I don’t remember where I first learned of the Saint Lawrence River; possibly on a map of the world that covered my mum’s desk years ago, and where I sometimes did my homework in primary school. I think I spent even longer looking at the map than at my homework. I had no idea what the Saint Lawrence looked like, at what point a large river becomes so large you can no longer see the other shore, where its waters become salty or when it gets so cold it freezes.
There’s a very beautiful song by Québecois singer Michel Rivard, about Claude Jutra, a film director and actor who died in the river after fighting Alzheimer’s disease for years. It says something like:
There in the icy river waters
He saw his childhood flowing by
And made his body an offering
To the demons of the stream
I sing this so he will not die
I sing this in oblivion’s face…
It says so little of the Saint Lawrence, and yet it comes back to mind every time I cross the Saint Charles river in the bus and see it open on the larger river: a slow stream of cold and grey, so large it doesn’t look like it was meant for us. It looks heavy and quiet, soothing perhaps, for minds other than our owns. There could well be demons in there–but not the malicious sorts. Large, slow demons who can ride a stream so cold and find peace in it.