The Lady of our Lake
by Elizabeth Glenn-Copeland
They call her 'the Goddess', and by ‘they’ I mean my family. She is the greatest of the Great Lakes, thus earning her the name Lake Superior. To sit with her is to sit in the presence of the Mystery. And if you are willing to sit long enough and quietly enough, the Mystery will unfold and speak to you. I learned this when I was 11.
That year my mother made me an orange dress. And unlike all the other dresses she had made for me, this one actually fit. When I wore it I felt pretty, in spite of my coke bottle thick glasses. I wore the dress to the community summer picnic in the town of Wawa where we lived and was as proud as I could be. All the kids from the neighbourhood showed up and I was glad to see Janet, my friend from ballet class. She was a sister ‘shy girl’, and we two paired up determined to shed our shells of shyness. I discovered cheddar cheese that day. My mom had a dairy allergy, so we never had cheese in the house, but on the tray of snacks laid out in the shade of the gazebo, was a platter of cheddar cut up into bite size bits. That and chips with onion dip made my palate sing. As the afternoon wore on, someone brought out a boom box and put on some music so we ‘youngsters’ could dance. Janet and I showed off some of our best ballet moves. We twirled and leapt high, bare toes pointed for all to see. I felt delightfully free dancing in the afternoon sun and found myself laughing for no apparent reason and flirting with a boy from up river.
At dinnertime we ate barbeque chicken and potato salad and after that the adults joined us and danced. All except my father, who I could see out of the corner of my eye. He was sitting under the big cedar they called ‘the Grandfather’ nursing a drink. I approached him, but the dark vacant brooding of his eyes told me to stay away. My mother watched him nervously from the dessert table.
A cool mist blew in from the water and Janet and I decided to take our dessert and go for a walk down to the lake. Janet took off her shoes and ran down the beach and I settled myself down on a rock to finish up my butter tart. The image of my father loomed large in my mind. I brushed the pastry crumbs from my lap and stared out into the blue grey water. That’s when I saw her.
Up from the water and out of the mists she rose. Her eyes shone like crystal and she swayed to and fro with the rhythm of the water.
“Why come you here?” her voice sighed into the wind. I tried to speak, but found I could not. She lifted the swirling mists of her arms and pulled down a piece of cloud. It lay around her shoulder like a mantle.
“Things are not as they seem.” Her breath came cold on my face. “Storms clear the air and lightening signals a time of change. Do not be pulled into the vortex of the winds, but merely observe. Heed me and all will be well.” As she grew and shimmered on the horizon she laughed, her voice at once like bells ringing and glass breaking. A gull pierced her heart and like a starburst, she disappeared. The waves rose and crashed onto the shore and I looked down to see a tiny songbird resting on the orange shelf of my lap.
“Angie!” Janet shouted, running up to me and pointing down the beach. I followed the direction of her arm and saw my father weaving towards us, a bottle in his hand. His face was twisted and angry. His eyes flashed when he saw me and I jumped up. The songbird twilled and was away, her wings catching the air soundlessly. I smoothed down the fabric of my orange dress and took Janet’s hand. My father stumbled towards me, the malevolence in his eyes growing. A cool breath whispered into my ear to be still. The wind rose up as the sky darkened. Lightening flashed and the rain came.
Elizabeth Glenn-Copeland is a professional performing artist who has sung, danced and acted her way across two continents over the last three decades. Needing a total change of pace, she has recently become a prof essional hermit. The pay is poor but it allows her to follow another of her great passions, which is writing. She has had her stories, poems and essays published in – ‘The Lorelei Signal’, ‘Mystic Signals’,‘Quick Brown Fox’, ‘Stories of Faith and Prayer’, ‘Vitality Magazine’ and ‘So to Speak’. She lives in the Almaguin Highlands with her composer husband, Glenn and two very eccentric cats.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'The Sky Under'
'Sunset In A River Town'