A short while ago a ferocious wind touched down close to where my cabin stands on Bitobi Lake. The storm was a wild one! It performed its dance and sang its song and took away with it, the spirits of many trees when it departed. Its power was such that the trees which fell to its rage did not do so because of being uprooted as is usually the case, but did so because of their trunks breaking at the level where their roots begin. Imagine the force of the wind to do this! One of the trees I speak about was an ash. The ash had stood only about 25 ft. from my shack and when it came down, it missed the corner of my cabin by only several feet. Upon seeing the near miss, I offered up my tobacco with a sincere heartfelt ‘migwech’ (thank you) to my lucky star for this.
The trail leading to my cabin is one km long. On the day my granddaughter Madeline was born five years ago this past July, I walked the bush road to where my car was parked so I could go to the city to greet her. Not a sound did I hear, not a bird or animal did I see around me as I walked along. Because of this, I gave my granddaughter the name ‘Quiet Trail Morning’. It was along this very pathway that the brunt of the storm was felt by the trees of the forest. Trees a hundred feet tall lay on the ground. All broken at the trunk, all of them poplars – all had rips in them from trunk to at least 20 to 30 ft. into their stems. The wind produced by the storm caused the trees to swirl, making circles only the eagle high in the sky could see. And when the trunk of the tree could no longer tolerate the demands made of it by the storm, it broke. Some of the trees fell with their canopies pointed to the south, others with their leaf-covered branches pointing to the west. The fragrance of their sap spilled from their torn bark and engulfed the forest. One could breathe it in a half km away! They lay where the storm willed them to be. Time will travel by, generations of our people will be born while others will die as the poplars slowly decay until at last they will be consumed by the very earth which gave them life. And the people who will walk the trail in the distant future, will they wonder about such things as the weakness of poplar trees and the power of a roaming wind? I hope they do!
Storms, they come and go! Who among us lives a life without occasionally knowing what it is like to feel alone and unsupported while society’s dysfunctions rage around us. The storms which confront us, sometimes striking without warning, test our strengths and measure the density of our willpower. Some storms are fury-filled and the weak among us find them too much to bear. They collapse under the stress of a storm they are not emotionally and spiritually equipped to deal with. It is a sad reality. Life’s pathway is such for human beings. The storm which struck the trail leading to my sanctuary, to my place of solitude and healing, claimed the poplar trees in its path. The maples and oaks who are neighbours to the poplars which fell are standing yet. They are strong and it is the depth of their strength which assured their survival. We must do all we can to assure that our young people will grow to have the strength of the oaks and maples mixing into the blood of their hearts, for if we do not, they will collapse like the poplars and in doing so, reveal to Creator that the human beings have rejected the wisdom and power of the forest.