Much has been made of the things to be “finished” here at the end of the 2010 season, which included a stack of dirty tents as tall as me (5 feet 11 inches) and a list of dirty canoes that grew daily starting in August. For the better part of three workdays last week I diligently scrubbed canoes, averaging 15 minutes a boat and feeling proud of myself. I put the last Grumman back with a sense of accomplishment, knowing too well in the back of my head that of course I was not done. Clients have come in and out since then; I’ve cleaned about six canoes this week and there are seven more sitting out there. I get to them when I can, usually in between driving clients to and from drop-off points, which is my favorite part of the job.
For the record, I have enjoyed talking with you all. It sure beats cleaning gear. But I have been astonished at how interested in me everyone has been. People love to ask me about myself. But, you know, I can only be as honest as someone who is getting paid to help you can be, so I figure since everyone who came here this season got to learn a little bit about me, I would flip it around and tell all of you what I’ve learned about you. I’ve written it as an old-fashioned ode:
Ode to a variety of clients:
to my jealousy of all of your camping trips (even the rainy ones);
to people who had never sat in a canoe before this summer,
and to being asked which end is the front;
to the many people who thought I knew way more than I do (especially about fishing);
To all the groups that either departed from or arrived at the Windigo,
17 miles from Tuscarora and otherwise known as entry point number 47 –
driving with you was my pleasure.
To the groups that brightened my day;
to the groups we thought we would have to go looking for;
to the groups we did go looking for;
to the Boundary Waters Family, whatever it is (I’m still not sure);
to helplessly watching you struggle to take off of the Round Lake beach
on stupidly windy days;
to telling the story of the Ham Lake fire
To the man who looked at the scorched and treeless hills on the Canadian side of Gunflint Lake and said, “Cutbacks?” –
that was probably the funniest thing anyone said to me this season;
to all of you
take it from someone who will have spent four months living and working on the edge of the BWCA and gotten to go camping one night at a time:
it is a privelege to experience this wilderness.
I hope you all had fun trips.