So then, for a while now I've been posting scattered drawings and ramblings about growing up and living in, and leaving Labrador. I will continue to do so, but not today.
Today I am on day 3 of being stuck in Toronto enroute to St. John's but delayed due to the famous (infamous?) winter weather. It's only a few days off of Christmas and I'm hoping to get home tonight.
Sitting here in the Airport Sheraton I'm amusing myself. I've come on the idea, perhaps from a memory from childhood to post some chapters of a novel I've been working on every now and then. I seem to remember when I was a child that many stories were presented in periodicals as installments. The story is established but the rewrite is in progress. Perhaps someday a version of this story may be on the bookshelves...that is if bookshelves still exist in the future!
I hope those who read these first two chapters will leave a comment, or at least find some enjoyment from it to brighten up your day.
Snowden. 19 Dec 2016.
By Snowden Walters
Chapter One – In the Beginning. 3
Chapter Two – Just After the Beginning. 4
Chapter Three – In the Time After the Beginning. 7
Chapter Four – Time Keeps on Ticking. 9
Chapter Five – …and Ticking. 11
Chapter Six – Big, Black Birds. 13
Chapter Seven – School Days School Days. 14
Chapter Eight – Something evil, something dark. 19
Chapter Nine – Raven. 21
Chapter Ten – The Myths, The Legends and the Lies. 24
Chapter Eleven – A Long Time Ago When the Earth Wasn’t Green. 29
Chapter Twelve – A Long Time Ago When the Earth Was Green. 33
Chapter Thirteen – A Long Time Ago When Grog Got His Helper 36
Chapter Fourteen – But What’s This Got To Do With Me?. 38
Chapter Fifteen – The Long Road of Learning. 43
Chapter Sixteen – A Very, Very, Very Dark Place. 46
Chapter Seventeen – Winter 50
Chapter Eighteen – Betsy On the Run (through space and through time) 56
Chapter Nineteen – At The Merry Dancer’s Secret Service. 60
Chapter Twenty – The Painted Desert 65
Chapter Twenty One– Will Wakes up in the Desert 71
Chapter Twenty Two – Rave On, Raven. 74
Chapter Twenty Three – When Time and Space Were One. 76
Chapter Twenty Four – ‘Now What?’ Indeed. 81
Chapter Twenty Five – The Long Road Home. 84
Epilogue – Back to the Beginning. 87
Chapter One – In the Beginning
The Northern Lights danced their merry way across the black and starlit sky. Far off in the distance the timber wolves howled at the splendor as the rutting caribou shivered at the sound. Small birds snuggled tightly together in an effort to comfort one another, protection from the monsters of the night. A large black figure glided wearily between the moon and the surface of the earth. A larger black shadow followed the contours of the new snow in hot pursuit over the frozen lakes and forest. Halting finally in the toppermost of the branches of a stately black spruce and catching its breath the figure began to whistle.
The Northern Lights danced their merry dance across the black and starlit sky, but a little more intensely this time. They shot towards Polaris, the dog star, then flashed towards the horizon then back to Polaris and so on, in a rhythm the locals call ‘Tikkitak’. To a casual observer it would seem that the aurora were sending messages to some unknown receiver. To that unknown receiver, the message was clear.
The crow whistled again and loosened his grip, dropping his precious cargo down, down, down into the ink of the Labrador night. He watched as it sparkled and drifted this way and that, hovering then dipping, then finally easing into the light coming from the window of the building below. The crow whistled once more then closed his eyes and the universe went dark.
Chapter Two – Just After the Beginning
“Myra, what do you suppose we should call this child of ours?” The man standing at the window was watching the sky more out of habit than interest. He was unaccustomed to idleness and his posture showed it as he shuffled from one corner of the hospital room to the other, eyes flickering on the sterile furnishings and trappings of the place. “How do you feel about ‘Hospital Boy’”?
“Chesley, don’t be silly” Myra chuckled “Maybe it will be ‘Hospital Girl’…we have no idea what this baby is.” she said as she raised herself out of the cozy wooden rocker so out of place in the spotless case room. She moved to join her husband at the window. “I know you’re not fussy about being indoors for long Ches. I can tell by the way you’re chewing at the bit! You’re looking out that window like someone trying to escape or something.”
The two watched as a large black crow came to light in the upper reaches of the big spruce across the parking lot. Through the closed window they could almost make out its silhouette projected on the northern lights as they danced. Then, abruptly the crow faded from sight as though swallowed by some darkness. The borealis glowed with intensity as the Myra and Chesley Pelley gazed at the sky, arm in arm, her head on his shoulder, and he just taking in the glorious vista of the Big Land’s sky. “You know what Ches?” Myra muttered into the soft curls of hair on his neck, “ That sky is so…beautiful tonight. It’s like it’s sending me a message of sorts” Myra fell silent as she felt herself transfixed by the sparkle of frost she watched weave towards her.
