A Precious Find
A couple of months ago, I lost my most precious book.
I found it this week.
I had taken this table top book about Canoe's to my friend Lynn's place to share it with her.
I last remember reading on the train ride home on the Northlander.
Several days after I got home I looked for it and could not find it. I looked everywhere, more than once. I then began to question myself, "Did I loan it to someone?" "Could someone have come into the house and stolen it". Could my neighbour or my grandchildren or someone else have it? " Did I leave it at Lynne's place?" I did ask some people if I loaned it to them but frankly it was so painful to think about losing it I did not like to mention it to anyone for it might extend into a longer conversation, renewing the pain.
I thought I might have left it on the train. But, certainly, I would not not have forgotten to pack it away in my travel bag before I disembarked from the train! It was too important to me to leave it behind. What an idiot I would be to have done that? Finally, I came to believe (tentatively) that I was that idiot. Too much time had passed to contact Ontario Northland Railroad, they only kept lost articles for a month. I was grieving and learning to accept it as gone. Every time I thoutht of it I would feel sorry for myself.
Have I mentioned, I am finding I suffer from short term memory loss as I get older?
Finally, the other day I was looking for some books to give to my grandson, Travis, which I thought he might enjoy. At the same time, I found myself wistfully looking for my Canoe book.
I finally pulled out a book that was put on the shelf back binding down so that only the bottom end of the pages showed. It was tucking in beside the four volumes of the Canadian Encyclopedia. It turned out to be my canoe book.
It was a Miracle! Well that is the way I felt. (I am not a big believer in miracles). I had give up at ever seeing it again. And now, there it was.
I spent the rest of the day reading it and enjoying the 400 pictures of canoes. It is a treasure of a book for someone like me who loves rivers and canoes. My canoe I have had since I was 17. It is the perfect canoe, a classic. It is a 16 foot, Prospector model Peterborough Canoe, cedar strip canvas covered .It is the same as the canoe that the famous canoeist and promoter of canoeing , Bill Mason, owned. (How is that for an endorsement). It is , in fact, just a coincidence. I remember carefully deciding what canoe to purchase. My choice was the Prospector, a red one, what other colour would a canoe be!
I worked half that summer, so many years ago, to earn enough money to pay for it. It cost me $150.00. (Today, such a canoe costs at least that much per foot). The last six weeks that summer I spent alone living on an island on a Muskoka lake, alone and in solitude with my canoe. If only it had gone on longer.
Here is a National Film Board of Bill Mason and his family on a typical canoe trip in the North Wood
If I ever could afford another canoe it would be a birch bark canoe, a great Canadian icon. This canoe is the most wonderful example of native American. technology. I have long been fascinated with this technology that includes the canoe, snow shoes, toboggans, the crooked knife among others.
The canoe is close to the perfect artifact. It is just right as the mode of transportation for the millions of lakes and rivers in North America. It is both practical and a work of art. It is light weight and yet capable of carrying a significant load. Most memorable is that a person with a few simple hand tools and build a birch bark canoe from standing tree to vessel on the water and then skillfully propel it through the water.
At one time most Native North American men would have known how to construct such a vessel. There are still some native and non-natives who can still create a birch bark canoe.
I can only imagine the satisfaction one must feel to build a birch bark canoe and then launch if for the first time in the water as Cesar does at the end of the film. I once thought I would try to build one myself. I only got as far as selecting a tree large enough to get one piece of bark from it for a 12 foot canoe. It was on my neighbours property. When I went to arrange to cut it down I found out they had harvested it for firewood. Oh, No! It is so hard to find a tree big enough as such trees a commercially cut for veneer. This ambition of mine will go unfulfilled like so many other dreams I have had. I have been accused of being a dreamer. I guess I am. which is why I often return to my canoe book and to dream as long as I do not lose it ,or forget, where I left it.