These are the Rita Walker blogs in order. Enjoy! Feedback is most welcome.
All photos by Dan Watt unless stated.
Rita Walker (Blog One): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
This is a new blog and although it is under the fantasy/science fiction genre we will be adding current technology that is environmentally friendly.
Rita usually prefers to walk or lope but today her time is short and the distance long so she’s taking an electric sea plane from Graham Island across the Hecate Strait to the Prince George airport. From there she’ll take a flight to Toronto.
At the Toronto Airport Rita rents a Volkswagen e-Golf. As she drives along the 401 Hwy towards the 403 on her way to the Six Nations Polytechnic Brantford Campus she stares in the rear-view mirror. Her shoulder length hair is light brown. She sighs, normally it would be an iridescent pearl white but she doesn’t want to be noticed right now. On the radio she hears Buffy Sainte-Marie sing “The Big Ones Get Away”. She sings along with Buffy realizing how important the song is but it is not the one she wants to write. The World is full of chaos and distrust and she wants to shine a light of hope through the madness. To discover what is being done positively on Earth and showcase it.
As she arrives at the school she gets out of the e-Golf and stares at the curved entrance. In the centre is sign that is white with the outline of a purple eagle whose wings encircle opposing thick lined triangles with thin lined ones. In the centre is a purple coniferous tree.
As she steps through the front doors she is greeted by a secretary behind a newly refinished counter made of hemp. The secretary glances at her left arm and nods.
Rita Walker (Blog Two): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
I listen to Peter Gabriel’s “Biko” often. He is a member of a group called the Elders, founded in 2007 by Nelson Mandela.
Cloverdale’s Horizon Ultra Low VOC paint, Bioshield paint, and others are making environmentally friendly paints.
A woman in her mid-forties wearing a blue blouse and blue jeans walks towards Rita with a beaming smile. Her raven hair is tied back and hangs half way down her back. Her wide brown eyes glint with mischief. It’s the tattoo of the wolf on her left arm that makes Rita feel instantly at home at the college. The human species has a variety of races. Some are considered more pure though she isn’t sure that the word pure is the best choice if it’s considered better than. Rita herself is Haida from the British Columbian coast but she also has Celtic roots. What links her to Kaydee, the woman now in front of her, is that they share a separate race all together.
“Sister,” Kaydee cries out with joy hugging Rita to her.
“Sister,” Rita replies.
“I am so glad the college agreed to give you one of the newly built rooms to teach your course on Environmental Technology. We already have you filled up with local and International students. And yes there is a gym on the grounds.”
As Kaydee talks and they walk towards the new room Rita will be teaching in Rita peeks through some of the doors to the other lecture rooms. Between two large, erasable ink boards is a screen that the professor can use a pointer stick with in one hand while clicking a remote with the other. Students sit at desks on a sloping floor. Kaydee takes her down a new corridor painted eggshell white with a red band down the centre.
“The painters used Cloverdale’s Horizon line paints because they’re non-toxic,” Kaydee tells her as they stop at door with a small square window at the top.
She sighs deeply. Many years ago Peter Gabriel sang Biko with an orchestra at the Ed Sullivan theatre on the David Letterman Show. The music plays in Rita’s head as she remembers what Peter Gabriel said as he thrust his hand in the air. But she isn’t here to tell the next generation it’s up to them. She’s here to say, “ It’s up to all of us now.”
Rita Walker (Blog Three): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
The University of Waterloo is using negative electrodes made of lithium metal to potentially triple the range of current electric vehicle batteries. There are more and more hybrid and electric cars available including BMW i3. However, the question is where does the energy to power the cars come from (hydro, coal, nuclear etc.) and how are the batteries produced and what happens with them when they expire.
It will be another week before Rita starts her Environmental Technology class. That gives her some time to acclimatize to her new surroundings in Brantford. For now she is staying in Kaydee’s basement where Kaydee and her husband Shikellamy added a bathroom and separate walk out. It’s cozy with a large bedroom, rec room and even a den with its own window. The house is on a ridge overlooking the Grand River. Rita simply walks out through the rec room’s glass door and up stone steps to get to the street. Winter might be a bit slippery but Shikellamy should have a railing put in by then.
A major goal for her course is to take the class to different businesses to see firsthand how technology is working with the environment. Rita has also invited guest speakers to talk to the class. One of them she is meeting today.
Zsofia Juhász is a professor at the University of Waterloo’s Biomedical Science program specializing in medicinal herbs. Rita met Zsofia under strenuous circumstances when they were both much younger. Zsofia never told anyone about Rita’s secret and that has made her a very close and trusted friend. As fitness buffs they agreed to meet at the college’s gym before going to lunch.
Rita can’t help but smile as she sees Zsofia pull into the college’s parking lot in a dark blue BMW i3. Zsofia long brown hair blows in the wind as she tosses her duffel bag over her shoulder. The way she walks towards Rita in her tight black jacket and exercise pants says athlete.
“Nice car!” Rita says at the entrance to the college as they hug.
“Don’t tell anyone,” Zsofia whispers with a mischievous grin but the engineering department at the university adapted it so it now has their latest battery technology.”
“Greener?” Rita asks.
“And I can go much farther before recharging.”
As they talk Rita takes Zsofia to the newly built gym.
“So what’s the objective of your course?” Zsofia asks.
Rita takes in a deep breath and gives her a determined smile. “We keep hearing about our demise as a species and maybe the Earth’s but there’s nothing good about following that way of thinking. I want to show the general public and businesses that we can make positive changes.”
“That’s a difficult task Rita,” Zsofia says with a warning glance. “You have to consider the environment, business, and social interaction.”
“True and I have. If you own a manufacturing company that is releasing caustic chemicals into the atmosphere and I can offer a solution that doesn’t mean shutting your factory down….” Rita stops to let what she’s suggesting sink in.
“If you can,” Zsofia replies.
“Don’t know unless you try. Negative thinking is a downward spiral.”
“Businesses, especially international business might not want to be told they have to change.”
“I don’t want to tell them what to do. I want to work with them to come up with a better and still productive solution.”
As Zsofia ties up her shoes she says, “Well, I’m here to help where I can.”
“How’s your Biomedical course on Herbalism going?” Rita asks to change the subject.
“There’s still such a divide between Pharmacy and Herbalism but I’ll try to keep your positive and inclusive attitude and try not to think of corporate greed.”
Rita Walker (Blog Four): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
There are different perspectives on testing medicines. Does a person care singularly about themselves, see humans as more important and that the rest of life exists to assist them in surviving, or that all life is sacred and should only be killed for food and protection? Technology is getting closer to ridding the need for animal testing and there are options for non-animal tested products.
As Rita does stability ball crunches while Zsofia checks her form she contemplates corporate greed. Her purpose isn’t to point at a defined enemy such as a singular corporation or person. If she has to define an enemy it will be a naïve and destructive ideology that sees attrition not collaboration as the ideal way of life.
“Tell me more about the Biomedical course you’re teaching,” she says once her oblique are too fatigued to do anymore side crunches on the ball.
Zsofia stands up and stretches. “It’s interesting. With modern technology we can evaluate what extracts from herbs can be used to cure a limitless amount of illnesses without the severe side effects that drugs used to cause to certain individuals. Education is looking at being one with nature instead of separate. Although my course is based on herbs for medicinal purposes we’re also using the technology to test soaps, detergents, and other cosmetic products without having to use animals.”
At the mention of using animals to test products Rita’s eyes tear up. “That is such a worthy endeavor.”
“I know,” Zsofia replies as she lies down on the stability ball to do crunches. “The more we understand how life works the more we can develop technology that doesn’t destroy it.”
“Are drugs like antibiotics still necessary? Good form on the ab crunches.”
“Thank you,” Zsofia says with a grunt as she finishes her set. “Yes drugs are still needed but we know how much to give an individual much better now.”
“How would you know?”
“Originally it was trial and error. Now we can do genetic scans to know better how a drug will affect different individuals. “
“Like eating?” Rita asks. “The same foods can affect different people in a variety of ways?”
“Yes. Some people are lactose intolerant, others have food allergies to peanuts that could kill them.”
“Everyone is equal but not the same,” Rita says as she lends Zsofia a hand to stand up.
Rita Walker (Blog Five): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Food waste is both a moral and survival concern. We need to remember where the food we consume comes from.
“You’re so good at anatomy,” Zsofia says as she looks at her posture in a mirror. “I should have taken massage therapy like you did instead of that two weekend personal training course.”
“You were too busy with your Naturopathy course,” Rita replies. “Draw in your lower abs by your pelvis to stabilize and stretch up. You have fantastic posture as always.”
“Do you think Mother Earth will ever have perfect posture?”
Rita has to contemplate Zsofia’s question. She realizes perfect posture represents the melding of nature with technology. “Mother Earth is always changing, evolving. Now technology is evolving closer to nature. Engineers have started experimenting making computer parts with living material.”
“I agree with you, Nature will always find a way to return,” Zsofia says. “What I’m interested in currently is the reuse of food we all waste at restaurants.”
“That’s true we waste so much of life on our dinner plates,” Rita says as they walk towards the change room.
“There’s some hope there,” Zsofia says with a smile. “Years ago the Downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Area initiated a pilot program that sends waste food from restaurants to Bio En Power in Elmira. Bio En Power turns the food waste into biogas that’s used for fertilizer.”
“We still need to decrease the waste.” Rita opens her designated locker and passes Zsofia her duffel bag. “Especially meat. People need to respect that what they are eating used to be alive.”
“Dogs, cats, birds of prey, bears, and numerous other animals and mammals eat meat Rita.”
“I’m not suggesting people stop eating meat just respect it. Perhaps the custom no longer exists but the Inuit used to pour water from their mouths into the mouth of a seal they killed—in thankfulness for the seal giving up its life. Every part of the seal was used for either food or clothing.”
“It will be hard not to waste that much food,” Zsofia says as they walk to the parking lot. “We inspect the food we eat, we choose what we want to eat, and if we’re no longer hungry at a restaurant we either take a doggy bag or it ends up as waste.”
