A wonderful Canadian Man named Robert told us to come here. We wouldn’t have, if it weren’t for him. On the map it looked pretty far out of the way. Katie and I are picky when we decide to go “out of the way”. PICKY is a silly thing to be when living aboard, because the whole act of cruising is choosing to go “out of the way”. Nothing is convenient and commonly the most magical places are found on the side streets. We took the side street. We found magic. And would have stayed forever if mosquitos did not drive us away from homesteading.
We have stopped caring about a lot of things that would normally be important. Like clothes for example. Besides the fact that our entire Canadian experience has been that of an Arctic exploration, any moment the temperatures are suitable for nudity, we are nude. I’ve become the designated fire starter although it is not my gift. Something about starting a fire naked feels more like a survival task than an I-am-in-Canada-on-a-cool-rock-and-there-is-a-fire-pit-right-there task. Therefor my desire for survival increases and I pretend my face is painted tribal and my warm clothes are not laying on a log behind me. Woman-make-fire-or-we-will-die. And POOF, there is a fire. In reality I am scrambling around breaking branches, swearing, and blowing on the base of the fire until I black out.
I wished the hike up to Lake Topaz was longer. Honestly I could have walked forever. Not even a mile up a muddy trail, I remembered what a good friend once told me; “There’s a difference between the ocean and the woods. The ocean doesn’t give a shit about you. It always wants to spit you out. But the woods, they care about you. They seem to hold you in.” As I walked through the woods I thought hard about this. How being at the mercy of the ocean is first of all CRAZY, and second of all TERRIFYING. I have been on the ocean while it is literally choking on Louise like poison, without a care in the world that there are two innocent human beings aboard. When a storm comes through, nothing protects you but your own fiberglass haul. When the ocean is angry, it is allergic to fiber-glass. I can’t say I have ever felt that in the woods. I of course have never spent time in the woods like I have on the water. However, the woods feel warm, like they enjoy your company. There is no anger. And when a storm comes, you feel protected, you are provided with resources for shelter. You could even make a tree house.
Quietly we hiked. It felt so good to get off the boat and be in a different kind of wilderness. In my mind I was thanking Katie for teaching me to appreciate nature like she always had. I have always thought it was beautiful, and loved being surrounded by it. But not until recently did I start thinking about my footsteps, making a point to avoid disrupting anything on the ground when it did nothing to disrupt me. Remembering not to pull leaves off trees or flowers off stems in the same way I walk through a department store and touch every item just to see how the fabric feels. Katie can walk through woods identifying trees, plants, insects, and birds. She could easily survive in the woods and probably should have been the designated fire-starter. But simply enjoying nature myself, has done nothing to further educated me. Unsure if I could survive in the woods, but certain that I would like to learn how.
When we reached Lake Topaz there was a large banner stretching across the water that said “Skinny Dipping Only”
We must have come to the right place.
The cloudy turquoise water felt like swimming on a different planet. A Canadian planet I suppose. We were the only ones there stirring up the rested pollen at the surface, listening to Reggie bark at his own echo. It didn’t matter that it was cold. It wanted to stay. I wanted to portage Louise up to this little lake and let her float around like a rubber ducky, in her element but protected by the woods. I wanted to build a tree house. The lake my bath tub. Louise my lake house. The woods my neighborhood and the creatures my foreign friends. Over time we would all speak the same language.
Thanks Robert (Ursa Major II) for telling us about this place. Thanks Dave Welch for making me think differently about the woods. Thanks Katie for teaching me to truly appreciate nature. Thank you Reggie for always knowing which path to take. Thank you Louise for taking me places I never would have come. And thank you Trader Joe’s for your fabulous Chicken Noodle Soup.