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  • Writer's pictureKaren L Kurtz

The Mystical Fish

Updated: May 20

People ask how I ended up in Canada. They notice my flat vowels or some vestigial expression that followed me here from my birth-state of Ohio or from my 30 years of living in Indiana, and they wonder.

The short answer is "the fish."

It's true that I first fell in love with Canada back when I was a teenager fishing for walleye at Graber's old lumber camp near Dubreuilville, ON, but that's not the kind of fish that brought me here to stay. It was mystical fish―the kind that can hardly be understood unless one is willing to suspend disbelief―that started me on my way to being Canadian. The long answer is more complicated than this space allows, but perhaps a brief tale of two students of Jung in a foreign land will do.

I know for a fact that falling in love was the last thing on her mind when she risked everything to study in Zürich, Switzerland back in ’99. One could hardly find a more serious student than she. They both would say they had a delightful friendship, unencumbered by romantic thoughts.

They walked down the mountain to classes each day, sometimes taking the Tobel, where a gravel path cut through a forested, steep ravine along a series of waterfalls. Whenever possible they hiked up to the wanderwegs, trails through old growth forests with stunning vistas of the Swiss Alps that rose beyond the lake. They laughed about the time they got lost and ended up hiking seventeen miles instead of five.

And what were the chances, after standing in line for more than a half hour to board the Ferris wheel, that they would be at the very top when it stopped at midnight, the moment the year 2000 arrived? Fireworks exploded above them, and champagne bottles shattered in Bellevueplatz below where thousands of people cheered the new millennium.

It wasn’t until much later, after the mystical fish had awakened them, that they finally figured out what was happening. He had gone off on an adventure to Sicily with two other friends. She had hesitated too long and there were no seats left on the plane to join them. He thought it seemed only right to bring a small token back to her. Something unusual; but nothing too much, not wanting to give her the wrong impression.

That evening at a gathering of students he gave her the ceramic pendant, still wrapped in layers of tissues that had protected it in his rucksack. She unwound the tissue and stared at the necklace. “Wait here,” she said and ran back to her room where her dream journal was still by her bed.

The previous night, she'd had a vivid dream of an odd fish. All morning that fish had stuck in her mind, so she had painted the image in her journal. She brought the journal back to where he was waiting and lay the pendant beside the painted image. The two looked at each other, stunned by this strange synchronicity.

I’m pretty sure those fish already knew I would end up in Canada.

~K L Kurtz

Wedding day in Zürich


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