Willow-of-course was a wind watcher which is simply someone who loves and watches the wind. In fact she enjoyed observing any movement not caused by what most consider living things. Her parents were hippies whose family and friends were not. Although they had planned to call her Willow, whenever asked someone else in the room would pipe up with Willow of course. It became a bit of a joke-of-course that inadvertently wound up on her birth certificate. In some countries it is illegal to name your child anything the state would deem weird. Not the case in Canada in 1978.
Willow-of-course was not a flower child mystic poet folk singer or reflexologist. She did love to dance but so do lots of people. She was a barista waitress once transferred calls at a call centre sold ice cream delivered pizzas patient attendant parking lot attendant sold subscriptions on street corners bagged groceries and pumped gas. Basically anything that would get her through on again off again university until she got a nursing degree and went up north to work with the Inuit or moved to Ottawa or maybe Kenora.
When she was sixteen months old her parents were killed in an automobile accident. She was miraculously saved as she and her playpen went sailing from the open truck box where it was not secured in any way and landed in a very shallow pond. There were sirens red and blue flashing lights shouting in the night lily pads bullrush and momentarily silent spring peepers. She was adopted immediately by an immensely kind and loving aunt and uncle who could not have children of their own. Brenda and Troy owned a convenience store service station and diner in Kenora home of Husky the Musky a forty foot muskellunge roadside attraction where Willow-of-course learned her excellent customer service skills. Growing up everyone called her Willow. Of course. When she was fifteen she entered a brief rebellious period discovered she didn’t have much to rebel about found her birth certificate figured a name like Willow-of-course might be just as cool as rebellion and that was that. At eighteen amid tears of pride and joy she got on a Greyhound bus bound for Halifax and who knew how many years of university.
Willow-of-course lived on the third floor of an old home that had been converted into apartments and was rented to students. There was an annual and semi-annual parade of roommates good bad and irrelevant characters she the constant lease holding official tenant. The sometimes risky status assured her the best room in the house which included a balcony and overlooked a corner of the Atlantic Ocean. The balcony was her refuge out of bounds no questions asked keep out off limits no trespassing space the place where she began most days forty five minutes before sunrise. With a cup and small thermos of coffee she would go outside sit in a white plastic lawn chair on a threadbare cushion and watch the most subtle and magnificent light show on earth. She could not feel but see the turn of the planet toward the sun and the multihued brush of light across cloud bellies and an ancient sky born again day after day. One two three the last stars dissolved a breath of breeze on her cheek a strand of hair quiet rustle of green potted plant leaves and last years dry brown and curled stirring into corners. This is where Willow-of-course became a wind watcher began to notice and relish the invisible touch push imminent force movement air current swoosh of her planet imperceptibly spinning through outer space.
On the twenty first day of June summer solstice by chance she was walking on a trail in the early afternoon and a most peculiar breeze caught her attention. Odd was the distinct definition and shape of it. Waist high about three feet wide a foot deep and as steady as any freshwater stream. Young birch poplar ash and maple leaves long needles of new pine and shorter spruce all slightly bent leaned hushed rustled and whispered. She put her hand her face in the flow untied her hair sat down walked in and out and finally settled beside watched and listened to its melody of brush and touch. Willow-of-course would have liked to follow the breeze but not today for it would be without beginning or end and would take a lifetime. She was hungry and already running a little late for work.