The rain came down in a thick shower and the water around our canoes seemed to splash up to catch it. The rain wasn’t cold.
But is was generous with a refreshing and revitalizing soaking, even through my waterproof Frog Togs. There was no thunder, simply the excited chirping of the birds as we landed on the huge slabs of granite that lined the shore of the lake. We set up camp and watched the storm pass, with the huge thunder heads turning blue and purple in the light of the retreating sun. It was one of those moments when time stops. Half of the sky was clear revealing the setting sun as it pulled the covers of the horizon over its glowing head. The other half of the sky was shot with crimson and gold, and burdened down with the sheets of purple rain clouds. Meanwhile the lake was at peace in the silence of twilight.
This last summer, my dad and I flew up to Northern Tier with our scout troop. We were going to spend eight days traversing through the lake ridden wilderness of Northern Minnesota known as the boundary waters between the United States and Canada. Dad and I had been looking forward to this for a long time.
As we started on our trek, the wilderness silently enveloped us. There was no sound of civilization anywhere, and we were alone except for the loon who wailed occasionally about some unknown sorrow.
All the lakes are joined like beads on a string, some bigger than others but all relatively close together, some of them were only separated by a beaver dam. Their shores were lined with granite boulders looking like soldiers covered in moss and pines because they had slept too long. The water was so clear that you could see the jumble of rocks and water plants that made up its bottom. It was so clean you didn’t even have to purify it. You could simply lean over the side and drink it in.
In the evening we would set up camp, then we would all sit down and take off our boots to wiggle our toes in the sunlight while we looked at the maps to see how much water we had covered that day. The sun would slowly set as we had dinner and cleaned up. Afterwards, we would meander back to our favorite spots to watch the sun go down before the mosquitoes chased us inside our tents. Those were the times I would take scraps of birch bark and write down the events of the day.
In the mornings we would wake up to the trill and song of the local vocal featherbrains, which burbled without ceasing throughout the day, rain or shine. Some mornings the lake would be as smooth as glass with steam rising in the crisp morning air. It looked as if you could shatter it by venturing out in it with a canoe. But once we set out it rippled like silk in a gentle breeze only broken here and there by a rebellious water bug.
It was always quiet there. The forest met the sky on the dance floor of the horizon and when the wind kicked up they would shift and move to the song of the birds. All we could do was to sit and listen. I had always believed that God’s Country was in the Texas Hill Country. But now I am not so sure, because my dad and I found a piece of heaven in Northern Minnesota.
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