I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

return to the river

Last weekend was our third trip down the Petawawa River, 50 km of paddling in canoes through lakes, quiet river and whitewater, and camping out in the backwoods. Of course for the nastier rapids (I think we shot the ones up to and including class 3, but class 4 was right out) we portaged said canoes. It also involved ziplining across the rapids (very fun) and some bodysurfing in the strong current (very fun until you go over the next set of rapids and come up gasping for air. Mental note: avoid the falls the second time. Much more fun after that).

We worked hard, we paddled through several hours of utter downpour, we listened to thunder as we paddled, we slept in a cabin with mice for company. We left civilization behind and spent three days completely out of cell phone range, cooking over open fires. With all the rain lately, we figured a new category of fire hazard needed to be added, making the categories Very High - High - Moderate - Low - Good Luck Even Starting One. Seren outdid herself with the amazing food brought along. Really, to be out there like that and after a supper of chicken enchiladas sit around the fire with some red wine, olives, grapes, blue cheese, Brie and crackers was just heavenly.

We had a blast. I do like that trip. After supper the first night Seren brought out a lemon meringue pie that had gone all through the rapids and portages intact, thanks to some careful planning and an upright barrel pack - D's favorite, for his 40th birthday. Perfect!

One outstanding thing that I'll likely never see again was the doe we named "Psycho Deer". We first saw her as we scouted the first rapids, then saw her try to cross the river above us only to get caught in the current and then go down through them. She almost made the opposite shore, about 20 feet from where we stood and watched her, then looked at us and bolted back across into the crazy water. She made it back to the side she'd started from and bounded up the steep hill. Wow, we thought, that was something you don't often see.

We shot the rapids, were loading up our canoes from the gear we'd portaged to shoot the rapids with lighter boats, when I looked upstream and she was at it again, this time making it across. Wow again.

On down the river we went, and while getting close to another set of rapids, we looked back to see her coming down the river again. She swam by Seren and RSH's canoe at which point Daisy the Riverdog jumped out of the canoe to chase her (or join in the fun?) before being called back. The doe made it to shore again, then ran up the hill. This was getting silly and started theories about how she was stalking us.

We reached the next set of rapids, one of my favorites and overlooked by a huge rock. The gear was again shipped down the portage and as D and I scouted our "more technical but more likely to stay dry" route, I looked up stream to see a head and two big ears heading straight for the rapids. "She's back!" I yelled, and we all watched her go down those rapids, disappearing from sight once or twice as the water pulled her around and down, before getting out and going up that hill.

We never did see her again but I kept expecting to. The decision at the end of the day was that she was a thrill-seeking deer who ditched all her boring friends for a bit of fun and adventure. My own idea (dull but probably more likely) was that perhaps she had a fawn that fell in the river and was trying to find it. That, of course, got a little sad and tragic and the guys immediately turned it back to crazy rabid psycho deer who likely swam the whole river and then stole our truck at the end, laughing maniacally as she sped off.

Oh yeah, and we saw a large insect that, following considerable study and recollection of all the entomology and taxonomy I'd learned, was named in my educated biological opinion the Freakish Bug from Outer Space. See the first pic on that website and imagine it being 3 inches long. Yeah.

Home to our girls (who'd spent a very fun weekend at a best buddy's house) and our home and our chickens and our doggies. Oh, and a very nice, soft bed. Mmmmm, that was nice.

This chicks are big now, probably the size to be processed as Cornish Game Hens. Didn't know this until we got them, but when you buy those little birds in the freezer section, they are just the same birds as the broilers, but sent on the one-way trip a little earlier. We're going to go all the way to broiler size. They are mostly all feathered out now and just look like chickens with small bodies and really big feet. Still peeping, though there's more of a clucking sort of sound I hear every so often. They live next door to the laying hens now and have a little outside pen that they seem to like.

I am liking the organic-ness of it. It's funny how we've basically become more organic in our lifestyle just by living out here. Being surrounded by the green wears off on you, maybe. The eggs from the layers are great and now we're enjoying the beans, peas and herbs from our own pesticide- and herbicide-free garden. Of course the only use for a Smart Car out here would be to fill some of the potholes in the driveway...

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