About the Author

Wayne Grady

Wayne Grady is the general editor of this series of literary anthologies devoted to the world's natural wonders. One of Canada's foremost popular science writers and the winner of three Science in Society awards from the Canadian Science Writers' Association, he is the author of twelve nonfiction books on such diverse adventures as hunting dinosaurs in the Gobi Desert, investigating global warming at the North Pole, and discovering the wild in an urban metropolis. His books include the bestselling Tree: A Life Story, written with David Suzuki, and Bringing Back the Dodo. His most recent book is the award-winning The Great Lakes: The Natural History of a Changing Region. He lives near Kingston, Ontario.

Books by this Author
Breakfast at the Exit Cafe

Breakfast at the Exit Cafe

Travels Through America
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook Paperback
More Info
Breakfast at the Exit Café

Breakfast at the Exit Café

Travels Through America
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook
More Info
Bringing Back the Dodo

Bringing Back the Dodo

Lessons in Natural and Unnatural History
edition:Paperback
tagged : evolution
More Info
Excerpt

Generally speaking, in these essays I seem to be constantly alarmed at our tendency to ignore or deny the degree to which we are part of the natural world. I believe it is true that, as J.F. Blumenbach, the nineteenth-­century founder of anthropology, first observed, we are “the most perfect of all domesticated species.” Many of these essays are ruminations about what that means. But we have not taken nature out of ourselves — even the most domesticated cat eats, drinks, breathes, hunts, hosts fleas, and reproduces — rather, we have taken ourselves out of nature. To our cost. In many of the essays I try to remind us of the fact that when we destroy a segment of nature — by cutting down a forest to make a road, or killing wild animals for sport, or even ridding ourselves of pests and parasites — we destroy an essential part of ourselves. When we tamper with nature, by altering an organism’s genetic makeup to produce a new plant or animal, or bypass sexual reproduction through cloning or gene splicing, when we remove a species from or add a species to an ecosystem, we are interfering with a process that has evolved on its own, and which has taken us into account, for millions of years, and about which we know next to nothing. It ought to be a sobering thought that, when most of us encounter a bear in the forest, the bear knows more about us than we know about it.

I am not, however, a polemicist by nature. My inclination is simply to point out what we’re doing as a species, place that action in some kind of natural context, and occasionally ask why we persist in doing it. If the voice sometimes sounds plaintive, or incredulous, or impatient, well, that is often the voice of the essayist. An essay is a pearl that began with an irritating grain of sand.

close this panel

Nature of Coyotes

Voice of the Wilderness
edition:Hardcover
tagged :
More Info
Technology

Technology

A Groundwork Guide
by Wayne Grady
series edited by Jane Springer
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook
More Info
The Great Lakes

The Great Lakes

The Natural History of a Changing Region
by Wayne Grady
photographs by Bruce Litteljohn
illustrated by Emily Damstra
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover Paperback
More Info
Tree

Tree

A Life Story
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook Paperback
More Info
Up From Freedom
Excerpt

11.
He was sharpening an ax in the kitchen. Rachel had asked him to take it to the barn, but he said it was too cold and he was almost finished and he would clean it up when he was finished. She was dipping candles on the stove when they heard footsteps on the porch. Moody stood and went to the door: two runaways, a boy and a girl, threadbare clothes and no shoes. He had been wondering when something like this would happen. Rachel ushered them into the kitchen. The boy said they’d waited down by the creek until it was dark, and had come up when they saw light in the kitchen window. The boy was all right, a little muddied and cold, but the girl’s dark skin was pebbled and scabby around her nose and mouth, her hair like matted river weeds, and her eyes rimmed with green pus. The cold seemed to have kept her intact, but now that she was inside she was shivering herself apart.

Rachel inspected the girl and took her out to the barn with a pan of warm water and some soap and towels. Moody stayed in the kitchen with the boy, who was scared to death of Moody, possibly because he was still holding the ax. He kept looking to the window, maybe after the girl, maybe just out into the night. There was a bad smell in the room.

