Nalcor returns to town
The return trip was going as well as Nalcor could have hoped.
The small flock of greater yellowlegs had lifted off the surface of the water, carrying behind them the little muskrat who was leaving his home in the swamp near the Big Cigar River to return once again to the capital city. The twisted reeds the birds had fashioned into towlines bore Nalcor ever upward until he was as high as the few scattered clouds dotting the blue autumn sky.
The little muskrat’s initial nervousness quickly turned to awe as he gazed down a great distance below him and observed the land and water spreading outward as far as his vision stretched. Being able to see such a wide expanse of landscape was something Nalcor had never before experienced.
Usually a muskrat’s point of view came from a spot the diameter of an eyeball above the surface of the water as he swam across one of the many swamps that made up the world known to him, or from the view underwater as he searched in ponds for food. Now, seen from this great height, the space below was so vast that the little muskrat was at first unable to take in the meaning of it.
Gradually though, studying the ragged coastline below, he began to make out features that he recognized. He had seen those same shapes on the map that hung on the wall in Mizkat’s kitchen. From the Internet, Nalcor had learned that the shapes on a map were simply a small picture of an enormous space. The forms on the sheet of paper tacked to Mizkat’s kitchen wall represented each and every part of all the land and water within the entire perimeter of Canada’s Rich and Poor Province.
As he glided through the sky, gazing downward, listening to the occasional squawk and cackle from the yellowlegs at the leading ends of the towlines that stretched back toward him, Nalcor had a thought. It was a realization that would never have come to him until, thanks to the yellowlegs, he was able to see so much of the world below from so far up.
The people had invented maps so that they could compress great spaces into a number of short lines. It was a brilliant way for the people to see and understand big things. It enabled them to undertake daring exploits that would have been impossible without a wide, long and elevated view.
The only trouble was, thought Nalcor, that while flying and maps enabled the people to visualize the overall picture of the world so well, maps and overhead flying left out something. They did not include the multitude of details that could be gathered only from the muskrat-eye view at the surface of a pond. Without both views, the vast and the detailed, the picture was incomplete.
Nalcor blessed the yellowlegs for agreeing to bring him on this journey south. Without their help he would never have seen and understood the big picture that flying provided. He would never have realized that it was the big picture that allowed Mizkat and those who agreed with her to ridicule the concerns of others who questioned the plan to dam the Big Cigar River, and to dismiss suggestions of other ways to achieve the same goal.
Mizkat and her gang had fallen in love with the big picture and their love blinded them to the details visible to those who travelled closer to the ground.
She seemed unaware that her big picture dream of a mighty dam on the Big Cigar River would destroy the homeland of millions, ‘including my lodge and the nests of the yellow legs who are flying in front of me,’ Nalcor thought.
In the distance, Nalcor could begin to make out the shape of the Capital City. He saw for the first time from above the harbour that was the reason for the Capital City’s existence, a safe haven from the wide-open ocean that stretched to the horizon and beyond. Jogging with Mizkat he had once run along the harbour’s edge.
From above, the Tall Building on top of The Big Hill where Mizkat went to work on the uppermost floor did not seem as imposing as Nalcor remembered. When Nalcor had gone with Mizkat to her office and looked up at the tower from the front steps below, he had been overwhelmed.
How you see things really depends on your point of view, thought the little muskrat. Though he was not convinced he would succeed, somehow Nalcor understood he must try to make Mizkat understand the muskrat’s eyeview.
Soon he would get his chance. The yellowlegs were dipping low, and circling over Mizkat’s house, preparing to land.
…to be continued
Peter Pickersgill is an artist and writer in Salvage, Bonavista Bay. He can be reached by email at the following: firstname.lastname@example.org