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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

The simple life seems to win

BY Sonny Orr Sep 14, 2022

Our home is oddly empty… the school bus came by and took those happy children to their first day of school. It’s sunny today and the clouds whisk by on a warm south wind, as if a tropical storm had passed and kept everything green. Though September is upon us, the hint of fall seems distant.

As for this weekend, friendly festivals carry out time-honoured traditions of fishing and berry picking. The fishing is a little laidback up North as common fishing spots are anywhere where there’s water. Compared to our southern brethren, who lit out to their secret spot with no concern for speed limits. A 200-aqua-horse-powered engine gets you cruising in seconds at 90 kilometres an hour, while up here, we resort to the four-wheeled version of the jet boat to get around.

As for berry picking, crouched down low to the ground for endless hours to pick the tiny blueberry from the top of the rocky hills to the grape-sized ones in low hanging bushes in certain areas makes for a nice day outdoors. Only when you get home and lie down on your comfortable king-sized bed do you realize that there are still muscles left to strain in your old body. That doesn’t include, of course, the blood lost to those voracious flies. It’s either that or poisoning yourself with DEET and potentially causing some abnormality in your genes. So be careful, take care, don’t overdose on insect repellent.

As for the traditional time to take off work, calendars are being ticked off as we get closer to that time of the year for moose or goose. It’s that instinctive call of the wild that draws everyone out on the land, but for me it’s all about the result – country food on the table. I do enjoy the outdoors and that sort of lifestyle, but it seems that time is speeding by so quickly, that months and years slip by, before you get anything done.

Yep, this quiet house does have its merit, the time to catch up with what’s happening in the world or just to get out and about. I guess the travel bug has bitten me a bit too hard as I will be enroute for the next month, but after that, I get a break to go out on the land for a few weeks. I’ve been ignoring my camp and letting things slide, so I guess I’ll be busy when things aren’t flying or lumbering by, to harvest. Maybe I’ll stock up on firewood, just in case of some long-term emergency and the power goes off. At least I’ll have a warm stove to keep life going – my off-grid skills just might come in handy.

Back in the day, a sharp axe was all you needed to get by, but sometimes, it’s easier to go the hardware section and buy an axe handle, rather than form it out of some scrap piece of wood or dry tree root. Dry tree roots are great if you want to fashion a hockey stick blade or a primitive boomerang, but I prefer it for smoking fish or meat. With an axe you could build a simple shelter or a massive log cabin, depending on how much of a logger you are. At the hardware store, you would need massive credit skills to get enough material to build a shack.

The simple life seems to win, the less you have to work with, the more you can get done. I wonder if there’s a comparable parable, just to verify this last statement.

Enjoy your autumn!

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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.