“Someday we’ll just have to accept what’s available instead of demanding that everything be available at all times.” Rita gives Zsofia a hug. “I’m looking forward to you doing a guest lecture.”
“Soon,” Zsofia promises.
Rita contemplates their conversation as she watches Zsofia drive away.
Rita Walker (Blog Six): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
An interesting twist. The Haida believe that animals are more intelligent than humans and can transform into human form. If you are from the Haida it would be good to hear from you. Why have we included Indio’s (Gordon Peterson) song Hard Sun? We’ll leave that up to you to figure out.
Lying in her bed Rita stares at the black cloth of the curtain that blocks the view of the night sky. Soon she will pull the curtain back but not yet. She turns off the lamp beside her bed and stares up into the darkness of the room. She thinks of the Indio song Hard Sun, and the verse: When I look to leave her I always stagger back again. The song reminds her of the first time her world changed.
She was born in Haida Gwaii to parents with ancestry in both Haida and the Vikings, and something else that her parents never discussed with her. She was a little girl when she learned of her difference. What she thought was unique she later discovered to be very rare. Lying in a four person tent with her parents and older brother in the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, with the rain pitter-pattering against the tent’s canvas, she dreamt.
She crawled along one of the nearby trails on her hands and knees with her blanket over her back. In the dream she needed to move like this during the night in order to sleep. Occasionally she would nap on her blanket then continue crawling.
The dawn light awoke her but she was not sleeping in the tent. She grabbed her blanket and stood up. Looking back at the trail she had crawled along she saw the imprint of a cat’s paws as far back as she could see. She ran back to her parent’s tent. Peering into the tent she saw they were all asleep. She did not want to disturb their slumber so rolled into her blanket near the fire pit her father had made. The second dream that night was the one that changed her forever.
She stood in a field of deciduous and coniferous trees. Near her a young woman in a blue cloak stood. Rita just knew she was one of two sisters. This sister was a Vilas who answers to the Ailbe Rose, an ancient being who resides in Ireland. Rita had stared wide eyed as the Vilas picked up soil from the ground with one hand and took one of Rita’s with the other. The Vilas turned her hand with the soil over and let it pour into Rita’s. When Rita’s hand was full so that the extra soil flowed off her hand back to the ground the Vilas closed Rita’s hand over the soil remaining. When Rita opened her hand with the soil there was nothing there and the dream ended.
Rita Walker (Blog Seven): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Black argillite is only found on Haida Gwaii. The Haida artist would often carve out the design for a totem pole on the argillite rock first.
Native American bands have a name for the full moon of each month. The Sturgeon full moon occurs in August.
She clenches her eyelids closed knowing the Sturgeon moon is trying to pierce its silver light through her curtains. Her hands clench onto her bed sheets as her body twists with desire to rip the curtains away. It is good she lives alone now. When she opens her eyes everything in the room is lighter and more distinguishable. She forces her eyelids closed again and focuses on calming her breathing and her need to change. Her thoughts wander back to her younger years.
Her parents took her and her brother to camp beside Tlell River. While her father and brother fished for salmon her mother weaved a new hat for her farther out of cedar bark and spruce roots while watching for bears. Bored, Rita decided to explore on her own. Entering the cedar forest that borders much of the river she became lost. She tried calling out in every direction but there was no reply. Terrified she sat on a moss covered log and grabbed up a handful of soil. She lay down on the log and exhausted slept.
In a dream she stood up from the log and opened her hand. On her palm was a small pile of soil. The soil levitated off her hand as tiny kernels and drifted in the moonlight towards a cavern made from the roots of an ancient redwood that stood tall and strong. Mystified by the floating soil, Rita followed it into the maw of the cavern where it pulsed with light. Inside she heard breathing and turned abruptly to her right. She saw a young woman wearing the same type of cloak as the Vilas. The woman’s dark hair and stern eyes told Rita that this was a Tuath Dé Danann. The young woman held out a necklace made of argillite stones. Rita’s hands shook as she gently took the necklace and clasped it around her neck. To her horror the necklace buried itself into her skin and attached itself to her collarbone. In a hypnotic voice with an Irish accent the young woman in the cloak told her, “When the Salmon Moon arrives you will dream of the ancient one Ailbe Rose and she will bless you so you may change for real. Soon after that you must call upon Rae, for she is originally from here and will guide you well through these lands. For now see little one, see with feline eyes but let neither wolf nor bear catch sight of you.”
That’s the first time Rita’s vision changed so everything became brighter in the night. She found her family’s tent but did not go near until her sight returned to normal.
Rita Walker (Blog Eight): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Rita Walker is a science fiction blog about the interaction of technology and the environment, and an introduction to North American Indigenous ways. Each distinct environment: grassland, snow, mountainous, desert, boreal forest, swamp, rain forest, and so on will decide the best methods of housing, food supply, and culture.
Astral traveling is common around the World. Is it the soul traveling or the subconscious creating images? That is for you to decide.
Memories flood through her as she continues to twist and turn fighting off the impulse to become what the Earth wants her to this night. She remembers that after the dream of the Tuath Dé Danann she was sleeping in her parent’s tent when her soul traveled across North America, over Greenland and Iceland, across the Atlantic Ocean into Northern Ireland. Places she has never been. Her speed slowed to a walking pace as she reached a tall hedge of Ilex Crenata. Its early afternoon and people are walking amongst nearby flower beds but none seem to notice her, nor a tall woman in an olive green dress wearing a wreath of white flowers. Rita’s soul halted as the woman turned and stared directly at her. This woman had green eyes that emitted a depth she could barely comprehend.
In the dream she became material and her bare feet pressed into the grass. She had glanced around and noticed there were no longer any other people around. “Ailbe Rose,” she said in awe and respect to the women with the green eyes, “Mother Terra.”
“You are ready to learn the Change child,” Ailbe told her in a rich Irish accent. “And though you are mostly from me you will also be the Gatherer of others from the other Ancients. Though your soul can fly, you cannot. Although you can swim, you cannot breathe underwater. Although you can make fire with materials, it cannot come from you directly. There is one left, and she is tainted. Although you can hammer and heat metals and can combine some, you cannot do it with your thoughts alone. She can, and you must turn her against the Ancient One who has encouraged the destructive nature of industry for too long. Bring all these elementals together and teach them to work together. That is your task.”
Rita watched as Ailbe Rose grabbed up soil from where it was available under the hedge.
“You are an Earth Elemental, as well as Haida, Irish, and German. Soon you will meet Airmid and learn that all life is interconnected. Stretch out your hand.” Rita does and Ailbe places the soil in her palm. “Change is easiest during a full moon but you can change at other times. The closer to a full moon the longer the change can last. Without soil you can only change partially, remember this. Close your eyes.”
Rita had taken in a deep breath and exhaled as she closed her eyes.
“Picture a land animal, a mouse, a cat, a beaver. You cannot become a seal, but you can turn into a snake, though not a sea snake, nor an eel. You can only become a large dog, a wolf, a deer, a moose, a bear or any other large to giant land creature during a full moon.”
“A cat,” Rita had whispered. She pictured a tabby cat with her mind. As she focused the soil in her hand had grown heavier and increased in amount. It hurt and her eyes had bulged.
“Breathe child,” Ailbe told her with a voice gentle and full of encouragement.
It hurts so much as her body changed that she gave out a cry. But the sound was that of a cat. She had looked up and up until she saw the smiling face of Ailbe.
“The pain will grow less as your body grows use to it. But as your extra weight turns to soil so must it also return with as much soil. You cannot change back where no soil is available. Close your eyes and go home now.”
Rita remembers lying down and resting her feline chin on her left forearm. The next moment she awoke inside her parents’ tent.
Rita Walker (Blog Nine): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Airmid is a Tuath Dé Danann and the goddess of herbs. Only she knows the three hundred and sixty-five herbs that now grow all over Earth.
By decreasing industrial waste and leakage of toxic, heavy metals water ways can become cleaner and plants safer to consume.
She forces herself to take deep breaths as her hands clench onto her bed sheets. The full moon calls but it’s not a good time to change. Not just before school starts.
She remembers that after dreaming of Ailbe Rose a month passed before she dreamed of Airmid. Her mother was hanging the kelp they had gathered earlier on long sticks while Rita gathered wild blueberries nearby. As Rita bent over to pick a blueberry her hand brushed against a salal berry and she fainted.
She opened her soul eyes and saw a woman with long brown hair that accentuated a world loving smile. The woman was kneeling amongst herbs that grew beside a house. Rita gazed closer but she could not recognize any of the herbs nor the style of house.
“You have met a Tuath Dé Danann already,” the woman stated in a strong voice vibrant with life.
“Airmid?” Rita asked.
The woman looked up at her with caring yet mischievous eyes. “Yes. You were supposed to meet Rae first but she hides from Kaneki, who seeks to be with her again, as they were when together they formed the Earth’s core.”
“Is Kaneki the tainted one?”
“He has trained the one that comes from him. Kaneki was never meant to live above the core of the Earth but now he does, and tries to make his permanent home upon the surface where it does not belong.” Airmid caresses the leaves of one of the unknown herbs. “What do you know of herbs?”
“Very little,” Rita had admitted.
“What do you see when you look at my garden?”
“Plants, weeds,” Rita replies.
Airmid caresses one of the herbs with a long green leaf that’s furry on the surface. “Sage can be used for memory improvement, digestive problems, and more.” She touches a nearby plant with yellow petals and long, jagged leaves. “Different parts of the dandelion can be used to make coffee, help with digestion, and pain relief. Someday Rae will tell you of the herbs of Haida Gwaii and what they are used for. Herbs are akin to elements. Some, like fire, you eat to make you hot when you are too cold. Some you drink, like water, as tinctures to cool the heat inside. Some, you alight to flow through the air, like wind, to help you breathe. Some, you coat your skin with, like earth, to moisturize and draw out infection. But many of the herbs are contaminated now, by metal, like mined cadmium, mercury, arsenic and more. Necessary in minute amounts for life but in greater quantities deadly they belong mostly deep in the ground.”
