. The women were essential in making birch bark canoes for traversing waters, identifying poisonous or edible plants, and healing wounds and sickness of inflicted trappers. I believe Margaret to have been one of them. I am here to tell the tale of her – her offspring – their offspring – and finally much later, me.
The Chief Factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company in Moose Factory (an island approximately 10 miles from the mouth of James Bay) was John Thomas who arrived in 1769, initially as a writer. Although married in England, he took a Cree wife sometime in the 1780’s. Her first name was likely a given Christian name, Margaret, but the last name Indian, recorded by the Hudson’s Bay Company would be intentionally incorrect. She died of consumption some years later, a condition more commonly known as tuberculosis. What she did during her lifetime, or why she had the favor of a prominent positioned man of the Hudson’s Bay Company, I do not know. Tender ties – such as love would seem reasonable. Perhaps she was so knowledgeable that he needed her for significant guidance and consulting.
As well as John Thomas who was a writer, one of their children, Charles Thomas is whom I so humbly thank for the inspiration for me to write. He became a writer for the Hudson’s Bay Company as early as 1808 – and indeed a traveler. He visited the Red River Valley (near Lake Winnipeg) twice in his lifetime from Moose Factory, to Vaudreul, Quebec, and settled in Eastern Ontario for his late years. I imagine he must have traversed the lake and rivers by birch bark canoe to have traveled so far. And I believe he must have had his indigenous wife beside him – he married Hannah who was also considered a ‘half-breed’. He became an important figure in Eastern Ontario, and the Algonquin Indians accepted his family as their own. He named the town Golden Lake for its beauty of sunlight’s golden reflection on the waters and sandy shores.
from pride to pity
Now, knowing what I know – I am proud. I am proud, especially of the indigenous women – one woman in particular, Margaret Indian - the Swampy Cree as they are called in Moose Factory for the spirit of the land that dwells within me – and her offspring who’s writing lives in the archives in Ottawa. I am his ancestor with story-telling in my blood.
from perils to peace
I was fortunate enough to publish The Pack – Perils and Peace of Nature. Like my ancestors, I sought adventure. My partner and I with our Alaskan Malamute pioneered a remote island on Lake of the Woods. There were harsh realities and lessons from nature as we struggled through intense storms of life that challenged our existence. But there was also peace. The beauty of our surroundings on Lake of the Woods allowed us to embrace the little things in life with gratitude - so that we could face the big things that otherwise may have broken us. If you recognize the stirring inside you of nature’s call, you will want to read The Pack – Perils and Peace of Nature – Lake of the Woods.
There came a time in my life when I hated the word SENIOR. The word itself compelled me to think that I was becoming weak – weak in body and in mind. My only desire to reaching that nebulous age was developing discounts – suddenly, I earned a level of discounts because I was more worthy of them than Generation X or Z, or the Millennials, or the newbies, Gen Alpha. Yes, I am the wonderful BABY BOOMER.
The dictionary meaning is quite clear that Senior as an adjective is quite complimentary ‘more experienced people’ – holding a ‘high and authoritative position’. The noun definition is not as becoming, so at the moment, let us stick to the flattering definitions.
REALITY NO. 1
We appear to be more opinionated. It is true. We hold these opinions because we have experienced many things in our life. So, when someone discusses why we should purchase a new iPhone, we might simply nod our head. Our experience tells us that the marketing of technology, like phones, streaming channels and other gadgets relies on consumer gluttony for an upgrade. We will observe what is good for us, not for the distribution frequency.
REALITY NO. 3
We still have purpose. We no longer have all the time in the world. Our decisions based on our experience tell us that we want to live life to its fullest, right now – right here. We have an incredible collection of knowledge and understanding of what brings us sadness or joy. All along this path of life, we find ourselves exploring who we are, finding ourselves, finding our gifts, small and large. It is our time – our Senior moment.
I hope that you are continuing to reach for joy - have found that Senior is really a celebration for all Baby Boomers – to celebrate our accomplishments – our experience – our wisdom – our gifts - and our life. Perhaps my greatest accomplishment is bringing a few years of my life, the days of my most vulnerability, my least experience to paper. I ask that you read it – and find a part of yourself in The Pack. And please comment – your BABY BOOMER experience!
Mortality threw us together – my mother’s death, his father’s death – unexpected, too young to die – both too riddled with cancer to live. He had always wanted to have a place on Whitefish Bay, Lake of the Woods, Canada. Born in Chicago, Illinois, he savored the family fishing vacations that led them to this pristine and beautiful place. I am the Canadian, indigenous woman that married him.
