summer of becoming- part 2 – me and the boys

July 24, Shirley Lake

I had hoped to slip down to the shoreline alone, to sneak from my tent for a private showing of the breaking dawn, but those darn tent zippers are like alarm clocks out here and it seems I have stirred at least one other awake. Still, I have come to the edge, if not into the boat as I had envisioned- though in honesty it was my own desire for stillness and ease as much as it is the presence of the other that has kept me grounded this morning.

I do not understand exactly why I opened my journal entry this way, complaining of the presence of the other (except perhaps that my journal is a place that I go to be alone with myself) for the companionship of my husband and my sons on this trip has been a deep source of joy to me.

There is a chill in the air this morning, enough that the convection fog is rising from the water in a steady stream, departing the shoreline next to me to drift wraithlike across the lake toward where the loon and her mate were swimming in and around the islands last evening as we paddled. Overhead now, a woodpecker drills for her breakfast, more distant the bullfrog’s low bellow, morning conversations of  ravens , the low hum of a few lingering or awakening insects, and morning birds chatter and flutter and chirp- with an occasional ‘Oh Sweet Canada’ breaking in – but it feels so very quiet nonetheless. Unless one is still and attends closely, the presence of life is quite easy to miss and this makes me wonder, having been so inattentive to the pages of my journal of late, what presence I have missed in my internal landscape as well.

The sky is so blue again today, with low clouds- those to the east brushed across the sky as by an artist in great sweeping strokes on the canvas, while the westerly ones are puffy like cotton batting. The moon has journeyed halfway across her daily arcing path, waning from her fullness of last week. …

We entered at the Shall Lake access point yesterday, the first day of our trip, and paddled through Crotch Lake to the portage to Shirley, then north the entire length of her to this last campsite in her northernmost bay. It was a hard paddle on Shirley, with the afternoon winds high, and we were all beat, but content,  when we finally made camp, which felt good – though I am keeping my codependent checking on everyone’s happiness in check.

There are a few other campers on the lake- we passed five campsites that were occupied on the way to this one  – but Shirley is a large lake so still there is the feeling of solitude here.

I have little more to ‘say’ this morning, so I think I shall listen instead….

Day 3, July 26, Bridle Lake

How wonderful it is to be with my sons, sharing this place of my heart with them. They are enjoying it as I had so hoped they would, and so I am blessed. This afternoon we are settled on the favorite lake of our friends,  who introduced us to this place. It feels good and right to be here where they have found such comfort and joy, in this place that feels like home to them, with my sons- like passing the torch somehow.

Yesterday, we paddled to find the hidden portage to Fog Lake, which, thanks to my sons’ intrepid bushwhacking up a dry stream bed, we were able to find. The ‘portage’ was straight uphill through the bush to a remote and pristine little lake atop the ridge between Shirley and Bridle lakes. Seemingly untouched and wild, the men were disappointed that there seemed to be no fish in the lake other than minnows. As they attempted to find fish,  though, I discovered much evidence of the life that frequents the water here- oodles of tracks in the muddy outlet,  a plethora of wildflowers, and piles of scat.  

This morning I was awakened by a strong wind rustling the treetops sometime around 4:30am, which meant that I stopped sleeping at that time, fretting about becoming windbound with less-experienced paddlers, which was unnecessary as we had no trouble at all crossing Shirley’s north bay to the portage. Walking the 1600 meter portage trail twice, once with the canoe and once with the red bag (UGH!), I spotted moose-berries and tracks in the mud. It would be so perfect if she would come visit the boggy end of our little lake this evening.

Later… a lazy afternoon after setting up camp, playing cards and full of laughter, and now an evening of exciting fishing for my men. (The lake is still at last. It was almost 9:30 until she quieted from a blustery day. ) Don and I paddled the circumference and fished for a bit, too. I caught a large bass not far from camp, my first catch since I was a little girl, but after the initial rush of reeling, I found myself feeling greatly saddened by the whole affair. It seems to me cruel to traumatize a creature for my entertainment. Silly, perhaps, but I likely won’t be fishing again… unless it is to feed us.

The mosquitos are now buzzing, swarming for shore and their dinner (us!) even as my sons paddle in to camp across the glossy water, with excitement in their boat.

I have no more journal entries from this trip. The companionship of my sons kept me outwardly engaged in a way that felt complete to me. My memories of our last few days bring a smile to my heart though. The fish that was in the boat at the end of this last entry was huge – a 38 inch pike that was caught on a smaller fish that my younger son was reeling into the boat. The energy when they brought that monster to shore was so primal, I felt as if I should’ve crafted a drum for the fireside celebration.

We moved again the following morning, taking the two portages through Kitty Lake into Booth, which was busy and where we landed on a sloped site on a small cove. The highlight of that site was the decision to move camp the next morning, after the boys had washed their clothes and so decided to pack up and paddle in their boxers. We landed on a gorgeous site at the mouth of McCarthy Creek, overlooking the bog. Don and I took the downstairs ‘bedroom’ while the boys set up their tents on the high granite ledge. Dinner that night was fish stew, with the pike that my son pulled up over the ledge when dropping a line (literally) after lunch.

The next day we paddled McCarthy creek to Mole Lake, a beautiful meandering paddle through the expansive bog, where we trailed heron around each curve. From Mole Lake, after lunch, my son, Jeb, and I continued exploring, while Don and Zach stayed back to fish. It warmed my heart to see my son’s eyes light up at the map as they poured over it, imagining the possibilities he now understood it revealed. The trek we chose to Raja Lake was mucky and buggy, though, and he was covered in deerfly bites by the time we bushwhacked our way through the blowdowns. Still, Raja was an isolated gem to visit, with just one campsite, and quite a few bays to explore, and I hope to return to her one day.

The boys continued to fish each evening, catching a whopping 117 over the course of our days in the park, the last evening coming back long after dark, which made my mother’s heart anxious despite my vow to cut out the codependence. Booth is a large lake, with islands and small cliff-lined bays, wide open waters and bogs. It would be easy to get farther from camp than you realized while fishing at night.

That final night the dark sky obliged with a wondrous fanfare, the stars inundating the night and our eyes with wonder, delighting us all with their accommodating and gracious farewell.




2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kidfriendlyyoga
    Feb 08, 2017 @ 09:37:29

    What a lovely oasis of summer peace and tranquility to read this in February!



  2. Trackback: summer of becoming | Emmaatlast's Weblog

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