Canadian Ctories

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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.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Ilatsiak - 84 - Patsy's Discovery

Patsy pushed open the door of the Hudson’s Bay post store and nearly bumped into Angutinquaq coming up the stairs. “Hey, what’s the hurry?” he said.
“Look at this, Patsy. An old book!” The young man was obviously excited about his find. “Found it way over by the cross over to Adelaide. It was just lying there on the ground. It looks really old. Think the trader will be interested in it?”
Patsy looked at the book. It was old alright. The thin leather covers were mostly chewed off and the pages nearly bleached clean. Little of the writing was legible anymore, but a few pages were, the ones near the back. “I don’t know. Better ask him what he thinks.”
Patsy continued down the few stairs and crossed over towards his small house in Goa Haven. He’d come a long way he thought to himself. He now worked as a clerk for the Hudson’s Bay Company and was in line to replace the present trader in the fall. He was looking forward to being in charge for once. For one thing he'd do if he was the trader was keep that book that Angutinquaq was taking in to show the trader. He was sure it was valuable, but he knew the trader wouldn’t think so. He’d probably give the kid a couple of dollars and then throw the book in the trash. Patsy decided to check through the bins before he took them to the dump for burning later that day, after the store closed.

Sure enough, the little book was in the trash when Patsy took out the bin. He slipped it into his pocket.
Later that evening, Patsy opened the book so see what he could make of it. Most of the book was impossible to read as the ink had faded long ago, however, in the back, it was obvious that someone else had begun writing in it. The handwriting was quite different and while the earlier faded hand was in cursive and had a certain flowing style, the new writer only printed and had just a rough idea of spelling and other grammatical features. The book’s two writers were nearly impossible to read, but for different reasons.
The first part seemed to be a medical journal, or at least it contained notes about various illnesses and their cures. It was the sort of stuff a medical doctor might have kept about his practice noting how various treatments had worked on patients and so on. The new writer, on the other hand, seemed to be keeping a diary of events. The entries were not consecutive, but spaced over several years until they suddenly ended. The earlier ones were each signed ‘David’, but near the end they were all signed ‘Ilatsiak’. Patsy put the book down and smiled. He spent years looking for the old shaman he'd met at his father's trading post, but in vain. He had simply disappeared. Even his son didn't know what exactly had happened to him. He didn't even seem to know much about his father. Either that or he wasn't about to tell Patsy what he did know.
Now suddenly the answer was in his hand. The old shaman had been on Franklin's lost expedition in the mid 1800's. he wasn't a shaman at all. He must have worked with one of the ship's doctors and kept notes. Amazing...

• • • The End • • •


Monday, March 01, 2010

Ilatsiak - 83 - David's Tracks

Kudluk wasn’t surprised when his father didn’t show up later when the group stopped to rest, but when there was still no sign of him a few days later, he decided to hunt for basking seals back along the route they’d taken from the trader’s cabin. The sled tracks were still visible even with the melting that had taken place, making David's trail was easy to follow.
By the time the sun was high in the sky, Kudluk came to the area where he had last seen his father. He could see where his tracks veered off to the north, but it was clear that he had not turned completely around back towards the traders. Instead the tracks headed straight north and then began edging towards the east. David smiled. The old guy was headed to the ice edge to look for seals! Why had he not thought of that?
Another few hours and David could see the dark blue line of open water in the distance. His father’s dog sled headed right for it.
Kuduk first became concerned as he passed over several ice cracks. None of them were moving, but he knew they soon would be. This was a dangerous area and the likelihood of an ice flow breaking off from the main ice was high. To make matters worse, there was no sign of his father other than the tracks which continued to lead straight to the water.
Then he saw the thing he feared the most. His father’s sled tracks continued straight out at the ice edge. He was out there somewhere on an ice floe, drifting with the wind and the current. If the floe was large enough, he might make it back to the main ice when the tide turned. If not, well, he’d rather not think about that. It was at least two days ago...
Kudluk realised it was futile to remain at the ice edge. He didn't have a kayak and there was no ice to be seen out on the open water. It was also dangerous as he could suffer the same fate. Urging his dogs, he turned and retraced his route, relaxing only when he passed over the last crack. It was beginning to move slightly.