Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Ballad of Fern Deslaurier

My father was born in a town called field
And that's about the size of it
Way up in the French Canadian Shield
You should hear all the lies of it
He had a job taking a cow to pasture
And carrying water up a hill
One day the cow met a cow catcher
It just stood there stupid and still

He used to dive off the bridge through the logs
Once there were no holes anywhere
He had to swim three miles (just like a frog)
Before he could come up for air
He jumped off the roof with an umbrella
It inverted and down he slid
Waited for a rainy day (the clever fella)
Said "Hey ma, look what the wind did"

O the cruel winter wind like a knife did slice
The snowdrifts piled over your head
The water in a glass had frozen to ice
The morning thy found poor grandpa dead
O they couldn't dig a hole anywhere
So they stored him in a little brick shack
Grandma said "At least he'll be warmer there
Then he was in that house out back"

© 1971 Stefan des Lauriers

The Frog and the Snake

Perhaps one the reasons I remain optimistic may be because I witnessed a frog hopping out from the belly of a snake. It was in front of my grandmother’s house in Field, a French Canadian village in northern Ontario, and the snake had just been run over by a car. It was a summer day and we had just driven over two hundred miles from Milton, a town 40 miles west of Toronto. The cicadas were buzzing, competing with the noise of the lumber mill, which constantly debarked logs that had floated down the Sturgeon River. The frog was covered in slime, but managed to hop towards the river, having cheated death. Just beyond the road was the river, which I was looking at, to see the logs floating by. My father had told us stories of diving into the river and swimming under the logs, and how he almost drowned, having great difficulty finding a space between the logs to come up for air. Perhaps that is a reason for my father to be optimistic. Imagine being that frog, swallowed whole, in the belly of a snake, there would not be much hope.
What is the meaning of the frog and the snake as it pertains to my life? The frog represents me, being swallowed by the evils of society, with the future looking very grim. The only hope was for the intervention of a higher force. That higher force, the hand of God, is the car that severs the snake. The sword of truth and divine intervention is the only hope for a sinner who has been swallowed by the ways of the world.

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