Thursday, 24 April 2014

Celebrating National Poetry Month

In honour of National Poetry Month I thought I would contribute a couple of poems I have written as well as one that never ceases to move me emotionally. (National Poetry Month was introduced in 1966 to increase awareness of poetry in the U.S., and Canadians have celebrated since 1999)





Concrete Spirit - LC

 

This city is mine

November barren

grey and white

flecked with green and red streetlights

 

Its flatness is mine

out office tower windows

miles of horizon

small boxes puffing in the winter chill

 

The empty streets are mine

as people crowd inside skywalks

timid human hamsters daunted by the cold

I stubbornly stroll the sidewalks

                                claiming the bleakness as my own

 

This silent night is mine

tree skeleton shadows dancing on my bedroom ceiling

I lie exposed

warm in my solitude

 

This city is mine

It has a beating heart, but beats alone

you have to listen

to find its soul...




 

 Vagabond Dreamer - LC

My vagabond dreamer
drives through the night
I map his progress
golden push pins
in a map stapled to my wall
tracing his journey
 
Cell phone speak
Scattered sentences
I place them carefully back together
while I lay beneath my sheets
holding tightly to his words
because they’re all I have
 
The intangible him
is always here
traveling through my thoughts
a ghostly mist
of man and memory
Any form brings comfort
 
Another call
Another town
Another gold pin
 
If I squint in the darkness
they twinkle like stars
reflecting the streetlight outside
I drift to sleep
in my private celestial universe
dreaming of the vagabond
and me...





 


 
High Flight – John Gillespie Magee, Jr

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew --
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Turning 50


 As I enter into my 50th year on this earth I have been reflecting on the past. It is something that came to me in the middle of the night a few weeks ago when I couldn’t sleep. (Which, unfortunately, is one of the side-effects of aging that I don’t particularly enjoy)

I have not been dreading turning 50, just like I didn’t dread turning 40. Forty was one of the best years of my life because I deliberately focused on embracing it – aging is inevitable. Denying or dreading it would waste time.

Random things that floated through my mind included the following:

FRIENDSHIPS

The friendships that have developed throughout my life have changed as I’ve gotten older. I used to have many close friends whom I saw on a regular basis. I now have many acquaintances whom I see from time to time, and a smaller number of closer friends I keep in touch with, sometimes only by text or email, at least a couple times a week.

I’ve gravitated to those people who accept me and all my little flaws, who don’t care about my long list of idiosyncrasies, who don’t judge me and who can laugh with me (and sometimes at me) about the simplest of things. Life is too short to waste trying to impress other people. I can honestly say that I have some amazing people I call friends.

CAREER

When I was younger I often worried about where my career was going to take me. I had lofty dreams of what I considered awesome career paths – some of which included physiotherapist, engineer, teacher and writer.  My actual career path took quite a different direction.  Most of the jobs I held I almost “lucked into” by being in the right place at the right time as well as knowing the right person.  I know by having a number of different careers/jobs that I won’t be experiencing  “Freedom55”.  I will likely be working right into my late 60’s. Unless I win the lottery I have to be OK with that.

RELATIONSHIPS

Part of the reason I will be working into my 60’s (or later) is divorce. I’m pretty sure it set me back at least 10 years financially.  That said I am confident that I am in a good place. This just feels right. I have had a few serious relationships in my life. None of them comes close to what I currently have.

And that brings me to…

LOVE

I have searched for love all of my life. I have found it. I can’t put into words except to say I have never been happier, that I would be lost without him, that I look forward to beginning every day with him, and closing my eyes each night knowing that he is with me.

RAISING A FAMILY

I have come to the conclusion that raising a family has been the single most rewarding, and frustrating, experience in my life. I love my children and if I had to live my life over again…I would do exactly the same thing, because that chain of events brought me my two boys. I could not imagine my life without them in it.

