Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Elaine Webster
In Canada, the Queen's birthday is the beginning of the summer season, much like Memorial Day in the States. In 1974, it fell on a Friday, four days after we arrived at Shuswap Lake.
One evening an especially lively group invited us to share ice-filled tubs of bottled Canadian Ale and fresh salmon sizzling on fire grates. A large lumberjack, apparently an expert on the subject of newt courtship and mating, held center stage. In his arms he cradled a baby in diapers. A robust woman, apparently his wife, sat to the side with two more small boys balanced on her knees. Everyone giggled as Daddy acted out the newt mating dance. He handed off the child to another woman, set the two boys on the ground, and pulled his wife to her feet to help with the demonstration.
"Okay, Charles, now keep it clean for the children," she said mischievously. "You know this newt dance gets us in trouble every time."
Charles let out a booming laugh. "Well, most years we get lucky." He threw his arms out as if to embrace the group. "Mary and I have had three kids in five years, all thanks to my newt dance."
Charles then took a huge chug from his bottle of ale, stuck his rump out and his head forward, wiggling as if swimming frantically though a pond. He looked more like a dancing bear than a horny newt. Two men in the circle laughed so hard they fell off their camp stools. Mary bowed toward her husband and he began to rub his chin seductively across the top of her head.
The woman next to me nudged me with her elbow. "That's how the male newt gets the female excited. It's their courtship ritual. Works for these two, that's for sure."
Someone yelled, "Hey, this is a family affair . . . no X-rated entertainment allowed." The crowd roared.
Then Charles straightened, pushed out his chest, and pulled a handful of bird seed from his pocket. His wife took a similar but somewhat more dignified stance behind him. In this manner they circled the campfire, Charles strutting and sprinkling seed while his wife followed, collecting it in a small basket.
After a few minutes, when the roar of the crowd had subsided, one of the boys cried out, "Oh boy, I'm going to have a baby sister!"
"How do you know it'll be a girl? someone asked.
"My mother's carrying a pink basket!" he exclaimed.
Blake and I laughed along with everybody else. When we finally caught our breath, we waved and shouted thank-yous and receded into the darkness. I took his hand and we walked that way back to our campsite.
"That was the funniest thing I've ever seen," I said.
"Yeah, those Canadians sure know how to party. I wonder if they really believe that's how babies are made."
Elaine Webster is a staff writer for the Ezine, Greener Living Today.
She recently published Jesse's Tale, a memoir about life with an adopted greyhound.
She lives in Windsor, California and her e-mail address is Elaine@mediadesign-mds.com.
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