Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Swampside in the Boreal

There are times in this life
When the way is shrouded in mist
And the torrential downpour rains upon you
As you stumble upon loose stones
Grasping to get a hold
Of shallow protruding roots in the scrabble

And there are other times
When the path before you is good and clear
Well worn into the earth and rock
Easy to be found among the trees
Around the hillsides slanting lazily below
And laid out with purpose and meaning

These trails tell ancient stories
Your story of how you came to be
Here and now in this exact moment
Shown the way by guiding lights unseen
And unknown in the depths of time and space

If you listen to the words
Gurgling under flowing waters
Flown swiftly in the breezes
And echoing through the canyon halls
They will tell you constantly of way points
Not of our destination or journey's end
But perhaps of distant views along the way

Or a trail side rest among the boreal swamp
In the long lazy afternoon of the North
In a marshy valley at the base of a small ridge
Just south of the Salcha River

Where one day in the warm summer of '97
One hundred years after thousands ran north
To the riches of the Klondike goldfields
Searching their paths not yet laid upon the maps
It was my turn to man the pump

One small two-inch pump
Humming with the power of seven trotting horses
Rolling and clanging their bits and tack
Perched on the edge of black waters

Churning water a mile and a half away
To the rest of the crew on the line
Working much harder than me at the moment
For we all looked forward to the manning of the pump

A break in the action
Of blazing trails in the cottonwoods
Felling and swamping through the spruce
Of soaking hotspots with the hose line ran
And grubbing scratches in the sphagnum

Good clean work
Yes you get a little soot upon your skin
And your boots cover with dirt and ash
And the mosquitoes buzz your ears and face

But the constant inhale of the lighted forest incense
Is calming to the mind
As the sweat on your back cools as you go
And you find the trail or make one

Good clean work
All day work of long shifts in the forest
Where at the end of the day
The body and mind accept rest easily around the cook fires

Alone for my three hour turn
Laying propped in luxurious sphagnum
Listening only for a change in the drone
Telling me to tune the throttle ever so slightly

To keep the water flowing
Out of the dark black depths of the murk
Where surprisingly in this clearing
The mosquitoes have abandoned for elsewhere

Resting on the two foot thick peat moss
A carpet of miniature rainforest up close
I peer into the black waters
Seeing only about seven feet down
Not knowing how far the bottom

The swamplands of the boreal
Seem as emerald islands floating in the night sky
Soft clouds of pillowy green
Perched precariously and unsurely aloft in ink

I ease back into my rest
As pairs of dragonflies continually buzz in
Hover a few seconds to check out what's happening
Then continue their airborne mating elsewhere

Resting here with the soft breezes
The constant scent of woodsmoke and burning peat
I drift off to a light sleep
As the engine hums its lullaby

Even with this loud, obnoxious clanking thing
Buzzing in my ear next to me
Demanding adjustment at unwanted times
And noisily sucking from the peaceful swamp

It has its own way
Of quieting the space
As you tune into its drone
And drift away to rest your bones

This enjoyable swamp had called to me
Whispered its direction in my ear
Sent me north on a careless whim
To rest lazily by its side
For a few moments in the warm breeze

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