LOSS

As I get older I am faced with loss more often than I’ve ever been. At the end of 2013 I lost an uncle, a cousin and her unborn child within two weeks of each other. Granted I was not extremely close to them – they all lived a province or more away - but they were family. And last month I lost my grandmother, Mummu, my last living grandparent. With each phone call I move one step closer to my own mortality. I think this is the one thing that stands out as I get older.  
***********************

Overall I am basically the same person I’ve always been. I have a few more aches and pains and I take longer to heal up when I get hurt. I would still be lost without books and music in my life. I love being a mom and I love being a soulmate. I also love people not believing that I am 50. It tells me that I am doing something right, that I have some pretty amazing genes in my family. I have to thank my parents, both of whom are still active, mentally and physically, well into their 70’s. They are great role models.

Maybe I don’t need to win the lottery…because I already have.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Reminiscing - Polar Bear Run 2007


 

Polar Bear Run 2007 - a 30km "run" across Lake Winnipeg from Gimli to Grand Marais.

 
**A friend of mine recently completed this same run and it got me thinking back to the year when I did it. I searched through my computer and then through race reports I had written for RunningMania and it took me forever to track ti down. I decided to repost so I could go back and remember exactly what I am capable of. More than I ever thought - I have to keep on reminding myself of that...
 
Southern end of Lake Winnipeg
March 11, 2007 - The weather forecast that the day was going to be great. I got up at 6:15 and had a quicke bite to eat before going outside to wait for fellow runners Dwayne and Pam, and driver Mike. They were promptly there at 7:00 and we headed north to Gimli and Husavik Road where the run was scheduled to start. It was an access road and there were cottages all around – no bathrooms and no bushes to hide behind. Since we were early, and after checking in with the few people who were already there, we decided to drive the four miles north to Gimli to find some bathroom facilities. We met some other runners, Ian and Cheryl, who had had the same idea as they were at the same gas station as us.

Back at the start area (There was really no start line as this was not an official race) we had a group picture taken and someone yelled out, "Shall we go now?!" Someone else said, "Sure!" and that was the start – no bib, no line, no chip, no mat…just a bunch of us running down the snowy shore of the lake. I started  my watch and made my way with the other out onto the frozen surface.  The footing was dicey and it was already slow going... "What had I gotten myself into?" was the first thought that crossed my mind. In about 5 minutes in we hit the official groomed snowmobile track. It was packed and fairly solid. Thank goodness for I am not sure if I would have been able to run 18 miles on something barely passable as a trail.

The first group spread out rather quickly. (I started with the slower group – those of us who had previously determined that it would take us longer than 3 hours to complete the run.) The ‘speedys’ hung back and started about an hour after us – in hopes that we could all finish in roughly the same time.

It was a surreal experience – running on the frozen lake surface. The trail was marked every 1/0th of a mile with bright orange posts, so you could see the trail clearly until it eventually disappeared into the horizon. But this was unlike any other run I had done in that there were no actual mile markers. I knew time was passing, because I had my watch on, but since the scenery didn’t change from mile to mile, it felt like I was suspended in a never-ending frozen wasteland.




Miles and miles of grey nothingness

There was a point about an hour in when I had stopped to take some Gatorade and a gel…I looked ahead, behind, to the left and to the right – all I could see was endless white. Aside from the other runners, who at this point were quite a ways either in front of me or behind, I felt like I was the only person on the planet. It was very close to one of the most humbling experiences of my life.

The time seemed to pass more quickly than I had anticipated and before I knew it, it was already two hours in. By this time I could make out the shoreline in the distance. It was interesting in that it didn’t seem to get any closer no matter how long I ran – even half an hour later it seemed to be the same distance away. So I stopped looking up…


Arriving on the eastern shore
At about 3 hours the shore had started to become distinctive and I could just make out cottages on the far side. By this time the trail had become quite ‘sugary’ due to the rising temps and the snowmobiles that had stirred up the track going back and forth. I tried to stay as close to the still frozen side as I could, but it didn’t seem to make a difference anymore – I think I may have logged an extra half mile zigging and zagging trying to find adequate footing.

Finally a skier passed me and said that there were only 2 ½ miles to shore. Those were the longest miles I have ever logged. Finally I came over a slight rise that separated the lake from the lagoon and I could see people waiting on the shore. There was no stopping at that point – I wanted to be done and see my parents and my two boys who were waiting for me on the shore. There was no finish line, no finishers medal and no schwag waiting at the end…but there was relief, pride, and a huge sense of accomplishment.
 


