Cassandra’s Tears

Tears of joy, tears of pain, we are reflected in the salt-water pools we create. So let us build a fleet of paper boats and sail them on our ocean of indecision, laughing at the wind-whipped white-crested waves that would wash over us, drowning us in our own despair, yet somehow never vanquishing us in the end.

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Location: Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Wingmen of Tyndall

Have you ever seen the wingmen of Tyndall? You haven’t then, I thought not. Very few get to see them, most have the opinion that they’re just a myth, a fairy tale, but I swear I’ve seen them on a summer’s evening flying westward as though chasing the setting sun. I was visiting my Ukranian cousins in Winnipeg, looking forward to Aunt Rita’s potato pieroghies and maybe a moment or two in private with sweet Debby. She was engaged to an orthopedic shoe salesman, but that didn’t stop us from a little organ practice in the choir loft of the Ukranian church after the Sunday service. I had driven my old Volvo west from Beauséjour, Dixieland jazz loud on the tape deck, when I noticed what I first took to be bats swooping in the golden light. Then I realized that they were the wrong shape for bats and farther away than I first reckoned. I kept driving west, glancing at them from time to time, still mystified when the light began to fade and I had to pay more attention to the road than the scenery.

I saw them again a couple of evenings later when Debby and I were examining some breastwork, having told Aunt Rita we were going out to play croquet, when I saw them again. This time there was no doubt in my mind that I was looking at people, people with wings, swooping and soaring like shore birds over the grassy prairie. Their carmine capes fluttered out behind them, making them look like avian supermen. Debby and I got comfortable on a hay bale and watched them untl they departed with the sun set. I still don’t know where they went.

When we got back to my Aunt’s, we didn’t know if we should mention our discovery or not. The shoe salesman’s car was in the driveway and we had a quick job of making sure there was no hay in our hair or clothing. Also, the fiancé was a bit of a pragmatist, and the situation wasn’t conducive to a discussion of winged westerners. Instead, we said nothing, planning that we would return to that spot on the morrow with a camera to document this irregular occurence.

Alas, it was not to be. It rained the next day and the next, and I was obliged to luxuriate in the lap of familial warmth. Debby’s fiancé thankfully did not appear during that time, and we were able to study synaptic responses to various stimuli. On the third day we packed a picnic lunch and headed out for a hike; and there, as we emerged from the trailhead facing west, we saw them, the wingmen of Tyndall, ebullient with the joy of flight, flashing red from their capes, glorious in the Manitoba sunset.

So you’ve never seen them, eh? Well, it’s a special thing all right. I never saw them again myself. Debby married her orthopedic shoe salesman and moved to Calgary. Aunt Rita sold her house and moved into a retirement home and stopped making pieroghies. There hasn’t been much call for me to drive out there recently, and my old Volvo finally gave up the ghost chugging through the Crow’s Nest Pass. But that’s another story, and if you’re ever back this way, I might tell it to you.


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