“What can I do?” Rita asks as she feels her body pulling her soul back.
“Gather the other elements. Both learn and teach each other to find balance.”
Rita sees Airmid’s image fade as the blue sky over Haida Gwaii becomes more vibrant from where she lies amongst the blueberries and salal.
Rita Walker (Blog Ten): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
In the August 9, 2019 Waterloo Region Record there was an article called: Rebuilding a road for tomorrow by Catherine Thompson. By using perforated storm sewer pipes and Silva cells on Ahrens Street West the city of Kitchener was hoping to stop run off of salt and other debris from entering nearby creeks. Currently Highway 24 or Water Street South by Churchill Park does not have a road designed to protect wildlife. But perhaps in the near future these roads will be everywhere.
In the morning Rita showers off the sweat from her struggle not to change from the night before. As the water pours over her she glances at her hands and up her left arm where the tattoos line up as a totem pole would. Stepping out of the shower stall she stares at the mirror. Through the mist created by the shower’s hot water she can see the shadowed images of the other tattoos on her body; each a symbol of survival or rite of passage. Her eyes drift back to the feather symbol on her left arm. Birds are part of the Air Elemental and today she must travel to Cambridge to meet with the Ancient One who represents the human aspect of Air.
Driving along Highway 24 in Cambridge she notices sections of the road are humped as she drives next to the Grand River and past Churchill Park. This is a main area for turtles to cross. The humps or mini-bridges are long so the drive is safe for cars and transport trucks. Many years ago an innovative idea was put to the test in the city of Kitchener. Perforated storm sewer pipes were installed under roads to lessen run off during heavy rain and to create more dispersion. The dispersed water is captured and treated by what was then pioneering technology called Silva cells. Lightly compacted soil within the cells allowed trees to grow. The roots of the trees help absorb and dissipate salt and other run off by-product before it reaches water sources such as creeks and rivers. Now most road repairs are built with the environment in mind.
She glances at the feather tattoo on her left arm in the side view mirror of her leased Volkswagen e-Golf. It reminds her of the time she saw Rae in a dream. In the dream a female dressed in a red cedar bark dress stood on a tiny Island. Rita watched as the woman raised her left arm. She noticed a band around the woman’s forearm made of yellow cedar as a raven flew onto the woman’s outstretched arm. Rita could only see the side profile of the woman and little of her face. But the raven turned and stared directly at her. That’s when the dream ended and she knew that she had caught a glimpse of Rae and the spirit Raven.
In the morning she had asked her mother about raven but left out Rae.
“You have strange dreams child,” her mother told her as she wove together new deerskin moccasins for Rita’s father. “Raven may be many things, but is a protector for us above all else. Ravens will steal food from you, have no doubt, and you should shoo them away if they try, but never hurt them. They are our protection against supernatural beings.”
As Rita drives down Shades Street towards Soper Park she wonders if the raven she saw as a child was protecting Rae from Kaneki. But mostly she wonders why so long ago Rae allowed a glimpse of herself but so far would not communicate with Rita directly.’
Rita Walker (Blog Eleven): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Willow trees live all around the world. Oxygen producers, pain relief from the bark, and used to make flutes to fish traps.
Rita parks in the small gravel driveway across from the raised flower beds the city re-plants every year. She heads towards the section of Mill Creek that flows through the park where the giant Weeping Willows grow. When she was younger she fell asleep thinking about Rae. But Rae did not answer, instead another ancient one appeared from Africa.
Her mother was telling her the Haida Creation Story. “Raven was walking on the shore when he heard many noises coming from inside a clamshell…,” her mother was saying when Rita fell asleep thinking of Rae.
Her soul watched as she floated out of her body. She saw her face, eyes closed, and mouth slightly open. She saw her mother’s dark brown hair flowing over her shoulders in strands to cover the top of her deerskin shirt. Her mother gently stroked her forehead and said, “Sleep.” Her soul’s eyes turned upwards towards the ceiling of the tent and floated upwards by moving her arms and legs in a swimming motion. As she swam between the Sitka spruce and Yellow cedar trees a tug to her chest pulled her down to the draping branches of a dwarf weeping willow. She touched one of the thin leaves and found herself somewhere else.
She was hovering before a giant weeping willow with a creek flowing nearby. As she stared, frozen in place at the willow’s gnarly trunk, a woman appeared. So powerful and strong was the women’s presence Rita didn’t know if to flee or stare in awe. “Child,” said the woman with raven coloured hair. The woman’s voice had a lilt and a mixture of tenderness and strength that demanded attention as she pointed her finger at Rita. “Why have you called me?”
“I was calling Rae,” Rita admitted still torn between wanting to flee and getting to know this woman better.
“Rae is healing her soul and I am with her through Raven.”
“You are connected to Raven?” Rita asks. “I thought only the Haida knew of Raven.
“I am of the wind child–and the willow which in its many forms all around the World, both hears the wind and tells it stories–communicates with me. When you thought of Rae she must have sent you to me instead. I am Oya, the Yoruban Goddess of weather, and known to others like you as the Elemental Ancient One of Wind. What do you seek from Rae?”
“She lives in the Haida Gwaii and is directly connected to my people. So I seek wisdom from her.”
“Ah, I see. You are not just Haida but also Irish, German, and connected directly to the Earth. The World is round my child and that makes all things connected. But we seek what is familiar and you are closer to Ailbe Rose than Rae. So that may be why she will not answer you.”
“Why would someone want me to contact you Oya?” Rita asked with a slight bow.
“Some day you will meet the one who is connected to me. Let her know that you and I have met. The cat may eat the sparrow and the hawk may eat the rabbit but when there is a greater danger all creatures heed the warning of Raven’s call. What argues and fights now will need to collaborate in the near future. Unnatural things are beginning to be created out of what lies deep beneath the ground.”
Rita walks up to the willow she saw in her dream. With great diligence and respect she snips a section of overhanging branch off.
Rita Walker (Blog Twelve): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
The Haida like so many other indigenous people had their children removed to learn European ways. Midnight Oil made it clear that Australia’s treatment of indigenous people was a disgrace during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia by wearing black coveralls with the word Sorry. Nature has a way of diffusing the thought that any people are better than others when people of different races and backgrounds fall in love and have children. People have different hair colour, skin colour, eye colour, physiques and yet are all the same.
Rita places the potted weeping willow branch into the back of her car. With loving care she hopes it will grow. Either in the fall or in the spring she will plant it on the schools lawn.
Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning” is playing on the radio as Rita drives to the Six Nations’ Polytechnic College to organize her classroom. She taps her fingers on the steering wheel as she sings “The time has come, a fact’s a fact/ It belongs to them, let’s give it back” along with the band’s lead singer Peter Garrett. She read an article that at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney the band members performed with the word SORRY written across the chest of their black coveralls. It was a blatant rebuttal of the Prime Minister at the time, John Howard, for his refusal to apologize for the former policy of removing aboriginal children from their families. After reading the article Rita realized this destruction of aboriginal families happened all around the world, not just in Canada. The song reminds her of how hard it is for her to keep positive. But the world already knows about all the atrocities. Now it’s time for everyone to focus on working together. It’s time to show that those who were bullied are wiser and will not become the bullies.
She doesn’t think there are any songs that represent her, a half breed or multi-raced person. Then she recalls hearing Cher singing “Half Breed” written by Mary Dean and composed by Al Capps. She wonders, if like so many other songs and writings, did the lyricist really understand what it’s like to be a “half breed”? Do they know what it’s like to find out one half of your ancestry was warring or abusing the other half? She shakes her head to clear the negative thoughts away.
Sometimes life is strange. As she pulls into the college Depeche Mode’s “People are People” comes on. She pulls over and sings along with the band: “It’s obvious you hate me/Though I’ve done nothing wrong/I never even met you/So what could I have done”. Well, next week she’s about to meet four individuals who represent a hidden race of humans. And she needs to figure out how to get them to work together. One will be the hardest to change. And one probably won’t want to collaborate with the others.
Inside the classroom she feels small standing at the bottom of the sloping floor gazing up at the desks that will allow the students to look down on her. She set the potted willow on the ledge of the windows at the opposite side to the door. Next she takes out her papers. The first of the lessons will focus on the different soils found in different areas of Ontario and what’s being done to keep them healthy.
Rita Walker (Blog Thirteen): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
The type of soil and climate found in a particular area will determine what plants will grow best in that location. In Brantford the soil is mostly Luvisolic: a mixture of clay, silt, and sand. Clayey Gleysolic and Gray Brown Luvisolic are the main soils with the major crops being corn, soy, and tobacco.
Rita looks up at the students in her class and sighs. She counts sixteen students and only one of the five she expected. As she met each of the Ancients, though she only saw Rae, they gave her the ability to see an aura on the very rare occasion her path connected with another elemental’s. She sees a blue hue around a tall man with dark dreadlocks and trimmed beard. “Water,” she whispers. His head tilts to the side as she speaks the word and she knows he has heard her.
“Soil is composed of many different chemicals and organisms. The type of each is determined by the composition of the minerals in a given area. Wind blows soil and glaciers move large chunks of it. And what else is soil? It is the by-product of death and waste. When leaves die and fall off a tree or as plants wither and decay they decompose—into soil. Whatever your body doesn’t use must come out as waste products. In the natural pattern everything dies and everything is used to help the growth of life.”
“We’re going to focus on the soil in Brantford.” Rita moves to the side of large screen behind her and clicks a button on a remote. An image of Canada with multiple colours appears representing the different soil types and where they are located. She uses the pointer of the remote and points a red dot to the area where Brantford is on the map. “The yellow represents Luvisolic soil. Glaciers pulverized the soil so that the dominant minerals are calcium and magnesium leaving the top soil as predominantly loamy or clay. Loamy soil is a mixture of clay, silt, and sand. Clay and silt help keep in the water while sand creates gaps for better root growth.
