Friday, September 7, 2012

Guess You had to Be There

Yesterday walking home I saw a line of birds sailing in on the west wind. Canada Geese, I thought, but as they flew closer, I wasn't so sure. They weren't flapping their wings much. They weren't in a pointy V formation. They weren't getting as small as they should be, floating in like that. No way, I thought, they're pelicans.

I am used to seeing pelicans, maybe five or ten strong, and they always give me a thrill. They're exotic birds, ocean birds, and I still can't believe they hang out with us, here on the prairies. But yesterday was something else. As they flew over, I counted seventy-seven pelicans, soaring high in a single line. I took a picture with my phone, but in no way did it capture the moment.

This morning, at the ski hill, I see a flock of birds. Snow Geese, I think, until they are closer, and I see how small they are. The white gulls are catching sunshine on their wings and flicking it, making the sky sparkle as they pass. If giggling was serious business and a visual thing, it would look like these inland gulls in the morning sunshine. I don't bother taking a picture.

I am at the governance centre and I see two young, tawny deer walking out of the bushes. This time I snap a picture, and another shot as they cross the road. I see a third deer already in the field, waiting for the two to cross. They are delicate, moving like dancers against their green grass stage. I'm disappointed as I look at the digital photo and see little, fuzzy dots, a reminder of the three beauties.  

At the bridge I stop to enjoy my shadow against the river-bed flat which is sandy, with a stream and pools and green rushes. I see what might be an upright log, swept there when the river was moving in the spring. But it's an odd shape. I wonder if it's a crane. I back up, my shadow dark against some green reeds. The log takes flight, just up the river bed. A hawk, I think. It calls and lands in the sand. No time for a picture.

Guess you had to be there.

I wonder about the nature of sharing experiences, sharing beauty, sharing history, sharing vision, sharing knowledge. I wonder at how patient we must be with one another because none of us is ever really there, in someone else's experience or beauty. Perhaps treaty teaching is an act of patience for this very reason. Thank you to all of my treaty teachers who already know this. They must, because they exhibit so much patience with me.

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