Guest Blog by Kat Hartwig: A Special Place

There is a small lake, a spring fed pond actually, in the woods about a ten minute walk from my place. I walk there with the dogs and sometimes, when I win at persuasion, my head-strong daughters come too. If you take the path I usually follow, you walk along old skid trails through a dense and twisted fir forest and encounter the lake almost suddenly. It appears as if by magic with shimmering turquoise blue in stunning contrast to the surround dense forest. This small spring fed, oasis like pond is open year round. People say that it was a preferred camping spot for the Ktunaxa who travelled up and down the valley. Middens and teepee rings discovered in the vicinity seem to confirm a long history of use.

Sometimes, on the hottest summer days, I come with the girls and we double dare each other to jump in, which itself a trying feat. The pond offers no easy way to get in. Its banks angle steeply and if you try to step in, tentatively, you sink waist deep in muddy silt which makes even the hardiest squeal with disgust. The double dare includes “whole head under” which pretty much guarantees forehead freeze, invoking similar pain to that of an ice slurpee swallowed too quickly. We each take our turn jumping in while the other judges and validates whether or not heads were fully submerged. The ice water is too cold for screams we can only offer a brief gasp before the frantic scramble out.

In the fall the lake’s calm surface reflects the contrasting colours of the leaves from birch trees that surround the pond – the only deciduous trees in the area. I sit for long minutes at the bank and watching the colours meld together on the surface. I can’t help but wonder if the pond’s calm serenity is capable of offering up Arthur’ sword.

Winter visits are my favourite. I sit on a log at the pond’s edge and imagine what it might have been like hundred’s or even thousands of years ago when the Ktunaxa people camped here on their way through. I imagine the smell of wood smoke and the scent of cooking food. The chattering of the people and of the nearby jays. I wonder if they felt the same gratitude for this special place above the headwaters of the Columbia River.

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