“How’d you get here?” Moody asked him, to pass the time.

“Follered de ribber,” he said.

“Where from?”

“Massa’s.” He pointed south.

“That your sister?”

He didn’t answer. He looked as though he didn’t understand the question.

“You hungry?” Moody asked.

No answer this time, either. Moody guessed he hadn’t taken it as an offer of food. He got up and put some fried catfish left from their supper on a plate and set it in front of the boy, who stared at it like he thought it might flip up and bite him if he touched it.

“Go ahead,” Moody said. “Watch out for bones.”

Carefully, the boy broke the white meat in half, shoved one piece into his mouth and set the other back on the plate. Then he sat back and looked at Moody while he chewed. Moody got up again and put another portion of fish on the plate along with a slice of crackling bread. The boy did the same with those, broke both in two, ate half and left the other for the girl.

“What’s your name?” Moody asked him.

Before he could not answer again, Rachel came in with the empty pan. “Julius,” she said, “take that food out to your friend. We’ll be along in a minute.”

When the boy was gone, Rachel looked at Moody and he looked at her. She set the pan on the stove and poured more hot water into it. Moody remained seated at the table, letting her see how calm he was.

“How long have you been hiding runaways?” he asked her.

“Since we came here. Before that, really. My mother hid them in her boardinghouse in Huntsville.”

“Do you have some place you hide them?” he asked, thinking someone would be along shortly looking for them.

“Robert built a false wall in the back of the barn,” she said. “I haven’t put them in there yet, but I will.”

“We better tend to it now,” Moody said. “They don’t seem to have come from too far away.”

They went out to the barn, Rachel carrying the pan with more hot water and some fresh towels, Moody scanning the ridge above the road and wishing he had a rifle. His leg hurt. Dante and Beatrice, both stolid horses, looked up from their stalls and fluttered at them when they came in, expecting grain. Satan was in the fourth stall. There was no horse in the third stall, and that was where Rachel had put the two runaways. The girl looked less terrible than she had. She was sitting up eating. Rachel had washed her and given her a clean dress. Julius still looked terrified and Moody wondered if something wasn’t wrong with him after all, something less visible than whatever was wrong with the girl.

Rachel led Moody to the end stall. Satan looked mean, but she was in fact the gentlest of the three. Moody backed her out, and Rachel moved aside a piece of burlap that was nailed to the side wall, revealing a jagged hole about the size of a hand and looked like it had been kicked in by a demented horse. She reached through the hole, turned a wooden catch, and the wall slid open. Expert carpentry; no visible hinges or saw lines in the wood, weighted so it would slide quietly. Moody wouldn’t have seen it was a door even if he’d been looking for one. Behind it was a narrow space, no more than four feet wide, that ran along the width of the barn. He put the lantern through and saw a table at the far end with a jug of water and a few candles on it. Room for maybe ten people, if they didn’t fight. Rachel brought Julius and the girl.

“You’ll be safe in here,” she told them. “There’s good air and no light gets out. Stay until one of us fetches you, do you understand that?” The girl nodded. “You hear anything going on outside, horses or voices or anything, you just stay put. Not a peep, you got that?” She nodded again.

Rachel closed the door and replaced the burlap, and Moody put Satan back in the stall. The big animal seemed to take her role as guard horse seriously.

When they were in the house, Moody refilled the kettle to make tea. He’d have preferred whiskey, it might have helped the pain in his leg, but he’d told Rachel he didn’t drink, which was true because he didn’t have any. He felt virtuous. She sat at the table and rolled up her sleeves as though readying for a fight, but he wasn’t going to fight her.

“What’s wrong with the girl?” he asked.

“She’s fifteen and she’s had two babies already. Whoever owned her kept her in a cage and bred her like an animal. She doesn’t seem to have been given a name, Mr. Moody, not so much as a name. I don’t know what all’s wrong with her. Starvation. Parasites. Infection. She needs a doctor.”

“Where we going to find a doctor who will treat a slave?” he asked.

“They’re not slaves,” Rachel said. “We don’t recognize slavery as a human condition. They are children who are suffering.”