“Farmers use both cattle and human manure to fertile the soil. That will be our next lecture. Are there any questions?”
The man with the blue aura raises his hand.
“Yes?” Rita asks.
“What happens when the soil is polluted?” he asks in a voice that is both soft and deep, “and what about soil microorganisms?”
“That’s coming up in future lectures Mr.?”
Rita Walker (Blog Fourteen): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
In 1974 Spanish pilot and marine officer Juan Pérez was the first European to discover the Haida Gwaii but bad weather stopped him from landing and claiming it for Spain. James Cook, Captain of the Royal navy was the first European known to visit the Haida Nation. Archaeology digs have determined the Haida have been living on the Haida Gwaii islands from 6000 to 8000 years ago.
As she drives home from the college the sky is dark and clear. A song she hasn’t heard in a long time comes on. Chalk Circle’s “This Mourning” gets her tapping her hands against the steering wheel. It reminds her why Kaneki needs to go back to Centre Earth.
The weeping willow string she planted is growing little nubs that she hopes will grow into tiny branches. It was wonderful that Kaylee asked her to teach a Haida language course three times a week along with her once a week Environmental Technology class. She knows she’ll be financially stable for the next three years. Her real focus though is on what she does at night. So with a cup of licorice tea she sits in front of her window in her kitchenette and concentrates on the tiny willow sapling. A quarter moon shines through her window awakening the elemental inside her. She could control its pull for her to change but tonight she wants to transform. Her eyes remain open but become unfocused.
She finds herself at Soper Park. Before her Oya is dressed ready for action.
“What do you want child?” Oya asks in an exasperated voice.
“To visit Rán.”
“This is a bad time for me child of Ailbe Rose. I must deal with Kaneki’s influence on mining for cobalt in the Congo. Think of Island and go!”
To Icelanders their home is known as Island. It’s where her grandfather wanted to return to.
When Rita was five her father took the family to Kiusta at the northern tip of Haida Gwaii. Taking her hand he led her to the shore where the ruins of a long boat rested near a group of ancient totem poles. “My father, your grandfather arrived on this boat. He was nearly dead when they brought him to a sweat lodge and your grandmother nursed him to health. He came from far far away. You and I have his eyes whereas your brother has pure Haida eyes like your mother. I would find him staring at this ruin as we worked on his new boat. I think he would have stayed if your grandmother had not died during the Tsimshian raid.”
Rita only remembers her father’s father vaguely. Tall and strong, with long brown hair and a red beard that flowed to his chest. His voice was loud sometimes but more often hushed as though his soul were broken. By the fire pit he would stare at her but with his chin turned slightly away. It made her feel as if he was watching her wearily. His Haida Gwaii words were clipped and often he added words she had never heard before. He always kept his distance from her. “There is something else in this child,” she would hear him say to both her mother and father at different times. He would shake his shaggy head afterwards and stare at her out of the corner of his eyes.
When she was four her father’s father had taken dry fish and fresh water onto his new boat with its many ribs. “Someday others like me will come,” he warned before he paddled north towards the Bering Sea. In the distance Rita remembered seeing him unfurl the strange red and white curving sail his mother had helped him sew. He was right others like him would arrive at Haida Gwaii but Rita wouldn’t learn about that until later.
Her vision becomes cloudy. As the cloud dissipates she can see Rán walking in modern clothes by a river. Rán stops and turns to her with a beaming smile. Rita realizes Kaneki has not made his presence known as much on Iceland—yet.
“What can I do for you Rita?” Rán asks in her boisterous voice.
“Do you have student named Marlo?”
“I do. When you change you can watch him by the lake near where you live. He is with you Rita that I can assure you.”
“Thank you, Rán,” Rita says as Rán fades away and she feels herself changing.
Rita Walker (Blog Fifteen): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
In the past vehicle batteries were often just thrown in bodies of water like lakes or rivers. Batteries can be completely recycled now. The importance is getting the batteries to the recycling plant.
On the Grand River, just on the border with the Oakhill Cemetery, a new factory was built just the year before. Rita had driven by the factory and saw a sign in bold blue letters with the words Kanetic Reusable Batteries. Under the name were the words: Clean Energy. On her excursion the other night her feline nose suggested otherwise.
She wants to get inside Kanetic Reusable Batteries and see what’s going on but not in her human form. Part of the factory extends into the Grand and she noticed the river’s water flows in and out of a grate. But the grate opening is small and even as a rodent she doesn’t think she could swim through the river’s current to get inside. Perhaps Marlo could help her with that. Rán had told her she could find him at Mohawk Lake. First she wants to observe him unnoticed. Invisibility is sometimes just becoming something else.
It’s Saturday and the night before she had asked Zsofia to pick her up from a grove but not as her normal self. She sees Zsofia’s BMW i3 pull into the parking lot. As Zsofia gets out of her car and looks around, Rita leaves the grove where a pile of dirt sits beside the tree trunk of a black birch. Zsofia looks down and waves at her as she opens the front passenger door. Rita leaps inside. It took a long time to get used to a cat’s poor daytime vision. The reason she prefers to investigate at night.
As Zsofia drives towards Mohawk Lake she puts on the radio. There isn’t much sense in talking since it would be one sided. So Rita stands on her hind legs and stares out the window.
I’ll Melt With You by Modern English starts playing. It’s like listening with two separate pairs of ears. Her feline ears hear mumbo- jumbo but her human memory can still discern the words.
Once they reach the lake Zsofia lets Rita out. She carries Rita towards the shore where Marlo is gazing over the lake.
“I’ll read my book for half an hour than honk,” Zsofia tells her as she sets Rita down.
Rita looks side-to-side as she steps ever closer to Marlo. She sits on her haunches and stares up at him.
He crouches down and places the fingers of his right hand into the lake’s water. Without looking at her he says, “I will get you inside the factory.”
Rita Walker (Blog Sixteen): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Both nature and technology follow the circle of life. A river that flows is alive and healthy but block off the flow and it stagnates. Forget to fill a car up with gas or keep up the oil and other liquids and the gears rust and it eventually refuses to work anymore. Everything is breaking down and building up constantly. What happens to our bodily fluids is no different.
She stares up at the classroom. Her heart pounding as she sees Marlo calmly staring back at her. Later she’ll need to talk to him about visiting Kanetic Reusable Batteries with his help. To Rita’s surprise a girl much shorter than Marlo with long brunette hair and wearing glasses with a metal frame is sitting beside him. The girl’s innocent face is confusing considering her aura is metallic grey. “Hi,” she says to the new girl. “Welcome to the class and could you tell everyone your name?”
“Kanayago,” the girl replies with a sweet voice.
Rita is dumbfounded. “Do you know the meaning behind that name?”
“Yes. My parents told me they found me in a crib at the doorstep when they first moved to Canada from the Chūgoku Mountains in Japan.”
“They named you Kanayago?”
“No. The name was written in Hiragana syllabary on a gold anklet they found around my left ankle. Since I do not look Japanese my parents told me they were confused at first but accepted that it was the mythical Kirin that delivered me to their doorstep.”
Rita shakes her head. Her bias suggested the child of Kaneki would be obtuse and the least likely to join her class.
“Today’s lecture,” she begins with a shaky voice, “is about biosolids. It’s important in this class to remember we want to know where a product starts and where it finishes. So we’re going to talk about how poop and urine is turned into biosolids. We eat and drink, go to the bathroom and our waste–and let’s put waste between quotation marks–goes to sewage plants. Then what?” Rita stops talking and gazes across the room at all the students. They all look confused, even Marlo.
“The excrement and urine or waste goes through many processes to change it into biosolids. The biosolids are used on farms to help grow food.” She sees that all the students have disgusted looks on their faces. “Everything needs to be reused or recyclable with as little greenhouse gas emission as possible. The biosolids are anaerobically or aerobically digested before they are used for growing food. Think of a leaf. It grows on the tree in the spring; helps gather sunlight and rainwater in summer, and falls off in the autumn. Over the winter the fallen leaves give protection to plant beds and insects. In the spring when thaw arrives the leaves break down and become soil.”
Marlo’s hand shoots up.
“Yes,” Rita asks trying not to stare intensely at him.
“Like cleaning out a gutter. If the leaves remain from autumn to spring you’ll be cleaning out dirt instead of leaves.”
“Correct. Thank you Marlo.” She knows her eyes say I’ll meet you later but she hopes he’s the only one who notices. “I want you to study up on biosolids and how each and everyone one of us can make this an easier process.”
Later in the day Rita goes to Moonshadows Metaphysical Shop near Mt Hope Cemetery to pick up a Haida made whale talisman. But she knows the owner and opens the door to the house instead of the shop. Rita halts in the front of the hall. Inside sitting half way up on a carpeted stairway is the girl Kanayago where she’s reading a book. Rita immediately notices the metal framed glasses and the silver ankh charm that sits against her chest held their by a silver necklace. Kanayago seems absorbed in the book about nanotechnology.
Remembering this is a child of Kaneki and that she must tread carefully with this one Rita diligently steps back outside and gently closes the front door.
Rita Walker (Blog Seventeen): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
We take some liberties with Rita Walker, suggesting what supermarkets might be like in the near future. The idea is to suggest possible solutions but there are always other ideas that might be better. A concern is if one replacement, like hemp, were to be used what would be the environmental impact of trying to grow enough hemp? So the answer might be having a variety of sources to replace plastic in supermarkets.
It’s Saturday and Rita can hardly focus. Tonight she meets up with Marlo near the Kanetic Reusable Batteries by the Oakhill Cemetery. First she has to discuss an upcoming lecture with the Metro Supermarket manager.
She walks through the supermarket’s sliding glass doors and heads towards the Service Desk. As she passes the aisles she notices that most of the customers are using muslin produce bags. At the Service desk she asks for Ryan Day, the store’s manager.