Fellow runners who had come in before me were there with big hugs and congratulations. I found out from couple of veteran runners that conditions were the best they had been in years. I couldn't imagine running in worse conditions than the final half an hour out there.

I completed the just-under-18-mile run in 3 hours 35 minutes.
 




Building forts under the drifing snow blown in from the lake
 It was a was gone in a couple of hours and I was already thinking of the next one.wonderful run, the soreness

My kids had a great time playing on the shoreline waiting for me to arrive. They were also treated to a "tour" of our bombardier that carried gels, water, power bars and gatorade back and forth along the trail.

**I have not done this run since then - that was 6 years ago and after listening to my friend Bob's experience it made me want to revisit this amazing experience.

 


 

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Through the Lens


In an earlier entry this year I mentioned a friend of mine and how we spent many afternoons with our cameras in tow.   In a sense photography has always been a big part of my life and I consider myself somewhat of a hobbyist when it comes to taking pictures. It began when I was in junior high school. I started documenting my life and everything around it with a Kodak Instamatic camera (those of you old enough must remember the drop-in cartridge films and the one-use flash bulbs) and used that all through high school. My interpretation of the world became a sightline through a viewfinder. With my best friend, who also had the same kind of camera, we would go for long walks after school and on weekends framing in our “nature shots” and dreaming about being professional photographers one day. 


In grade 12 my boyfriend at the time generously gave me a fully manual Yashica 35mm camera. It was my constant companion and I can’t count the number of rolls of film I blew off trying to get “just the right shot”. Of course in those days I didn’t have the luxury of instant gratification like we do in today’s digital age, and had to wait sometimes a couple weeks for the film I sent off to be developed only to find out that it had all been overexposed or blurry. By then the opportunity for the shot was long past.  

Regardless, I was soon able to predict with accuracy what would be a good picture. One year I enlarged 12 of my best shots and hand-made a calendar for my father for Christmas. He was speechless – something rare in my father – as he flipped through it . I became the go-to photographer in the family.

Later, shortly out of University and working for a small town newspaper I was able to learn darkroom techniques and would spend my spare time on weekends in the “cave” experimenting with black and white photography. Back in the city after a couple years I  would“borrow” my boyfriend’s pass-code and used the university dark-room whenever I could,( always purchasing my own supplies) but loving the equipment they had available, enlargers and filters and things that could manipulate my images into something as close to an art form as I had ever produced. (Today my old camera gathers dust. The Yashica still sits in its case on a shelf in the house and I can’t remember the last time I purchased a roll of film - do they even still sell film in rolls?). 

But unstoppable time continued to march and in came the age of digital. I reluctantly gave in and purchased a digital camera. A part of me had always envied those with digital cameras –being able to see immediately if the picture was any good, if everyone had their eyes open and was smiling, if the sun wasn’t casting odd shadows on someone’s face…delete and take another! easy-peasy – but an even bigger part of me missed the old days. Sure it was nice to be able to filter your pictures right after taking them or to take hundreds of pictures while on vacation and choose which ones to delete at a later date, but the mystique had disappeared.

I moved on and merged with the masses, recently acquiring an iPhone. I think it is a better camera than most of the ones I used in the past. I have also joined the“cool kids” and opened an Instagram account (lmcase37). One morning a week and a half ago I was on my regular walk to work when I noticed the sky was a brilliant shade or red/orange/pink. I stopped and framed up what I figured would be a nice shot of the sunrise and posted to Instagram. Later that morning I read that CBC had a Manitoba fall photo contest – all I had to do was hashtag my picture and follow them on Instagram. Heck, what could it hurt?