“Still,” he said, “where’re we going to find a doctor who will look at them?”

“I know of one in Huntsville. The same one I would have taken thee to if thy wound hadn’t healed.”

“That’s a day’s ride from here.”

“What do you suggest, Mr. Moody? That I send them on their way with her in that condition? You’ve seen her. She needs proper care.”

Moody reached across the table and took her hand. “How soon can we move them?” he said.
“She needs a day or two.”

“If anyone’s coming after them, they’ll be here before that. I don’t suppose you have anything here we can defend ourselves with?”

“We don’t defend ourselves. We have done nothing that requires defense.”

“I doubt they’ll see it that way,” he said.

 
12.
They came the next afternoon, a father, son and another man who had the surly look of an overseer. Moody caught the sun glinting off their buckles and heard their horses coming down off the ridge, and readied himself on the porch, keenly feeling the lack of a weapon. He suggested Rachel go inside, but all she did was take off her bonnet.

“At least let me do the talking,” he said.

They stood on the porch trying to look like two people receiving unexpected company.

“Huddy,” the older man, the father, said.

“’Day,” Moody answered. “What brings you boys up here?”

“We’re just out huntin’,” the man said. “Followed some tracks up the crick.”

“Oh?”

“Two of them. They stop just here.”

“What kind of tracks were they,” Moody asked, “this time of year?”

The man looked at Moody as though wondering if he were new to the Earth. “You’re Robert Tanner, ain’t you?” he said.

“No,” Moody said. “Name’s Moody.”

“I heard your name was Tanner and you hide runaways.”

“You heard wrong, then. There’s no one named Robert Tanner living on this farm.”

Rachel gave a kind of grunt beside him, but he hadn’t told a lie and he kept his eyes on the men. The son was short with a large head, hair cropped close to his scalp. His ears stuck out and he didn’t seem to have any eyebrows. He grinned all the time, as if looking forward to doing something he loved doing. He reminded Moody of men he’d known in the militia, the kind they were sorry they had to unleash on the enemy, but they did. The one Moody thought was the overseer had an old muzzle loader sitting crossways on his lap and he kept his right finger on the trigger. To shoot, he’d have to raise the barrel over his horse’s head, which would give Moody a few seconds. To do what?

“My name’s Judd,” the father said, raising his eyebrows. “Silas Judd. This here’s my boy, J.J., and that there’s Sam Lerner, my overseer.”

“’Afternoon to you all. There’s no slaves here, Judd, neither yours nor ours. I come from Texas,” he said. “I know how much trouble runaways can be.”

“They surely can,” Judd said. “Fun to hunt, though, ain’t they?” He turned to his son, laughing. “Well, I guess that nigger we whipped was wrong, we’ll have to whip him again. He said you was Quakers and you helped a lot of my runaways.” He looked speculatively at Rachel. “Mind if we look in your barn, ma’am?”

“I surely do mind,” said Moody. “That would be the same as calling me a liar.”

“They might have snuck in there in the night.”

The son made a noise that sounded like air escaping from a bloated cow. He got off his horse and walked to the barn. Moody contrived to look unconcerned. Judd looked unsure, as though he could stop the lad if he wanted to but didn’t want to embarrass him in front of the others. He must have been losing a lot of slaves to be placing such a large bet on these two.

“J.J. has something wrong in his head,” Judd said, touching his hat. “But sometimes he’s right.”

The overseer thought it was his turn to speak up.

“We just want the buck,” he said. “J.J.’s done with the female.”

Moody looked calmly over to him. There were just two of them now, the father and the overseer, both waiting for something to happen. He could see Lerner gauging the distance between himself and Moody and how long it would take him to get his musket over his horse. Maybe too long. Maybe the ball had dropped out of it. He wouldn’t know about Moody’s bad leg; Moody himself didn’t know how fast he could move with it. The overseer yawned and Moody tensed. Yawning usually signaled a stupid move on the way.

Just then the boy came out of the barn alone, and the moment passed. He looked at his father and shrugged, which Moody took to mean he hadn’t found anything but wasn’t convinced there was nothing to find.