“Hello Rita,” says a man in his forties who stands slightly taller than Rita. He has fading blond hair and a sharp nose that makes his smile even broader. “Let’s go for a walk.”
“The bags you see in the produce section are made from cellulose,” Ryan tells her. As they walk past the other aisles Ryan points out the meat section. Instead of Styrofoam or plastic for the base we use paper packaging coated with cellulose.”
“What’s the environmental impact of using cellulose?” Rita asks.
“That’s something the owners of the supermarket are considering. If it’s affordable it might be better to use numerous sources to replace plastic. So we have cellulose bags available but also customers can bring their reusable bags. We have some packaging made of hemp but it would be devastating to the forest and farm to grow enough hemp to make it the only reusable alternative.”
“Well thank you for the good news,” Rita says as she gazes at the reusable packaging. “What happens to the food that doesn’t get purchased?”
“Initially we sell it at a discount or give it to the foodbank. Once it expires the food is sent to be converted into energy or fertilizer for local farms.”
“Can you give the food to the foodbank?” Rita had heard supermarkets and food markets were concerned about being sued if they gave day old food to food banks.
“No, there’s a law called Donation of Food Act. Obviously food that is moldy, smells bad or has other signs of going rotten cannot be donated.”
“Well, thank you Ryan, you’ve made my day,” Rita says as she offers her hand.
“My pleasure. I hope to have more good news for you in the near future.”
As Rita drives home she wonders what the night will bring. She researched Kanetic Reusable Batteries and found very little information except a list of its current employees. Kanayago’s name was listed under research and development.
Rita Walker (Blog Eighteen): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Neil Degrasse Tyson had an interview with Joe Rogan in which he explained the dangers of transferring enough energy through the air to run devices.
She bites her lower lip and taps her right foot as the phone rings.
“Hello,” a melodic deep voice answers.
“Hi,” she replies as she tries to hide the shakiness in her voice. “Tonight is still good?”
“Yes,” Marlo replies.
“We’ll meet at the Oakhill Cemetery at 9 p.m.”
“Okay, see you then, bye.”
“Bye,” he replies.
She turns off her cell and clips a miniature camera onto the crown of her hair.
It’s still daylight as she drives through Brant Conservation Area to get to the cemetery. She slows down when she sees Kanayago facing off against a much taller girl. Mesmerized by the sight she pulls over. That’s when she notices a light layer of snow covering the ground and a chill in the air. The taller girl is holding a candle in the palm of her hand and with a point of her finger lighting the wick than with a snap of her fingers extinguishing it.
Meanwhile, Kanayago is holding a fork. With a point of her finger the fork bends than straightens. Kanayago is laughing.
Rita desperately glances around. She breathes easier when she doesn’t see anyone. Some things aren’t meant for the common public to see. Angrily she honks her car’s horn. The girls glance her way then scatter into the trees.
As she pulls into the cemeteries parking lot she takes in deep gulps of air. Next class she’ll have to explain to Kanayago the dangers of using her powers when others can see, and find out who the girl that belongs to Rae is. The energy frequency emitted through the air to manipulate particles to cause a flame to occur or metal to bend could seriously damage anything in-between. There’s a reason wires are still used to power devices from hairdryers to stoves. That much energy sent through the air could melt an object or severely hurt or kill a living creature.
Rita walks to the edge of the cemetery where a giant oak tree grows. This is where she’ll meet Marlo.
Rita Walker (Blog Nineteen): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Cadmium is toxic or poisonous in small quantities. In industry it is used for insecticides, electroplating, batteries and more. It can cause renal dysfunction, bone degeneration, and liver problems. It is not essential to biological functions. In batteries cadmium can be recycled. Perhaps there should be a separate recycling container for batteries.
The K’algyaa kongaas moon is three-quarters full as she steps inside a bush. She can hear the footsteps of Marlo as he moves beside the oak tree. Her beady eyes gaze through the twigs towards him. He starts whistling a soft tune that she doesn’t recognize.
Lifting her long hairless tail she scurries out of the bush towards him. He looks down at her and she halts. This the moment of truth. He could stomp on her or in disbelief leave. Instead he crouches down and places his right hand palm up on the ground. Diligently she steps onto his palm.
She feels his caress as he strokes her head then her back. Tenderly he walks her towards the river.
“I hope you can hear me,” he says in his deep melodic voice. “I’ll put you on the bank and change. Water likes to be in constant motion. I could change into a fish or beaver but I think its best if I just become fluid. When you see an unusual ripple step onto it.
Rita watches from the bank, amazed, as Marlo steps into the shallow part of the river. In a moment he’s no longer standing there. She squints at the water and see tiny, unusual ripples in the water. Now that there is little time she holds her breath and steps forward.
A strange tingling feeling runs up her pink toes as she moves towards the grate that will take her into the Kanetic Reusable Batteries factory. As they slip through the bars of the grate Rita sees shades of grey. Under the building there are concrete ledges. Higher up on the ceiling she sees a drainage grate. She jumps onto the concrete ledge.
In a moment Marlo is standing on the ledge in his human form. He scoops her up and holds her so she can slip through the bars of the floor grate above. Standing on the floor above she gazes down at him. “I’ll wait here as long as I can,” he whispers to her. “If that doesn’t work I’ll have to try to come back later.”
Rita scurries close to the wall as her keen nose sniffs. There are two scents that cause her to halt and sniff more intently. The smell of iron mixed with Kanayago’s particular scent. Because Marlo changed into water his entire body weight came with him so he could change back to his human form. Most of Rita’s weight is in a pile as dirt within the bush by the oak tree. Everything is enormous. She follows her nose towards Kanayago’s scent.
As she scurries past the legs and bases of machines she sees a woman with her hair tied back wearing a lab coat and safety glasses. There doesn’t seem to be anyone else in the room.
“They think I’ve created energy from iron,” the young woman is saying to herself as she places her palm on a pile of rust. “But the energy is coming from me and I’m burning out. Ember could help me but she says the technology is being developed so why bother. I thought she was joking when she lit the candle just by looking at it. I shouldn’t have shown her that I can bend the fork with my mind. I knew something was wrong when the snow fell.”
For a while Rita only hears silence then Kanayago starts talking to herself again.
“Ember can’t be right. Surely Kanetic isn’t simply dumping excess Cadmium into the Grand River.”
Now Rita knows what’s wrong with this factory. She turns around but hears rapid footsteps behind her. Scurrying away she looks back and sees Kanayago coming at her with a push broom.
Rita Walker (Blog Twenty): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
The idea of neutering or spaying is to stop overpopulation. The ethical matter is the lack of choice. The worldwide concern is the possibility of wiping out an entire breed. Reversible birth control would be a better idea but I cannot find any information on this.
Rita scurries towards a drain hole in the floor. She presses her feet into the floor to slow down when she feels the brush of the broom push her against the base of a metal cage that protects a motor. She smells metal burning and turns to look up. Two strands of the cage’s metal welded wire bend around her. She watches in terror as Kanayago squats down and stares at her.
“You’re a strange looking rodent,” Kanayago says to her. “And familiar somehow.” Kanayago stands up. “There aren’t more of you are there? I’ll need to find something to keep you for now,” she hears Kanayago say as she walks away.
Rita’s heart is pounding so hard she can feel it push her ribs out. It’s not good to change without any dirt around but she doesn’t have a choice. Her body is riddled with spasms now. She shrinks as her excess body turns to wet earth. Her tiny ears listen intently for Kanayago or any other movement as she hops towards the grate where Marlo is waiting. As her long fluffy tail stands straight up she runs at full speed towards the grate.
“How did a chipmunk get in here?” she hears Kanayago say from far behind.
She falls into water. Scrambling she reaches the surface and dog paddles at the concrete ledge where Marlo is waiting. With blurry eyes she sees him staring down at her in confusion. He scoops her up and holds her up to his face. Shivering she shakes water from her fur and nods her head numerous times.
“I hope this is you Rita,” he says with a cough. In an instant she riding atop viscous water that flows against the river’s current.
Back on the shore Marlo changes into his human form and starts coughing. “That factory is contaminating the river,” he says through gasps. “I’ll wait until your human again then I need to rest,” he tells her as he sets her onto the bank.
In her car she rests her head back. That short time having the welded wire that looked more like thick bars to her changed form has her thinking of all the animals locked in cages. She tries to keep her composure but knowing now how terrifying it is she can’t keep the sobs in. Humans caging themselves, and caging other life. She clenches her fist as she brushes the tears away with her forearm. And they neuter other humans and animals. Who is keeping track off all this she wonders? Neutering should be reversible. An entire species of dogs or cats could be wiped out.
“Be positive, Rita,” she tells herself. She’ll have to investigate the ethics of neutering and if modern operations are reversible. Right now she’s worried about Marlo. He didn’t look good as he headed for his car. How polluted is the river water she wonders.
Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-one): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Each country if not city, town, village has sacred places. I’ve been reading Bob McDonald’s An Earthling’s Guide To Outer Space. McDonald hosts CBC’s Quirks & Quarks. In the book he explains that astronauts and cosmonauts really miss feeling the wind and nature’s surroundings. Next time you walk through the woods reflect on how important that presence is.
Leaving a part of herself inside the factory to become a chipmunk has drained Rita. She barely made it home because she was shaking so bad. Not just from the loss of body mass but from the terror of almost being caged indefinitely. In her apartment she engorges oatmeal mixed with oat milk and prunes. Lumbering towards her bed she is drawn towards the weeping willow. She touches one of the long leaves before plunking onto her bed.
She feels tremendous pressure, as if the Earth is pressing down on her shoulders, and so hot! Sweat pours down her body as she stares at a titan sized man bound inside a cavern the colour of iron. His metallic gray eyes stare upwards and his mouth is open. With each breath he exhales heavy metals spew out reminding her of videos of volcanic eruptions. His muscular arms are stretched out… his hands are jagged junks of metal. She sees lower that his feet are also made of misshaped metal. He’s straddling the cavern. His right hand punches higher up the cavern wall sending iron ore flying below where a molten fire burns. She realizes Kaneki is trying to reach the surface!