Turns out it didn’t hurt a bit. In fact I won that week’s contest. And it only took me 35 years.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Canoe Trip - Fall 2012 - Final Day



DAY FIVE – OCTOBER 3, 2012 – 4.5 miles

 
We woke up around 6:20 to the sound of the pines above us rustling in the wind and the water gently lapping on the beach. Clayton and I looked at each other and barely had to say anything as we knew what the other was thinking. Pack up now while it’s calm and get ourselves across the lake before the wind got any stronger. By 7:05 we were launching the canoe and chuckled at how quickly we were able to break camp and pack up the canoe. The waves were just starting to come in but the paddling was manageable. As we left the beach and found ourselves halfway to the point where we were heading I looked ahead at the moon just setting over the trees and the sun just rising behind us. The sky was a myriad of pinks and reds and oranges and the lake glowed in the morning chill.
We noticed another campsite and pulled in to check it out. By this point we were only around the bend from where the final portage was and we had time to kill. The worst was behind us. So we pulled in to explore.  Like the beach we had just come from this was obviously a well-used campsite but the location was completely different. Higher up on the granite shore there were a number of cleared areas for tents and another large communal area for campfires. In the summer this area would be great for swimming as there were flat rocks to sun on and jump off.

We pushed off knowing this was our last morning of the trip. The final bay on Buzzard was calm and quiet and mist was rising. We drifted through it eerily and it swirled and stirred as we slipped through pulling up to the portage point. The initial trip up the portage revealed that we had a very steep climb ahead of us. Clayton scoped it out as he was the one who would be carrying the canoe across. This would be our longest portage as it took us over 14 minutes to walk back, even without carrying gear.
As we loaded up the remainder of the gear, Clayton with the canoe and me with the paddles and food bags, we were silent. I walked behind him as he maneuvered the canoe up the steep slope, so steep in places that the bow was bumping into the rocks in front and he had to tilt it slightly to get the canoe up the hill. I prepared myself to grab the stern if needed. Turns out it wasn’t needed. I watched as Clayton deftly tackled the steep incline, placing one foot, pausing, then the next as he searched for footholds on the rocky hill. Throughout the climb he kept the canoe steady although I could see him beginning to work up a sweat by the time we reached the top. He adjusted the cushioning on the yoke and then we continued the rest of the portage.

From the beach we could see a point a couple hundred metres out. It looked sheltered from the wind and was bathed in sunlight. We decided to stop there and brew a pot of coffee, delaying the end of the trip as much as possible. We had just enough Sangsters for the last two cups. Sitting back, we enjoyed the sun’s warmth and reflected on the last few glorious days. It was a bittersweet a moment. As much as I looked forward to a hot shower and fresh fruit I was reluctant to leave the wilderness and all its beauty and simplicity of life.
Don’t get me wrong – it is not easy - setting up and breaking camp daily, cooking breakfast, washing up and packing the canoe, paddling, portaging, making supper, cutting firewood, packing and hanging the food bags before some quiet time around the fire with a flask of Drambuie. But there is a rhythm to the routine, one we hone each time we set off on an adventure. There is also comfort in routine and a satisfaction in instinctively knowing what needs to be done and doing it.

After we finished our coffee and washed and packed the dishes back up I called Mom to let her know what time we planned to arrive at our takeout point. Dad would meet us here with the car.
We took our time paddling back, savouring the beauty and soaking up the sights. We sighted two bald eagles circling above as we tucked into the lee side of the last big island. The only sound was the wind in the pines and the sound of our paddles, dripping and pulling in the water. As we rounded the island we could see the landing ahead as well as a couple of cabins in the bay. The parking lot was on the other side of the railway tracks so we got all the gear up and over to wait for my father. While preparing the coffee we also made up the last pasta salad we’d packed and while we waited for dad we had a bite to eat then pulled out our e-readers and leaned up against the canoe to wait for our ride. Dad was prompt and anxious to hear all about the trip as we drove back to the house. It was nice to have a cold beer and a hot sauna waiting for us when we arrived.

We’ve now had a couple months to contemplate and look back on the trip. Whenever I feel stressed I pause and remember how I felt that first night, sitting on the rocky point and staring at the full moon rising over the tall trees. I can transport myself back there. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to do these things with my husband. Trips like this solidify my love for the wilderness and spending time there with someone who loves it as much as I do.

