Friday, February 17, 2017

The Candle

     Over the last few years I've posted close to six hundred blog entries. Don't know if that's a sign of an active mind or simply having time on my hands. Coincidently, the entries began not long after I retired, so call it time on my hands. Most of the posts have been about the past. Makes sense, I've had a lot more of that than what's left of my life. Not complaining, that's just the way she is. Also, writing of the past allows me to relive it, see some of the truth behind the scenes that I missed as time was whizzing by and have a little mental fun at the same time. It's like trying to grab a handful of water. Runs away. faster than a man gran get a grip on it.
     These days I'm into using the entries as a base for a few books. Three for sure, maybe four. All well and good. I'm having a good time and leaving something of me behind for my grandchildren to use as a model of what not to do with their lives. Not that my days have been a complete mess, more that the screw-ups of life tend to be interesting. It's like the old saw about being in combat, ninety-nine percent boredom and one percent terror.
     But I'm running into problems. At my age, two weeks shy of my seventieth birthday, my chances to write of future days in the outdoors are dwindling. Not much candle left. Me, I see what wax and wick remains as opportunity. Opportunity that's quickly melting away. Best use the light before my world goes dark. Others, loving others, also see what's left as opportunity. Opportunity for me to snuff the flame before its time. Maybe they're right, but I don't think so. Not yet anyway.
     Thank God for grandchildren. They give me the opportunity and excuse to head to the woods and waters I love. They've also taught me patience as I waited for them to grow up a little. Took a while before my son grew old enough to go beyond the end of the road with me. Couldn't have done it without him. We partnered on our trips. Good way to share life with a son.
     Now it's my grandson Jakob and my son-in-law and his Dad, Ryan. Jakob wants to go of his own volition. Or so I've been told. Heading to the Boundary Waters with the two of them is a joy for me and hopefully, for them. A chance to alter the vision in their heads with experience. Fantasy becomes reality. Same goes for me. Also gives me fodder for future entries.

Monday, February 6, 2017


     Holey-moley, a second trip to the Boundary Waters this year might actually happen. This one'll be a fall trip and'll be with my nephew Brian once again. We spoke via e-mail and recalled a few things missed in my posting of last year's trip. Never did make mention of dumping him in the lake. Call it a brain lapse that spread to my arms and hands. Those things happen when you're a frequent visitor to the ozone. My mind can wander to the ends of time and place at the drop of a hat, even if I don't have a hat. One second I'm thinking of how good a slab of apple pie would go at the moment and how I might work that into a story about my days in Vietnam. Next second there's Brian in the bow of a half submerged canoe and me mumbling, "Now how in the hell did that happen?" Yeah, it's an embarrassment and doesn't involve riches. Those things aren't supposed to happen to a seasoned canoe man like me. Truth is, the more seasoning a man has under his belt, the more opportunity to have done something stupid.
     Then there was the moose. On the portage over we'd seen plenty of mud-dented tracks. Big ones near as long as my boot. A couple of days later, off in the woods we saw the reason. What Brian recalls is that his first thought was of it being a horse and how unlikely it was to see a horse in the Boundary Waters. Yup, the brain works in many and mysterious ways. Gets from point A to point B via some of the lesser letters. Guess Brian's was on H and not on M. Those things happen to a fertile and unfettered mind.
     At the moment the fall trip is a maybe. Brian is self-employed, a craftsman who builds, maintains and tunes church organs. You don't see that much in the twenty-first century. But he does it and does it well. Puts food on the table and keeps creativity floating through his brain. Sometimes that turns a moose into a horse but is, by and large, a good thing. My point being his customers tell him his work schedule, not the other way around. Should all work out we'll pay a second visit to Crocodile Lake and claim our rightful campsite. Maybe also eat a few fall fattened walleyes and perch.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Thoughts and Gear

     First off is Ryan's back. He's got a touchy one to say the least. Having a cripple in camp usually means we'll stay in camp. Maybe not this time. Jake'll be eleven in a few days, probably old enough to fish from the front of the boat just fine. Leave his old man behind and head out on the water with his old-old man. Hopefully he'll have retained his early age smarts and not be so confident as to do something stupid. Confidence is a two-edged sword, especially when it's in the head of someone young enough for it to be unfounded. Lord knows I've done my share of stupid and could see the path straight ahead but not any other direction. Consequence isn't a straight line thing. It's more like a rock lobbed into a calm lake that fires out waves in all directions. Call that lesson number one for me: remind the boy again and again that when you're in the boonies you have to think before you act. Lesson two: have him remind me.
     Back to Ryan's back; he needs a forgiving pad under it when turning in for the night. Couple of inches at least. Since we have no portages I've given thoughts to a cot. Then gave a thought to the consequences of Ryan rolling off the cot onto his son or me having to climb over it, bladder full to the gills, for my mid-night commune with the bushes.
     Oh well, all that is months in the future though not as far off as that morning when Rod and I first laid eyes on East Pike Lake. I was nineteen then, forty-five when my son Allan and I repeated the trip, and with Jakob's first dip of the paddle I'll be seventy. That's a lot of water under the bridge at Little John Lake and on its way to the Atlantic Ocean. Who knows, some of that first year water may have made the rounds by now and fall on the three of us as rain.