June 15


I enjoy fishing and have a favored spot a few miles south of the Great Circle. There the river managed to cut Herself a path through the old basalt just as the Old Granite Range begins to dominate the landscape. It is perhaps the most challenging stretch of the river road with its rapid gain in altitude and the wild traversing of enormous boulders. Many had tumbled into the river stretching like a beaver dam to the far bank. Behind them the river splits into numerous ribbons that search through the maze of stone for a trail to the other side. Once there their reunion becomes a brief but joyful heart-singing song of delight before She happily moves north on Her journey to the ocean. It is the quintessential fishing hole.

Moon Shadow has been quiet for days so I thought it best to bring him and leave Sings-in-Trees at camp to poke fire. Moon Shadow has been vigilant since Gobetween and Moondog left for Solstice with the Oak Clan boys. Sings-in-Trees was happy to take a turn; perhaps he is none too keen on fishing.

Sings-in-Trees was born to Clan Dogwood; its loyalty was mythic and probably enchanted. Consequently, Sings-in-Trees is devoted, heart and soul, to Clan Greihound and deeply tied to Moon Shadow. If Moon Shadow needed a break from tending fire Sings-in-Trees was at his elbow telling him to run along.

Although Moon Shadow had been born to a Poplar woman, he bore a startling resemblance to the Wild Women of the Forest. Moon Shadow is small, dark, and has inscrutable black eyes. The depth of his instantaneous awareness of everything and everyone around him is uncanny and complete. And yet he cultivates impeccable manners and holds a genuine respect for every detail of the world that surrounds him. Something happened to him two days ago. Whatever it was didn’t seem to trouble him, he was neither afraid nor depressed. But he was somehow changed, uncharacteristically quiet, and he was not going to speak of it. I want to sit with him and listen to his thoughts, thoughts that I think want to be heard no matter what the reluctance to speak about them. So we’ll spend a quiet day pretending to fish, listening instead to river and each other’s hearts.

It is now mid-morning. Our lines are rigged with bait and we are basking in the sun listening to the river tell Her stories and watching the light leap off the rapids. The fish are jumping too; we are seeing loach and chud, even trout every now and then. An assortment of creatures has emerged from the trees on the far bank. We watch a doe, tentative and alert, dip her head to drink then look furtively around again. We know why. Two fragile fawns creep out of the shadows on uncertain legs, taking a long drink before the trio is lost from sight back into the darkness of the trees. Then we spot a lynx, not quite invisible but thinking he is before approaching the water’s edge with the same caution. He is followed by a small group of roebuck that delicately tiptoe to the water, and drink before vanishing. Even an elusive wildcat makes an appearance; kittens can’t be far off. I like to merge with the stillness and watch.

Moon Shadow is particularly skilled at catching every nuance and subtlety, pointing out darting butterflies, skating water bugs, and a collection of turtles sunning themselves on a log. He senses salamanders in the sandy shallows and frogs tucked between a tangle of detritus along the water’s edge left behind by the spring runoff. He looks over his shoulder, I look too. A fallen leaf is moving and sure enough, a toad’s clever disguise is spotted. A breeze stirs the branches overhead and the shadows dance in the glittering water. I listen to the leaves, to the birds, to the insects; sacred songs that sing of worlds I will never know and mysteries I will never resolve.

The sun is well into its afternoon journey and we will head back now. The catch has been abundant and we’ll collect complimentary delicacies on our way back. The strawberries are exceptional this season and both of us have had an outstanding day. I listened to Moon Shadow’s heart and know his secret, he doesn’t mind. We watch the clouds making their way in our direction. It will rain tonight.

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Responses to “June 15”

  1. Angela Cheetham Wilkinson June 21st, 2013 - 8:26 pm

    Lovely. I feel it – just a little of what it might have been like to be the woman who loved Moon Shadow and benefitted from his supersensitivity to the environment around him. I love that she knows his secret – but even more that Moon Shadow doesn’t mind. The writer has surely had such experiences – although she writes today of times long past I think I’m reading autobiographical words …