass by, especially children. Walking down by the river which is moving so rapidly, Grams sees baby ducks and geese with their mothers. I also see eagles and ospreys around the Sugar Island Ferry and occasionally an otter peacefully swimming. I watch the trees when they start to bud and then see their rich green leaves. In the fall months the trees are arrayed with color. The leaves are crimson red, bronzy brown and golden sunlight. When they fall into the river they look as if someone just painted them and are still wet. In the winter Grams and Ruba go to the head of the river called Ashmun Bay. The city plows the road so we can still walk by the river. The river looks different in winter. Frozen ripples, birds flew to the south, icicle branches, wind blowing snow across the bay, what a beautiful winter wonderland. Grams has been walking along the river for 21 years, with her dogs.

“Grams, what will you do when Ruba dies, get another dog?”

Clarissa, I don’t know if I’ll get another dog. But what I do know is when I die, I’ll be a raindrop that falls into this river of life. So anytime you want to talk to Grams you can walk along the river and I’ll be there, the River Spirit.

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