Now she’s on the surface. What she sees shouldn’t make sense but it does. Ailbe Rose is standing in the centre of Stonehenge with her arms and hands pointed towards the ground. A hole forms just in front of her toes. Oya is standing within a groove of Nyame Dua trees near the Asuo Akosua stream with arms raised above her head. Rán is kneeling at the shore of the Sifra Rift with her hands in the cool water. But Rae is not to be found and without her Kaneki cannot be stopped.
Rita wakes shivering. Her clothes, sheets and pillow are soaked.
Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-two): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
I made an open bin with plywood to throw in food scraps, dog poop and occasionally leaves. Every so often I throw soil on top. Over the years when I turned the mixture over with a shovel I found it full of earthworms and that the mixture had turned into soil.
The classroom has a new student, the girl who lit the candle without a match or lighter. The one who was arguing in the woods with Kanayago. She’s sitting to the right of Marlo who looks much better. Meanwhile Kanayago is sitting at the desk on the other side of Marlo. It’s interesting that all the elementals are sitting beside each other. On Kanayago’s desk she notices a small cardboard box. She looks for any reaction in Kanayago’s face that she knew it was her as the rat and then the chipmunk but the girl shows no curiosity.
“Can you tell us your name?” Rita says to the new girl.
“Ember,” the girl replies in a tired voice.
“Today’s lecture is on microorganisms,” Rita begins. She clicks on the projector where the screen is partitioned into five sections. Each section has a picture and a heading for the images of bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoa, and algae. “Bacteria and fungi are the main microorganisms that ingest the dead material.
“All these microorganisms,” Rita continues, “break down dead organisms into CO2 and minerals. I’m condensing this so you’ll need to read about how complex this is. What remains is called humus. Humus is carbon based and can hold up to ninety percent of its weight in water. Because it’s negatively charged it attracts ammonium and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and others.
“In deserts the main microorganism are cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria can desiccate so that it only contains 1-2% water. It will remain inactive until there is more rain. It is extremely important to get soil testing done before fertilizing. Phosphate, Potassium, and Nitrogen have to be added carefully so that an excess of salt isn’t created which will damage microorganisms. Next week’s lecture is on carbon engineering.”
Rita holds her breath as Kanayago walks up to her holding the box.
“I know we’re done talking about waste matter but I had a weird experience this weekend,” Kanayago tells her as she sets the box down on Rita’s lectern. “I captured a strange looking rat. I went to get something to keep it in. When I came back the rat was gone and I thought I saw a chipmunk running away. I guess the rat was so scared it defecated enough to escape. I was just wondering if you could analyze the droppings. Maybe I thought I saw a rat but it was actually a chipmunk. Both looked–.” Rita holds her breath as Kanayago searches for the right words. “Familiar.”
Rita can’t stop herself from gulping. “I’ll get it analyzed for you and let you know.” She picks up the box very carefully. The contents are a part of her.
Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-three): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
The federal government of Canada does offer incentives for people to buy electric or hybrid vehicles. Currently only British Columbia and Quebec offer provincial incentives. Because WordPress is seen around the World you could check to see if your government offers incentives to buying electric or hybrid vehicles.
After her last lecture Rita tried to research Kanetic Reusable Batteries and whether it has a parent company but to no avail. She also called Marlo each day to see how he was feeling. He told her the new girl, Ember, had told him about a dream she had.
In the dream Ember said she saw Rae in the distance sitting by the shore on a washed up log. As Ember walked closer she noticed Rae was holding an argillite carving of a man with hands and feet that looked unfinished. Without looking at her Rae pointed towards a tree. On the tree grew usnea lichen.
From her purse Ember then pulled out a paper bag and offered it to Marlo. When he opened it he saw the pale greyish-green strands of a plant. “Rae wants you to eat this.”
He did and has felt much better since.
Before her class begins Rita pulls Kanayago aside. “It was strange dirt you collected but I can’t return it to you.” Rita doesn’t explain that she reabsorbed the dirt.
Kanayago’s brow furrows but she doesn’t seem to be overly surprised by what Rita tells her. “Oh well, thanks for looking into it,” is all she says.
As Rita stands in front of her class she takes in a deep breath. This lecture is extremely important but could easily be misinterpreted. “We’re going to discuss Direct Air Capture,” she says. Trees, as you know, absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Vehicles and factories burn gas or coal and give off carbon dioxide. Too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the Earth will heat up. Ocean flooding, forest fires, and the melting of glaciers increases.
“Direct Air Capture attempts to pull carbon dioxide out of the air and sell it to greenhouses, turn it into fuel, or bury it as basalt rock. In the past there were only two companies performing Direct Air Capture: Carbon Engineering out of Canada, Climeworks out of Switzerland and Iceland. Carbon Engineering turns the carbon dioxide into fuels by adding it to hydrogen through electrolysis. Climeworks sells carbon dioxide to greenhouses in Switzerland and creates basalt rock in Iceland.
“These companies are not a solution though. We still need to decrease the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Next week we’ll talk about water usage in the house. I do have an assignment for you. Write a five hundred to a thousand word essay on the jobs you are currently doing or have done and what the company you are or did work for is doing to help the environment.” Rita hopes Kanayago will give her better insight into Kanetic Reusable Batteries.
Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-four): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
If you know of a worldwide organization that does keep tabs on how much food is consumed and forest cut down. Send us a message.
Rita sips at the sweet tea made of Salal berries she ordered directly from Haida Gwaii. The order took six months to arrive. It reminded her of the goodness of the world. Laws are now in effect that make the availability of food based on how much there is instead of trying to have it available everywhere all the time. Crops and livestock are catalogued to make sure there is always abundance in nature. If someone can’t buy salmon they’ll have to buy another fish. Wood considered unusable from demolition sites or removed from homes is ground into sawdust and used to create engineered wood. Stalks from hemp, corn, and bamboo are also used to replace wood so forest can thrive once again.
As she sips the tea and contemplates the safety of forests and other lifeforms she listens to stories and songs in Xaat Kíl, the original Haida Gwaii language. It reminds her of her mother, father and brother, before darkness overcame her and she fell into the long sleep.
She was coated in sweat within her family’s cedar plank house. The deerskin and woven cedar blanket her mother covered in her lay in a heap beside her. Her body jolted.
At the bank of the Masset Inlet, sitting on a rotting log she saw Rae facing the water. Without looking at her Rae lifted her right arm up with the palm of her hand facing up. Upon her palm a flame appeared that flickered in the wind. Within the flame was a tiny image of Ailbe Rose.
“Wanda Chéile,” Ailbe Rose called to her, “you must await the time when Kaneki is closest to the surface and the World is in greatest peril. I will slow your heart rate and those that love you most will think you dead. They will not burn you in your grandfather’s way but bury you. Remember them when you awake. Use not the name I call you by but the one Rae gave you.” At that moment the flame shot out of Rae’s hand into Rita’s chest. Rita has no recollection of the centuries that passed only the moment she awoke. She did not dig through the dirt but merged with it so that she emerged on the surface in the clothes she was buried in.
Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-five): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
As technology increases so does the opportunity to purchase more water efficient devices. It’s important to remember that water likes to flow. So to avoid clogged pipes you might want to occasionally let it flow down the sink drain a bit longer.
In the morning before her class, Rita watches the news. An 8.5 magnitude earthquake had sent a tsunami into the Haida Gwaii west shoreline. She knows the last earthquake to shake Haida Gwaii was in 2012 when a 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck central Moresby Island. That earthquake didn’t do any damage but this latest one destroyed boats and houses as far back as a hundred meters. The news tells her that the Queen Charlotte Fault Line is 350 km long and goes from the British Columbian shoreline to the Alaskan shoreline where it’s called the Fairweather Fault System. Sensors along the Cascadia Trench suggest at least one more earthquake is expected in the near future, one several times stronger.
Rita closes her eyes and breathes in deeply. The earthquake is a reminder that Kaneki is seeking Rae. He will be on the surface soon if she can’t get all the students together and she’s still missing Oya’s child of air.
She has red rimmed eyes as she steps up to the lectern at the front of her class. The devastation to her original home has made her desperate.
“Last week I said we would discuss water usage in the homes. There are a variety of newer toilets you can use, some have different buttons depending how much water you need to flush. There are a variety of water heaters, some that run on solar energy. There’s even a water reservoir tank you can get that holds used shower and bath water that you can use with your garden hose.” As Rita talks she clicks different images on the screen that show a variety of toilets, water heaters, and bath water reservoir tanks.
“Ultimately rental units are the responsibility of the owners but if you live in an apartment you can point out the cost savings to the owners. All they have to do is install new toilets, showerheads, and aerated faucets.”
“What about using less shampoo and soap?” she hears Ember shout out.
Rita gives her a stern look for not putting up her hand. “That’s a good point,” she says curtly. “Less soap in the water system means less time in the shower to wash it off. Next week we’re going on a trip to the University of Waterloo’s Biomedical facility where my friend Zsofia Juhász will be showing us the latest technology on recycling medical products such as needles, syringes, and bandages. Before you go please leave me the homework I assigned you last week.” Rita desperately wants to read Kanayago’s paper on where she has or preferably is working.
Kanayago steps forward with a thin sheaf of hemp paper covered in cellulose binding.
Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-seven): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
In Chinese herbalism there are not four but five elements: Fire, Earth, Water, Wind, and Metal. Metal fears Fire for Fire can melt Metal. But in our story Fire refuses so far to get involved with stopping Metal from destroying our planet’s surface.
It’s Saturday evening and she’s parked outside the new Grand River Conservation Area headquarters on Jennings Road near the Oakhill Cemetery. She’s about to get out of her car when she notices a young woman standing near the entrance to the Conservation Area headquarters. Rita immediately sees a blue with wisps of white aura around the woman, exactly the same as what she sees when she visits Oya.