I realized at the end of the trip that we took no pictures on the final day...:(((

 

 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Canoe Trip 2012 - Part lll & IV


DAY THREE  – OCTOBER 1, 2012 – 10 miles

 

We slept in a little later this morning and woke to the sun shining on the ridge across our little bay. It was slightly breezy and cool as we made breakfast. Camp was torn down and packed and we were on our way around 10:45. The portage from Teggau back down to Eagle was easier in that it was downhill. We had the canoe moved and packed up again in no time. Coming out from the creek the wind was from the north. We went straight across the bay to where it was sheltered and had an easy paddle up to the Buzzard/Winnage portage. We could see the falls spilling into the lake and an area that appeared to be well used beside the falls. Clayton went to check out the path and when he came back said that it didn’t appear to have been used much as there were a number of fallen trees. We concluded that this path must be an older one and that there must be another well-used path somewhere else. I went up along the bank and down the shore a bit until I came to a sandy and rocky beach. Not sure how we missed it but the portage was a great wide path leading up the hill and was quite obvious. Clayton brought the canoe over and we made our usual two trips over the steep portage.

At the top of the portage we took a quick break for some trail mix and took a look around the falls. There was a memorial at the mouth of the falls to a trapper who obviously was a regular on the lake.

Buzzard was choppy from the get go. We headed straight across the first small bay to reach a leeward area sheltered from the north wind. We spotted a small beach and pulled up to take a look – discovering moose and bear tracks. From there we made our way through a sheltered narrows until we rounded the next corner and found ourselves heading straight across a big section of lake, almost right into the wind. We headed to what the map showed as a big peninsula leading into a narrows dividing the lake into two main sections. We put our heads down and just paddled for close to an hour straight until we were in calmer waters. Our canoe held up well and we found it very stable, especially in the choppy waters.  It was strange to have one side of the shoreline burnt and barren and the other side lush and forested – the entire narrows was like that until we emerged into the northern and larger section of the lake. Waves were buffeting the shore so we stopped for bite to eat and spend a few sunny moments resting before our last big push.

As we rounded the point and headed north the waves were coming at us from the north-north west so we couldn’t head straight to the other side. We set our sights on a small island and paddled toward it until it could provide some leeward shelter and then we turned and made our way to a most amazing freshwater beach.  We arrived at the beach shortly after 4:00p.m. so we still had ample daylight to scope out a campsite and explore the beach. I kicked off my shoes and we walked barefoot in the sand from one end to the other. We found a flat site just up off the beach with a fire pit already set up.

Clayton started on supper and I set up the tent and bedrolls. We had a glass of wine and sat around the fire watching the moon come up over the trees. I gave mom and dad another call – reception here was not as good but our call was short and they were assured that we were safe on land once more.

We got up in the middle of the night to another bright shining moon – casting crisp as sunlight shadows on the sand beach. I truly felt like we were as close to heaven as possible.


DAY FOUR – OCTOBER 2, 2012 – 0 (paddling) miles



We woke up to the sound and sight of our tent being blown around by the wind. We made breakfast and the wind kicked up some more. Our entire tent leaned sideways in the wind – robust little Trango and a purchase that we have never once regretted.

We had decided the previous night that we would spend the day on Buzzard Beach. As it turned out, we wouldn’t have had a choice anyway. The winds were blowing from the south and the waves were crashing on our shore. Any attempt to try to launch the canoe would likely result in swamping or capsizing.

We spent the day exploring the beach and surrounding area. At one point in time the area had been used as a winter logging camp. We saw what looked like they may have been outlines for cabins a little ways in the bush. At the north-eastern end of the beach it looked like someone had set up a group use area with a huge fire pit area surrounded by four big logs for seats. There were a number of flat areas for tenting and they’d even put in “toilets” so you didn’t have to squat over a log.
 
 
We walked to the west end of the beach with our Kobos and a black bean salad we’d made up earlier in the day. There was a sunny spot out of the wind and we had a quiet little picnic before going back to the tent where we read for a little while, hoping for the wind to die down, even momentarily.