“Sorry to bother you, then,” said Judd. “We’ll be on our way.”

“If I see any slaves I’ll let you know. Where’s your place at?”

“Just up along,” he said, nodding back the way they’d come.

“We’re neighbors, then,” Moody said.

“Yep,” said Judd, turning his horse. “We’ll be seeing a lot of each other. Come on, boys.”

Moody and Rachel watched them ride off. Only J.J. looked back, like a child being pulled away from a carnival.

close this panel
Dark Waters Dancing to a Breeze

Dark Waters Dancing to a Breeze

A Literary Companion to Rivers and Lakes
edited by Wayne Grady
edition:Hardcover
More Info
Deserts

Deserts

A Literary Companion
edited by Wayne Grady
edition:Hardcover
tagged : essays, deserts
More Info
Sea, The

Sea, The

A Literary Companion
edited by Wayne Grady
edition:Hardcover
More Info
The Quebec Anthology

The Quebec Anthology

1830-1990
edition:eBook
tagged : canadian
More Info
Where the Silence Rings

Where the Silence Rings

A Literary Companion to Mountains
edited by Wayne Grady
edition:Hardcover
More Info
A Very Bold Leap
Excerpt

1
 
 
The fist came down hard on the tabletop. A cup bounced out of its saucer and landed upside down, sending a ribbon of coffee almost to the fist, which seemed easily capable of splitting a log of firewood in half.
 
Lucie moved towards Fernand with her hands up as though to ward off a blow. Red in the face and trembling, the hardware-store owner was staring at Parfait Michaud, who was sitting across the table from him. Fernand looked as though he wanted to quarter the notary like a side of beef.
 
"So it was you and you alone who put this stupid idea into his head!" he bellowed. "Don't you realize that a seventeen-year-old can't make good decisions yet, you nitwit!"
 
"Fernand, calm down," Lucie begged her husband, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. "You're going to give yourself a heart attack."
 
"Not him," said the notary. "He's far too tough for that. I'm the one who's at risk of a heart attack." He stood up. "And so, to avoid anything irreparable happening and to remove myself from harm's way, please allow me to get a breath of fresh air."
 
"Sit down!" thundered Fernand. "I'm not finished talking to you!"
 
And he berated the notary without let or interruption for the next eighteen minutes, a time that to the notary, sitting quietly with his hands folded on his lap, seemed an eternity. When Michaud left, Fernand waited for Charles, whom he had called home from Blonblon's, then took him into the living room, closed the door, and demanded that the young man recant his decision. As might have been expected, Charles dug in his heels, insisting that it was his life and he didn't have to account for his actions to anyone. At which the hardware-store owner gathered his brows into a fearsome scowl, raised his voice to thunderstorm pitch, and brought his massive clenched fist down again, this time on the television set, which gave a sudden flash of alarm and went forever blank. Charles walked out of the room without saying another word.
 
But that was hardly the end of it.
 
That night, as they were getting into bed, Fernand said to Lucie, "If I ever run into that goddamned Balzac, I'm going to wring his neck for him . . . like this!"
 
He made a primitive and brutal twisting motion with his hands.
 
"In the meantime, that's exactly what I should do to that bloody Michaud. This is all his fault. I hope his legs snap in two and he chokes on his teaspoon! It's clear to me now, but it's too late: that man is a bad influence on the young."
 
Lucie had long ago learned that it was no good arguing with her husband when he was in such a state. It usually took a few hours for him to return to his normal, affable self. This time, however, the anger seemed to run deeper than usual. Five days later, he was still fuming. He no longer flared up in wild rages; his anger hardened like a block of concrete, grey, crushing, and immutable. He passed Charles in the house without seeing him and never replied to his questions, which soon became fewer and fewer. He occasionally let on that he would be willing to speak to the young man, by the odd gloomy, unhopeful glance, but as a matter of principle and also from spite, he would not allow himself to actually speak.
 