The cabin had been fully furnished and equipped with everything needed for a summer vacation, but it had been late September when we took occupancy. This last month, we had worked from sun up to sun down getting ready for winter.
The used airtight heater we had purchased was inserted into the open granite fireplace that was central to the cabin. It would keep us warm this winter. The granite fireplace was a good twelve feet wide and four feet deep, the open side of it facing the living space, the solid side backing onto the galley kitchen.
The gravity water system had been an old galvanized steel barrel outside, containing no more than fifty gallons. We had fabricated an indoor water system that needed to withstand plummeting temperatures. The plastic barrel was now secured on a shelf tied to the kitchen side of the fireplace, as far-reaching upwards in the rafters as possible. It was optimal gravity that made the flow of water possible, and it was unlikely to freeze sitting next to the radiating heat from the warm granite.
And so it was – waking up after many years, realizing that life was pretty meaningless; our senses not acute, our joyful memories, just that – memories – and they had faded and blurred. We vowed we were going to do something about it before it was too late.
Happy New Year’s Lake of the Woods
Our home on an island on Lake of the Woods in Canada for fifteen years – through all seasons has me playing tribute to a lake that has endless shorelines and islands, untold magic of Wendigo, petroglyphs depicting spiritual beliefs and fierce fur trade and commercial fishing.
History dates Lake of the Woods being occupied by people since about 8,500 BC. Wild rice, a staple to many of its people began about 800 BC. Initially, the people were nomadic big game hunters, beginning with mastodon, and then bison and elk after its extinction. Eventually, the population increased and settling occurred, currently known as the Cree and Ojibway cultures.
The aboriginal people harvested furs for clothing, food, utensils and ceremonial objects and eventually traded with the fur trading companies. The fur trade was with Europeans – there was a fierce rivalry between the English of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and the French of the Northwest Company. The Hudson’s Bay Company ceased operations in Rat Portage (Kenora) in 1918 with a decline of demand and availability of furs.
“The sun overhead told him it was early afternoon. He had slept four or five hours and was startled by the changing landscape. The sun was bleached by a winter grey sky. Snow was driven by a fierce wind in sheets of white. The wind gusted and hesitated before exhaling another blast of freezing cold. He was looking through a hazy filter of snow.” The Pack - Perils and Peace of Nature
Gold mining lured the next group of investors in the late 1800’s. Gold as found on the shore and islands of Lake of the Woods with over 20 locations established for working mines. Most of the mines closed down by 1912, but over the years there were revivals. Demand for lumber, particularly to feed the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway also made Lake of the Woods and its islands a prominent contributor to not only the railway but the settlers heading west. At the same time, steamboats appeared on Lake of the Woods to transport settlers and their possessions over difficult sections of land and water. The largest of the steamers was 150-foot that could accommodate over one hundred passengers
Commercial fishing in the 1880’s was all about sturgeon with a worldwide demand for sturgeon roe (caviar). Between 1893 and 1895, it was recorded that 1.5 million pounds of fish as well as 124,000 pounds of sturgeon roe were harvested! Lake of the Woods was one of the world’s largest sources of caviar but even this great lake could not sustain an industry that had a bottomless appetite. By 1915 sturgeon taken were reduced to a few thousand pounds. The photo from Whitefish Bay is a small sampling of lake trout on a good day.
Baseball caps – I hate them, unless they serve a real purpose. I understand why people wear them backwards – so they can SEE. Mind you, who needs eyes with my nose and ears? Yes, they are in – and will likely stay in because they are really not a style but a statement – ‘I’m cool’. I happen to be cool ALREADY, but hunting caps, now that’s functional.
Bucket hats! DEFINATE-LY, not for me!! Apparently, women drive this trend because it’s their version of a baseball cap. Then there’s straw hats because we all want to be on the beach. No salt water for this delicate coat!
I shall not complain. I will wear my Canadian gear, and remember my favorite stuff for REAL cold, like toques that allow brains to keep working in freezing temps and mukluks, with imitation seal to quiet my passage when walking in the bush.
It use to be that we wore camouflage pants and jackets for hunting in the fall. But now camo clothing is trendy! Who really are we trying to hide from? Blame it on the French – the word camouflage came from the French Army in 1915. It is actually a verb meaning ‘to make up for the stage’. I wonder, what stage?
