Day 5 – simmering stew


How did the day come to this?

After a late breakfast, Don and I enjoyed a beautiful hike to retrieve the fishing rod, which we found on the bank of the Tim river where we’d tossed it from the canoe at the very beginning of yesterday’s 2/3 mile portage. We walked together, over and back, in silence, appreciating both the quiet of the woods and one another’s company. The silence just kind of happened and we followed its lead. So much more beauty we noticed this trip without the concern of making camp, without the weight of packs and canoes, without the focus on footfall to prevent missteps on sleek surfaces.

The trail of autumn is so very fecund here,  so many things dying and giving way to their seeds, the forest floor littered with last year’s debris, fungus-laden logs lying down alongside seeming ‘vernal’ ponds, rife with greenery. There are at once blossoming flowers and early changing leaves. Moose scat, bear scat, wolf scat.

algonquin 2014 079algonquin 2014 093algonquin 2014 078algonquin 2014 077algonquin 2014 056DSCN1313D1 and D2 are out on the lake fishing now. M is resting in her tent. I have found a warm rock, protected from this seemingly incessant wind, and am absorbing its heat like a lizard.

algonquin 2014 085

It was so cold last night in our tents that I feared my toes were frostbitten. The thermometer read 26 degrees this morning — after the sun had been up for an hour. A long morning fire and some delicious, long-to-prepare-over-the-fire white chocolate and craisin pancakes began this day’s slow, lingering thaw, as our cups slid across the ice-covered log ‘benches’ and our maple syrup was being liquefied and warmed, baby-bottle-style, in a pot of heating water.

I sensed a chill again over lunch. After our return from the fishing rod retrieval, Don and I paddled the circumference of our small lake. I had just wanted some slow time on the water, to prolong our ephemeral (or was it ethereal?) walk, but Don wanted to stop to scavenge for firewood remains abandoned at the 3 other campsites on the lake. Somehow this made me feel anxious and I ended up feeling as if I were paddling a getaway car at a bank heist!  Our friends had clearly volunteered to spend some time gathering firewood while we went to retrieve the rod but Don didn’t want to return empty-handed while they ‘did all the work’. So, by the time we got back I was tense and they were hungry… and then there was the screw up with the lunch I had planned, which meant that eating the ‘rehydrated’ beans (of course it IS necessary to add WATER!) was more like crunching on raw acorns and unpopped corn. Don suggested we save it for dinner….not a bad idea, but the bungle upset me, and suddenly the morning’s goodness dissipated as quickly as had its fog.

I worry that we are starting to get on each other’s nerves and that is why M has retired to her tent. It is about that time in the trip when one’s idiosyncracies and codependencies start to become more apparent, when personalities in close quarters start to bump into one another in awkward ways. Don’s persistent need to help, to feel useful, can feel so disempowering to the person he is ‘helping’ at times!   (sometimes I suspect that the phrase ‘division of labor’ is not in his vocabulary!) Then there is my own hypersensitivity to being judged which makes me feel as if his consider-all-alternatives decision-making style is really about second guessing my every move. Add to that mix my codependent need to be hypervigilant about how everyone is ‘feeling’, and my fear of being disliked, which makes me project and become even more critical of him, and more self-apologetic and critical of myself, and I’ve gotten myself in a stew that has more ingredients simmering in it than the one that is in the pot on the all-day fire we have going!

I dreamt last night again, a dream from which Don had to awaken me from the struggle. I was protecting my son from some sort of slanderous assault. (and they say dreams aren’t premonitions. ha!) I recall very little else of the dream, save I was in a very unkempt, (unattended to) house.

OK….I just spoke with M. I’d gone to check on the cooking fire and found her there. All is well after all, of course. Oh dear, so this is what my dysfunctional nurturer (fearful self) looks like, this one who fears so much that the others won’t like her that she overcompensates by being overly attentive, self-conscious and (self) critical. Can I embrace her?… attend to HER with some healthy, healing nurturing from me, reassurance that all is well, that she need not fear anymore,  nor be so on guard, that it is ok to be me (and let others be themselves too). She is really so lovable, and  I am truly capable of caring for us now……

May the heat on this rock seep in…

I have opened the Wild Mind book to the pages about the North and how necessary a well developed and accessible Nurturing adult is to descent to the Soul. This section speaks of soul invitations coming as harrowing challenges and invitations to wilderness (including our own psychospiritual wilds, which include nightmares and shadow realms). Perhaps these trips to Algonquin have contained initiation invitations of a sort… these shadowy places (both of the nighttime and the daytime variety) certainly come forth in me here.  Part of the work of initiation is ‘to relinquish attachment to former identities (thank you Nursery Tree), to respond effectively to destabilizing projections, to choose authenticity over social acceptance, and to confront shadow places with a well-honed capacity for self-care, self-reliance, and creative response’.

algonquin 2014 069   A Love letter to Algonquin

Oh Algonquin, great wildness untamed, you invite me to these same places in me. Each time I return to your shores, you bring up my fears and my depths, my anxiety and my longing. Help me to see what your invitation is to me.

Help me to also simply BE here with you, to bask in your beauty, soak in your serenity.  I long for a break from this care-taking craziness that seems to override any and all places of depth in me. How I hunger for solitude, to be alone here with only you, to be one with you, to find myself again here with you.

But you, who are deep waters and sweeping landscapes, are also harsh winds and bitter rains, which exact trying physical demands. Help me to embrace both/and in my own daily life, the truth that deep waters and beauty come alongside hard and trying places…both without and within.

Algonquin, may you remain untouched, un-overrun, un-intruded upon, that you may keep something, the essence, of yourself intact and unspoiled. We are far from contact here. We have paddled and portaged miles and miles from the nearest town, from the nearest paved street, from the nearest lake access. There is the sense of being untouchable here, You are untouched, wild, natural, I am unreachable…and wild in my own kind of way.  Yes, this is what draws me to you, the sense of being un-intruded upon here, your wild invitation to freedom.

You call to me to nurture, to protect, to hold sacred this virginal space in me that is not overrun by outside forces… un-man-aged, un-man-ipulated, un-man-dated…  able to be fully what it is, sometimes harsh, sometimes bitter, sometimes quiet, sometimes deep, fecund and full of life’s teeming potentials.

Help me to take off the weight of this pack, to let go of my focus over making missteps, to release my concern for ‘getting there’, to look around and behold your face. On this autumn trail of my life, may I see it all as beauty…. the many things dying and giving way to their seeds, the forest floor littered with last year’s debris, the fungus-laden logs lying down alongside these seeming ‘vernal’ ponds, rife with greenery. The moose scat, the bear scat, the wolf scat. The blossoming flowers and changing leaves, all at once.

This stew that simmered all day was in the end a most delicious meal.

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