Nal­cor re­turns to town

The Compass - - CLASSIFIED -

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:

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