The young woman’s eyes turn sky blue. This is the last piece of the puzzle. Rita dashes out of her car towards the young woman but it’s too late.
She feels a gust of wind press her back as a crow flaps its wings to the ledge of the building’s second storey. With head turned the crow watches her with one beady eye.
Just as she did with Marlo, Rita needs to decide whether to trust this stranger or not. She walks over to a nearby maple tree making sure the crow can still see her and decides to take a chance. She sees the reflection of the crescent moon in the crow’s eye. Closing her own eyes she feels the change as her extra weight flows off her shrinking body. Shaking she watches as the crow steps on the ledge her wings flapping.
In an instant Rita finds herself in the crow’s claws ascending to the top of the Conservation Area HQ’s roof. Once there she feels a constant whirlwind of air and realizes the young women’s extra weight has become dispersed air that swirls in a single location. The crow disappears and Rita sees a honeybee. She follows the honeybee to a vent and they both enter the building’s ductwork.
Rita hears voices with her chipmunk ears and stands still near a vent just above her head. A woman is arguing with a male.
“You can’t fudge the amount of toxins in the river Norm,” a young sounding woman is saying.
“I’m just adjusting the inaccuracies,” a male voice grumbles in reply.
“Too much cadmium, lead, or mercury in the water will kill the wildlife.”
“It’s only until the next lunar eclipse.”
“What?” the girl shouts.
“Wendy, very rich and intelligent people explained this to me. I only need to fudge reports until the coming eclipse blocks the sun so the ancient metal elemental can finally flow out of the Earth’s surface. The sun is the only thing stopping him because the ancient elemental of fire is hiding. Look I’ll give you a percentage of what I’m being paid.”
“You cannot fudge reports Norm! You have a drug problem and its affecting your sense of reality. So let’s get you some help.”
“Take the money,” the man named Norm says in a threatening tone.
“No,” the woman named Wendy replies.
Rita hears scuffling and gasps. She gazes towards the vent above her and sees the honeybee fly through it.
Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-eight): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Aesop’s Fables are full of animal characters meant to teach morals. In Rita Walker the elementals and mythological characters are meant to represent the connection between the Earth and its atmosphere and all of life. Enjoy the fictional representation but don’t forget the real policies and technologies out there that are beneficial.
“Get away from me!” Rita hears the man named Norm cry out. She also hears a very faint buzzing sound.
There’s the sound of scuffling and something falling over.
“Get back here!” she hears Norm shout with a voice full of violence. “I’ll kill you bee!” he says with a hiss.
A door slams as the honeybee flies with a wounded wing onto her back. Rita hops down the duct work to where it curves up towards the second storey ceiling.
Back outside she feels a gust of wind pressing her down. As the wind dies down the honey bee becomes a crow. The crow rolls its left shoulder and Rita can see it has some damaged feathers. The crow flaps its wings, grabs her in its claws and flies clumsily down to the tree where Rita had changed.
Rita climbs atop the soil that consists of the rest of her body and changes back into her human form. The crow hops onto her left forearm. Rita dashes to the front of the building where she can feel another swirl of air. The crow hops off her arm and in a moment turns back into the young women.
“I couldn’t sting him as a honeybee or I would be dead,” the young woman says in a frustrated voice. “So I buzzed him in the ear until the woman could get away. But he hurt my left shoulder.”
In the parking lot by an old red hybrid Echo, Rita sees a woman in her mid-thirties fighting off a much taller man. Rita watches in surprise as the young woman runs behind the man and simultaneously grabs the back of his collar while punching him in the centre of his back with her other hand. The man crumbles to the ground with a gasp. Before Rita can reach her the young woman strikes the man in the temple with her elbow. By the time she gets there the man is lying motionless on the ground. Rita looks for some kind of movement around his chest. She kneels beside the man and places her hand by his mouth. He’s breathing.
“Are you okay?” the young women asks the woman called Wendy.
“Yes,” Wendy replies with a shaky voice. She whips out her cell phone and Rita sees her dial 9-1-1.
“I have to go,” the young woman says.
“We can’t,” Rita tells her. “We have to be witnesses or nothing will happen and he might attack her or someone else.”
Rita hears the man grumble and start to sit up. She gasps as the young women kicks him in the head sending him back to the ground unconscious. “I hate bullies,” the young woman says.
“Who are you?” Rita asks.
Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-nine): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
The Haida Gwaii has carvings of three men with hats on the top of their totem poles. These watchmen tell the carver of the totem pole if enemies are coming or if there is any other important information they should know. (all references are at the bottom of blog).
It’s unusually warm for autumn and Zsofia had asked Rita to bring her class to Victoria Park in Kitchener.
From the driver’s seat Rita glances in the rear-view mirror of the college’s Ev Star Min-eBus. All the elementals are here now. Marlo is sitting right behind her with his arm across two coolers full of sandwiches and thermos with water. Behind Marlo is Aella and Ember. The other students fill the rest of the double chairs behind her and the single seats. Kanayago sits on a single seat at the very back by herself.
After the police came to talk to them about the attack the man named Norm made on the woman called Wendy, Rita asked Aella her background. Once Aella found out who Rita is and that she teaches the Environmental Technology class at Six Nations Polytechnic Brantford Campus she became more talkative. Aella explained that she was supposed to be in Rita’s class but couldn’t. She was volunteering in the Haida Gwaii as a Red Cross Emergency Response Worker until just a few days ago.
No one is talking so she turns on the radio. The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” comes on and when the song gets to the verse “All the lonely people” she glances in the rear-view mirror at Kanayago. The girl is looking out the window with a conflicted look on her face.
After she parks she and her students walk towards the lake that runs through the park. Rita sees a weeping willow. Not knowing why she touches its bark.
Shrouded in mist she stands on the eastern shore of Haida Gwaii. She knows its Tlell because of the totem pole with the three watchmen carved into its top. The mist disperses for a moment and she can see Rae standing on a wooden outlook with cedar rails. Rae is staring across the Hecate Strait. This time Rita can tell Rae knows she’s there.
“You have all the pieces,” a soft soprano voice says. “They must come to Haida Gwaii before the eclipse. I have already told this to Ember.” Mist covers Rae and Rita awakens from the vision with a feeling of displacement.
“Are you okay?” Marlo asks.
“Yes, but I need to get everyone to Haida Gwaii.”
“I don’t think that will be so hard. Rán has already told me we must go and the new girl, Aella told me of a vision she had from Onya also saying we must go to Haida Gwaii.”
“I wonder if Kanayago has received a message from Kaneki?” Rita asks. She sees Kanayago walking separate from the others.
As they reach the shore of the lake Rita sees Zsofia standing in a sleeveless t-shirt and shorts reading over a sheet of paper.
Zsofia looks up and says, “You’re all here!”
Rita doesn’t miss the remark: all here. Zsofia is the only person who is not an elemental that knows almost all her secrets.
“Have a seat but watch out for the Canadian Geese droppings,” Zsofia tells them. “What happens with our medical supplies once they’re used is quite interesting. In the past many of the sharps such as needles and syringes were put into containers and autoclaved. Hydroclaving was found to be more efficient so that’s how all needles and syringes are sterilized now. All other medical items such as bandages, gloves, and so on have to be sterilized and buried in a separate landfill or incinerated. Incinerating is becoming safer for the environment as stricter rules are enforced and as better technology developed.”
“Our health is hurting our environment?” Marlo asks.
“Not as much as it used to,” Zsofia answers. “Infectious disease such as AIDS, Hepatitis, and super bugs such as SARS will increase if we don’t keep everything sanitized. But to clean items like bed sheets or to sterilze needles means putting CO2 or other pollutants into the air.”
“A catch 22,” Aella says with a shake of her head.
“Less so as we use better technology and learn to waste less. Any other questions or comments?” Zsofia asks.
No one else asks anything so Rita stands up. “Thank you Zsofia. Well let’s eat,” she continues nodding towards the coolers they brought from the mini-bus.
As the others eat Rita walks with Zsofia along the lake’s shore.
“What happens now that you have them all gathered together?” Zsofia asks when they are out of earshot of the others.
“We go to Haida Gwaii,” Rita answers with simple solemnity.
“You want me to go?”
“Yes,” Rita replies. Zsofia may be part of the solution no one considered.
Rita Walker (Blog Thirty): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Nine Haida Elders got together in 1998 to create the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program (SHIP) to save and continue the Skidegate dialect (HIGaagilda Xaayda Kil). Vehicle Air-conditioning has become more environmentally friendly since the European Union’s decision to ban HFC-134a in 2011. (References at the end).
Rita squeezes her eyelids together as she uses a cloth to wipe perspiration from her forehead. According to Expedia.ca the flight from Pearson Airport Toronto to Prince Rupert Airport, BC will cost her between $400 and $500 for one way. For the other four elementals it would be at least double that for a return trip. Then there’s the cost of the ferry from Prince Rupert Airport to Skidegate, Haida Gwaii. Zsofia said she would be paying her own way. Now that Rae is communicating she knew the Haida Gwaii Elders would not make them wait on a list. For environment reasons there are a limited number of tourists who can visit the island at any given time. She hopes the Elders will help pay the difference of whatever the students can’t afford for the trip.
“I feel like I’m melting,” Kayango complains as they board the Pearson Airport Minibus.
“And I feel fine,” Ember says from the seat she shares with Aella.
Rita was hoping Marlo would sit beside her but she sees him sit instead beside Kayango. He lays his guitar across his lap and as he plays starts singing to her. Rita sees Kayango smile and hug him. As she does Marlo looks at Rita in a way that causes her body to quiver. She stares downward shyly to hide her reddening face.
Zsofia gets into the bus and plunks herself down beside Rita. Staring straight ahead she says very quietly, “I know you only bought a one way ticket.”
“True,” Rita replies.
Zsofia nods her head. With a shaky voice she asks, “Does Marlo know?”
“I think so. He also only bought a one way ticket.”
“Who do you belong to?” Zsofia asks as she squeezes Rita’s hand.
