Thursday, May 04, 2006

Harbingers of Spring Harbingers of Spring

I saw these Canada geese yesterday, in a bright spring field of dandelions, in the company of a crow. I think of Canada geese as harbingers of spring (and autumn too, of course), and a reminder of the endless cycle of the seasons. I never cease to marvel at the vees of geese flying in formation overhead, spurred by an amazing shared imperative to return home --- just like the Emperor penguins featured in last year's wonderful documentary "March of the Penguins."

I have paid more attention to Canada geese since reading the wonderful book, "The Last Algonquin" by Theodore L. Kazimiroff. This is the story of a lone Algonquin Indian, Joe Two Trees, the last of his family, who tried in the mid-1800s to find a place in the world around him in the region around New York City, taking jobs on a farm and in a coal mine, but facing unfriendliness and lack of welcome, he retreated to the woods by Pelham Bay, an isolated corner of New York City, where he lived alone, hidden, for almost 60 years. In the last year of his life (1924), he was befriended by a young Boy Scout. Joe Two Trees shared his story with the Boy Scout, whose son wrote this book. In his "Afterthoughts," author Kazimiroff writes:

In his telling, Two Trees asked no more of my father than that he remember and retell these exploits. In that way, believed Joe, he would never be completely gone from the trails and trees of his beloved land. When you go to the quiet places that still remain within our steel and stone city, it is just possible that you could meet him. I know you won't see him as a person, but the vee of Canada geese obeying their ancient migratory imperative, or the furtive glance of a racoon, the blaze of a gorgoues sunset, one of these, or all, will be Joe.

Don't lose him. When we allow the new to replace the old to such an extent, we will lose more than an ancient Indian story. Keep in mind that in our rush to meet the future, we must be sure to keep the past. Without its foundation, no structure stands for very long.

Whenever I see Canada geese, I think of Joe Two Trees. I am reminded always of the power of our stories.


Blogger Charlene said...

Thank you so much in telling this tale of Joe Two Trees and Canadian geese. I'm going out at lunch today [at work in midtown Manhattan] to feel the warm sunshine on my face and find that book in Barnes & Noble. Thanks again!

9:46 AM  
Blogger Eddie said...

Greetings, I was reading some blogs and came across your blog. I really enjoy how it makes such good reading.

I'll come by again.


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9:16 AM  

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