It was already well into September, and Charles still refused to register at the Cegep. He had decided to give up his studies . . . to become a writer! Instead of going on to junior college, he was looking for a job that would give him enough time to write – and an apartment where he could work in the solitude that, as everyone knew, was essential to an artist.
 
It was reading Balzac's The Human Comedy that had unleashed this earthquake within him and changed his life. After finishing the epic he had devoured two or three biographies of the author and realized that, in many ways, he and Balzac shared similar childhoods, that their temperaments were very much alike, and that their tastes were almost identical. The same passion for literature burned within them. Like his illustrious predecessor, Charles therefore had chosen a career in letters; Balzac had masterfully depicted French society as it had existed in his day; Charles's mission, then, would be to immortalize contemporary Quebec. Fernand, Lucie, Blonblon, Steve, and even Céline all voiced their concerns, their fears, and their objections to his plan. But a voice whispered to Charles that they were all wrong.
 
 
On the 7th of October 1984, at ten o'clock in the morning, after three days of intense reflection, Charles presented himself at the Post Office on Peel Street to apply for the position of mailman. It was the one job above all others that perfectly married his need to make a living with the demands of literary creativity: he would start delivering mail at the crack of dawn and be free by two o'clock in the afternoon to devote the rest of the day and his entire evening to writing. He was directed to a tall, thin, ancient-looking man with shiny black sleeves and a nose as sharp as a knife, who spoke softly and slowly and smiled at the slightest provocation.
 
"And you are completely bilingual, my young friend?" he asked with fatherly concern after reading over Charles's application.
 
"Um, I get by pretty well," Charles replied, feeling slightly ill at ease.
 
Régis Royal switched to English, and after a few minutes of exploring the depths of his interlocutor's knowledge of the language, seemed satisfied. He scribbled something into a notebook.
 
"You see," he said apologetically, "I have to satisfy myself as to your abilities in English because of the new law that has just passed, the Official Languages Act. All employees of the federal government must be bilingual, especially in Quebec."
 
Although a number of responses occurred to Charles, some of them caustic, he voiced none of them. He desperately wanted the job. Régis Royal asked him a few more innocuous questions, then rose to his feet, indicating that the interview was over.
 
"Do you think I have any chance of being accepted?" Charles asked as they shook hands.
 
"If it was up to me you'd start tomorrow, my boy. But your application has to be sent to the Evaluation Board, and from there to the Security Assessment Office, and then on to the Regional Employment Subcommittee. But if I were you I'd be hopeful."
 
Charles shook the man's hand again, nodded his head once, and left the office, vaguely unhappy with himself despite the clerk's encouraging words.
 
Fernand greeted the news with a sneer.
 
"Delivering mail for the Queen of England," he said. "I'd blush right down to my ass, if it was me, doing that kind of work. When I think that it's hardly been two years since that bastard Trudeau repatriated the Constitution, shitting in the face of every Québécois in the process and proud of it, too . . . and now here you are wanting to work for that lot!"
 
Lucie tried to tell Fernand that a mailman's job was an honourable and useful one, and that Fernand himself was happy enough to get his mail every day, but the hardware-store owner remained steadfast in his condemnation.
 
While continuing with his search for employment, Charles decided to imitate the young Balzac by trying his hand at writing adventure novels. He bought two used dictionaries, borrowed a book on grammar from Céline, and began spending hours on end in his room, revising his "preparatory notes" (he had become methodical as he'd grown older) and drinking vast quantities of coffee, à la Balzac. But the combination of Fernand's continued resentful silence, Henri's ridicule, and above all the humiliation of living at the expense of a man who disapproved so profoundly of his decision pushed Charles into leaving the Fafard household even before he heard whether or not he had succeeded in landing a job.
 