The sparkle came through the window at her then gently drifted beneath her gown and into her womb. A warmth came over her now like she had never felt in her life. She began to smile. She felt somehow that without a doubt, this embryo, this child within her was a boy. Her smile came from so deep within her that she could not help but feel as though she was being touched by the hand of a God…or at very least the hand of something warm and special.
“Aurora” she said to her husband as she fell gently into the bed behind her “I want to call him Aurora”. She then fell backwards onto the hospital bed, clutching her abdomen and shrieking in pain.
Chesley called out to the nurses “Nurses!” He called out excitedly “ It’s time! She just lid down and passed out!! HELP!!!” Ches had the outward appearance now of a completely distraught husband caught totally outside of his comfort zone. Snow machines he could handle, he could even make parts for a snow mobile from a birch junk, but having babies was way beyond what the man was ready for. “Help! Nurse! Help!” Frantic now he ran into the hall of the Wilfred Jack Hospital. Relieved, he saw the nurses coming at full walk, grinning at his man weakness, tittering at his lack of control.
“Don’t you worry now my son” the big burly matron with the cross of red said as she and her team of weightlifters drove him aside as they pressed into the case room, “She’s gonna be just fine. You just keep out of our way now my love”.
Keeping out of the way didn’t seem to be a concern for Ches. “I couldn’t get near her if I tried” he thought as the flurry of white and stripes swooped down on his wife. “ I wouldn’t be able to wiggle past the lines of defense they’ve set up”!
“ Relax Ches, I’m just Fi……..AYEENENEEE!” Myra screamed as the waves of pain contracted her into a ball, compressing her abdomen and shuddering across her entire body. “Just fine…” gasping…” It’s ok hon…I’m ARRRRARRGHGHGHGH!” …and so on. Ches eventually got used to this and for the next hour or so he watched the birthing team do their thing. His wife screamed, panted, swore, cried, laughed, and generally acted like he’d never seen her before then at last, all went quiet. A feeling passed over him like a wave of splendor…and a wave of dread. “ I’m not ready for this” he thought and then, as if on cue, he fainted.
“Jaysus! What the fu-“ Ches became aware again. Two linebackers in motherly smiles hovered over him, holding something very near his nose. The linebackers giggled and sniggered between themselves. “Not ready for that were ya honey?” One of the saintly behemoths of care asked him smirking. “ That’s ok baby, we’re used to that here in Willie Jack. Lots of fathers can’t take the heat in the birthing arena. We have lots of smelling salts on hand for ye fellers.”
“So that’s what it is “ Ches thought as the salts burned in his nostrils and cut a swath of stinging slime down his throat. “Ummmm…th..thanks I guess” he added “How’s Myra?” His concern for his wife seemed to light up the faces of the attending nurses and interns. They suddenly became soft and nurturing towards him as well. He could feel the love.
Actually he could feel the love… and the pressure of their huge mitts as they picked him up body and bones and transported him to his wife’s bedside. “Here, honey” one of the nurses handed him a shiny stainless steel set of scissors, flattened on the bottom and bent by design, “ you can cut the cord now Chesley” the smiling angel in uniform said, pushing the scissors into his bewildered hand and guiding it to a slimed wet purpleish twisted thing that looked something like something a cat might hurl.
His hand closed tight on the scissors and the vibration sent from the flesh being cut meandered its way up his arm, into his neck and deep into the regions of his brain that processed that sort of thing. A sudden spurt of blood, goop and gore and the scissors were snatched from his hands and taken to some distant tray full of other dripping stainless steel tools that would soon be on their way to a cleansing process only nurses know.
Once again Chesley was bumped to the sidelines as the birthing team swooped and swooned and giggled and chortled and generally flutted (if ‘flutted’ is actually a word) about as they cleaned and scrubbed and poked and weighed the little newborn. Ches watched in tired amazement. “They’re a machine” he found himself musing “much like the insides of my snowmobile…all working together to nurture a miracle…the miracle of motion across the snow, careening in a giant slalom through the boreal forests of Labrador…”
“OK Dad, you can see your baby boy now”.
