Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
Shades of MoonlightThe year was 1967 and it had been a year of wonders to behold.
On July 1st, Canada had celebrated its First Centennial; its first one hundred years of peaceful independence from the United Kingdom of the island of Great Britain---even though it wasn't. The Land of my Heritage, Scotland, was still independent from the United Kingdom. Even though England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales shared a common monarch: H.R.M. Queen Elizabeth II, Scotland remained self-governing---and still is to this very day.
The following week, I, and the nine other members of our Venture Troop, had spent a week camped above Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in the first International Jamboree with our American counterparts. During our stay, we'd had the opportunity to test something we'd heard about in our History classes, but never quite believed. Though Canadians were required to learn American History, our Southern Cousins were not so encumbered. What we'd heard was that they'd pay a phenomenal amount of money for a single $2 Canadian Banknote. On the off chance that it was true, each of us had packed fifty dollars in $2 Banknotes. Lo and behold, it was true! The Eagle Scouts were more than willing to pay $20 to $50 (US) for each Canadian $2 Banknote. The only difficult part of the transaction was keeping our expression absolutely deadpan and still breathe; though not without difficulty.
On November 16th, through a pea-soup fog so thick that you couldn't see your hand at the end of your outstretched arm, I'd shot a prize-winning 35mm photograph of a Crabapple tree, with details so crisp you could see the tiniest of the leafless twigs. Across the sky, I'd beheld something I'd never seen before: a Green Moon. The light of the full moon had been my only illumination throughout the 60-minute-long ƒ16 exposure. I'd chosen that aperture for the maximum depth-of-field. Thinking back, I still mentally chuckle as I'd also captured a parked car, its headlights on, and every pane fogged over, as it sat quietly on the shoulder of Vaughan Township's 9th Sideroad.
The Moon was full on that cold, crisp, December 3rd evening and so clear you could almost read by its light alone. My homework was done for the weekend and, lacking anything better to do, I decided to go for a walk along the path that ran through the woods along the southern boundary of Runkies' property to finally end at the crest of the hill above the pasture land on the west bank of the western arm of the Humber River. I knew there was a large log there and it was a good place to collect my thoughts as I had done on so many nights before. But this was to be no ordinary night, as I was soon to discover.
I'd only been sitting there about five or ten minutes when I happened to notice the figure of a man slowly working his way up the hill towards me. What really made him stand out was that he wasn't dressed for the cold but, didn't seem to notice it. What he noticed was me. Not even winded, that jolly old balding man, calmly sat down beside me on the log. I was about to introduce myself when he addressed me by name and inquired after my health, my family's health and, most especially, my father's mother's health. He knew all of their names without a single word from me. I knew I knew him but I didn't know his name nor who he was. After about an hour of listening to him recount the events of my family, most of which were known *only* to my family, I finally managed to get a word in edgewise and asked him, "Do I know you, sir?" He chuckled and nodded him head. He then told me he had to leave but that, someday, I'd see him again. He rose and slowly made his way back down the hill. When he was about twenty-five feet away, he vanished. Instantly I knew who he was. He was my Grandfather, Herbert Barisdale Balmer, who'd passed away five years previous, in perfect health, on the first night of his Honeymoon. He and Grandma had had to wait fifty-five years before they had the time and money to have what they hadn't had in the beginning.
Though I scoured the hillside I could find no footprints, save my own. Finally, as it was nearing midnight, I gave up looking.
On the way back through the woods, I tossed around the idea of telling Grandma what had happened but ultimately decided against it. Having made the decision, I noticed I was passing by the old, gnarled pine I'd so much admired in the past. I don't know why I stopped then, but stop I did, looked back and up to the large limb I had always had to duck under. There, lying full length along the limb, was a full grown White Lynx. Though I knew I should be terrified, I also knew I nothing to fear. The last reported sighting of a White Lynx, anywhere in Canada, had been during the winter of 1796, in the northern Yukon Territory. Without thinking, I reached up to stroke the fur along his back and was somewhat startled as I watched my hand pass completely through him until it met the limb. His only reaction was to turn his head to look down at me and smile, as cats often do. I don't know how I knew, but I knew that White Lynx was my Spirit Helper and I'd been on my first Spirit Quest.
My peripheral vision picked up movement to my left and I instinctively turned my head to watch as a rabbit disappeared into the brush down the hillside. Snapping my head back to look back up at the limb, I saw that White Lynx had vanished. Glancing down, though I knew it to be fruitless, I could see no prints in the fresh fallen snow. But, somehow I knew that, even though I couldn't see him, White Lynx would be a part of me for the rest of my days.
Six years later, while in Winnipeg, Manitoba, I found myself arguing a Land Deal on behalf of the Cree Nation, before the Winnipeg Court. Their hired attorney had quit. Much to my amazement I won the case (law is a required course of study for all engineers) and was adopted by the Cree Nation for my efforts.
Later, I was speaking with one of the Elders and he inquired, smiling, if I had a Spirit Helper. I replied that I did; I had four. No longer smiling, the gentleman came to a full stop, turned and said to me, “Only a Shaman needs four Spirit Helpers.”
Without another word, the gentleman strode away.
© CdnGhost – 11 September 2010
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