If he was careful with every penny, he might be able to make his savings last three or four months. Without a word to anyone, he began looking for an apartment, and soon found a suitable one on rue Rachel, not a dozen doors from the apartment once inhabited by the Blond Angel, in a quaint but somewhat rundown building whose wooden roof moulding seemed poised to end its long career on the sidewalk. Three and a half rooms, not in great condition but huge, situated above a grocery store that had recently closed down. Another apartment of similar dimensions on the same floor was already rented. The bathtub was streaked with rust stains, the kitchen door didn't close all the way because of a curious hump in the floor, and all the window-sills were rotten, but the rent – eighty dollars a month – was low enough to make him overlook such inconveniences. The bedroom window looked out onto a small, quiet yard in which a large, skeletal dog slept beside a rusted-out fifty-gallon drum.
 
"This is where I'll put my work table," he said to himself, rubbing his hands with satisfaction.
 
Boff, who'd been brought along for a visit, sniffed everything warily, suspicious of this and that. Age had rendered him resistant to any change in his daily routine. Céline thought the apartment was wonderful, and proved it by inviting Charles to make love on a piece of old carpet in one of the rooms.
 
That night, at dinner, Charles announced that he was moving out in two days. Lucie turned red and had to leave the table to fetch a handkerchief. Fernand, on the other hand, confined himself to a deep sigh and a shrug of his shoulders, whereas Henri, acting as though the news were no big deal, questioned Charles about his new digs.
 
The next day Charles scoured rue Ontario for any articles of furniture he could afford; the street was lined with pawnshops and second-hand furniture stores, and three hours and three hundred dollars later he had bought everything he needed. Towards the end of the afternoon, a friend of Steve's pulled up in a pickup truck with a refrigerator that his wife wanted to get rid of because it was turning yellow; he wanted twenty-five dollars for it, including delivery, but, charmed by Charles's obvious delight and good manners, knocked five dollars off the price. Blonblon, taking on the role of organizing Charles's cultural agenda, turned up with a reading lamp on a stand and a cassette tape player that his father was getting rid of because he had acquired the newest miracle of the digital age: a compact disc player. The fact that the grocery store beneath Charles was empty bothered Blonblon. Had Charles seen any cockroaches in the apartment?
 
"Not a one! And if I do see any, I'll make short work of them."
 
Henri also arrived, drawn by curiosity, and found his sister cleaning the kitchen cupboards, the bottoms of which had been protected from all contact with the air for many years by shelf liners that also resisted stains from deepfryer fat. The apartment pleased him: he envied Charles and told him so, then gallantly set to work helping Céline scrub the cupboards, while Isabel filled a bucket with hot water and began washing the bedroom floor, on which a large variety of strange happenings seemed to have taken place. While all this was going on, Charles, Steve, and Blonblon carried out armloads of debris and useless junk left behind by the former tenant, then swept the rooms and arranged Charles's furniture, hanging a sheet over the window as a curtain until Charles was able to buy a real one. All the activity sharpened their appetites.
 
"Isn't it about time for a housewarming party?" Henri asked.
 
"Damn right!" Steve put in. "My stomach's rumbling."
 
Charles hadn't yet sprung for a telephone, and so the four young men went out in search of beer and pizzas. While they were gone, Céline discovered an old electric coffee maker in the back of a closet under a pile of cushions. After dusting it off and washing it, she found it worked perfectly.
 
"I'll have my own coffee maker, just like Balzac!" exclaimed Charles when he returned.
 
By eight o'clock, nothing remained of the two giant pizzas carried triumphantly back to the apartment but a few crumbs, and on the counter a dozen empty beer bottles were lined up.
 
"I would have invited your parents," Charles whispered into Céline's ear, "but I know what kind of answer your father would have given me."
 
"Give him a few weeks, Charles," she said. "You know Papa has too big a heart to stay mad at you for long. This morning he could hardly stop himself from coming over to see your apartment."
 
At ten the group decided to walk downtown to shake off the fogginess that now affected them. Their legs were rubbery, but they laughed a lot among themselves and said whatever came into their heads. Steve nearly frightened an old woman out of her wits by hopping along the sidewalk like a frog. Overtaken by a sudden fit of charity and sentimentality, Blonblon tried to drag Charles right then and there to confront Fernand Fafard and reconcile their differences in one great, emotional scene; Charles scoffed at the idea, and then suddenly became furious. Céline and Steve had to hold him back, as he was threatening to kick his friend's ass around the block. Peace was restored. Ashamed of himself, Charles apologized to Blonblon, blaming his outburst on the beer, which always had a bad effect on him and which, standing in the middle of the sidewalk, he swore he would never touch again. It was late. Time to go home. Céline put her arms around the repentant drunkard.
 
