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Location: Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada

I'm a father, a seakayaker, a guitarist, a writer, a geocacher and a lover of all things arctic. I try to dream big, journey far, kayak well, and above all, cherish my family and friends. I believe in self-sponsorship, Team Zero and being as carbon neutral as I can.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ilatsiak - 80 - Summer Voices

After the death of his wife Qayaq and his friend Uyaraluk, David moved in with Kudluk’s family and began following the seasons with them. He was an elder now as well as being a shaman, although he never willingly accepted the latter role. He did what he could to help sick people when called upon. Without realising it, it often used techniques he seen used back in Scotland or on board ship and was often rewarded with some success. When his fellow Inuit didn’t recognize his healing methods, naturally it seemed to them to be the magic of the shaman at work. When they did understand his methods, he was still a shaman, but using a lighter form of magic, at least in their opinion.
The years passed quietly with Kudluk. For several years, David lived with a women chosen for him by Kudluk’s wife’s family. They were worried he was getting lonely and had no one to assist in the daily work that needed doing. She was a great help to him in a domestic way, mending his clothes and preparing his meals, but that seemed to be all. It was mostly a marriage of convenience and not one of love or procreation. After a few years, she departed for a younger hunter who would give her children. No one seemed to mind, least of all David. He simply moved over to David’s house and stayed there.
Eventually, and in spite of the taboos prohibiting it, David decided to remain near the seashore rather than take the long march inland each summer. Most people would have been harshly criticized for making such a move, but being a shaman had it’s privileges and David often took advantage of them. He wasn’t sure why he particularly like being near the shore in the summer, but the excuse he told himself was his old legs could no longer walk as far has the people would have to go. He would only slow them down as they hunted the inland trails.
Each morning, David would take a shorter walk often to the highest point of land where he would sit and stare out to sea. In the spring, he stared at the sea ice and watched as it slowly melted in the warming sunshine. Once open water came in August, watching the water in all it’s moods gave him great pleasure. There were times when he’d fall asleep at his lookout and even a few times when he’d suddenly waken thinking he’d seen a ship or heard the voices of sailors on deck. It was never to be, however, or so he’d think. Was it his failing eyesight? Perhaps his ears had picked up sounds of a ship sailing past. Perhaps it was only in his head. David could never be sure. He was getting old and tired. It was difficult to distinguish his dreams from his real life anymore, but even that didn't seem to bother him. Living alone, there was no one to complain.
The afternoons were better. He often went fishing at the weir, but there were also times spent renewing equipment which would be used during the coming winter. He would pass whole afternoon making toggles for the dog harnasses using the pile of antlers stacked near his tent. He was never lonely, but always looked forward to Kudluk’s family returning in the fall when his grandchildren could be close once again. For his part, Kudluk wasn’t happy knowing his father was alone. There were few dangers other than bears, but still, he wished David would join them or at least camp upriver closer to where the family would spend their summers. David would hear nothing of it, however, so for many years that was the summer pattern.



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