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A SONG OF SANCTUARY

Story ID:1817
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired
Story type:In Memory
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Year:2007
Person:Richard L. Provencher
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A SONG OF SANCTUARY

Across the stillness of water lays a stretching form, like a cat about to pounce. From the mainland it draws the attention of any visitor, with a mysterious atmosphere. And my canoe hurries to claim it.

It is simply a small island peeking from the surface of Economy Lake, Nova Scotia; an explosion of rock within a beard of trees. Their silhouettes create a haven of private space. It’s just what I need, respite for the night, and something to tease my outdoor spirit.

Unknown at first, this tiny bit of Heaven provides a sanctuary for a variety of birds, eagles and small animals. It will soon peel back its onion of character. I am privileged to discover the island is a storybook of tales, through whispered winds. As twilight leans forward, daylight is soon lost in memory.

A hush descends as a blanket of warmth when I J-stroke slowly into the island's domain. Canoe safely beached, tent set up and preparation for the night complete, I pay attention to an ancient song…

~

Evening’s wind descends with an eerie whistle. Its restless spirit rushes from a sweep of clouds, increasing in velocity, twisting and turning between trees. Firs, heavy laden with branches act as a shelter for fir and feather. Enclaves of protection are acceptable to families of wildlife. Windy puffs grow bolder pushing into disarray all moveable parts within the tiny island.

Fallen pine needles dance restlessly from one earthly hideout to another. Nature’s re-location allows them to take root as they await nourishment from a fresh rainfall. And await warming sun to visit this fertile space, creating new sprouts of life.

Other sounds begin their march under a darkening sky. Beneath an overhead movement of wings, branches groan as a feathery weight settles in the security of a red pine. Many have not had the opportunity to see such a magnificent hooting owl. This privilege is one of appreciation. I do inhale this moment.

Nighttime is silence. And sun’s glow a signal for daytime's triumphant farewell. Pink, yellow, even mottled blue mingles within the framework of island and sky. I accept this hint of red as a lingering goodnight kiss.

The island cowers under an array of quilted shadows. Trees stand proudly at attention. They're picturesque as statuettes aside the shore. Soon, the island blends within shadows thrust upon the lake. From the mainland it appears to disappear. But, upon closer look reveals activity now taking place. Nighttime for these acres of serenity is really an awakening from dormancy.

Waves stir in splashing shuffles against the shore. White cowlicks of crested crowns herald each surge of water. Their repetitions of movement are patient as the stars watching from above, ripples of froth acting as spies within the moonlight. Now listen, my spirit cautions. There is a sudden halting of sound. All motion upon this collection of rock, tree and soil pauses as a familiar call interrupts the chill in the night air.

"AAH-OOH-AAH-OOH-AAH" is a shrieking release from a loon, his song one of royal majesty. For many seasons his family must have jealously claimed a finger of island as its own. Now lingering serenades repeat in ascending waves, each chord chasing one after another into the brocade of starry sky.

I sense movements responding. Trees tremble. Limbs crackle from pressing paws and hooves. A successful hunt concludes in the flapping of wings. An agony of alarm is soon heard above the stillness, a scream of pain muted, now fading into silence. Surely an owl has satisfied his hunger. The night, once a mystery to me, returns to ancient rituals of activity, something I have learned to appreciate in the forest fortress of Nova Scotia.

A sudden bobbing of lights blink in quick succession. I watch in ecstasy, as fireflies race from one low brush to another. And responding beacons are answering signals. They remind me of my own courting adventures.

Clouds above my gaze begin to meander in lazy swirls. Gathering in puffed up bunches they threaten to overwhelm my tiny island. Like magic moon’s flashlight beam carves a direct path from the sky across the lake almost to my feet. Once again activity delights in a momentous pause. I share the wonder any feral eyes may see looking upwards.

This bonding began as a glaze of curiosity from above. From there it joined together with lake, rock, trees and earth to create a chain of fellowship. It surely took place when the island reached upward as a blossoming flower from beneath the surface of Economy Lake. Earth and sky became brothers in the happening.

Now my watchfulness is a surge of emotion. And the smell of action is in the air. The wind increases in velocity, waves suddenly attaining strength and height. Trees sway anxiously. Limbs scrape against each other in an act of theatrical discovery. Stirring within the island creates a dance of wonder. All vestiges of my own tiredness from the demands of a busy workweek vanish.

Stars shelter the island's 'potpourri' of motion. Their dazzling glory draws warmth from the island. Returning brilliance provides illumination and ecstasy. Their diamond-like sprinkling is a gift. They’re pointing from the Milky Way touching the very core of the island, and my soul is on fire. Night rises and falls as each new wonder manifests itself.

Time is measured in the softness of the moss, which provides a covering of velvet calm. Its scent is soothing. Ferns sweep forward in one last leafy plunge. Each step I take is a treasury of awe within this plot of land. Now quietly, from the east a blanket of night is slowly raised. Rhythms of mobility from fur and feather are silenced.

The appearance of morning sun is a signal for sleep. It is a reminder of the natural change that must take place. The forest, its creatures and I obey.

© Richard L. Provencher

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