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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

As the seasons change

BY Sonny Orr Sep 3, 2023

The school bus drives by with windows full of happy little faces, all going to school for the first time this fall. While it’s still officially summer, in the North the days are already getting shorter so technically it’s the start of fall, at least for the kids. For us older ones, who have either finished school or never went, it’s time for berry picking as it promises to be a bumper crop. As for me, it’s back to work.

One thing that makes the fall great is the absence of bugs in the slightest breeze, as for some reason, the mosquitoes and black flies just don’t seem to be as vicious and voracious as they used to be. Usually, after a lacklustre year, something in their chromosomes tells the next generation of mosquitoes to be extra hungry and more aggressive in their foraging for blood. I can see it now, small babies and tiny chihuahuas being carried off by a dark cloud of mosquitos.

Now that school is starting, I look back to the summer breaks and vacation and travels we took and the calendar shows one cancellation after another for hotel stays, plane tickets, meeting schedules and, of course, the annual shopping sprees. Nada, nothing, no more summer as it was cancelled by incessant fires fueled by storms and tornadoes.

With school back on, the struggle to find your bus and its mysterious schedule compounded by trying to find the replacement teacher makes you wonder if schools have had any organizational training on top of the usual orientation for the new community. As teachers struggle to understand a new culture, one that is totally controlled by the weather and the natural elements, I can see why some might just up and quit. 

Like how can I play the cowboy or am I a victim of some kind of foreign film in the making? No, it’s just called the original Canada, our home and Native land. Except with a culture that nearly got wiped out and is on a comeback, because we took control of our lives and wrested them away from a foreign education system. Like, how many schools do you know teach students how to go out and catch fish or cure and tan a hide?

I guess the old school ways have disappeared. Now getting higher scores and learning how to deal with algebra and trigonometry is high up on the scale of useful skills that you can apply in the Great White North. Yep, just triangulate the circumference of that log to get the exact number and size for your firewood or calculate the temperature of the water so you can either go swimming or fishing. Remember, hot days equal soft fish and cold days amount to firm flesh of the fish. Also, Arctic tern eggs float when inedible and sink when they’re just right to hard boil into one of the world’s best-tasting eggs.

When it comes to turning eggs into the perfectly boiled state, there’s bound to be a war to declare since no one can agree on how long to cook them. For me it’s simple, cold water just enough to cover the eggs, put the burner on full blast and set the timer for 13 minutes and voilà, perfectly cooked boiled eggs. If World War III starts, it’s because I declared that this is the perfect egg, and the rest of the world will get upset enough to launch a few rotten eggs at me. I’m not going to mention frying eggs in bacon fat as that will land me in some diet-food veggie jail.

Now that summer is 75% over, we can start living in a perfect temperature range, not too hot, not too cool, just the right heat to keep our sweaters off and your Crocs on. As for Crocs, they’re becoming an all-season footwear fashion statement. In reality, it’s those who maintain that a well-ventilated foot is a healthy one, but I will argue that Crocs are just too easy to put on and take off. As for winter, I have the ideal solution – perfectly sized plugs for all those holes in the Croc should do the trick. 

For everyone and everything else, adios summer, I hope you enjoyed all the smoke, fires, tornadoes and baseball-sized hail.

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.