The Stone God
Updated: Mar 29
The worm moon is shining tonight.
The ice is going off the lakes and the birds are filling the air with sound.
Devil's Rock, the towering cliff that dominates Lake Temiskaming, cuts a sharp profile against the deep blue of the new spring sky.
The ancient face juts out from the rock as it has from the time when the Algonquin people first came to this land so many thousands of years ago.
It's a chief's face with a strong nose and stony brow, which glares out into the vast space which arches over the five miles of lake.
You cannot help but to feel cowed by those immortal features, and wonder about the viewpoint that such a being would have regarding all that it has seen.
The cliff face has been there a couple of two million years, so it is hypothecized, and so the old stone chief has seen it all, from dinosaurs that walked a land that no longer even remains, having been carved away by the glaciers, to the multi-tenacled sea creatures that swam by during the times of ancient seas that covered the land before the glaciers.
At one point, so the Algonquin legends go, there was another primate creature that lived on and within the crevices around the Devil's Rock.
Would a mountainous god of legendary age and wisdom not enjoy taking some similarly unusual creature into its embrace?
Of course it seems right that they would go hand in hand in the legends of the people who inhabited the region from the time the glaciers last departed 10,000 years ago.
The legends of the Algonquin people wound into beautiful stories which had pulled together the many threads of truth and natural insights about the land and the regions beyond.
The Northern Lights, they said, were the spray of the great waves of the ocean far to the north where the white bear roamed.
The insights into the land and its ways were taught from the earliest age and continued to build on through the life of individuals, enhanced by other wisdoms picked up and shared amongst those who lived and worked together.
The region went through many different phases. Land tipped with the receding of the glaciers, and pictographs that were painted a few feet above the surface of the water were eventually found a couple of dozen feet above water. Other pictographs would be sunk on other shores. The land has been forever changing.
Nature can be mysterious, but the sharing of knowledge amongst people helped to connect the picture of a region laced by lakes and streams and protected by rocks and towering trees, or enhanced by clear views up and down the lake where a summer home would be established.
The wild god of this land can still be felt in the uninhabited places where waves crash and whip up into white caps, and rocks fall by an unknown hand.
The beauty of these places is so bright that it almost blinds you, searing your sense of civilization into non-existence, and leaving you racing the roaring wind as you paddle desperately to the sheltering shore.
As quickly as you can turn a boat to provide safety, the pelting rain will drive in, soaking any portion of your body that has not found cover.
Only the strongest, boldest and most wise are welcome in this wild land.
The stony gaze of the old chief never flinches all the while. Those who pass will know his presence briefly, and he will eternally remember ours.