Just returned from the Namekagen canoe trip – two days on the river, peace and quiet,completely isolated and disconnected. Incommunicado, leaving all the badness,stress and business behind to fend for themselves. I basked in the hot afternoon sun,stopped often to walk around,stretch out,and take a quick swim against the current. We picked a spot to set up camp a few miles down,around a quick bend in the river where the sharp sloped hill on one side provided good cover from any civilization in the distance. A few beers,the tent was up and the grill was ready. We talked a bit of politics and relationships,then sat quiet for a while – me reading my book and my dad simply enjoying the noisy sounds of being completely alone in the forest. Never mind that party a mile back,they’ll never last without the television to keep them busy. We saw a couple of otters come down river at dusk, bickering and fighting over a fish that one of them had caught. The scuffle lasted to the opposite shore when the lesser otter went off to find its own food. Which it did three or four feet down stream,with a quick dip below the surface and returned up with a fish in its own mouth,huffing and grunting on down the river. The other seemed content to finish dinner across the river from us,with all the sounds of teeth scraping and cracking flesh,meat and bone as we ate our own dinner of fine Louie’s Finer Meat home-made sausages.
We slept early,but woke a couple times at night to listen and watch for various nocturnal critters skittering and chattering away outside the tent. A raccoon was involved with a burnt-out beer can someone had left in the campfire some time ago for whatever reason. It clanked,snorted,chattered some more. It looked up at the flashlight we had spotted it with,and cared little. It knew where to get cheap,easy food. But not ours at least. The otter had returned to sneak around the back of the tent snorting away,and then slipped into the river. The stars were crystal clear between the high trees on the shore,and I finished my book by flashlight.
Soft air matresses are not on good terms with my back.
This morning as I finished up a fine breakfast of bacon, bacon,bacon,pancakes and coffee I heard some strange noise up river. It was an odd noise,familiar yet unepxected. Ah,a fucking motor. I ran up the hillside from our little enclave to watch a flat-bottom fishing boat putter down towards us with camoflauged hunters and fishing gear. I’d never seen a motor on this river before; nor many fishermen. There are countless carp and suckers feeding off the visible riverbed if you’re into boney,and somewhat nasty bottom-feeder flavor. In most places,the river swings between 4 feet to 3 inches deep,just enough for a canoe to slip by… leaving me to wonder what kind of hick moron wanted to lift and drag a giant outboard motor and steel boat over the constant sandbars and rock piles. We left them to their work. We saw more deer,another osprey,various other forms of wildlife. We pulled off for a short time today while the rain passed. Brief moments of thunder and a quick downpour and it was over,and I had just finished my afternoon beer.
Tonight,cheese & raisin ravioli,and sleep. Work some aloe into the sunburn. Relax out here on the screen porch looking back on what’s left of my old childhood forset,and not think about the return to high-speed,orange-glow city life. Not that I have anything against it – I’d go batshit out here in the acres of farmland. In fact,it all seems to reassure me that all the communication cables wiring up my house,the concrete pathways in every direction towards this bar or that club,the hum of my electric guitar… was probably a good move,I’m good at that stuff. I was never good at tying knots or pulling fishooks out of a northern’s mouth. Or getting on with conservative local types hell-bent on turning forest into lawn. Maybe a cabin and some land,a lot of land,with landmines for the hunters who skip the No Tresspassing death-notices. A place to hide out and lay low with our guns blazing out into nothingness. Yeah… A place to take your city enemies. They’ll never know how to handle themselves in the middle of a forest. Driving in strange directions on a road that can’t decide if its paved or just some dirt path on the tree line. Barronette County Citizen’s Patrol. Right.