We rowed peacefully on that Laurentian lake for hours in search of Camp 406. As soon as we had that beachside in our sight, we paddled to the rush of our contenting hearts. We disembarked from our canoes in ankle-high water. We were part of the first wave of canoe-campers who landed first. After helping our less-skilled companions come on to shore, we set out to establish camp. While everybody trekked in the middle of the birch and pine trees forests to settle their tents, I decided to fix mine right by the shore. Despite my position being vulnerable to the unforgiven cold, pouring rain and powerful winds, it had the best spot.
We made dinner as dusk settled. I packed a refrigerated pre-seasoned rib-eye steak which unfroze at the bottom of our food barrel. The irresistible smell of that burning buttered garlic on my stove invaded the entire campsite to the delight of all my meat-loving friends. We witnessed the sun vanish behind those boreal forests. Darkness washed the whole lake in all of its obscure glory. The only light we had was the campfire the teachers and monitors built for our group to sit around. Not only was it going to light up the night, our bonfire was the only weapon we had to combat the coldness of an autumn night. We spent the evening breaking the ice by that fire. We shared tons of intimate stories, like Andy’s sex life and Jay’s drug use. We had no shame in admitting anything, and we held no grudge or opinions against what happened to anybody. I guess whatever stays at the campfire stays at the campfire. Tommy sneaked some contraband Bud Light’s after all the teachers went to sleep around 10 pm. The best parts of the night came when Charlie pulled her guitar and did a rendition of Eric Church’s “Springsteen” underneath the majestic breath-taking starry skyline. Whether it was the buzz or the high from viewing the Milky Way, I realized that I fell in love that Friday night.
Saturday morning. While everyone was still asleep and hungover, I sat on the beach with my cup of instant coffee, listening to the loons giving a concert over the blueberry lake. As the sun rose into the crimson clouds, tears ran down my cheeks. All I could say was, “I found heaven in the country.”
By Jacques Wang