The sound of the moniker struck home like a baffling slap to his psyche as he grokked the true meaning of the title. ‘Dad’. “Jesus, I’m definitely not ready for this!” But curiosity gripped him and he moved as if by unseen hands to his wife’s bedside to be roughly placed in the chair. Roughly placed because those ‘unseen hands’ were actually attached to the unseen running back placing him there!
Chesley looked into Myra’s eyes, felt the love and tenderness emanating from within her. He savored the glow of motherhood as it bubbled out of her entire being then, resistant no more he looked down into the eyes of his son, his first-born child, his procreation, his opus…
“His eyes look like cocoa…Hershey’s cocoa. Just like the stuff I mix up to drink, only wetter.” Ches was bewildered. “ Shouldn’t I be having some kind of epiphany? Looking into the eyes of my child for the first time?! And here I am thinking of Cocoa?! Weird!”
“Hasn’t he got the most beautiful big brown eyes Ches?” Myra asked as she smiled up at him from her sweat damp pillow. He did have to admit that this little bundle of gurgle was kind of cute, for a teensy purple blue pinkish critter. “ Yah hon, he’s wonderful”.
The two of them looked adoringly at one another the back to the bundle. The bundle blinked owlishly then rolled one cute eye to the left, the other cute eye upwards, towards the hospital window and then stopped. The not quite yet formed pupil opened and closed and the eye blinked again. The bundle smiled then closed his eyes and burped and farted. The room erupted in laughter with the nurses, interns, mother and yes, even the father feeling the relief that comes following a perfectly healthy, normal childbirth.
Outside the Wilfred Jack Hospital, the world went on in its timeless way. The wolves settled for the night and the small birds snuggled just that little bit closer against the cold, north wind. The crow, now rested took one look back at the hospital window, then spread his wings and dropped out of the treetop. Seconds later if anyone had been looking out the window they would have watched the crow rise into the heavens, wings outstretched, and swiftly disappear, unawares of a threatening shadow in pursuit. The Northern Lights of Labrador gleefully danced and sang as they felt the tune of the Merry Whistler.
Hanging around Labrador City when I was young (back before dirt) wasn't in the cards for me. Hell, I don't even like cards! Like everyone I had fears for survival outside the comfort of home, but I had another fear, the fear of staying and never knowing 'what if'. I was hanging around in the Pit, the park, the ski lodge and any other places that our crowd hung out...to what they nowdays call 'Chill'. But I felt I needed more.
Over time I became aware that I was restless, I wanted to go places, see things and fill my days with excitement and adventure. Thus the decision made, there was still the pesky problem of how and when? In those days there was no 'Freedom Road', only planes and trains so months would go by before the chain of events that led to the hangover in Toronto!
You need a vacation after a vacation!
I know this to be true. We've just returned from a jolly jaunt around the Pirate's Islands aboard the dirty big 'Adventure of the Seas'! Also on the card was a 2 then 3 days stay in Old San Juan. In the space of a few hours I had gone from Quebec City to Montreal, then St. John's and home scarcely long enough to pitch! When off the next morning to Taranna and on to Puerto Rico. I was in cultural chaos!
Luckily I am a quick relaxer. We walked around the town and took in the sights and sounds then stopped at an outdoor alleyway that live music was hammering out of...and this joint had codfish on the menu! Heaven! oh, and a Margaritta por favour!
We had a couple of days lazing around in OSJ then set sail for Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Maarten's. The pic above is the view from the bistro set on the cabin balcony. And best of all, imagine this...warm!
After the cruise it was back to the Old city for a few days to 'decompress'. This is a practice I highly recommend if you can swing it, relaxation after a vacation is a must, and a lot of fun! Then it was back to Outer Cove and home...for a few days then I shipped out to Quebec once more.
Which is where I remain at the time of this writing...and already thinking about how badly I need a vacation! (oh yeah, Christmas is coming)!
Up to that point I think my experience with panhandlers was limited to the odd drunk in the Ashuanipi Pit! Downtown 'Taranna', even in winter was maggotty with them! they swooped in on the two of us, but they were out of luck of course. We had nothing. Only our packsacks and some Drum tobacco!
We spent the day trying not to freeze to death by deeking into shopping malls and warming up. the whole day was spent killing time until it was time to climb back onto the train headed west.
Well, I'm off for a few weeks now and my online activity will be very limited...holidaze will do that. thanks very much for reading and commenting. Always fun. See y'all later on!
I don't know where I heard that first, 'the wild blue yonder'. Perhaps in a comic book or an old western or something. No idea. Point is, 'yonder' was a place that wasn't Labrador City, and as much as I loved the place, at that point in my young life, it wasn't a 'happening ville'. It seemed stuck, or I was stuck, or something. I suppose as comfortable as living in my hometown was, I was in need of adventure. I was excited about 'Yonder'.
