Word Prompt: Stillness | Story Prompt: from the book “Tom Thomson, The Algonquin Years” by Ottelyn Addison in collaboration with Elizabeth Harwood

Write It Out: Instruction Video

“When Thomson arrived in the early spring of 1913, the Park was a quiet place. Lumbering had largely ceased in the southern section and the permanent inhabitants consisted of some railway maintenance men, a few lumberjacks and gravel pit workers, and the fifteen rangers employed by the Government to supervise the game preserve. A number of fishermen came in each year for the opening of the trout season and left again; a few cottagers and campers would arrive later along with guests for the summer hotels. There were no roads except the trails through the bush left by the logging operators along with the slash and debris of old logs already weathering away. The interior of the Park was for the most part a solitude of rock, bush and muskeg, accessible only by canoe and portage, and inhabited only by the wildlife it sheltered and sustained.

To many city-dwellers, the prospect of a long stay in such a wilderness would be depressing, if not terrifying. To Tom Thomson, ardent fisherman, enthusiastic canoeist and landscape painter, it was all that could be desired.”

***

We had been paddling, it seemed, for hours.  Four of us in a cedar strip canoe, the packs piled high with our two little ones perched on top. Snacks, books. Peaceful, happy. The cry of a loon our music as we paddle along a riverbend in time to see a majestic moose and calf, just there in the water lilies, grazing. Slowly, large heads dripping, they lift their gaze to us; our children with eyes as big as saucers, look back.

As the river widens to lake, we aim towards an island in the centre of the lake, its’ campsite not yet taken by another. We stop and the children spill out of the boat, their happy noises echoing out over the water.  Working as one, we unload and transition from water traveller to resident camper. The fire is started and in this action we declare our presence. Our daughter on the beach sings out across the water to the loons – she claims this day. Our son tends the fire – he is fascinated by it, foraging for dry sticks and back to feed it and hear it snap and crackle, watching as sparks fly up.

I catch my husband’s eye. He smiles, and I return it. We belong here in this place of solitude and silence, of togetherness and peace, and I am grateful.

***

Stories can be found in the simplest of actions, of events. I find that nature has her share of lessons for me, about all aspects of life. What have you learned from spending time outside? Have you written about it? Share your thoughts here!

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