Deer Cloud came with me even though I tried to shake him off. I’ve been thinking so deeply about the protagonist in my novel the past year and a half, that even on a trip to Canada, he sometimes popped in to chat. He’d never seen such immense water, so salty, so cold. He’d never seen mountains so far away. He wondered at the creatures and the plants. Could he have survived there, with the skills he had for the desert canyonlands?
Unlike TV ninnies on fake islands, Deer Cloud would have adapted immediately, even though the environment on the Gulf Islands just off Vancouver is the opposite of his home land in the Lower Pecos.
The waters are so rich, he have figured out how to catch fish right away. Maybe with a net, or just a lucky spear. Black mussels are abundant at the shoreline, so he would have dug for big ones at low tide, and probably found luscious white butter clams as well. He would poke at starfish clinging to rocks, but toss them away. Their rough exteriors rebuff even gulls.
He would build a hut from giant fern fronds to get out of the rain, or maybe take refuge in a burned-out tree. The rain is not so bad in the forest, and he could even find a bit of dry kindling there under some massive branch. He would also find
blackberries in early September, and salal, which he would undoubtedly try.
He might see a whale lift a fin and tumble over, or spout through his blow hole. He might see a seal head bob up for air, or an otter cracking shells as he floats on his back. He would gasp to see an eagle snatch a fish from the sea, and his heart would pound with joy when he saw a deer. He would know the gods were with him, even here.
In a day or two he would find evidence of other people on the island. Petroglyphs, carved into sandstone near the sea, tell of myths and monsters, as well as brothers. The people would welcome him with song and dance, and tell him their stories round the fire. He would tug a deer skin round his shoulders to keep off the chill, and think seriously about staying.
Alas for him, as well as me, the float plane came to take me home. Back to hot and dry.
Never Forget 9/ll
- Vancouver and vicinity in for ‘a good soaking’ from approaching storm (theprovince.com)
- No solution in sight to dead deer on roads (nanaimodailynews.com)