Yup. the adventure had started. The WW2 Flying Ace guy is true! Called himself the 'Rabbit'! I want to believe it was true. Anyways Dorval was a lovely little spot... in the dead of winter...frozen and bleak. The pub wasn't too far from the train stop that we were boarding the westbound Via Rail at 11:59 pm (I was and still am amazed that the train schedule was down to the minute). I know I slept on the train but I don't remember what time. I had my head laid against the window like I used to when taking the QNS&L out of Labrador, feeling the rumble and the buzzing of the rails. The train gathered speed as we left Montreal Island in the past and the lights shining outside in the snowbanks eventually disappeared, only occasionally interrupted by a rural crossing. The whistle blowing was a sign to open my eyes again and try figure out where we were, then drift away again. By morning everything would still be different!
Hey all, I've just submitted two of the songs off of my 'Migration Songs' album into the Canadian Songwriting Competition! The proceeds go to the Foundation for After School Talent (FAST Canada). Winners to be announced March 2017. I'm kind of excited about this as I have never done this sort of thing before...a real competition! Wish me luck!
The competition is hosted by Songwriting Canada ( http://songwritingcanada.com/ ) and I'm pumped to be a part of it! You may have heard the songs before as they have been featured in this blog in the past but please, kick back and have another listen! Enjoy y'all!!
Yes we were a generation growing up in a boomtown and didn't even know it. We just thought it was normal to be working, making a good buck and having the ability to live our lives in the manner in which we saw fit. Some of us worked in family businesses, others at any of the local retailers and grocers. A few actually worked at jobs involving the Iron Ore industry with select suppliers and on and on. At the time I had graduated High School, did a kick at university and discovered that 'Lo and Behold, I wasn't quite ready for more schooling'. To make a long story short, I had settled into working at a local Sports shop. The owners were wonderful people and I was enjoying being kind of independent. At the shop I was doing ski equipment repairs and tune ups, engraving trophies, printing team t-shirts, sales, etc. and I even learned a neat skill! I learned how to string tennis racquets. Of course, there's a special machine and clamp weights and such...interesting though.
As the drawing suggests, all good things come to an end, and so it was with the Sports Shop. They couldn't afford to pay wages when sales were slow and I was let go. I was ready. I was feeling the confines of my hometown at that time and was longing for something exciting to do. Hell, it didn't even have to be exciting! Just not boring! This was the waning years of the 70's and things were happening 'Out West'. Guys our age were getting work out there at all kinds of jobs, and making excellent money! Getting laid off was a long overdue licence to head off into the Wild Blue Yonder!
That was a decent job, working at the Tool Supply. It was nearly always busy so the shift would go by quickly, and stock was turning over fast so there was always something to price, or unpack, or stack or whatever. And as an added bonus I learned what a lot of tools are, and what they're for (before anyone gets the idea that I'm some kind of 'handyman' tool guy I'll squash that right now. I ain't that guy!). I did some of my first commercial art work at that store, creating display materials and drawings to stick up on open spaces. Also, I did the company logo on the pegboard near the entrance. Not a huge job I'll admit, but I was learning and flying by the seat of my pants!
Ah, the old Pool Hall. Den of dens, basement billiards and pinball...and loud, loud music! Everyone dropped into the Pool Hall before setting off to where ever. This smokey room was our home base from where we could launch our assault on the world! I seem to remember it as a bit of an 'outlaw' land...the youth of the Town were in charge here, that's how it felt (even though in reality we were not in charge at all! The stern looking guys were! This was the hangout. Alcohol was not permitted, since nearly all the patrons were underage. Cigarettes seemed to be encouraged! It was really a bad place to breathe. And yet, it was here that we first realized our money was our own! We spent our hard earned wages on games of pool and snooker, playing poker pool, cutthroat and more. I really enjoyed the pinball games...especially after the Who recorded Pinball Wizard. I could hold my own, at least until I tilted!
We spent a lot of time just driving around in each other's cars. A typical evening after leaving the family home, would be to hang out at the Shopping Center for a bit, just to see who shows up, then pile into the 'vehicle of the night' and start to circle. We would drive along the near side of the center then a right turn at Dominion, up over the hill and by the RC Church. Another right down past the Library then right again across from the Town Hall and back into the Shopping Center at the Royal Theatre. After a while the driver would get bored and reverse the direction or loop down around the Ash' until eventually we would drive over to Wabush, or up to the Ski Lodge, or Duley, and so on. Through it all the music was blasting out and we were rockin'.