We made a remarkable connection in Brule, part of the grace that seems to accompany us everywhere. Maureen, our fearless coordinator, found the B&B way off the beaten path, down a country road to the lovely hamlet sitting above the Athabasca River. There was access through gates and a barbed wire fence, through woods and across a meadow, over the incredibly busy railroad tracks. We lingered all afternoon along the river, ending with four of us sitting on a log meditating.
The B&B is owned by two musicians, Laura Vinson and her husband Dave. The connection here, without planning it, was not only to some of the history of the Metis people in this region, but to other connections with the state of the river long before the tar sands. As Maureen posted, the fracking alone is changing the waters and the landscape – and not in good ways. But the grace was in meeting these remarkable people, and because of that having a much richer and deeper understanding of the ways in which Alberta has been put to the service of the extraction industries – oil, coal, and gas. It is being served up as a sacrifice to the gods of our industrial culture. If you allow yourself to really take it in, you can hardly believe we humans have become so disconnected from our ecological whole, that in which we live and move and have our being, that we could allow this to continue.
And the grace continues. Where we are now – this was not an easy find. The Little Lodge on the Lake is a little house on someone’s lake property nestled in the woods about 30 kms west of the town of Athabasca. Last night, we slept under brilliant starlight to the cries of loons and the wind in the poplar trees. We all slept deeply.
Tomorrow we drive to Ft. McMurray, some 4 hours from here. There is a little anxiety settling in about what this experience will be. We breathe deeply, because there what we breathe will not be good for us. We will arrive in Mordor, or Dante’s Inferno, and see what it is in our human ingenuity we have devised to wrest more and more ancient goo from Mother Earth for us to burn to fuel our way of life, our expanding global economy.
So, stay tuned. We will have stories to share…