I picture a fine, interwoven web that begins and ends inside of a spider. The spider begins and ends in a web of life that has no beginning or end because it is a circle. Our social and blood relationships are intertwined webs, beginning and ending in each of us, who in turn begin and end in webs of life.
To our simple minds, a circle is a mystery – we can’t find its beginning or end. Circles don’t stretch out across the land the way straight lines do, pinning down the riot of life running over it. The circle curls up into itself and spreads out, getting in the way of our complicated systems: electrical grids, roads and bridges, telecommunications lines – strung out above and below the earth. Our straight lines are as hard and flat as a sheet of glass pressed down onto this mystery and disturbance; freezing in place the tracks of wild animals weaving through forests, running through backyards in the middle of the night; stopping in mid-air all the wings riding the wind above our houses at dusk. We would pin it all down.
This is the place we call Canada, but this place sees Canada and laughs. The very idea. As if. This place stretches out endlessly, and I am small in it and can’t see the beginning or the end. We have drawn our lines, but we’re lost inside the circle. It’s outside of our outer world, beyond our imagination. It makes up the sky that holds our sky; all our rivers and oceans flow within its firmament of waves. It keeps on spreading out every time we think we’ve touched it and takes us further into the wild.
If I step into it, where will it push me, what will it tell me about what’s out there, past the yard and street, past the street lights and highway? How can I travel to where the wind lives? In spring, the birds arrive here on the wind from their wintering places. As the air warms, I open the window a crevice and hear the chimes being played by the wind, translating its silent language into a song. It is a constant connection to life outside this place we call Canada. The wind wears away its edges until Canada becomes thin and frayed, letting in the wider place where even stones scattered on the ground are alive.
My house has windows against the wind. Through glass, I take in the light and watch wind move the trees, scatter the leaves and push open people’s coats as they walk by. Where does it come from? How long has it been singing in the sky? How do you start a fire without the wind? If I step into it, where will it push me, what will it tell me about what’s out there, past the yard and the street, past the street lights and highway? How can I travel to where the wind lives? In spring, the birds arrive here on the wind from their wintering places. As the air warms, I open the window a crevice and hear the chime being played by the wind, translating its silent language into a song. It is a constant connection to life on the outside.