Destination = Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada -
I hear the roar before I see the cause. I am high up in a hotel, and I’ve opened the sliding door to the outdoors. It judders open, clearly not used often. I shut off the air conditioning immediately, and it takes a long while to wind down. It is used constantly.
Down below the window is a street and to right is the town of Niagara. The hotels look made of plastic. The dinosaur mini-golf course is visible, mainly through the chipped and faded dinosaur statues rising above short trees. The fun arcade of clanging games is lit up. The smell of hot dogs and other unwholefoods drift on the breeze.
To the left is Niagara Falls. It’s mid-afternoon. I can see one Maid of the Mist ferry coming out of the Falls, and another chugging down towards the cascade. White mist rises and floats. I feel pulled there by the collarbones, a primal urge to go there immediately.
The Excellent Husband (TEH) pats my hand.
“Okay, Pocahontas, let’s go.”
After days in the concrete of Montreal and Toronto, I am more than ready for Mother Nature.
I hurry him to the ticket box for the Maid of the Mist. Along with my ticket, I’m handed a bright blue flimsy poncho. I look at it with contempt. Just how needed is this portable sauna? I don’t want to be like every other tourist. To hell with it. TEH models his poncho with hood up.
“Oh TEH, that is a very unattractive look,” I say. I ponce about, poncho-free in tee shirt and shorts.
“Unattractive and dry,” he says.
“Don’t you want to just have the Falls all over you, though? Really experience it?”
“Let nature be on you?”
“Nature, it’s all over me. Get it off!” He quotes Melman the neurotic giraffe from ‘Madagascar’.
I am bouncing on my toes as we wait in line. I can’t wait to go into the Falls.
We crowd aboard the sturdy ferry, and I am not quick enough to get a spot up near the prow, so I rush for starboard to at least secure a viewing spot. I’m next to TEH on my left, and two ladies on my right who are secure in their ponchos.
“Aren’t you going to put yours on?” one asks.
“You’ll get very wet,” the other cautions.
I pause. Very wet?
“Soaked,” the other agrees.
I put on my poncho. I’m a tourist. I have no time to be nicking back to the hotel to change. Besides, my suitcase is full of dirty clothes.
The ferry pulls away from the quay and off we go, heading upstream towards the Falls. The water becomes choppier, and we plough up and down ever so slightly. I am sure in my walking sandals, the ones that look so clumpy and daggy in every photo.
Rocks and hardy green foliage compete for space along the banks of the river. Rainbows come and go in the light mist. The roar of the falling water increases. I have a building sense of deity around me, and my gaze is forced upwards. A male presence, which strikes me as odd. My training has taught me that the water element is female. Earth and Water female, Fire and Air male. I expected a strong goddess to be here. I have done no research beforehand, wanting to have my own experience uncoloured.
But, definitely a male feeling to these Falls. Later, I would learn of the God who lives behind the Falls, a native Canadian legend. Heno, the god of thunder, lives inside the Falls. It is His presence that I feel.
And then, we enter the thick mist, and it becomes sprays of water. I am indeed soaked from the knee downwards and my face drips. It pours down the neck of the poncho and my shoulders and cleavage are wet. Oh to hell with it. I tear off the poncho and stand strong on the deck of the ferry. I raise my arms in the air and allow the waters of Niagara to claim me. Silently, I invoke the God and Goddess to witness my communion with the water element. I scream, and the Falls are so loud that I cannot even hear myself. Certainly, no one else can.
Before and above us, thousands of litres of water thunder down each and every second. They churn and turn above the edge of the Falls, turning white, and then pour over as an unstoppable cascade.
I understand the urge some have to dive into those waters and roar down the Falls. I wouldn’t do it, but I feel drawn to the water, to the power that is crackling here.
The ferry turns slowly in the wild water, so that all can see the Falls, and then begins its journey upstream. I am breathless.
Back at the dock, I squelch onto dry land, insufferably pleased with myself.
“Nature, it’s all over me. Get it off,” I say to TEH. I grin. He grins back.
“Let’s go again,” I say.
“If we must.”
I eat fast.
Photo: Goddess of The Falls - Niagara, Ontario, Canada _ TEH