Headin’ out the door, on our way to Waskesui for a romantic weekend in the woods. Me and SR holed up in a little cabin with only my neurosis to entertain us.
I was twenty years old the first time I packed a backpack and ventured into the wilderness on a hiking/camping extravaganza. I grew up a city girl with no discernible survival skills, nature was something to be admired from a distance.
I put on my motorcycle boots, bought an extra pack of cigarettes and waited for SR and the Swinging Norwegians to pick me up. It was fall, Octoberish, and we were heading out to hike the Cabot Trail.
The Swinging Norwegians were a couple SR met at a base camp that summer while doing research far north of the Arctic Circle. They were gregarious and funny and were staying with SR on the first leg of their exploration of eastern Canada. They had, to date, also propositioned all of SR’s roommates – but not SR. This created some hubris and a bit of pouting. As he put it, “It’s not that I want to sleep with them…it’s just nice to be asked.”
At the end of the five-hour drive, we set up camp on a windswept bluff in the Cape Breton Highlands. The SNs became instantly protective of me – it didn’t take a genius to figure out that I wouldn’t last ten minutes without direct supervision. They talked me through how a tent works, showed me how to prep a fire, and introduced me to banana boats…roasted bananas stuffed with chocolate and marshmallows.
Sitting around the fire that night, listening to Norwegian folktales and distant waves, I fell in love…with the simplicity of storytelling, with sleeping in the open air, and with SR. I was certain that this was just the first of a lifetime of new experiences he’d hold my hand through.
The rest of the weekend was a bit less enjoyable. There was a steady downpour through our four-hour hike. I fell trying to ford a stream – soaking whatever dry I may have had left. In the end we found a cheap hotel…where the SNs once again failed to include SR in their invitation to a group snuggle.
A lifetime later and I can make my own fire, fashion shelter and identify enough flora and fauna to survive the zombie apocalypse. (I’m already hoarding chocolate and marshmallows for fire-roasted treats…though I’m not quite sure if bulrush tubers will work as well as bananas.)