 
 
The wind continued on so we propped up the canoe so Clayton could set up the stove for supper without fear of it blowing out before cooking our meal. We finished the wine off and cleaned up. Clayton started a fire and the wood, which had burned only reluctantly the previous night, caught instantly in the wind crackling and popping. We were scared of sparks being carried off into the dry bush, so the fire was short lived. We passed around the Jagermeister as we let the fire die down.

As Clayton and I headed to bed we voiced concerns about the wind, which had not let up at all during the day and was still blowing when we zipped up the tent. If it kept up we would not be able to get off the beach the next day. We had enough food for at least a couple more days, but when I spoke with Mom again she said that there was some nasty weather coming our way. We didn’t want to be stranded out there in less than ideal conditions. We drifted off to sleep with the tent flapping and leaning with each gust.

I woke in the middle of the night to a deafening silence. The wind had died down completely and the lake was completely still. The moon provided enough light that we could have paddled across the lake with no aid. I felt some relief and hope that it would stay calm.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Canoe Trip - Fall 2012 - Part ll


DAY TWO – Sunday September 30, 2012 – 10.5 miles




I woke in the morning to hear Clayton getting dressed. It had cooled off overnight and I lay in my warm sleeping back for a little while longer, then got dressed and packed up the inside of the tent (stuffing sleeping bags into their pouches and deflating and rolling up our air-mattresses. Clayton already had the stove going to make coffee. I joined him as he was pumping water to make milk for the coffee and the oatmeal. I told him to make just enough for the oatmeal and when he asked why I surprised him with a small bottle of Sangster’s Rum Cream I’d filled the previous morning before we left the city. We had some coffee, which tasted quite luxurious compared to our usual camp coffee, started the oatmeal, and while it sat cooling took down the tent and packed it up. We sat sharing the oatmeal in comfortable silence. There were some geese on the lake and Clayton thought he spotted some gulls down the lake with his binoculars. After breakfast we quickly washed up the dishes and packed the bags. The canoe was easily loaded up and we were on the lake by 10:00 and started our day-two paddle.

The previous evening we’d noticed another point of land about half a mile away that looked like it might be a possible campsite. We decided since it was on our way that we’d check it out in case we ever decided to come back this way. The point could definitely hold a tent but the area wasn’t as big or as flat as where we had camped.
As we made our way to the portage the white things that Clayton thought were gulls we found were actually buoys (bleach bottles) tied down marking low water and rocky areas. We remembered that we didn’t have a bailer (oops!) and saw that one of the markers was actually two bottles tied together. We “borrowed” one of the two bottles to make a bailer for our canoe. J Two minutes later we were at the portage. This one was very short and we were able to take the heavier items down in one trip and just pick up the canoe with the rest of the gear for the second trip. It was amazing to see how many fishing boats and motors were stored at these points –money just sitting there. We also saw the skeletal remains of an old wooden boat from many days gone by.

The next lake, Violet Lake, was very pretty with all the fall colours. Our route led us down into a narrows and our map indicated that there were rapids at this point. We approached it and all we could see were rocks due to the low water. Thinking there might be an alternate route that wouldn’t involve portaging we paddled into an adjacent bay. Nothing. So we went back, prepared to portage the canoe over the rocks. To our surprise and delight we found that there was a small winding channel connecting the two narrow parts of the lake and we were able to pull the canoe through using our paddles and moving slowly. There was another narrows a ways up but it was a lot wider and deeper and we had no problem just paddling through, keeping an eye out for rocks.

Just before we headed into Eagle Lake’s Trout Hole 2 we stopped for a bite to eat on a sunny shore.

Heading into the lake it began to get windier and choppier. Unfortunately the wind was against us (isn’t that usually the case?) We had to dig deep and just paddle to get through the next section. There was little talking as we concentrated on getting to the lee parts of islands and points coming up.

As we rounded the last point I could see the creek opening where it spilled into Eagle from Teggau Lake. I had been looking forward to this part of the canoe trip, and introducing Clayton to an amazing, beautiful lake bordered by towering red and white pines and sheer rock faces. As we made our way up the slow flowing creek it didn’t look quite like I had remembered. The fire that had come through a few years back was more extensive than it looked. The entire portage on both sides was full of burned and charred tree trunks. The last time I’d paddled up that creek it was almost like paddling into a dark tunnel of forest rising up on both sides. I felt completely exposed this time.

