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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Spring delights

BY Sonny Orr Jun 20, 2019

The geese fly by, the clouds hang low. Sweat is dripping from my brow as I wipe it for the umpteenth time. I crouch down and I reach for the stubborn piece of plastic stuck in the grass in my yard on the side. Yep, it’s spring and time for clean-up. I shoulder my trusty rake and trudge back to the next quadrant to create another pile of dog crap, loose garbage, shoes and mittens of all sorts, bones that I can thankfully identify, and loads of paper products. It’s actually the second time I tried to rake my yard, but an unscheduled blizzard blew in and brought me back to winter conditions again. At least the garbage wasn’t as visible.

Now, the garbage has to go somewhere, usually to the dump. I wonder about that garbage, which had travelled in pristine condition to our store shelves, only to end up in a garbage heap. This is a growing problem I think to myself…

I see on Facebook that communities come together to eliminate the annual eyesore that sadly we have become accustomed to. I always thought that a well-planned refuse centre could transform our garbage into another man’s treasure. But hey, it’s 2019, and people should know that already. Right?

Do we still adhere to our cultural values of cleanliness? I’m full of questions today and I wish I had some solution that would make everyone slap their knees and say, why didn’t I think of that? My rake is stuck again, and the sweat is actually enjoyable as my efforts unveil the plants that have been hidden by a paper plate. The dogs seem to be puzzled about why I am gathering their toys and disposing of them. Man’s best friend can also be man’s worst slob.

In the next quadrant I discover a hidden treasure trove of bones and rotting meat. I’m glad it’s a little windy as the rancid smell chokes my essence, reminding me that caring for your bones and traditional prepared meats is slowly being eroded by the surplus convenient bounty offered in microwave packages.

I remember when goose guts – slowly sizzled to fried perfection – was considered a delicacy snack. The brown fat is an amazing energizer. The crispy intestines provides this valuable fat in great quantities, and the test of a goose’s ability to be cooked over a fire in a teepee. I’m not sure what cooking geese have to do with cleaning up my yard, but it’s still a value that we should keep.

Again, my rake bends a little as I apply more pressure on a sticky clump of grass, which looks like Donald Trump’s famous hairdo, and yank out the muddled yarn from someone’s beautiful scarf. Maybe the Don did come by and lost his hat. My mind wanders, multi-tasking and thinking up topics to write about.

On a better note, greenhouses are sprouting up everywhere it seems and I can’t wait to see if the red bell pepper that I planted earlier will grow as well as do these tough outdoor northern strands of vegetation we like to call grass. I’m hoping that my green thumb is actually red, since it’s the only plant that I have to care for in the world. I hope that caring for the environment will grow from this green-thumb phenomenon. Signing off from my field of dreams…

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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.