Wednesday, February 11, 2009

September 20: Back filled with quills

I saw two couples at river right. Fishing or just sitting? There appeared to be a rod. Hutterites, I thought. The girl, Pamela, at the Portage la Prairie art gallery had suggested I try to meet some.

Hutterites are communal anabaptists, like Old Order Mennonites and Amish. Living by the second chapter of Acts, they renounce violence, hold all things communally in their colonies, and carefully manage the technology in their lives. Cell phones are in; televisions are out.

I have seen them around, visiting Calgary or the small towns I've stopped in, but had not met any. The mean wear dark clothes, but the women can wear colorful patterns in medium blue or red.

I waved uncertainly to them, but noticed no response. As I got closer, I called out to them, "Hello, are you fishing?"

They were. They called out to me that I was about to hit their lines, transparently winding down into the water. I just missed them and then I briefly explained about my trip, what I was up to, where I came from, and where I was going.

It was difficult yelling at each other over the wind, over the water, over the accents. One of the rambunctious women called out as I drifted away. Whether encouragement or invitation I couldn't know. I just smiled at her until they were gone, behind the curve of the river.

Something didn't sit right with me. It wasn't much of a conversation and I had any number of things to ask them about their culture, had I the opportunity. This business of trying to shout at people over the water didn't seem like any way to meet anyone. If I had pulled over the canoe, got out and tried to strike up a conversation, what's the worst that might have happened? I should try to talk to everyone I see. There aren't too many, and mostly on weekends.

Not half an hour further down a white-haired man fished with three grandsons. "Don't forget the worms!" one shouted, waking me from the book I was reading. But I didn't go talk to them.

I found an unexpectedly sandy beach somewhere after the Transcanada Highway, so excitedly set up my tent on the clean shore. A porcupine fed in the grass nearby, a spiky monkey pulling down plants with its paws to chew on the leaves.

He was the only animal that did not bother to run away from me, and I wondered how close I could get, and how useful it would be on occasion to have quills on my own back.

Day 91 ended: 49*58.902N, 098*05.547W

1 comment:

John said...

I know a shunned Hutterite from Paraguay who's deaf but doesn't let it get in the way; works his own construction business and plays soccer.