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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Mind mush

BY Sonny Orr Nov 13, 2023

I was working on my tent-frame cabin, which was due for some maintenance, to put some tiles on the wooden floor. When I gazed upwards to inspect my threadbare canvas roof, I noticed it had a long tear. Back in town that evening, I found someone tall enough to help me. 

As I readied myself for bed that night, I envisioned how I was going to do the rest of the tiles. I figured out a system of mobbing, cleaning, then vacuuming and finally blowing out the dust and dirt in that wooden floor, before laying down the first tile. I finally dropped off and the next morning over a cup of coffee, I planned the packing and got ready for the short trip to camp.

After getting gasoline and something to quench my thirst, I headed out to the camp with a nephew. “Remember,” I tell him, “Tie that plastic tarp to the end of a long stick and pass it over the tent against the wind.” Amazingly the tactic worked, and we busied ourselves with stapling the tarp firmly to the frame. 

With the last staple done, an unfamiliar sound of snowflakes mixed with rain fell onto the roof and we felt pleased with ourselves knowing that we just staved off future problems. We returned to town talking about how smoothly everything went and how quickly we got it done. Wow, something went the way it was planned.

The following morning, I head to camp to warm up and dry out the floor that got wet last month. I start calculating the number of tiles needed and where the central point was to start the project. Finally, after a few minor calculation errors, I used the square to get the work rolling. 

An hour later, after some whistling and a lot of cursing, I noticed wet drops on the new tiles I just laid down. What the heck! I checked the new plastic tarp for any visible holes or tears. Nope, nothing. I go back in as it was raining a bit harder. I threw a few more logs into the wood stove and got back to work. Meanwhile, the wet spots kept reappearing. 

Eventually, I identified the sweat dripping off my forehead as the culprit. Sweat, it’s been a while since I last saw you. It felt good having some muscle ache again, but only for a moment. As the soreness increased, it made me wish for less pain and more gain, but the damage was done to my tired body. I hope this temporary fix will last the winter, so I don’t have to return and shovel out everything after a violent winter storm. 

As I got ready to head home again, it felt good knowing that I actually worked on something physical that didn’t involve a gymnasium with a lot of mirrors to make you feel guilty and body shamed. I think back to the time when I could laugh off 12 hours of hard work and still go to the gym for a few more hours. 

Ahhh, the useless times when body image was everything, mainly because that was all we had back in the day. I don’t think jean jackets and bell-bottom pants were meant to accentuate your physique other than to make fun of it. Unless of course, you were stuck in the 1970s, which was half a century ago. 

Come to think of it, it is a little hard to remember those days. But it’s astounding to think that the average grade school kid and anyone born this century has more knowledge about dinosaurs than they do of the history of their own town, or of their own family. Many times, after talking about my parents, grandparent and great-grandparents and even my great-great-grandparents, I’m told that I’m lucky to know so much about my family and about history in general. 

I’m proud to say that I still remember my grade school education. Hey, does anyone know what a topographical map is? Or how to write in phonetics? Or read cursive? I digress, it’s just that there wasn’t so much to know about, so you had to know it inside and out. 

Today, there’s more information than what the human mind could absorb. So, our own history will soon be forgotten, lost due to the last power outage that fried nearly every transformer in town. No, not the living robots. I’m talking about those pail-like objects that are stuck to every other hydro pole in town. Yeah, so much information will just clog up the brain, like a toilet that hasn’t been flushed in a month. 

In another half century, we will be mindless idiots stuck to a screen. Wait a minute, aren’t we already like that?

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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.