Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
Since my recent move across town to a modified trailer, I’ve been pining for the view of Great Slave Lake from the studio in my previous house. I’ve set up a new yoga and writing space in the back portion of my cavernous garage, replacing the tools of the trade of the last owner, a funeral director—black hearse and a stack of coffins in cartons—with my tools—books, laptop, yoga mat. This window, instead of sailboats and soaring eagles, offers up an empty lot ringed with birch trees, and filled with fireweed, bright red at this time of year.
One misty morning I took a break from writing and set off to explore a walking trail nearby.
The trail circles a small wetland area—Niven Lake— used for many years as the town sewage lagoon. When the needs of the population outgrew it, the lagoon reverted to its natural state. The result? A lush wetland marsh, home to many species of birds and waterfowl. A section of trail skirts the back of newly-built super-homes, but dense foliage of tamarack, spruce, poplar, birch and willow offer much privacy.
After several minutes, the green foliage, and steel bluegrey water move my brain waves from busy beta to flowing alpha, and I notice a mother duck and her fledglings bobbing among cat tails, fattening up on nutrient-dense plants for their yearly southward migration.
There’s a spot of intense peacock blue on the path ahead, standing out against the brilliant, wet green like a jewel waiting to be plucked. It’s a small paper cocktail umbrella, and it must have been dropped recently; it’s not soggy or wet.
I collapse the little umbrella, and slip it into my pocket. This place begins to work its particular magic, and the umbrella floats around the periphery of my imagination and becomes a torn scrap of velvet caught on a bush in a scene for the novel I am writing.
Back at home, I place the umbrella on the windowsill in my studio, a reminder of the gifts this place offers up in times of change.