Sunday, October 18, 2009

Maid of the Mist

The legend of the Maid of the Mist probably is completely baseless junk designed to give the millions of tourists visiting the Niagara Falls something to tell their grandchildren but it is an engaging story nonetheless. Like any other mythological story of note, the central subject of the story is an incredibly beautiful woman, in this case an American Indian one. Disillusioned at being forced to marry an old ugly man, she takes the ultimate step and canoes off into the raging waters of the Falls. She being the heroine of the tale does not perish like any normal being would have but instead is adopted by the king of the powerful Thunder Beings that live beneath the Falls. And they say that whenever you see a rainbow in the spray of the falls, it is her watchful spirit that is keeping an eye out for you.

It's actually really tough NOT to see the beautiful seven coloured apparitions that dance around the falls lending credence to my manufactured-for-tourists'-pleasure hypothesis on the origins of the story. This wild, exotic beauty is supposedly the Maid, the so-called Maid of the Mist - also the name adopted by the boats which venture to the base of the falls to help mortals come within inches of Nature's insane powers. The boat lurches in the wake of the millions of litres of blue water plunging into the Niagara Gorge from high up above and the thunderous sound is overwhelming to the point of being intimidating. A marketing man's tale it all may be, but the first impression of the Great Waters (as the native Iroquai used to call them) is still so gasp inspiring that the line between natural and supernatural goes very blurry for a while. It's a rare case where the final product easily outshines its advertising pitch.

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