I promised last night that I would tell you a little bit more about yesterday’s canoe adventure. So, here it goes…We put our canoes in the water at about 5:00pm, just short of a place called ‘Pioneer Pit’. It was freezing cold, rainy and altogether miserable, but away we went. We travelled down the river for a goodly distance, and then emptied out into a smallish lake. Before crossing this lake we stopped for a quick break at a beaver dam. Here, I was challenged to do something that I would have never considered doing in a million years, but was somewhat forced to do. Our canoeing partners, Joseph and Harold reached simultaneously into a canoe and a backpack and pulled out a 30/30 rifle and a package of Winchester bullets. Joseph (Josey for short) turned to me and said, “white boy, ever shoot a gun before?” Immediately my hands went clammy and my heart started to race. I don’t know why it bothered me so much, but the thought of shooting a gun just freaked me right out. I mean let’s be real, here I was, in the middle of nowhere, nothing around me but water and trees and I still was afraid of shooting a gun? Maybe it was some sort of strange moral reaction to the sight of a weapon, but everything inside of me screamed not to take a shot. However, with a few more good natured ‘digs’ and ‘white boy’ comments I agreed to take one shot. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and frankly was rather worried about shooting myself, someone else or causing the gun to self destruct. However, with a lot of coaxing and a good amount of assistance from Josie and Harold, I managed to get the gun cocked and ready to shoot. Then, with one last fateful gasp of air I pulled the trigger and fired my first rifle shot at a smallish dead tree at the edge of the water. I’m pretty sure that my bullet came nowhere close to hitting my intended target, but thankfully I did not hear any screams of pain or see any explosions of red from off in the distance. I did not hit anyone, or anything, and that’s just the way I wanted it! The only residual damage from the gunshot was a steady ringing in my ears and a feeling much akin to a small child who has just stolen the last cookie from the cookie jar. I still, to a certain extent, feel like I broke some sort of rule by firing my one and only shot yesterday. I know that that is a completely irrational thought, and that the role of guns in life up here is one of necessity and cultural importance. However, there is still something strange about harnessing the power to kill or inflict harm, even if by mistake, that makes me a little bit uncomfortable.
After I had sufficiently calmed my racing heart, we piled back into our canoes and began the trek across the lake. As Josey and I begun paddling our way across we heard a shrill shriek from behind us. We cautiously rotated our heads and peered intently back at the beaver dam. The members of our travelling party, in the other canoe, had managed to tip themselves over as they attempted to climb back into their canoe. It was a sight to behold as dripping and bewildered canoeists begun to dry themselves off and empty their canoe of water. Soon we were back on the water and off in the right direction.
The next leg of our journey was sufficiently more difficult than the first. It involved a number of rather tiring portages a navigations around rocks and fallen trees. The route was beautiful, but by the time we reached our second lake, I was sufficiently bug bitten and wet! In the second lake we bore witness to more beautiful scenery, including a rather nice outcropping of rock that sprunge from the water. Aside from that though, the trip just continued on.
The final leg of our trip featured one more river, no more portages and our final exit into Jack Bay which is the Bay that surrounds Fort Hope. This final piece of the trip was absolutely stunning. Despite the cloudy, grey day that it was, the sunset emerged from just above the horizon and cast a brilliant purple, blue light over the water, and finally, after keeping itself hidden all day, the sun burst from beneath the clouds in an intense orange light. It was quite a sight, and almost made the day of cold, wet and rain worth it! 🙂
After returning home and unthawing my fingers, I realized that I really don’t love canoeing, and I really don’t feel guilty about admitting it. I know that there are many canoe enthusiasts out there, my father included, but I just don’t feel the same sense of freedom and joy that these people feel when paddling down a river or across a lake. In fact, I find the confinement of a canoe to be somewhat smothering. That being said, I enjoyed my evening on the river and would consider doing it again in warm weather…
Now, a little bit about today…
First off, Happy Civic Holiday! I know that this generic holiday really has no meaning to most people, but hoorary for a day off and a chance to relax! There was no camp today, as we took this day as an opportunity to get ourselves reoriented for our final plunge into literacy camp. We are down to essentially two and a half more weeks of camp. It’s pretty crazy actually. In preparation for our final camp activities we did a little bit of planning and recruitment today. The first thing that we did was take a rather nice, long drive out to the end of the road here in Fort Hope to check and see how the blueberries and raspberries were progressing. We are hoping to take our kids out one day to pick berries, but we need to know that they are ready before we make any plans. The berries were not even close to being ready because of the lack of sunshine we have had this summer, but it was totally worth it to take the ride out. The route to the berry patches is lined with thin evergreen trees. It is pretty neat to see the size and density of the trees decrease as you make your way out of town. The stands of trees are also often charred and obviously fire damaged. I asked Nanajean about this and she said that there are quite frequently forest fires in the area, but that we were unlikely to get any this year because everything is still so wet. On our way back from the berry patches we also stopped at a a seemingly random spot in the road to walk over to an underground spring of fresh water. Nanajean showed great courage in leading us through the bush to this spot. I have to make fun of her a little bit here because the way that she entered the bush was hilarious! She cautiously tiptoed to the edge of the bush, picked up three large rocks, then chucked them with a little yelp into the forest. Then she turned sheepishly towards us and said, ‘just checking to make sure there’s nothing out there.’ Then she added, ‘I usually make my sister walk ahead of me in the bush so that I won’t get eaten by monsters!’ In the end however, Nanajean conquered her fear and led us to a shockingly cold source of underground spring water. She enouraged us to taste the water, which we did. It had a wonderfully non-existent taste, that combined with its refreshing coolness, made for a most enjoyable spring water introduction.
When we returned home we spent some time attempting to recruit new campers. This effort turned up very few results as many people have left Fort Hope for holidays in recent days. We are going to keep pounding the pavement in search of new kids for the next week, and hope that we can continue to hang onto the ones that have faithfully shown up everyday since the start. After this fruitless activity, we headed back to our house where we finished off our weekly planning meeting. We’ve hopefully developed some decent ideas for this week, but our ability to try them will somewhat depend on whether or not we have enough campers to make them worthwhile.
We finished up our meeting at around 5:30pm, just in time to being preparing for our first dinner party in Fort Hope. We were informed, playfully, at the end of our canoe trip that owed Josey and Harold dinner for acting as our river and bush guides yesterday. We decided that we could handle that and invited Josey, Harold, Esther and Julia over for dinner. We had ordered a roast from the Northern Store last week and prepared that with mashed potatoes and vegetables. The roast turned out to be only marginal, due to some serious fat deposits in it, but overall the meal was good and the company was nice. After dinner everyone hung around and played some poker. Thankfully, Josey and Julia were significantly better than the rest of us, and made sure that the game didn’t drag on until all hours of the morning! I am happy to report that I didn’t go out first, and that I lasted until the midway point of the game. I am also happier to report that everyone retired for the evening a short while ago, and I will be able to get myself to bed at a decent hour! It’s not that we didn’t love the company, but our sleep schedule, as mixed up as it is, is still miles away more normal than the one practiced by Josey, Harold, Julia and Esther.
Alright, well I believe that I have quite thoroughly talked/written myself out tonight, so I’m off. Hopefully I’ll be able to do a radio show tomorrow night…