I woke up this morning to a fresh blanket of snow. It was a little surprising to peer out my window and see that familiar white covering. However, up north here at the cottage, I should have realized that winter is just around the corner.
For the past few weeks the small creatures in the forest surrounding the lake have been busy preparing for winter. I have watched the squirrels and chipmunks darting from tree to tree with food in their mouths to store. They have torn apart the soft material lining of my barbeque cover for their nests and my ornamental Santa Claus outside the front door has lost his cotton-batting beard to my little friends.
I haven’t seen a bear for weeks and the geese flew south last month. The sound of Niska or Canada Geese has always been a sign for my people, the Cree of James Bay, that winter is coming. This year I believe the Niska left a little earlier so I guess that means really cold weather and snow is not far away.
Many family groups of hunters in the north have been out on the land and at their camps in search of moose and partridge. Some were fortunate in their harvest and some not. I don’t hunt anymore as I had my fill growing up on the James Bay coast. I still consider hunting and gathering a big part of my culture and traditional life as a Cree First Nation person, but for years now I do all my hunting with my camera.
I was fortunate this year as my good neighbours Steve and Matt dropped by with fresh partridge already prepared for cooking. I cooked up a partridge stew along with potatoes, carrots, onions and lots of spice. The taste of wild meat brought back so many memories of being out on the land hunting Niska with my dad Marius and my brothers.
Now that much of the hunting season is over and the Niska have flown south, I find my little bit of land near the lake to be very quiet. I have joined in the last-minute preparations for winter myself with some renovations to the cottage so that it is more comfortable in freezing months. I have also been busy cutting and splitting wood to make sure I have enough fuel to feed the huge wood stove in the living room.
Life is so simple and uncomplicated up here at my semi-remote cottage. The rest of the world is very far away and I only catch a glimpse of news here and there on the Internet when my connection is working. I hear the Blue Jays are trying their best to win the title again after so many years. A new government is in place that promises a better future for us all and nobody has used the nuclear option yet in all the conflicts raging in Syria, Iraq and the Ukraine.
Now that Canada has Justin Trudeau at the helm we can only hope that our country will return to one of peace and conflict resolution without violence. We have taken part in dropping bombs on other countries for years now and that has not done us any good at all. Many thousands of people are dead and wounded and we helped to create huge movements of refugees fleeing lands where we had a hand in destroying their cities, infrastructure and lives. I am counting on the NDP to work with the Liberal majority government with the idea of returning our Canada back to a leadership role in peacemaking rather than war making.
The fact is that 85 very rich people control about half of the world’s wealth while most of the globe’s population lives in poverty with not enough food, not a sufficient amount of access to clean drinking water and appalling living conditions. This imbalance has put us on a road to disaster with wars being directed by the very rich and powerful who want to increase their resources at any human cost. Shame on us all. Still, there is a glimmer of hope with the changes taking place.
The lake will be frozen soon and Poopoon (winter) will be here to stay. Perhaps there is a renaissance of sorts on the horizon. I’ll try my best to keep a watch on it all from up here Under The Northern Sky.