Thursday, April 24, 2008
Wolverine is Ahma
A horse mane of waters; the fury of the Shaman Creek rushing to the lake.
At the lakeshore this morning, I saw a small hawk hovering in the air searching for prey, snow buntings swirling low along the ground like snowflakes, a tiny wee pot of a bird that looked like a wren, and more illusive, secretive hooded mergansers. Hooded mergansers have a 3rd eyelid that acts like goggles underwater, changing the refractive properties of their eyes, enhancing their underwater vision. The third eye...lid effect.
Coming up the overpass, my neighbour and I met up with Erkki who was already heading back home (he left at 6:15 am; we left at 7am). He said a pelican had just flown in and so too a massive flock of about 100 cormorants (known as meri metso in Finnish). The cormorants landed on a patch of open water, completely covering it, like a bobbing raft of black birds.
"That must be the flock that I saw flying overhead on Saturday when I was at the Island Drive Bridge Wetlands!" I exclaimed.
A nest of young merimetsot in Finland; photo by Markku Mikkola-Roos, SYKE. This nest looks quite strong! Like a basket of branches.
When I got home, I placed my medicine bag of tobacco on the paws of my dad's old ahma (wolverine) that is now in my garden by the foxglove that has yet to grow. I thought maybe it's not deer skin, after all. How common is deer in Finland, anyway? Maybe it's reindeer skin? I'll have to do some research. It's butter soft and thin, that I know. And light tan.
In appearance, a wolverine is like a small bear. This ahma was something my isa brought home one day years ago. It's exterior coating has since chipped away bit by bit. When my dad brought it home, like so many other things he brought home, my sisters and I groaned. Not again! What is that thing? I remember him asking us where he should put it. We looked at him like... what? At that time, we did not care for those odd things he brought home that we thought were useless. Stupid. No one's going to use it, we muttered to each other under our breath. Shook our heads, and went on our way. Now, many years past teenage hood later, we value his ways. So, his ahma is howling in my takapiha, my backyard, reminding me of his ways.
Ahmat ovat erämaitten kulkureita. Wolverines are travelers of the wilds.
As a teen, I used to wish my dad was a "regular" dad, a "Canadian" dad. But no, he was isa. He was omituinen. He had his own ways. Strange. Odd. Peculiar. Curious. Weird. [that's what my sanakirja ~ dictionary ~ says]
Omituinen Urho, the 85 year old Sami Finnish man who also has his own peculiar ways, gave me this bottle of Canadian Shiraz this morning. Fished it out of his jacket in the lane beside the Hoito Restaurant on Bay Street. Weeks ago he had asked me what was my favorite wine. I said, shiraz. Is that red wine? he asked. Write that name down for me, he said, as he pushed a scrap of paper towards me. I want to buy you some of your favorite wine.
So, he had been carrying this bottle of wine to the Hoito every Thursday morning for the last 3 weeks to give to me. But I was not able to go to the Hoito Thursday mornings for the last 3 weeks. So, he carried the bottle to the Hoito, and then back home again, inside his jacket, hidden from view. He knew I'd show up one day.
And I did.