Saturday, November 1, 2008

Day 82: The Real Thing

A sign at river left had the words "Punch-Bowl" carved into its wood and painted yellow. This confused me because I had written in my journal the previous afternoon that I was certain I'd found the devil's punch-bowl written on my map. No small, thing, because I had been desperate to find it. I had recently spent much of a day bushwacking about the bank trying to catch a glimpse of Fort Assiniboine or Brandon House, only to later determine that the large clearing and building at river right had been at least one of these. My map had placed both at left. It isn't that the map is false or lying, it is probably simply aimed at placing these things in the right block of roads rather than on the correct side of the river. The map's truth may not be mine but it provides leads to finding interesting things, and I imagine some of the things I find are even better than the real thing.

Back to the present. Here there was a wood staircase leading up the bank -- it clearly could not lead back to the spectacle I had just left because I'd hiked around it in the morning, and those trails, more popular with moose than humans, had nearly trapped me in a blanket of plants bearing bright red leaves of three and white berries.

I walked up the stairs and down the dirt paths blinded by a book I was reading, "The Real Thing" by Tom Stoppard, a devilish clever playwright who here proves himself by making the leading characters actors as well. He weaves together scenes from the shows they're acting with the one you're watching to explore the nature of jealousy and fidelity, and so there are moments when the "reality" of the scene is uncertain.

I saw little but my bare feet were happy experiencing the different textures of boardwalks and beaten paths, until I had to open my eyes as we descended down by a couple of blue-green pools.
Now I found the devil's punch-bowl, the real one, though still at river left rather than the map's right. It was another blue-green pool nestled in a wooded valley.

I have since seen photos of the place 100 years ago, and here is a case where natural changes obsolesce man's names. Then, it was a huge sand crater, treeless, perfectly round, with strange waters. It deserved the name. The spring water is cyan and warm, it never freezes but supposedly moves "eerily" all year round. I did not notice any unusual movement, but it may have been being especially sneaky while I was present.

I liked mine better.

Day 82 ended: 49*41.897N, 099*14.227W

1 comment:

John said...

There is a practice among map data providers to add features to maps that don't exist, impossible errors "watermarking" the cartography as theirs for legal reasons. For a while, there was a town called Sandridge reported a mere 5 miles from my hometown. I believe it doesn't exist, a watermark of NavTech, although some family members sometimes maintain otherwise.