Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I see pictures in my mind...

Three teenage boys in a small fishing boat. The boat lies lengthwise along the face of a cliff. The boys are reclining, backs against the rock, feet on the outer gunnel of the boat. All three boys sport a fishing rod and are lazily bouncing minnows on the bottom of the lake. A stringer of fish runs out and away from the boat like a roiling column of black smoke. There are too many fish to count. The sky is blue. The cooler is full of cold drinks. Life is good.

* * *

A lone figure trudges across a frozen fjord to the base of a medium-sized iceberg. He carries a fire axe in one hand and a cardboard box in the other. The man walks directly to the centre of the inner face of the berg. He has been told that here the ice is, in all probability, millions of years old. It is as clean and unpolluted as anything on this earth. Listening to the wind for a few moments, the man then begins to swing his axe. In no time at all the box is filled with ice. He throws the axe on top and begins the trek back to the base.

He is a weatherman, and this is the weather station known as Eureka. It is situated on the southern tip of Ellesmere island, the northernmost island in the Arctic Archipelago.

The iceberg ran aground prior to freeze-up. It is positioned in the fjord halfway between Ellesmere and Axel-Heiberg islands.

When added to a glass of Canadian Whiskey, the ice makes a drink so fine it makes his heart swell in his chest.

And now the memories begin to flood together...

The elderly couple met during a champagne breakfast on a Ward Air flight to Florida. Their warm invitation to join them at their home in Fort Meyers, a visit he never makes because a storm drives him into a Ramada Inn just outside Orlando, and he spends the next few days getting to know a wonderful troupe of Canadian women whose band is named Garbo. Their talent and versatility leaves him with an appreciation for the saxaphone. And what about those evening shuttle flights from Toronto where he meets such people as the inventor of the computerized scanning system now used by all major railways and that replaced the caboose, and Bobby Hull, the great Canadian hockey player? Or the time he loses his job, his apartment, his girl friend and, in a few short days from then, his car? But at this moment, halfway between his current world and the world of his past, he is stopped in his tracks. A work crew is struggling to remove a boulder the size of a house—a blasting session gone wrong. It's a beautiful summer day. He has old-time Rock 'n Roll playing on the car stereo and has nothing at all to do but think. So he does... And then he begins to write: poems, observations, descriptive scenes. It all goes into a journal, quickly turning a terrible day into a useful one.

And here he is, today, twenty years later,
using some of those words to share with you. Go figure!

Copyright © 2009 Clayton Clifford Bye

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll probably like my anthology of travel-based articles, The Contrary Canadian, by C. C. Bye.

It's on sale at:

www.claytonbye.com, XYZ Books, Alibris, Alibris uk, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Borders Marketplace, Chapters.indigo.ca, Biblio.com, Baker & Taylor, United Library Services Inc, Library Services Centre, Coutts Information Services, Whitehots, Alibris for Libraries


  1. Hey,I'm doing my blog rounds.

    ...and I am glad he did share this with us! :)
    This is very moving. I want to know what happened to "him".

    Thanks for sharing.

    By the way, I've posted my first attempt of a Teaser Tuesday - I went a bit mad -- posted two, and added few more sentences than I needed to. :)

    I'd love you take a peek.
    Sassy's TeaserSpeak to you soon -- Yahoo blocked my IM service for 12 hours when I had trouble getting in to chat to AR staff. *rolls eyes*

    Typical is one word I can come up with.


  2. Thanks Sassy,

    "His" story is told in bits and pieces in a number of my works: How To Get What You Want From Life is one, The Contrary Canadian is another, even my poem, Grace, tells part of the story.