It’s an overcast day, the steeliness of the sky reflected in the lake. Our canoe is bobbing up and down on the waves. We try to paddle as close as possible to the rocks along the shore to get a closer look at the pictographs. Red ochre outlines. People in a canoe. A bird in flight. Antlers. Thousand-year-old stories recorded on the land. It starts to rain and we set out to find a campsite before Quetico’ s moodiness engulfs us.
Stories have power. They help us understand the world and connect with each other. They inspire, delight, heal, and bring us together. They are as old as humans and present in every culture. A universal code, a common language. Immortalized into rock, etched onto paper, passed through generations like the most cherished treasures. Stories around campfires, at the kitchen table, over a cup of coffee. Filling up libraries and more recently the blogosphere.
“You don’t have to go, you know,” said my husband as I was preparing for my first solo canoe trip in Killarney.
“I know,” I replied, “but I really want to.”
Good thing he didn’t ask why because I am not sure I would be able to explain.
In books and movies, protagonists usually set out on a solo trip because they find themselves at metaphorical crossroads and feel stuck/confused/lost hoping a solution will reveal itself during those solo nature pursuits.
That wasn’t my story. Apart from occasional detours, the road ahead looked clear if not always level or straight. Sure I was turning 40 but I wasn’t losing sleep over it. I made peace with getting older long time ago. Occasionally I would turn around and think, “Where did the time go?” But then I would look at my children, my husband, my friends, think of all the wonderful things I’ve seen and learned, great trips I’ve taken, and beautiful moments I’ve shared with the people I love and knew: that’s where.
Although, I should say, my 40th birthday did have a role to play in my decision. I felt this important milestone required something bigger and more special than the usual sunrise ritual. So a solo canoe trip it was.
Recently, I read an article about a newly published study that suggests not all people find escape into nature soothing and restorative. On the contrary, they crave a bustling city scene when they need to relax. The idea that traffic and crowds can be anything but stress-inducing is foreign to me, but who am I to judge. One thing I know for sure is that I am not one of those people. I definitely need nature to de-stress and unwind.
In one of my previous posts, I mentioned that my son accused me of always focusing on the positive aspects of camping while consistently ignoring everything that ever goes wrong. And he is not the only one who has charged me with practicing “joy-washing” as I called it. My friend says that whenever she asks about a trip, my answer is always: “It was great!”
Well, I’ve never denied that camping involves certain hardships and inconveniences but to me they are insignificant compared to all the joys that every trip brings.
However, in the spirit of total disclosure, I decided to pull together some stories when things didn’t exactly go as planned starting with…
Today I realized that it has been two weeks since the last time I posted something new on my blog. I have about five different posts that I started writing and can’t seem to finish. My walks along Humber River and Mimico Creek in Toronto. Old trip reports from a couple of years ago. My musings about disappearing nature words. My COP21-inspired thoughts about changing natural landscapes, human impact, climate change and environmental protection. All of these are awaiting completion.
This post will be about something else entirely. This morning, as I was checking my WordPress reader to see what my fellow bloggers have been up to, I came across a post on Where’s My Backpack? blog. It was titled Travel Theme: Self and featured some unusual selfies. Make sure to check it out! In her post, the author also invited everyone to create their own interpretation of the theme and start an alternative selfie movement. So I thought why not. It is fun, and I can certainly relate to being more comfortable behind the camera. Time and again, I come back from a trip, look through my pictures and realize I am not in any of them.