Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Boundary Waters, Section III

We saw fit to sleep in luxuriantly, and dined less extravagantly on lukewarm instant oatmeal. The people in the campsite next to us left at some ungodly early hour, so we saw fit to bring up the average a bit by dawdling around. The rain had left our tents in an advanced state of soppiness, which made them almost TOO MUCH fun to take down--not. In the end, however, we managed it, and canoes safely loaded we set out.

The first checkpoint was a river at the end of our lake--Kawishiwi--Gesundheit!, which we found with no trouble even though the lake was shaped like an especially gnarled, island-dotted lower intestine. Paddling into the river was like entering a dream--a dream of sun and water and mud; trees and plants and above all, acres of verdant water lilies. Perhaps not exerting our imagination to the fullest, we dubbed this passage "Waterlily Alley."

There was a narrow passage through the lilies, so we didn't have to run over them, although I doubt they would have suffered much damage. That, anyway, was the theory. Yours Truly's navigational skills were not quite up to the task, and our canoe frequently strayed out of the lily-free avenue. The excursions onto the shoulder probably did nothing to increase Mom's confidence in my driving skills. But I was not entirely to blame. Whoever heard of a canoe with a keel? Isn't that what separates canoes from other boats? But our venerable plastic--yes, plastic--canoe was equipped with one, and it made the simplest turn into a hard effort. The canoe Dan and Abe had, by contrast, was as I could tell, graceful and supple in the water. It was Kevlar and cost $3000, which may have something to do with it.

Waterlily Alley ended quite abruptly in an excellently situated beaver dam.. We portaged it with a little less effort than it took to build Mt. Rushmore, and found ourselves in a narrow, angry bay filled with rocks and mud which led to a narrow, angry lake dotted with zit-like rocks. It was called Square Lake. Mom and I set off along the shore, in search of the lake's two campsites, while Dan and Abe, by prior agreement, set off across the lake to a portage, to see if the preferable sites in the next lake over were open. Without a map, finding the campsites wasn't that easy, especially since we were fighting sixty-mph winds and a ten-foot swell. I may be understating it just a bit. Mom and I did find an empty campsite, and settled down on a rather hospitable little island with view across the lake to the portage where Dan and Abe had disappeared through, waiting for the yay or nay signal. Dan and Abe returned and waved us over. At another time, perhaps, I will tell you how much fun it is to carry three Cuisinarts over a rocky, 1/4 mile portage. We found a palatial woodland bower of a campsite, where Dan had stayed before, and found ourselves at ease. The bugs stayed well clear for a while, because of some gusty, lusty winds, but soon returned in swarming vengeance. Some more rain fell as we drifted off into satisfied sleep in our tents, bastions against the heathen mosquito hordes.


The vast, glistening expanse
Locked in eternal, rhythmic dance.
Sky's beautiful, fickle daughter
Not gas, not solid, but water.

The life-giving liquid of sorrow and joy;
Its changing mood and caprices play with us like a toy.
An unfirm foundation to our insignificant lives,
From St. Ives all the way to Maldives.

Titanic, Fitzgerald, how many thousands more
Driven and riven by sea on the shoals of death's door?
Yes how many battles, heights of human endeavor
Have been lost and won on the sea, in the past and forever?

Great Atlantic cries.
Sweet Gitchi-Gumi sighs.
Trackless Pacific shakes and moans.
Mediterranean makes kings, Baikal moans.


elisabeth said...

Hey, I liked that poem the best so far. Sound like a fun day.

Sola Gratia said...

When the heck do you work, Liz? I was in there today and Mom and Dan were in there on Saturday but no one saw you. Are you invisible?

elisabeth said...

Dude, I work thursday 12-9:30 and Friday 12-6:00. I don't work that much so that is why you don't see me very often. I am not going to explain why right now.

elisabeth said...

By the way I had this really funny dream about you. You were growing a close-shaved beard and had cool sunglasses on and thought you were really awesome stepping out of the spud.
I was actually in Baldwin yestarday too. But just tootling around. I stopped in a hazelnut.
Did you get a drink?

Sola Gratia said...

Hmmph. I work thirty hours this week. Well, I do have some pretty cool sunglasses, but in 'em I look like Brit crossed with Prince. There are people who should wear cool sunglasses and people who shouldn't. You have my word, I'm not going to grow a beard, but I'm all too likely to think I'm really awesome when I step out of the Spud ;).

Yeah, I had a peach smoothie. It was REALLY GOOD!! So I heard John got an nice Mac. Why don't you answer my email? We should seriously get the fams together and go to the beach before school starts.