The creek was much lower than the last time I was there, and I just attributed this to the low lake levels we’d seen elsewhere on our trip. But as we rounded one corner of the creek we could see what looked like the water line at eye level. As we got closer we could see a beaver had built a dam right across the creek. Since it wasn’t very high, and beavers build sturdy and robust dams, we were able to paddle up to it, step onto the dam and pull the canoe up and over – even fully loaded with gear. Above the dam the creek was as high as I’ve ever seen it but it was still flowing slower than normal. The water here was also unnaturally clear. Eagle Lake is usually kind of murky and you can’t see much beyond three feet down. The creek was nearly crystal clear and we could see every blade of grass and beaver-chewed stick that lay on the bottom.

We arrived at the bottom of the portage hopeful that the fire hadn’t made its way much further but as we walked the trail to Teggau it was apparent the fire had burned right up into the surrounding forest. Putting in and then paddling up through the narrows before the main lake was sad. Fire had ravaged most of the shorelines and as far back as you could see to the south. The north face had fared a little better, but this was the side with the sheer rock cliffs and we couldn’t see over them. I pointed out one potential campsite I had used years before but it was pretty much decimated from the fire. We decided to keep going to option number two, at the mouth of the narrows across from the rock cliffs, normally a spectacular view. This was no better and in fact was worse. The entire south-eastern shore looked like a post-apocalyptic world, devoid of trees or any other greenery. To make matters even more difficult the south wind was pushing the water into the rock face and it was bouncing back making the waves unpredictable and not unlike being in a washing machine. We pulled the canoe up as soon as we could and scouted out anywhere that may be used for a campsite. It was quickly evident that we were not going to find anything suitable on the big lake so we carefully made our way back to the narrows and into calmer waters.

We checked out each small bay and finally ended up back at option one. As far as campsites went it was technically ideal, with a large flat area on which to set up the tent, a flat rocky area to cook dinner and a fire pit already made. Aesthetically it was a barren and charred moonscape, but it would have to do. It was going on 4:00 and we didn’t have time to portage back down and search for another spot. So we set up the tent and then sat on the sunny rocks and read and journalled for a little while. I looked over at one point to see my husband fast asleep on the rock.  Once again we had a quick dip and air-dried before getting dressed and starting dinner over a glass of wine. We cooked up some pasta with herb&garlic sauce and a freeze-dried Hawaiian chicken with pineapple rice. The dehydrated meals are light-weight, water-proof and actually quite tasty. They have come a long way. The one thing I really missed, especially when setting up camp, and there’s no reason we couldn’t have brought some along, is beer. A couple of six packs wouldn’t have added much weight, and it would have been cooled quite nicely in the fall waters. Next time!

After dinner I checked to see if we had any cell service and once more was totally surprised to find one bar although I did have to walk around a bit to find it. I reassured Mom again that we were safe and enjoying ourselves immensely. Then Clay foraged for wood and got a blazing fire going while I struggled to get a line over an old tree so we could hang our food bags.

We had another night with a clear sky and full moon. It rose over the ridge behind our tent, silhouetting the skeletal remains of burnt pines. It was so bright and beautiful and lit up our entire little bay. I lay down on the rock to enjoy the night sky and watched the moon illuminate a thin band of clouds that were drifting by overhead. They seemed to move very quickly, which was odd because there was nary a breeze in our bay that evening. I realized it wasn’t clouds that were moving but the Northern Lights. I have seen some spectacular displays of northern lights before but usually in the winter on a clear and cold -35 degree night. But I’ve rarely seen then so vibrant and active. The lights were skipping across the night sky, changing colours as fast as I could name them and radiating out in all directions from a central point in the sky like a massive multi-pointed star. It was truly amazing to watch.
 
The weather up to this point had cooperated wonderfully. I went to sleep hoping the trend would continue.