“We do not know the past in chronological sequence. It may be convenient to lay it out anesthetized on the table with dates pasted on here and there, but what we know we know by ripples and spirals eddying out from us and from our own time.” Ezra Pound
My cousin and I started smudging together in the 1990s. Aunt Pat gave us our first sage and abalone shell bowls. We learned about ceremony. We learned about the value of sacred time together.
Last summer I bought a beautiful smudging feather with a pink quartz handle that stands proudly in an oak base. It was created by First Nations artist LinDaLou. The staff told us that the artist visits the Centre, setting up a table by the fire for a few days to assemble them. We loved that it was created in a space that means so much to us.
Our family history in Britt, Ontario, is rich and goes back to before the town had its name. Britt stretches down one road off Highway 69 along Still River to Lake Magnetewan and out to the mouth of Georgian Bay.
Mom worked on a population study when she was in high school (in the late 60s) and reported five hundred people lived there then. Approximately, three hundred people live in Britt now.
Georgian Bay: July, 1988. The clouds feather high in the cobalt sky. When Evergreen floats near the shore, I climb out the nose and jump to the rock holding the rope. My feet splash into the water. I stumble. My cousin Michael laughs.
When Dad was dragging his kayak away from the shore to store it at the end of the summer his foot twisted a bit on this rusty old metal piece hidden below some juniper branches. He said:
Some people might call it the woods, but our family has always called it the bush. Rolling granite, moss, and long grasses topped with juniper bushes, birches, maples, and pines extend for many kilometres from my parents’ place across Crown land.
I remember going blueberry picking in the bush near the cottage in Britt when I was eight or nine. Mom carries baskets. Dad carries peanuts in shells. We always bring Princess with us, my great-Aunt Irene’s German Shepherd. Princess leads the way over the granite and moss, into the desolate, dense back bushes on the coast of Georgian Bay, guarding us from the possibility of walking into sleeping black bears or sunning massasauga rattlers.