the creek flows ragged at first

by underswansea


April 9th – 12th is the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the First World War. There was coverage on CBC of the ceremonies. The courage and sacrifice of the Canadian forces is historic.

I didn’t watch the TV. It didn’t feel right. Instead Willow and I headed for the same creek my Grandfather Dapper trapped and hunted. There was plenty of fresh snow.

Dapper may have been at Vimy. He didn’t talk much about the war. Later that year he was fighting at Passchendaele when the enemy launched an exploding shell towards his muzzle flash. He was 23 and strong.

Below the mountains the creek is breaking through. There is plenty of ice for April. Willow is looking ridiculous having been half stripped. That’s all Lisa could make her sit still for. She is a smooth Dachshund from shoulder to hind quarters and a Wire-Haired everywhere else.

Dapper was badly injured and taken for dead. It was only when he was found in the mud, by reinforcements, and they were checking his tags, that they noticed he was still alive. Everyone in his battalion were either killed or injured.

Dapper spent over a year in hospital in England. Several years later he arrived back at his home in Windermere, British Columbia. Now married and with two small children he set out to make a life for his family.

There are shoots on the red willow. The snow fell in hunks. It is still too early to fish. The watercress is bright green. Once the snow stops the birds will come out, but that could be days.

The ravages of war had taken a toll on Dapper, physically and mentally. He limped and had open wounds from the shrapnel still lodged in his body. He was down to 125 lbs on his 6′ frame. 

With the help of an old friend he took to the creeks and mountains to hunt and trap. There was peace on the meadows near the Palliser River and among the rocks of the canyon, searching for sheep or fish holes. He regained his weight and strength over time.

It won’t be long now and the lower passes will open, the bears will share the trail, orchids will bloom out of moss on the forest floor and the creeks will flow with run off.

Dapper couldn’t look at his medals. He rarely talked of war. Until the day he died, shrapnel would work it’s way to the surface and he would carefully cut himself with his pocket knife and extract the metal which he saved in a cup.