My Sense of Belonging

*Looking at the question of where I find a sense of Belonging – my February AJ

I grew up on Diefenbaker Lake before anyone traveled there on purpose. My parents built their cabin – the loft of a barn they had moved from 200 miles south of Moose Jaw to their lot by the lake. Their place was the third cabin: a red bump on a bald prairie. To the northwest, there lived a line of water.

I loved that water. School was hard. Well, not the work, but the sitting, and the assignments, and the ridiculousness of friends, or at least at times.

I loved the lake. I was never inside. There was a deep water pond down from our cabin. In late Summer, when the water came from the mountains, the shoreline would disappear, and the Summer-people would pull pretend sailboats into the pond.

In the other months, though, that pond was beaver and frog, deer and Harron, Mallard and Black Bird, Willow and Wind. And wind. I made tunnels in the Wolf Willow, sometimes frightening myself, lost so in the depth of shadow and earth.

Dad let me work to earn a motor cross bike long before I had any business having such a bike. I built jumps and trails in the roots of the giant Cottonwoods near the pond. There I raced until I needed more room, more space, and more freedom.

Jessy Lee first learned to toboggan on the hills near the pond. My last walk with Dad was around the old trails, stopping to talk to the poplars, hands on the bark. Our faces in the wind.

I have a deep sense of all the lessons the pond taught me. I feel it every time I walk on the prairie, turning my face to the wind. Dad would like that. That sense of belonging that the pond gave me, I have learned to take it with me.

The morning I helped mom pack the cabin, I awoke before dawn. People come to the lake all the time now; that has changed. I walked the old trails. A bench overlooks the long line of light, that line of water. Dad built it so he and mom could sit under the Cottonwoods with the Wind.

That morning I sat on the bench, and I knew.

I belong.

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