The Forks


There’s a quiet place where the Assiniboine meets the Red, a place for basking in moonglow, a place for wondering in starlight.

It’s the place where a Cree maiden fell in love with a Salteaux beau, even though their tribes lived far apart.

It’s called The Forks.

I used to live in a big apartment in a huge building with a round revolving restaurant on top. My patio on the 20th floor offered a view overlooking The Forks. Moonglow and starlight visited me there.

By day it was different, a busy place where taxis ran the street below, delivering people to the covered entrance.

But by night it was magic, where the moon crossed the southern sky, the northern lights danced, and stars by the millions came out.

Down below was that quiet place where the Assiniboine joins the Red, where together they flow north.

Few rivers flow north in North America. Most of the easterly rivers flow south toward the Gulf of Mexico, but the Red and other northern Manitoba rivers flow north toward Hudson Bay.

The Cree maiden came from the west on the Assiniboine; the Salteaux beau came from the north.

They sat beneath a stand of pine, shielded from view by branches. Looking up they saw, through the pine needles, stars blinking and the moon well on its way to dawn.

Old Upper Fort Garry still stands there, a stark reminder of the 1850s fur trade. Just a bit of wall, mind you, but a lot of memories preserved by plaques on stones and riverbank walkways.

The name of the building where I lived was Fort Garry Place, looking down on the confluence that opened western Canada.

My tenancy there was hugely interrupted by the death of Diane, my wife of 38 years. When we came back from Guatemala where she died, the aoartment where she and I had hosted family dinners and many parties for friends became a desolate emptiness.

No longer could I see that couple beneath the pine trees. No longer could I see the moon and stars. No longer could I live there. I left the apartment to be cleaned out by my daughters and went to California. I had to start a new life.

It didn’t take long for me to find the stars again, but now they danced in reflections on the Pacific. Moonglow I found on the beach at night.

Now I’m back in Manitoba, my home.

This is where the Northern Lights will snatch my spirit from Planet Earth and carry it to the universe, where I’ll join my ancestors.

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