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In springtime, snow melt from the surrounding mountains gathers in streams, cascades down verdant slopes, and swirls across the surface of the lake. The waters rise, nudging ever closer to the stones first laid down by Tony and his children. A wheelbarrow full of stones for each of them to haul, before breakfast, from the forest out back with its birch trees and singing frogs and moose that sometimes came to drink at the water's edge. This was long ago, during languid summers when the cabin was young, the kids were small, their parents new to the rush and tumble of family life. Everyone was young then.
Myths of the Primordial Waters:
Ancient Mariners, Human Migration, and the Sea
(Originally published in Pacific Yachting, 2007)
They were led, one at a time, from the smoky dark of the hold and up the narrow companionway. Each man was flanked by a crew-member who spoke in clipped and rushing tones. The ship was quiet, the sails slack.The men in the hold waited, unsure of what was happening. Dread spread among them. They did not speak the language of the crew, though they understood perfectly the gestures of the guns.
In the greatest sea epic of Western literature, the mariner Odysseus is held captive for seven years on an island by the enchantress Calypso. Eventually, in a debate among the gods, it is decided (grudgingly, for Odysseus has offended Poseidon) that the hero should be freed to return home. Zeus dispatches Hermes, the Wayfinder, to impart the verdict to Calypso,and after a fit of pique, she relents.
For the first time since early spring, it’s cold today in Vancouver. A wet, chilling cold that is not so much a function of temperature but of sogginess, of flat light and leaden cloud. I saw some people in shorts on the weekend — when it was partly sunny, when bare legs could still stand in defiance of oncoming winter — but those folks aren’t wearing shorts today. No sir. Now is the time for tea, for the warmth of good books, and for fire.