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Champagne Bubbles: An Ice-Fishing Hole

Champagne Bubbles: An Ice-Fishing Hole

An ODE to The HAIKU POEM For many months, the colour white has been everywhere.


For many months, the colour white has been everywhere.
White is an achromatic colour, literally a colour without hue, that is a mixture of the frequencies of all the colours of the visible spectrum. Imagine if you will – brilliance, faith, possibility, goodness.

White is winter in Canada. Winter in Canada is a strange mix of ice-hockey and candy canes, igloos and icebergs, snowshoes and woodstoves, hot chocolate and board games. Here we are at 49.0000° N, 94.3833° W and you can find so much more than snow and ice underfoot on the vast and frozen Lake of the Woods in rural and remote northwestern Ontario. By April, the long winter months and the insulating comforts of the good and brilliant snow, begin to yield their quiet slumbers to a new bubbling up, a renaissance of sorts, of art, culture, craft and ideas. What force, what gushing geyser, like Ol’ Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, lies beneath the surface of this surge?

Perhaps the answer lies not in what but in who. Who is this new generation of dreamers and doers awakened by a new consciousness? A beatnik, maybe. A wood carver, possibly. A mother, sister, daughter, uncle, friend, elder – certainly. Artisans and activists.

A ruggedness defines this cultural landscape, shiftshaped by history and heritage: miners, loggers, hunters, and outdoor adventurers. Today’s re-visionaries come with hot yoga classes, spoken word cafés, neighbourhood pubs, fish tales, and made from scratch chicken-n-waffles. Here in the Township of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls, arts and culture is mish-mashed with politics, the economy and current events.

Our renaissance in our true north is best illustrated by the listing of events that happen absolutely everywhere – from the eastern shores of Lake of the Woods, in the small communities of Sioux Narrows and Nestor Falls to the farmers markets that dot the corridors off of highway 17, highway 11 and highway 71. Just as topographical maps clearly show the shoals and depths, colourful illustrations bring to life the local and regional offerings of art classes, dance recitals, museum exhibits, fairs and festivals. If we travel through the seasons, we find how the abundance of the wilds, found only here in our little corner of planet Earth, play with the creative impulses.

The blueberry festival is as synonymous with Sioux Lookout as the Stratford Festival is to Niagara-on-the-Lake. In Sioux Narrows: The new 4-season rec centre will start to nestle in – with players, crafters, growers and visitors. The Northern Ontario Sportfishing Centre brings to life stories of catch and release and the big one, that got away. Schools of perch make plain the activities and interest of the many while the muskellunge prefers that quiet and solitude of its own company. So too, might you.

Nestled against the great outdoors, there is no better place for exploring the magical spaces of the imagination. Escaping into Middle Earth and King’s Cross Platform 9 ¾ through Tolkein and Rowling, we see the special nooks and crannies that invite the reader to other worlds. The novels and picture books in the Book Trading Posts in Sioux Narrows and Nestor Falls, invite us all to take a book and leave a book: so that we can all fly away to imaginary places and to a greater understanding; tolerance, empathy, and hope. From Homer to Plato, we find the writings of the ancient Greeks and the wonders of The Iliad and The Odyssey. In epic Greek poems, the Haiku and free verse, we cross continents and span the millenniums.

Here on Lake of the Woods photos of bean bag chairs, front porch swings, and long, pine logs reveal readers in camps: we go to camp in northern Ontario not cottages. On rainy days in sunset country, reading a book is a perfect past-time. This was true for our grandparents and it is as commonplace for today’s generation as it will be for the next. And, whether you are reading by the light of a propane light, hearing the fizzle n hiss or you are sitting in a comfy chair and turning the chapter book by the light of a solar ray, being off-the-grid and all – know that you are in good company, where everything old is new again.

From petroglyphs to birch bark letters, pottery shards and arrowheads – some of the most fascinating archeological finds help us understand ancient cultures, peoples and places. One of the most visible signs of ancient and Indigenous cultures are the pictograph sites which dot rocks and cliffs, around Lake of the Woods. These are forms of rock art. They were painted by Aboriginals and are considered sacred sites. The next time you fancy a boat ride, google pictographs and petroforms. Mordecai Richler once gave me orders “to get in you canoe and paddle” so with those guiding words, I invite you: to power up your GPS and start the out-board motor on your Boston Whaler to ride the eastern shores of Lake of the Woods. Here you will, straddle the worlds of the Anishinaabe and the constancy of the Canadian Shield. Can you find the enduring, unchanging and very prehistoric abstract patterns, boulder mosaics and turtles? Bridging cultural divides…

Let this be the year that you find your true north! There is 65,000 miles of shoreline to explore…from Hay Island, Picnic Island, Big Island, Devil’s Gap, Eagles Pas, Flag Island, all abutting rock outcroppings and picturesque scenes with Norway and white pines and clumping birches. A blank canvas looms large in the natural and built environments that form quintessential Lake of the Woods.

Read a Haiku poem or better yet write your own. Doodle on a chalkboard wall, journal a little everyday, or find a picture and colour outside the lines.. Create an unhurried hour to paint with your group of seven. Let nature be your inspiration. It is all around us…rocks, trees, and water! Art is for everyone. Happy Camping!

Bridge & Falls Creative Residency
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