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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Summer’s nearly a wrap

BY Sonny Orr Aug 30, 2022

Finally, the skies clear and an early Indian summer sets in. I use the term because that’s what it’s commonly referred to, but I would suggest harvesting season is nearing. Hungry geese are impacting the berry crop on the offshore islands, but it’s been an early season for berries and a bountiful one at that. No use letting all that good fruit go to waste unless you like very juicy berries that are a bit sour – the kind to make wine with.

Festivals are in full swing. The many outdoor gatherings remind us of the good old days but that’s because we now dare to shed our inhibitions and expose our faces. That’s good, as most faces I am used to are on social media and seeing them in real life is making me feel a little extroverted. But that’s just my usual cautious nature (or paranoia) that keeps me away from large crowds. I learned my lesson and I’m glad to say I survived another pandemic.

Working at the office is quieter with many still enjoying what’s left of summer, and the need to get the kids groomed and back in shape for scholastic endeavours is the order of the day. Hopefully everyone adjusts to the return to work, school and ordinary life. I am happy to engage in little chit-chats about nothing important again. The coffee breaks feel like real breaks and the need to consume strong java and maintain a high level of work is also invigorating.

Picnicking is in full swing as many gather wood to keep those fires burning. Dry wood is in high demand. Small squabbles about stolen wood piles can be heard here and there. Yes, wood is great exercise, as it takes a lot of effort to gather, transport, cut and split it for cooking in and outdoors. Wood is now becoming a commodity for energy. Where are the wood-pellet stoves when you need them? I can see alternative sources of heating are needed to maintain your cabin or tent heat level, but it’s summer and a little early to worry about that now. Just wait until it’s minus-40.

As for harvesting, fish is on the daily menu. Fish is – or was – one of our main sources of protein and a lean one, too. Don’t stop anyone heading out the door with a fishing rod or a fishnet, it’s all about the protein, not the sport. Fishing is not like golf, where at the end of the day only your score counts. With fishing, it’s the catch that counts.

So sorry to see summer ending, as it was a very rainy July. But it shows in the greenery outdoors, so I guess rain is good. As for forest fires, it seems we’ve been spared this year and evacuations were few. Back in the day, flames were always lapping at our doorsteps or on the fringes of the community. I remember driving to Chisasibi only to be ordered to evacuate as soon as I arrived after a 10-hour drive. Or Nemaska, our Nation’s capital, where memories of aircraft leaping into the air as flames roared nearby with evacuees. While it may have been less dramatic environmentally this year, I hope this keeps up!

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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.