Pèpere tells me that we are lucky to live in the most beautiful place on the Earth.

Passes-Dangereuses was only named that ten years ago. Back when I was busy being born, and a bunch of other people were busy dying on the river. So they figured they’d just name the whole place Dangerous. To be like, hey, look out, it’s dangerous here. You know?

Anyway, the river is dangerous, but everyone knows that’s not actually what the place is named for. There’s stuff here more dangerous than the river. Jean-François says so, and he is thirteen, and old, and knows what he’s talking about.

And anyway, it’s not just JF. And it’s not just kids, either. The grownups talk about the wendigo too. They’re scared of it, because they know it’s real.

Me and JF and Marie, we know the wendigo is real, but we’re not scared of it like the grownups. Because we’ve met it. Pèpere knows the wendigo is real too, but he thinks we’re making up that we met it.

It’s actually just a him, the wendigo. He speaks French in a funny way that still works well enough to ask you if you’d like some jam on your scone, or another sausage. JF says he’ll eat you if you’re rude, so we say oui, merci really fancy, like pretending we’re from France. He seems to like that.

You can’t actually remember where his house is, to go over there on purpose. Because of the magic, I guess. You can only find him if maybe like it’s winter, and you’re playing hockey on the lake at just the right time, or like maybe you go looking for a new pond to try out that might have better ice, and then there’s a man with a scar all across his face who’s ice-fishing, sometimes, and he says “jesus, you guys look freezing,” and he’ll take you back to him.

Marie wants to be a goalie in the NHL, so we’re usually taking shots on her when the man with the scar finds us.

The grownups don’t believe we’re really having snacks with the wendigo, but if it’s not him, how do you explain that I told him once how Mr. Blanchet at the corner store ripped off Pèpere, and the next day Mr. Blanchet moved away? Or how do you explain how Marie told him how Stéphane kicked her off the shinny rink for being a girl, and Stéphane moved away too?

How do you explain that, hein?