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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Spring woes

BY Sonny Orr May 24, 2022

I’m driving my ATV on left-over ice and snow, crossing a creek and heading to the blind that I’ve frequented for the last few decades. The going is good with beautiful weather and one small mallard I managed to kill while waiting for the first geese to arrive. Facebook posts show plenty of harvesting just south of us and we are waiting for our turn up north.

The afternoon sets in, and I head home with my lone duck after seven hours in the sun and south wind. A few hours later I head back for an evening of hunting and lo and behold the ice and snow has disappeared into the creek below. Luckily, I don’t have the guts to get stuck in deep slush and rushing water.

I hang around to see if things improve and the setting sun sends me home earlier than usual. The main access road is overflowing with flooding creeks at nearly every small bridge, and I wonder if the road will last. 

In the morning, I take some time off to get some liquid gold – yes, gasoline. This takes a little time as I carefully dole out gas into my empty ATV and spare gas tank. Thankfully, I had enough cash left over to buy a drink and a chocolate bar for nourishment – just in case I get stranded by washed-away roadways that you would need a kayak to cross.

The following hour as I get ready to leave, I hear on the radio news hotline that the road is now impassible. So, I don’t get to do much except take a home Covid test just in case I have to isolate during the best time to go hunting, being nourished only on store-bought food and movie streaming. 

The test’s single line tells me that I’ve overthought this situation. But then some family members end up testing positive, leaving me and my daughter behind. Without access to the outside, however, shopping is out of the question. What to do? Maybe just relax, do nothing and wait for roads to reopen so I can go out again.

Meanwhile, with the annual exodus of people heading to camp, or out hunting for the day – and with the isolators nowhere to be seen – the town seems like a boom town gone bust. The only thing missing is the tumbleweed blowing down the empty streets. Discarded face masks make up for this illusion. Eerily, the day seems gloomy and sad, despite the sun being bright and shiny. Maybe it’s the idea of being indoors when it’s the best time to get outside.

As the strong south winds rattle the old-school antennas on my roof, some as old as three decades, I can see the evolution of how much time we spent indoors. There’s the first antenna, which only had two channels, one of which we could understand, and then a bigger antenna for the other channels higher than 13 on the dial. Plus, two older satellite TV systems and more recently, a cable that still works. An addition of satellite internet from two decades of service to become obsolete with the final dish gleaming brightly on my rooftop. At least something looks nice today.

Finally, after a 15-minute wait for my negative result, the whole world passed by in a flash compressed into the last two years of basically the same routine: check the pandemic’s daily results and wonder when your name gets added. I have the constant washing of my hands as part of my daily habits, just like brushing my teeth. 

One day, spring will come back without a hitch and some solid roads to drive on without fear of being washed away into the nearest ditch.

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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.