The Land Carries Stories

I don’t remember the first time that my family went to the Falls. I’m sure there’s another name for them – a Dene name – but that’s what I’ve called them in my head, so that’s what they remain for now. But I remember climbing forever, it seemed, and the dry pine needles on the forest floor slipping into my sandals and poking my feet. I remember the jagged edges of rock cutting against a blue skyline, and running along the trails with my brothers.

It made me smile to see my daughter doing the same things, on the same lands.

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It was my Mom’s idea to do a day trip to the falls and picnic there, just like old times. We packed the wooden grub box full of homemade sandwiches, sweet kale salad, drinks, a fruit platter and of course, a thermos of coffee. Driving an hour and half North of our home on the reserve, we finally parked. We had to climb this little rock … hill? … and then walk through the forest for about five to ten minutes, and the trail breaks into two. The right will take you to the Falls, the left will take you to the bottom of the Falls, where you can camp, fish, portage across (when the water is low) and play in the water (again, when the water is low.)

I went right.

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I stood there, in complete silence and no cell phone coverage. There was the familiar rush of water and rock, of the wind at the treetops, of snapping and croaking insects. The angry buzz of a mosquito by my ear. The black dust coating my feet. I remembered how we would try and creep down to the water, the boys ever more fearless then me.

I eyed up the rough terrain below my feet, just in case I could do that again…

So much nope happening.

I smiled, whispered a quick prayer to my ancestors watching over me, and went back to find my family.

On the way back, skipping, climbing, running, hiking along – I mayyyyy have went all Pocahontas all sudden….

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“Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?”

But legit, how could you not?

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We ended our time at the Falls, sitting with our bare feet in the cool waters. Dad told me stories of whose land this was traditionally – different families used different parts of the rivers – and where we would portage, if the water was low. Mom showed me where we would play, my brothers and I as kids, now covered in swirling waters.

I remembered the trip when we brought my best friend Lesia and her family out here down the road a little bit to the boat launch area, and how hard we had worked to net fish, gut and clean them, and travel back home. It had been a dark and dreary day, but we were so determined. We were insane.

I remembered how, when we were camping down the road at the base camp site, I was sitting in a lawn chair and my ex flicked one of those flying beetles at me, “as a joke.” I rolled off the chair to avoid the snapping beetle, screaming bloody murder, got up, and started towards him. “Run!” my brothers yelled. I never seen him move so fast.

I remember watching Mom set up the camp, and how each of us had our jobs. Get wood. Get water. Unpack kitchen. Set up tents. Put toilet paper by outhouse. Get coffee going. I remember ignoring said orders, curling up in the camp bed, and reading a book, getting lost in imaginary landscapes.

I remember.

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 – tenille campbell

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