The recent Easter holiday reminded me of one of my childhood experiences. It has nothing to do with settling into Ottawa, but I thought I’d share it just the same.
My parents have a cottage on Caribou Island, Nova Scotia . It is a secluded spot with a thick forest, and there are only a few cottages within the ½ km strip.
Mom and Dad’s cottage is at the beginning of this strip and my aunt and uncle have a cottage at the end of the strip. It is a safe area and even when I was very young, neither my parents nor I had any concerns about me walking down the wooded path on my own to visit my Aunt Bev and Uncle Rick. One summer day when I was seven I was doing just that. It was a sunny day, birds were singing, and it was great to be off on my own without a care in the world!
I skipped away from the cottage and rounded a bend in the path that marked the halfway point between my parent’s cottage and my aunt and uncle’s. I was in for a shock.
Right in the middle of the path was a gruesome sight – a severed leg, cut right at the hip. (Thankfully no other body parts were in sight). I stood frozen in frightened disbelief. Before I go any further, I should mention this was a rabbit leg, and not a human leg, but when you are eight and still believe in the Easter Bunny a rabbit leg is just as horrifying. Terrified by the sight of the leg and the thought of who or what could have possibly done this, I bolted screaming and crying all the way back to my parents.
I wasn’t met with the sympathetic and comforting ear I expected. After a short discussion mom and dad firmly said that I had to go back. I begged them not to make me go or for them at least to come with me, but they insisted that I had to confront my fears – on my own. I made such a scene that I was sent to my room and told to stay there until I was ready to go back. Of course, that didn’t last long. My plan was to walk a little way down the path and then just wait there for long enough that mom and dad would think that I had already gone to my aunt’s and come back without ever walking by the leg. However, mom was wise enough to call my aunt and tell her to expect me. There was no escape.
Walking down the path for the second time, I approached the place where I saw the leg and grew more and more nervous. I considered whether I should cut through the woods to avoid it completely, or run by with my eyes closed. But then I saw something was different. The leg was still there, just as it had been before, but on the left side of it was a napkin, with a fork neatly laid on top, and a knife on the right.
What I learned from this is the effect a situation has on you depends on how you view it. Through humour my parents were able to turn a scary situation into something funny. In changing my perception, they were able to prevent the memory of leg from holding me hostage from doing the things I loved most of the cottage – the freedom to walk the woods on my own and of course, visit my aunt and uncle.
Thanks mom and dad!