I wasn't sure what the lesson of the grouse was. Why did it cross my path that afternoon on the Pigeon River trail to High Falls? It quietly made its presence known. If we hadn't looked down we would have walked right by and not even noticed its furry boots and dappled feathers. The path on the Canadian side is enwrapped in magic; you walk into a welcoming mysterious yet familiar forest of multiple patterns. Wherever you look, you see a different pattern, different textures, different colours; wherever you point your nose, different scents come to greet you; wherever your ears tip, different sounds emerge, from the hush of moss to the roar of water cascading with a fury. It's a sensory experience. I have to say (not that I'm biased :-)) that it is indeed more spectacular than the path that runs along the American side. The path on the Canadian side is not overly groomed; it's more wild. You have to be a bit on the fit side to hike the Canadian side.
There are few barriers to where you can walk -- if you have the guts. Personally, I am a bit of a chicken -- or should I say grouse? -- at the edge of high rocks and water. You can see the American side across the way, the viewing platforms that they have built.
I prefer staying on the ground. Here I am lying on one of the riverbed rocks to let you see the size of some of the stones along the falls. The rocks had been warmed by the sun on this Indian summer day, so my rest on the rocks was healing, a hot stone treatment gifted by the ancient medicine spirits of the river. During spring, after snowmelt, this area would be under water and I would then be floating -- or perhaps -- rushing my way
down to spill over the falls.
This morning, I looked in the Animal Speak book on my shelf, under "Dictionary of Bird Totems," and found Grouse. It tells me that the medicine of the grouse is sacred dancing and drumming:
"The ruffed grouse reflects that working with new rhythms and new movement will be beneficial to opening a new flow of energy into your life. Dance and drumming would become wonderful tools to open new realms for you. This doesn't mean you have to go out and take dance lessons, but simply practice and develop your freeform expressions. You will be surprised at the changes in your own energy. See yourself dancing in new patterns and realms within your life.
Dancing a circle is an act of creation. It is the marking off of sacred space. When a circle dance is performed, the individual creates a sacred space within the mind--a place between the worlds, a point in which the worlds intersect.
The grouse does have the ability to fly softly if it chooses. Rhythm does not have to be audible to be effective. If grouse has come into your life, expect new rhythms and new teachings on dancing and drumming and drumming your life to new dimensions.
High Falls on Pigeon River. The right side is the Canadian side, the left side is the American side, and the river marks the boundary waters, half here/half there.