No Six-Day Job

IN the legends of the Micmac Indians, the story runs otherwise and takes a mite longer. Approach, my eager sannups, and I shall relate it as I heard it recently in Paradise. This, then, is how it came about: Long before the little bird came to sharpen its beak on the Pomeranian flint, the great spirit had been meditating in his lonely uniquity, and he couldn't decide if he should create the Earth or not. (I do not know if the Micmac theology personifies the gitche manito and so will not attempt to capitalize.)

This was a decision not easily resolved. For one thing, he was not convinced the effort was worthwhile. Then, too, he was fearful he might not do a good job, since this would be his first effort at creation, and he didn't want to make a fool himself. The great spirit had no desire to sit through eternity while everybody pointed at him and made fun of his mistakes.

He knew that creating the Earth would consume his total effort, and there would be no time to go back and correct absurdities. This deterred him, and for several trillion millenia he meditated, sometimes thinking he would, and at other times dissuading himself. But in the end his curiosity as to how things would turn out beguiled him, and one afternoon about 2:30 o'clock he roused and began creating.

With the Micmac legends, this was no six-day job. Everything he did was done cautiously and with great care and thought. Being a complete novice, the great spirit took his time and made every successful result a guide for the next effort. He didn't jump about from fish to birds and from bushes to trees, but took each item in logical and systematic sequence, being all the time well pleased with his success. This was slow progress, and consumed eons and eons, but it was a one-time project and the great spirit was in no hurry.

In the end the great spirit saw, as you might say, that everything was good, and he breathed a comforting sigh of great relief that in his untutored and inexperienced way he had done so well. He sat back to rest and reflect, and he had a dandy idea. Why, he asked himself, should everything he had learned as he created the Earth pass into innocuous desuetude simply because the job was done?

There should be some memorial that the great task remain recognized as the handiwork of the great spirit, his masterpiece. Why should he not take the heart and essence of his labor and combine all into one perfect symbol of magnificence, beauty, and delight? ``I'll do it,'' he exclaimed, ``I'll make a paradise!''

So he took the glorious reds of the sunrise and the splendid reds of the sunset (which are not at all the same reds) and he mixed them with the gorgeous greens of the fields and forests, along with the golden ambers of the harvest and the dandelion yellows of the springtime, and the azures of the sea and sky, and in the cunning dexterity he had acquired during the creation he fashioned his paradise on Earth. That his paradise should remain always bright and clean, unfading forever, he set it upon the water to stand as his perfect achievement - the prettiest place of all he made.

That is the story they tell in the Micmacs' Abegweit, the paradise of the great spirit. Today the paleface calls Abegweit by the lesser name of Prince Edward Island. As Canada's smallest province, it sits by itself on the shining big sea water of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, its red soil affirming the sunrises and the sunsets so carefully created so long ago, the greens of grains and grasses greener than greens anywhere else, the sea and the sky cerulean.

My mother was born on Prince Edward Island 102 years ago, and didn't feel equal to the trip when we asked her if she'd care to go with us to visit. She said, ``Perhaps another time.'' So my Dorothy and I drove to ``Thee Yighland'' without her, and I have just finished my letter to Mom that tells what we found. Her old home is gone. Jimmie Ross, of my mother's generation, bought the farm and it was bought lately by an ``American.''

Nobody seemed to know much about this American, not even his name. The buildings were removed, the dooryard leveled, and I couldn't even find where the well had been. The lane from the highway is grown to trees. At the far end of the lane, where Mother studied at the Hermitage School, a new home stands where the school was. Mother walked the mile; today she would bus.

We called on John MacEachern - the MacEachern farm is adjacent, and John's pa was contemporary with Mother. John recalled old times, when Mother's father ``had the finest fields on Thee Yighland.'' John MacEachern keeps 11 cats. I counted nine, but he said there were two more, ``somewhere about.'' Paradise beside, it's worth the trip to meet a man who keeps 11 cats.

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