Our ignorance was profound. We had the waters to ourselves. That should have been a clue. Instead of thinking, why are we alone? I was into, wonderful, no crowds and thirty thousand acres to not have to share with anyone. It was mid-August, a time when all but bass fisherman, swimmers, and water skiers abandon Minnesota's lakes. We call them the dog days of summer. Who'd have thought northwest Manitoba could also go to the dogs? I sure didn't. But then again, maybe it didn't? Maybe it was simply a case of not knowing what the hell we were doing? Whatever the reason we boated not a fish worth catching in seven days on the water. But, we had a wonderful time.
Oddly enough the highlight of the trip was our first night in the park. Sometime after midnight it began to rain. Sometimes hard, sometimes not much more than a drizzle. But it didn't stop till suppertime. No one in their right mind would think of that as a high point and neither did we at the time. Just in case we were stranded, wind bound, or stuck in the tent for hours on end, I'd packed a couple of books and a deck of cards to pass the hours. The cards quickly lost their charm. In their place I pulled out a garage sale copy of Forrest Gump and began to read. I don't think I'd read to Allan since his ninth birthday. But because Al remained quiet and wasn't asleep I figured he was listening and enjoying the story more than the cards. So I kept on going, even threw in different voices for each of the characters. When I'd packed Gump and one of Garrison Keillor's rambles I'd not once considered we'd read more than a few pages aloud, much less an entire novel. Thus began a tradition that became as much a part of our trips as did the fishing. I sure didn't see that coming.
Whenever the rain would let up we'd head outside to take a leak. The soothing sound of spattering on the tent sure excited our bladders. Surely a sign of the connectedness of the universe. It's as though the bladder has a devious sense of humor and gets a man's juices flowing about the same time the skies open up just to get his toes wiggling and tubes pinched tight. While under the gray drizzle we'd light up and have a smoke. That's another oddity. Neither of us were smokers but somehow on our first half dozen trips to Canada smoking simply felt right and we enjoyed the heck out of it. Before scampering back under cover we'd raid the food pack and snack in the tent. I know, I know, that's one of the cardinal sins of life right after lust and immediately before envy. Mea culpa.
But more than anything we began to slow down, take what Mother Nature offered, and make the best of it. We learned that our trips didn't begin till we left our city ways behind. Over our days in the bush we didn't live the lives of explorers or even pioneers but we did forgo electricity, running water, and slept on the ground under nylon. We traveled under our own power, moved with the passage of the sun, and came to know each other a little better.