Thank you for the opportunity to be in your Small Town Authors blog. I've attached a picture of the Gimli harbour and a picture of myself.
Penny Ross, of Gimli, Manitoba, Canada.
This is an excerpt from my novel Cave of Journeys, aimed at youth 10 years and older. It’s also been popular with grandparents who love to read to their grandkids.
Sarah was eager to hear what Afi thought about Gimli.
“Did you meet any of your relatives?” she asked.
“Yes, I met one of my uncles and two cousins,” Afi replied with a smile. “Of course I couldn’t tell them who I was. We spoke of the area though and I told them about Iceland. They were as interested to hear my stories as I was to hear theirs. My uncles are fishermen. They have small log houses near one another. They’re proud of the fish they catch.”
“What kind of fish do they catch, Afi?” Mattie asked.
“Oh, there were many kinds. Let’s see what I can remember. There were perch and pickerel, which they also seem to call walleye. Then there were goldeye and sauger, sunfish, whitefish, oh, and white bass. There were a few others but I can’t recall their names right now.”
“That’s a lot all right. Not as many as we have in Iceland though, right Afi?”
“Yes, we have more but I was surprised at the variety they have here. The village is a booming place,” Afi continued.
“I was amazed by how many things are built up in Gimli. It’s only 1911 here. I saw a school. They said that was one of the first things Icelanders established when they arrived here. I saw sail boats and a great number of fishing boats at the dock.”
Afi smiled. “My cousins said they’ve seen steamboats as well. They took me on a walk on wooden sidewalks to the other end of the village. It was a little distance from the lake but they wanted to show off their new railroad station. It was built just a few years ago. Everyone in the community seems proud of the railroad station.”
“Did you go for a train ride, Afi?” Mattie asked.
Afi laughed. “No, a train didn’t come into the station while I was there. I think they run everyday but I wasn’t lucky enough to see one.”
“Too bad, that would have been super cool.”
“Yes, it would have been super cool,” Afi agreed.
Afi motioned to Buffalo Hunter and Wolf Spirit seated across from him that he had something to say.
“My uncle and cousins were thankful of the help neighboring Aboriginal people have given to the Icelanders since their arrival. They mentioned that when they first settled here, they didn’t know how to fish or find game in any large numbers. Your people gave them dried meat, rabbit and fish from your own supplies. Then you showed them how to winter fish, hunt for game and grow plants native to the area. That’s how they survived their first years here.”
Buffalo Hunter nodded then turned to share the story with his family.
“Willow Walker told us some of these stories in the canoe,” Mattie chimed in. “It’s interesting that your relatives said the same things, don’t you think?”
“Yes, Mattie, they certainly were grateful for the help the Aboriginal people gave them when they first arrived.”
Afi nodded to Buffalo Hunter who was ready to listen again. “In Iceland we have experienced deep-sea fishermen. When the Icelanders arrived here though, they said they had the wrong nets. The mesh of their nets was too large for this lake’s fish species. They could not buy nets here. When they tried ice fishing, the nets were lowered into shallow water and they became embedded in ice. My cousins said it was the First Nations peoples who showed the Icelanders how to make the proper nets and how to fish in all the seasons. They were, and are, still grateful for this help today.”
Afi paused again to let Buffalo Hunter translate the story. Everyone nodded then smiled. They seemed pleased by the comments.
“My cousins had some good stories,” Afi continued. “They talked about a Council they have to deal with village matters.”
Buffalo Hunter frowned.
“I’m sorry,” Afi apologized. “I’m not sure how to explain a local government for you to translate this part.”
“I will just listen then and see what I can tell my family,” Buffalo Hunter replied.
Afi continued. “There are many new rules the people must follow in the village. One is people must remove manure piles and waste.”
“Ew, that’s gross,” Sarah complained as she shuddered. “Didn’t they do that before?”
“By all accounts, no. There’s also a law about not letting animals run wherever they want through the streets.”
“What kind of animals?” Mattie wondered.
“Horses, sheep, cattle,” Afi replied
“Wow, they let sheep run around the streets? That would be cool to see.”
“Well, I guess the people don’t think so since they aren’t letting animals run free anymore,” Afi pointed out. “There are plans to have Centre Street, that’s their main road, graveled from the dock all the way down to the other end.”
“What kind of road is it now?”
“It is a dirt road.”
“Is there much dust then Afi?” Sarah wondered.
