Snow Bear (Terry Christenson 2015)
In mid January 1961 I found myself on Franklin Island fully dressed in army surplus carrying a heavy pack and my dads 30/30. There I was standing hard on old cross country skis and leather boots. Only problem was I was in about 8 feet of Georgian Bay water. Earlier that day I had started as a trappers assistant helping Ross check his winter sets, taking turns towing the toboggan and breaking trail. We had already crossed several little bays on the outside heading south to Henrietta Point and everywhere we had crossed had been frozen solid underneath 5 inches of new snow. The wind was virtually non existent and the sun was out bright. In fact, I had been getting over heated in the lead and had opened jacket and shirt down to the long johns when looking ahead I saw about a 3 foot drop off the rock ridge onto what appeared to be the same surface we had already crossed without incident. It turned out that a combination of strong current, wind and heavy snow the day before had washed in slush on what was usually open water. New snow on frozen slush doesn't make for good ice. I was lucky in that after the initial shock I turned and there were natural stone steps to safety. Ross tore into a bone dry white pine with his axe after telling me to strip down. He always carried lots of newspapers for starting fires and after getting a big one going what little was left went into my partly dried long johns and jeans to keep my testicles from freezing. He claimed 'that's the first thing that freezes on a man'. Long story short an hour or so later the weather had changed to an all out snow storm and I was dressed again in not quite fully dried clothes that eventually froze and blistered me as Ross with compass in hand brought us back to the government dock at Dillon in a white out. I'll always remember standing there at minus 15, naked before the fire holding green branches out with wet clothes on them hoping to put them on soon without burning them. I guess what brings me to tell this story is the thought of dying slowly from exposure must be an awful death. It's hard to imagine a creature like the Polar Bear who has adapted to hunt in such an extreme environment where ice, snow and open water in the right combination is a rich hunting ground for the winter months. Apparently in the last few years young Polar Bears have been found drowned and floating at the surface or washed up on rocky shores. Eventually instinct and learned behaviour team up with a desperate hunger after waiting 6 to 8 weeks later than usual to find their frozen hunting ground. Imagine being totally drained of energy, cold, alone, looking for ice and seals only to take in salt water. I dedicate this tune to the snow bear who seems to be 'the canary in the coal mine' these days. If you can please support people like The Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace. Cheers. t
drums - Tony Nesbitt-Larking / base - Charles James / keys - Craig Harley / guitar and vocals - Terry Christenson / harmony vocals & effects - Chris Hess and also engineered and produced by Chris.
Equal In Loneliness (Terry Christenson 1993) Wendigos Present (Terry Christenson 1993)
In the winter of 1993 I found myself on a ledge seven pitches (one pitch=100 feet) up the 'Shining Path' (El Sendaro Illuminoso) in northern Mexico. A couple weeks earlier my climbing partners Jeff and Kevin and I had started the first ascent of this first of a kind 20 pitch sport route in North America. The limestone was bullet proof but the cleaning process was hard work on fixed rope after the aid ascent of each pitch. It seems like almost everything growing out of the wall had a thorn on it and looking forward to a couple days rest I had jugged up the seven pitches with enough water. food, camping gear and of course my guitar in tow. I wanted to be the first to spend the night on this truck sized ledge. I had borrowed a pick axe from Amaro at the hacienda below and arriving on the ledge an hour or so before dark that day, I dug out a level area big enough for my sleeping bag. That evening as the lights of Monterey crept into the south eastern night sky I had enjoyed a good supper, fired up a joint and over a couple hours I wrote 'Wendigos Present'. During this time it was hard not to notice a multitude of cute little big eared mice exploring this newly disturbed environment. They were very fast so I had stowed my belongings carefully. As I drifted off to sleep that night encased in my sleeping bag, they were not shy in running over me to get to wherever they were going. The next thing I remember is being in a dreamlike state. It slowly started to dawn on my waking half that whatever was moving over my face was doing so very slowly, unlike a mouse. Instantly fully awake my right hand brushed it off as I sat up and reached for my headlamp. I don't know if you can imagine a large tarantula upside down trying to right itself, but that sight stood my ass directly up and away. Not much room up there. I began thinking I had dug out a nest of these critters but soon thankfully it turned out to be a loner. With a piece of left over kindling from the small fire that evening, I managed to upright this beautiful creature but it kept turning back toward me. Eventually I persuaded it to walk away from camp to where the ledge became narrower and eventually joined up with several vertical spires to the north. There was no more sleep for me for the rest of that night. Put on the coffee, roll another one and go to the guitar for company. A few weeks earlier in Austin, Texas I had wrote a pretty chord progression and by sunrise that morning it became a song called 'Equal In Loneliness'. It will be produced by Rick Capreol this summer for the website. So often in this life what initially appears to be a set back becomes an asset.