And closely akin to the visions of the hairy man was the call still
sounding in the depths of the forest. It filled (Buck) with a
great unrest and strange desires.
It caused him to feel a vague, sweet gladness, and he was
aware of wild yearnings and stirrings for he knew not what.
The Call of the Wild
Is there anything more elemental than fire,
the lapping of the waves,
and a night sky fading into August?
A loon calls somewhere out on the big lake.
Moonlit mystics are at play.
It seems from the beginning these sights and sounds have been enjoyed. The voyageur at the end of a long day's paddle might have sat by a campfire, entranced by the glowing embers, the smoke rising into the night. Men might have huddled for community sake, to keep the swarms of mosquitos away, to find some semblance of warmth in a barren land.
The trail on which John Beargrease freighted mail up and down the shore to Thunder Bay remains here as well. It is a quiet tribute to the cold nights, the quiet dedication, the persistence of the dog teams, the hardship known by most people here during this time.
For me, the cars still run by heading towards the border or moving south towards Duluth. They remind me civilization is not far away. Mine is not the remote resting place, thousands of miles from embarkation points such as Sault Ste. Marie or Quebec City. I have all the amenities only miles from this campfire.
The whine of traffic tells me how the landscape has changed. People inland wrest homes from the timber stands that once represented the interior.
This place is no longer distant. Still, the moon rises on the water, and it is as it was then. It is full tonight, and it splashes down on the horizon much like a spotlight on a theatre stage. Then, the moonlight disappears moving towards shore, diving until it leaps out again in glittering diamonds.
How much I think of the old brigades plying these waters. Suddenly the span of time between modern technology and the old ways fades away. For this moment, I am one with them.
This is the joy of life at its most basic. The fire I enjoy is not different from theirs. The night sounds of water breaking quietly on the shore must've been what they heard. The moon is no less full then it was then. The loon announcing the day's end must've been theirs as well.
All this is possible if we stop to place ourselves where all these images and sounds can work their way into the quiet places in our lives. Inside, the television is tempting me, calling me back to a place of action and diversion.
But here there are life's elemental forms and the peace of knowing I identify not only with the trapper but the Montreal canoeist, the wolf frequenting this shore, the moon’s dance across the waters.
Here it is possible to chase a glimmer of what the past was like.
Here life stands still. Here the soft flame of firelight draws me in and reminds me that in a land of plenty, some things remain.
Outside the ring of the fire, there are campers all over the BWCA, with campfires similar to mine. Theirs is the joy of adventure. Theirs are remote campsites compared to mine.
I think of them, knowing the silences are the same. They will soon crawl into their sleeping bags leaving the night sky to drift from one star to another.
Their fires will burn out as darkness overtakes the land, as it always has. Once again, for moments, it will return to what it was.
Across the wilderness only moonbeams will catch on the bark of trees, the side of a beaver dam piled high with sticks, in the eyes of a walleye reflected some two feet from shore.
These all remind us we are solitary visitors, that we owe our debt to the past, that we are, like them, passing through. Their voices around the campfire are silenced, they no longer camp along the beaches. Their swagger will be but a distant reflection of those who come out now from their wilderness adventures.
But the land remembers, and the same rhythms are heard and can be found, even as daybreak recalls us to the land of steel and rush hour traffic plying the highways headed north.
In celebration of the end of summer. Taken from my first book: Compass Season: Find Your Bearings Through Nature's Inspiration. Available on Amazon or at your local GM bookstore. P.S. Your feedback on F/B is invaluable.