“Yes, it was dusty today. I was happy to get back to the harbor near the water.”
Afi stopped when White Dove and the children began to giggle.
“I think Buffalo Hunter just translated the part about the horses, sheep and cattle running down the village streets,” Afi commented with a smile.
They continued to exchange stories long into the night as they sat around the fire.
As promised on their canoe trip, Willow Walker gave them pemmican to try.
“Hey, this is just like hard fish,” Mattie shouted, through mouthfuls. “Yum, I love this stuff.”
Willow Walker smiled as if he knew better than to ask Mattie for an explanation.
“Willow Walker, can I ask you something?” Mattie said as he finished off his pemmican.
“Of course,” Willow Walker replied.
“So Dakota the butterfly told us a great story but since we couldn’t talk to Henry the squirrel we didn’t learn anything about him. Do you know something about squirrels?”
“Yes, it is interesting that Henry the squirrel is so large,” Willow Walker replied. “In our legends when Creator made some animals they were too large. Squirrel was one of these. They say animals were created to be peaceful and useful to humans.”
One of the children began to wave at Willow Walker.
“Oh yes, sorry, I will wait while Father tells the rest of the family the story.”
Buffalo Hunter translated then it was Willow Walker’s turn again.
“It is said that Squirrel was larger than a bear when he was made. He liked to destroy and attack things, like trees and plants.”
“Wow, I could imagine Henry doing that. He looks fierce,” Mattie noted. “Did you see how often he scowled and frowned at us? He doesn’t seem peaceful to me.”
“Yes, I agree,” Willow Walker said. “That is why I was surprised by his size. When Creator realized how angry Squirrel could get he remade Squirrel into a small size.”
“How small do you think he was?” Mattie wondered. “We haven’t seen squirrels before. Well, except for the giant squirrel, Henry. We know he’s only that big since everything in the cave is extra large. That’s because of the magic I bet.”
The children giggled as Buffalo Hunter translated.
Willow Walker showed Mattie the size a normal squirrel would be with his hands.
“Wow, that small. Squirrels are teeny tiny.”
“Squirrel has a long tail though so he looks a bit longer,” Willow Walker explained. He showed them how long the tail would be. “Since Squirrel is small, even though he has a bad temper, human beings do not need to fear him.”
“So, I guess Creator couldn’t just create the animals to be tame and peaceful. Is squirrel useful then since he’s usually so angry?” Mattie wondered.
“Squirrel is noisy and likes to create trouble between other animals. He is not a calm or quiet animal. Yet Squirrel shows courage and has been praised for his hard work when it comes to food gathering. When we watch Squirrel gather nuts and prepare for the coming winter then we know it is time to follow his example. We begin to get ready for the cold months when food will be scarce.”
“Oh, I get it. So Squirrel is useful. He helps people figure out when it’s time to plan and arrange everything for winter. Dakota the butterfly told us you get tons of snow here so it must get really cold,” Mattie added.
“Yes, the winter months are cold. It is important to dry meat and berries. We store them as well as other food items,” Willow Walker agreed.
“Yeah, so Squirrel was a good addition to your animals here in North America. It’s interesting how we didn’t get any squirrels in Iceland though. I like his long tail but man those eyes that bugged out were scary.”
Mattie made a face and bugged out his eyes. Then he crossed them for good measure and stuck out his tongue.
The children laughed at his antics then began to chatter with excitement.
Buffalo Hunter nodded at them. They raced off then returned a few moments later with their drums. Willow Walker and his family sang songs and drummed until it was bedtime. It was an evening Sarah and her family would remember and cherish
Author, Penny Ross, Bio:
Penny Ross lives in the resort town of Gimli, Manitoba with her husband. She has two adult sons who live nearby. As a Métis author and Aboriginal Educator, she believes in a world where dreams, legends and magic abound through storytelling. In addition to Cave of Journeys, Penny has also published Bird of Paradise Drums Beating, a contemporary young adult fiction novel rich in secrets, history and culture. Her children’s picture book, Mrs. Muggles Learns to Read will be launched in time for Easter.
Penny is currently working on a sequel to Cave of Journeys, a legend for children, and a murder mystery to raise awareness about missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. Penny’s books are available in paperback and Kindle through her author website and Amazon. She loves to hear from her readers.
Author: Penny Ross
Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Penny-Ross/156324864438153?ref=tn_tnmn
Goodreads Author Page http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5268032.Penny_Ross