Friday, November 14, 2008

The Niagara

The spray was like thick smoke obscuring the skyline of Toronto across the border. The sound of the waters was not loud at the height from which I watched them but it was strangely assertive over all the others that were much nearer and louder. The eyes could see the towers of water making the waterfall and the mind couldn't possibly pay attention to anything but this raw display of power. I was at the Niagara Falls and needless to say overawed.

Is it any wonder that the Native Americans worshipped these falls as a God? The spectacle was breath-taking, despite being conscious of the fact that a dam had been built over this river and if required could slow this behemoth down to a trickle. We had full control over this thing of extraordinary beauty but I found myself asking whether we were worthy of it. The thousands of birds drifting in the air at the foot of the falls were distant specks from where I saw them, ghost shapes flitting through the mist. The raging Niagara river plummeted to the base of the falls running along on it's unruly way again unmindful of the nearly a couple of hundred feet in between, blue as it was before it turned into white froth for a brief period. 

Our tour bus took us to Goat Island, down a deep elevator shaft to "The Cave of the Winds" where we were at the base of the Bridal Veil falls. It really was windy and wet down there but such was the allure of the scene with the mist from the American Falls and the Canadian Falls on either side and the Bridal Veil right in front, that all these discomforts were quite minor. 

The day passed within no time in the bubble like peace of the waters and their sound. There were hundreds of people watching the same view at the same time yet it resonated at a deeply personal level for each of them. No one was talking to each other as they stood at the handrails gazing down at the ethereal scene. They waited silently to catch a glimpse of the fleeting rainbows that played hide-and-seek in the clouds of mist. Legend has it that these rainbows are manifestations of the Falls' protective spirit that has saved many a life which accidentally or on purpose took a tumble down the Falls. Although I am mildly sceptical of the existence of a supernatural world, this place was surely a worthy abode of the prettiest guardian angel. 

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