Puffer’s Island at Night

Puffer’s Island at night has left me with treasured memories. How very fortunate I was to have known the island after dark, revealing all its secret stories to anyone who would stop and take them in.

On Puffer’s Island, quiet, whispering breezes barely touch the leaves and needles high above the grass and low brush. Night creatures venture their usual haunts, some hungry for prey, others seeking shelter as they nibble seeds or leaves.

This is my favourite time of night.

The Flats

I remember times on Puffer’s Island, just me, my Mom and Grandma. I would stretch one of the lounge chairs horizontally on the flats below the cottage, then lay back to stare at the huge panorama above. The sky was black. The stars were startling.

As I waited, the grand stretch of the Milky Way would reveal itself, becoming more dense and distinctive as my eyes grew their night vision, adjusting to the blackness — there were few lights in those days.

Floating across the smooth water music played, a voice, a laugh, or across the narrow bay, the glowing end of a burning cigarette would flare, someone taking a long draw.

Grandfather Frog in the Boathouse

Often a bullfrog would croak that deep two-toned call, impossible to understand, but you knew it was full of wisdom. The bullfrog was old and big; he lived in our boathouse, unafraid of boats or curious children wading in after him. We never caught him.

We called him Grandfather, and he would glide under the old and splintered timber crib, his head and big bulbous eyes staring out at us just beyond our fingertips. His continued presence each night, his grandfatherly advice (or so I imagined), perhaps a scold or two, was an embodiment of Puffer’s Island, of summer stars and the Milky Way streamed across the deep black sky; and, no doubt a testament of his endless patience with a child’s curiosity.

The Indian Rock

There were times, too, when I would follow the narrow path behind my Great Grandmother’s cabin, Puffer Island summer cabinmy flashlight’s beam leading the way up to the Indian Rock. I would run my hands across the ancient carvings, fish, half and quarter moons, ellipses hollowed out to grind ceremonial corn.

Giant red or white pines and cedar trees obscured the sky, let only a select few sparklers shine down through their limbs. An owl, prowling for dinner, would hoot from high in one tree, then another, a third, her short brief song echoing close, now far away, now silent but for the swoosh of wings to tell the story of the hunt.

Pine trees have their own song late at night in the dark, answering the vivid silence of fireflies, the clever sonar of bats, the midnight dreams of birds nestled close amongst the heavy branches.

Heat Lightning and the Aurora Borealis

Here, I would feel the temperature release its daytime heat, pulling moisture from the air to settle, changing the feel, the scent all around me. I squirmed in clothes quickly damp as I thought about, wondered the stories of ancient people who might have sat or kneeled exactly where I now lay, laughing, whispering secrets, pausing perhaps as they sensed my presence from the future.

Aurora Borealis I

Then I would roll on my stomach, chin resting on knuckles and watch the heat lightning across the rise on the north-east shore opposite, or the white shimmering streaks hinting at blue or green of the aurora borealis. A sky show either way, on a living screen broad and high, eerily silent, yet so alive.

How very fortunate I was to have known Puffer’s Island after dark, its secrets revealed to any who would stop and take them in.

See also:  Puffer’s Island



rantypants & snidbits: New words learned today

I learned two wonderful new words today…

rantypants || snidbits

— both self-explanatory, but not excessively so, since everyone knows pants don’t rant and bits do not snid; well… except that time in the fall — last September, I think — when bits became bites, the postman was annoyed and called the cops, who arrived amid sirens and rubber–laying screeches, pulled out their notebooks and began to snid the bits and their pieces together before making their arrest.

A slinky tom from the alley next door was hauled off to the clinker, but later released when 14 mice and one plump robin swore to his whereabouts elsewhere, murdering newborn rabbit kits.

The case cooled, the rantypants postman retired to his cottage in the Highlands and Tom began to hawk cat food on T.V., a big star with his own cage and personal appearances in the malls.


This entire rantypants snidbits was triggered by terribleminds.com, courtesy Chuck Wendig. (language alert)

The Chronology of Youth

Youth is a quality, not a matter of circumstance.
— Frank Lloyd Wright

An interesting thing, this youth business. It never seems to matter until you are passed it, submerged in middle age or beyond. But then, the oddest, vaguest expression is that of middle age, isn’t it?

Although we all understand middle age as referring to one’s late 30’s, 40’s or 50’s, life’s prime — who said that, I wonder? — you can never know that age until it’s all over, and you’re taking that last elevator ride from the ground floor, upward or down.

As you ride the express, you slouch against the back wall of the cage and sigh and smile and nod at all the other passengers. Then you say, ‘I know mine now… it was 38. Yours?’

Someone says, ‘40,’ another, ‘36,’ a third, ‘52.’ You seek out that one with admiration. Wow. Old enough, you think to yourself, to be your father, your grandfather.

Then a small voice to your left says, ‘four.’

Everyone looks away from that pain, the unfairness. The middle-age-ness of that voice renders any defining time of life as meaningless.

You study your fingernails. You shrug. You smile, weakly this time. ‘It’s an arbitrary chronology, like counting in order,’ you say. ‘My middle age might have been 38, but I didn’t get to my youth until my 60’s.’

‘Yeah,’ the man in the corner says amid the nods of understanding, all except Small Voice to your left.

She is silent.

I might add to F.L.W.’s quote: You have to live a long time — decades — before reaching your youth.