So, here’s the thing – warm air rises – cold air sinks. I am not a doctor, nurse, or shrink. What I do know is keep your head and your face covered, as well as your torso, legs, and ohhhh, I will have a whole session on hands and feet. And yes, many of these so-called trends actually came from our European and Indigenous ancestors. Sometimes I wonder if we are really re-inventing the wheel.
It is steaming cold in Canada!
To my delight, there were small batches of four or five carrots, much more manageable for our appetite. No one heard me gasp, at least I don’t think so. It would cost me $5.00 for this small bunch of carrots. My turkey soup would not taste significantly different – it was already rich with plenty of turkey trimmings, vegetables and various spices. I refused to pay that much, and slowly walked on by.
I found myself at the corner, ready to disappear forever from the vegetable world – still thinking however of lack of color in my soup. My mind took me on another journey, back to where I started, eyeing the root vegetable selection. A large bag of carrots – about seven pounds – for $2.99. Without any more deliberation, they were in my basket. I had a plan.
Here are the critical parts:
If you are anything like me, you have wondered how you got stuck with a 'bad' man, more than once. You might be so sick of relationships that you believe that all men are 'bad' or that the 'good' ones are already taken. And you think you are done with it, until you find another 'bad' man.
Definition of a BAD man
It may not occur to you that recognizing a 'bad' man might help in avoiding yet another crappy relationship. What are the little signs that should put you on high alert? I do not have a psychology degree, but I think between you and I, we have a lot of experience that we can put to good use!
There's no doubt the thrill of their alluring qualities - like being attracted to a celebrity - they have charisma. They love being the center of attention, and when they finally take notice of you, you are thrilled.
They have a lot of very important things to do that occupy their time. It makes them unavailable, or you feel you are always in competition with something, or someone. It could be golf, Friday nights with the guys, or a special club. One thing is certain, you are not invited. Hard to get guys, are preoccupied with themselves and don't want a committed relationship.
He is self-centered. He takes little interest in topics that you believe are important. He expects you to agree with him or see it his way on topics ranging from politics to raising a family. He is the center of your world, not the other way around.
You feel emotionally confused. You doubt how you feel - whether you should feel this way at all. It seems your emotions are constantly influx.
There are others - I thought that would get us started with your questions and wisdom!
Stopping the Cycle
The most significant motivator for me to stop the cycle was recognizing how much pain I really felt. I had put up a good front for a long time, even fooling myself, but when I finally did allow myself to be honest I was hurting badly. And, it wasn't my fault. Feeling the pain and recognizing that it is not normal was fundamental - and it made me desperately want to change.
Nice Guys Aren't the Answer
THE PACK - Chapter 2 - Nothing More, Nothing Less
It was like riding a rolling coaster that I could not get off of, one that I paid for at every twisted turn. There had to be more.
How do you prepare for a storm when you live on the water? Where are you vulnerable when you live off the grid? How best can you survive a storm?
Storms can be very destructive - sheer winds can fall trees toppling on your cabin or destroy your docks and boathouse - and if you are off the grid, solar panels may get destroyed. There are many more scenarios when you are homesteading.
Sounds like a pretty big statement - it is! Being prepared is thinking the worst of things can happen, and if they don't, that's good too! So the first thing is to stay alert about weather patterns. If you have a marine radio, you likely can get a daily update of impending storms and it is critical in telling you wind direction and strength. If you are connected to the internet, you can likely get a forecast from a weather channel but it may not be specific enough for your location. Once you start documenting pressure changes on a barometer on a daily basis, you may find just the pattern you are looking for to tell you when a storm is going to happen. If you watch nature, you will see subtle but obvious signs. Being prepared is knowing that you have a storm coming your way.
Signs in Nature
All animals forage for food heavily before a storm - squirrels, mice, or deer or any mammal gets very active in eating. They plan on 'hunkering' it down when the storm does come, and they want a full belly.
There is truth to the saying, pink sky at night, sailors delight - like the barometer. A high pressure is happening, and so it is a good indicator in the northern hemisphere that all is well.
Weather lore would say that the leaves of deciduous trees turning upside down, especially those with soft stems are a sign that rain is coming. I have seen this to be true. The stems are apparently reacting to the change in humidity in the air and flip over easily in the wind.
Knowing the seasonal changes and where the predominant weather disturbances come from in your area can be very revealing. Scouting the horizon is always a good idea.
What are some of the ways you prepare for the storm?
Chapter 1 - THE STORM The storm outside was deafening. Thunder growled loudly and giant spruce trees groaned. Lightning darted this way and that in rhythm with our fears. Read More