“Earth has Metal inside, Water all around and throughout, and Earth touches Air and Fire on its surface. But Albine Rose shares me with Rae.”
“Will you stay on Haida Gwaii or transport elsewhere?”
“With Water I can go anywhere,” Rita replies with a smile.
The bus driver turns on the bus’s SINTEFF air conditioner and Rita feels immediate relief from the unusual heat for autumn. She sees Kanayago sigh thankfully. Only Ember seems unaffected by the heat. Rita closes her eyes. She realizes Rae is affecting the environment to slow Kaneki’s progress to the surface.
Rita Walker (Blog Thirty-one): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Sustainable Management and Environmental Engineering are two careers that look for ways to have technology work a mutually beneficial way with the environment and nature. One are that needs to be researched and developed is what we eat. Environmental impact on a particular location may be the most important factor on whether omnivore, vegetarian, or veganism is the most appropriate eating habit. (References can be found at the bottom of the blog)
As they drive to the airport the driver puts on the news. Along with the unusual heatwave Rita hears about a disturbance along the Queen Charlotte Fault near Tasu.
The heat outside the airport is so hot Rita asks Marlo to help her carry Kanayago inside the arrival lobby. The girl’s skin feels hot and clammy.
Kanayago is able to walk on her own as the cooler air of the airport washes over them all. Rita notices that as they wait at Pier C to board Aella makes sure she is always between Ember and Kanayago. There’s no animosity it’s just an elemental thing. She listens in as the elementals discuss nutrition.
Aella is a vegan and explaining to the others that veganism is healthier for the body and environment. Marlo asks what will happen to the species of the animals such as cows, pigs, and chickens if humans no longer consume them. Ember says she is vegetarian and only eats fish. Kayango in a weak voice asks how someone who calls themselves an animal lover can be against eating meat. “Wolves, bears, cats, ravens, and even fish eat other creatures,” Rita hears Kayango say.
“Perhaps not one is better than the other,” Marlo suggests. “It may all depend on circumstances of survival. If there are too few cattle, pigs, chickens, fish, and so on, maybe it would be better to let them replenish.”
“And not simply replace them with other livestock or vegetable foods,” Ember adds.
Rita hopes some of the elementals will take Sustainable Management. Right now though she knows they have to get to the Haida Gwaii before the eclipse. That gives them one day to prepare to meet Kaneki.
A Haida Gwaii Elder meets them at Prince Rupert Airport. He wears a cedar cone shaped hat and a red blanket across his shoulder with the raven symbol on the back. “I will take you back on my boat,” he tells Rita in a solemn voice.
He leads her and the others to a white dugout longboat covered in Haida art. At the stern of the boat Rita sees a large electric outboard motor. The Elder must have noticed her surprise.
“We do not have time to paddle,” he says with a half-smile.
As the boat heads towards the Haida Gwaii she notices they are not going to Skidegate. “Where are we going?” she asks.
“Directly to Tasu. Do you notice the air is cooler here?” he asks.
She does. “Yes.”
“I must get you to the shore of Tasu before the moon blinds the sun. The cooler air tells me that time is soon.”
Rita glances at the others. They are all staring into the distance. “What preparations have you done?” she asks the Elder.
“None,” he replies with a shrug. “If Kaneki is successful the Earth will crack open. He and Rae will be together once again but the rest of us will be devoured in lava. Tasu has been abandoned. You and…” he sweeps his arm at the others, “…will be the only ones there.”
Rita gulps. Failure is not an option than.
Rita Walker (Blog Thirty-two): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
This is the conclusion of the Rita Walker story…so far. Normally I would remove a story once it’s completed but Taylor and I agreed it has a lot of environmentally important links. So we’re leaving it up for now. The next blog story is a thriller and takes place mostly in Russia.
Zsofia does not go with them. She tells Rita she will wait for the elementals who will be returning. She has also agreed to take over Rita’s class until the end of the year. As they hug good-bye Zsofia tells Rita to wait one moment. Out of her purse Zsofia gives Rita a stem of a weeping willow, its bottom covered in a glass aquatic stem tube.
As the longboat heads towards Tasu, Rita peers out into the ocean. Giant bubbles of water are causing tiny eddies that are creating unusually large waves for a sunny day. The Elder lands the boat on a rocky shore near a floating fishing village. Rita sees the familiar line where the shore ends and the dense growth of cedar trees begins.
“Go inward a bit,” the Elder says. “And don’t use the fishing lodge. Kanecki will bring a storm that might crush the lodge.”
As Rita and the others get out of the boat the Elder passes Rita two heavy sacks. “Go up that path near the lodge until you find a row of totem poles. That is where I recommend you try to stop Kanecki. I will come back after the eclipse.”
“Should we meet you at the shore?” Ember asks.
A dark look crosses the Elder’s face. “If there is a shore.” He waves as turns the boat around and heads out into the choppy water.
“It’s getting cooler and the wind is picking up,” Aella says.
As they follow the path between the yellow cedars and Sitka spruce to the totem poles Marlo takes the heaviest sack from her. “Smells like food,” he says.
“If we succeed we’ll need it,” Rita replies.
“And if we don’t?”
“Each of us will have to change into our element,” Rita replies. She sees the totem poles but that’s not what she’s looking for.
The wind is blowing everyone’s hair now and it feels chilly as the sky grows darker. Rita stops between the totem poles and unfastens the mouth of the sack she was carrying. She grins. Inside are red blankets with fasteners. On the back of each blanket are the different symbols for each element. She passes them around before putting hers on.
“I’m feeling much better now,” Kanayago says with a grin.
“And I’m freezing,” Ember says with a groan.
“Do we need to draw a circle or anything?” Aella asks. The wind does not seem to affect her as much as the others.
“No,” Rita shouts through the growing wind. She peers around and sees a young red cedar growing amongst yellow cedars. “I’m going to sit beside that redwood with one hand on its bark. The rest of you will grab a hold of my other arm. Except you Marlo, you will grab my hand. Stare at the ground or close your eyes but do not look up into the sky until I tell you to.” Rita clasps the weeping willow stem Zsofia gave her in the hand she places on the redwood.
Rita feels a different tingling feeling as each of the elementals grabs a hold of her. The flowing of water from Marlo, the wisp of air from Aella, heat from Ember, and coolness from Kanayago. Rita closes her eyes and focuses on the bark of the redwood.
She can see Onya, Ailbe Rose, and Rán at the same time. Onya by the weeping willow, Ailbe Rose by the hedge, and Rán crouched down with her hand in the ocean water. She can sense Rae but not see her.
Her mind configures an image to explain something unimaginable Rita had once heard. As the wind pushes through the dense growth of trees and in the distance she can hear the fishing lodge banging against the shore Rita sees an image that terrifies her. A man with jagged metal hands and feet tearing up through the ground of the Queen Charlotte Fault until his head is covered in the water more than five hundred feet deep. His mouth opens and out of his nostrils blow bubble of air that rush towards the surface. His hands and feet mutate into long thin paddles that he uses to swim towards the surface.
Her hand starts to sweat and she feels an oily sensation from the others’ hands. Kanecki is walking onto the shore of Tasu. She can’t make out his appearance because it keeps changing from facial features similar to images she has seen of Samurais, Zulu warriors, Roman Legionnaire but the eyes stay the same; metallic grey and determined.
Energy swirls around her from the other Elemental Elders and the Elementals holding onto her. Then, Rae appears before Kanecki, with one arm behind her head as she stands wearing little garb. Kanecki’s ever changing face grins. He reaches out to touch Rae.
But Rae’s eyes turn to fire and the hand she kept behind her strikes forward with flames bursting from her fingertips. Kanecki buckles over, stepping back farther and farther until the waves of the Pacific Ocean retreat, pulling him back into the depths. Rita hears Rae say in a kindly lament, “Fire melts metal.”
Gasping for air and covered in a sheen of sweat Rita opens her eyes. She can no longer feel the other elementals touching her arm. Instead she feels the brush of a small whirlwind, the heat from a fire that does not grow from a dead branch near her feet, and a large metallic rock that rests beside the redwood. From a few feet away she sees a large puddle of water. She removes her hand from the redwood and Marlo, Kanayago, Ember, and Aella reappear as themselves. To keep warm in the darkness of night they all huddle together; too exhausted to use their talents. Rita sits with Marlo to her right and Ember to her left. Beside Ember is Aella and beside Marlo Kanayago.
In the morning the Elder returns but he only takes back Kanayago, Ember, and Aella.
“Where should we go?” Marlo asks her as they stare across the Pacific Ocean.
“Australia,” Rita says hugging him tightly to her.
With Thanks to in order:
Taylor Norris, RMT, and co-author for portraying Rita Walker—earth elemental
Dr. Arla Kasaj, ND, for portraying Zsofia, firstname.lastname@example.org
Andraya Watt as Vilas, female spirit
Kaitlyn Lindemann as Tuath Dé Danann, supernatural race in Ireland
Leah Weir, as Ailbe Rose, picture taken by Kimberley Lee, www.kimberleyleephotography.co.uk
Brenda Gabet as Airmid
Gloria Antwi as Oya, Yoruba Goddess and Mother of Nine, Gloria is associated with La Sab Hotel—Ghana West Africa
Gunnhildur Gubjornsdottir as Rán picture taken by Gunnhildur’s husband Freyr Holldorsson
Kyle Montyro as Marlo—water elemental, guitar maker
Kaitlyn Lindemann as Kanayago—metal elemental
Katy Waring as Ember—fire elemental
Victoria Givlin as Aella—air elemental–model, actress, and www.artals.com Shannon Fitzgerald, photographer: https://www.instagram.com/sfitz_photography/ Tiffany Meatherall, makeup and hairstylist: https://www.instagram.com/tiffanymeatherall/?hl=en
Nicki Henry as Rae, Fire Elemental Goddess, pictures by Darren Henry, email@example.com,
Associate with: https://www.facebook.com/BikersAgainstChildAbuseInternational/