"See you tomorrow, tough guy," she murmured tenderly, kissing him on the cheek in front of the dusty window of the abandoned grocery store. Weakly lit by a nearby streetlamp, the store's emptiness made the night seem all the more desolate.

close this panel
Available Light

Available Light

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged : essays
More Info
Good Death, A

Good Death, A

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : literary
More Info
Heading South

Heading South

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : literary
More Info
Obomsawin of Sioux Junction

Obomsawin of Sioux Junction

edition:eBook
tagged : literary
More Info
October 1970

October 1970

A Novel
by Louis Hamelin
translated by Wayne Grady
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Return from Africa

Return from Africa

edition:Paperback
tagged :
More Info
The Accidental Education of Jerome Lupien
Excerpt

After taking a stab at political science and then psychology, Jerome Lupien finally found his true calling as a man of letters; he enrolled in French Literature at the Université de Montréal, and earned a B.A. that let him imagine a career in teaching, journalism, publishing, or some other related field. Upon graduating, he decided to reward himself for the remarkable feat of his having combined university studies with part-time work as a waiter in an Old Montreal café by taking a year off — the first several weeks of which he spent sleeping, living the good life, and windsurfing. He planned to top off his sabbatical year with a long hitchhiking trip through South America.

Then, towards midsummer, his uncle Raoul, who had become a partial invalid, gave Jerome his hunting equipment. As an adolescent, Jerome had gone on dozens of hunting trips with his uncle, so he was fairly familiar with guns — which, to his father, were an abomination. Jerome’s memories of those trips were filled with marvels that passing time had embellished. So, one afternoon, handling the rifles and carbines his uncle had sent him and seeing how assiduously oiled and polished they were, he was so moved that tears came to his eyes. A hunger for the hunt took hold of him and held on unrelentingly; come the night, he dreamed of going on safaris in shadowy forests in which he came face to face with herds of deer, moose, or caribou, which he would slaughter in a terrifying burst of gunfire, half blinded by the clouds of acrid smoke that made him cough and laugh at the same time.

He dedicated a weekend to courses — “Arms Management” and “An Introduction to Hunting” — in order to get his permit, which he received a month later. Yet, even with it, he felt he needed to have someone experienced with him on his first adult foray into the woods. And so, in early October, he’d surfed the Internet to look for a hunting guide, came up with Donat Pimparé, and the business was settled in no time.

It was Pimparé who suggested they get themselves to Maniwaki.

“I know it’s a bit far,” Pimparé had said, “and sure, there’ll be some expenses, but in the past five or six years I’ve found no better place for big game. I’ve never led a hunting party up there that hasn’t come back with an animal. If you don’t wanna come home empty-handed, pal, then Maniwaki’s the place to go.”

Fifty-eight-year-old Pimparé lived in Sorel and had accumulated a lot of experience as a guide. And since Jerome, two months earlier, had totalled his beloved Mazda in an accident from which he, fortunately, had escaped unharmed — other than three demerit points off his driver’s licence — Pimparé offered to drive them both up to Maniwaki in his minivan.

“If we get a moose that’s too big for the van,” he joked, “you can come back by bus.”

Which was what he would have to do, apparently. But without the moose.

close this panel
The Angel's Jig

The Angel's Jig

edition:eBook
More Info
The Years of Fire

The Years of Fire

Charles the Bold, Volume 2
edition:Paperback
tagged :
More Info
Visions of Jude

Visions of Jude

A Novel
edition:Paperback
tagged : literary
More Info
La Sagouine

La Sagouine

by Antonine Maillet
translated with commentary by Wayne Grady
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary
More Info
Show editions
close this panel

This author has been listed 1 time

User Activity

more >
X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...