yin yang, summer hols version


Allow me to use these ancient principles to illustrate the way that just when something annoying happens and just as you’re in the middle of being annoyed, poof!  the yin yang thing kicks in and makes lemonade.

(No metaphors were [unduly] harmed in making the above sentence.)

Maybe everything is yin yangly but it seemed even more so on a recent getaway, which begins early early in the morning at Toronto’s Pearson Airport where the two people sitting behind me cannot shut up about how there is no smoking area inside the airport and how they don’t feel like walking all the way outside even though the entire return trek might take 20 minutes. They’d prefer to spend an hour moaning about it instead. Also everything is apparently the government’s fault. Everything. Then I overhear one of them say something that tells me they’re on our flight. Yay. Always nice to be in the company of conversational wizards in nicotine withdrawal. = ↓

But… they don’t sit anywhere near me on the plane. ↑

dsc06988↓ Rental trailer not ready on arrival. Will be 45 minutes to clean.

↑  It’s a blue sky day and we’ve been on a Rouge  plane for hours and are therefore starving and possibly semi permanently scrunched up (thank you inch and a half of Rouge  leg room!) so decide on a walk, maybe find a bite to eat.

dsc06996↓ The only place, we’re told, is a Timmy’s just up the road, through the industrial park, next to a gas station.

We head in that direction but, before getting to Timmy’s, we discover another place and wonder why no one mentioned this oasis of deli with ten thousand options for the best snacks ever. AND a patio overlooking a zen garden of smiling bees and giant purple sage.

dsc07007 dsc07008 dsc07013↓ Is this our trailer???

dsc07015↑  Uh, no.

↓  The place where we get our fruit and veggies is out of garlic because we are told the farmers are asking too much for it. Too much?  How much is too much? And why is everybody willing to pay ridiculous prices for green tea coconut milk lattes but not locally grown garlic? Here’s the thing:  if you can, please pay farmers whatever they want for decent food decently grown so that they too may have a decent life. (And the answer to the coconut milk latte is *because they are frigging delicious*.)

↑  They do have lovely onions. Also pears.

dsc07019↓  The place we get our happy ethical meat and eggs from has moved and is now impossible to find even though we have the address.

↑  After a kind of Laurel and Hardy show involving calling the place three times because I refuse to use GPS, we find it. We buy ethical chicken wings and other delights then drive to our favourite IGA for staples like olive oil. Our camping rule is that we shop once. Whatever we run out of, tough. It’s an iron man camping challenge to use only what we have and to not buy more or have leftovers. It’s not possible to express how much I love this part of camping. Or this IGA.

dsc07086↓ The pub we always stop at for lunch is closed. As in forever. We aren’t surprised. The guy was a bit of a schmuck. And the patio was always closed.

We start a new schmuckless tradition.

dsc07023 dsc07028↓  At our remote campsite there is a copse of chokecherries. Also a mother bear and two cubs feeding on them.

↑  We move to a very nice trailer park.

dsc07035↓  We are warned about rattlesnakes in the area. Oh sure, we say. Pull the other one, hahaha! But on a walk we hear what sounds like a rattle. We don’t stick around poking shrubs and rocks to see what it is.

↑  We feel wise to not care to see what it is.

dsc07121dsc07131↓  The lake we are on is freezing cold.

↑  It’s also clear and sandy bottomed and shallow and the sun comes up over the hills that surround it. And the moon too. I swim every day.

dsc00042_1 dsc07137↓  We go to lunch at a swanky place but the sun is so hot  on the patio….

↑  Oh suck it up already.

dsc07168↓  I’m lost trying to find a road around the lake.

↑  The nicest people work at the Carmi Motor Inn. And they know directions.

dsc07081dsc07083↓  I go to a small town tourist info place and ask what there is to see. “Not much,” the guy tells me. He’s 81, he says, and has lived there for thirty something years and not much goes on and that’s the way he likes it.

↑  In the same town I find a small museum which is really just some pioneery things in an old house. My favourite thing is an old journal from the area that reads: “March 16th Not much to do all day… March 17th… Not much doing all day, not even basketball after school…  About a week ago I heard a meadowlark but haven’t heard one since… March 18th… A fine day but not much to do…”

dsc07095↓  The Honey BooBoo family moves in to the camp site next to ours. The children throw stones at ducks and are so addle minded that their poor addle minded mother must yell at them constantly to do the simplest things, like not fall into the fire, etc. When we suggest they do not use ducks as target practice the mother chimes in with YES!!! RILEY AND DAYTON!!! THAT’S VERY INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR!!!!  Everything they say is at a strange heightened volume as if perhaps they are used to living many kilometres apart and must communicate via open doorways and wind currents.

↑  When we ask if there’s another site we can move to, not only is there one, it happens to be the nicest site in the whole place. Thank you, Honey BooBoo.

dsc00052 dsc00022_1 dsc00013 dsc07117-copy dsc07071 dsc07067 dsc07077↓  We run out of olive oil. (And, in keeping with iron man rules, are not allowed to buy more.)

↑  My honey picks me a consolation bloom.

dsc00047_1↓  We run out of chips.

↑  We buy more at the canteen. Chips are the exception to the iron man rule.

↑  Then we find a little house in the woods that sells homemade perogies and once again break the iron man rule.

↓  We are punished by the perogies overcooking themselves into inedible mush. We are grateful for chips.

dsc00015_1dsc07135↑↓  On our last morning, the fridge is almost bare. (This is both good and not good.)

↓   The chips are gone.

↔  Our remaining iron man ingredients are lemons, coriander, two eggs. two slices of bread, a tiny crumble of blue cheese, onions, a few spoonfuls of yoghurt, one perfect pear.

↑  Breakfast, just before leaving — lemony eggs benedict without the hollandaise or the peameal. And a fruit cup.

dsc00050 dsc00055

Embrace the yin yang.


back from the woods

Oh sure, I like a nice hotel, an inn, a B&B, a place with a real toilet and room to shower, but hot water and comfort aside (and I speak for both Thoreau and myself here), there’s really nothing so restorative as a week in the wilderness, under the Milky Way, reading and writing among jittering aspens, searching for the elusive left-handed windshifter and fixing meals to songs about trucks and beer and especially little lady bugs on little yellow blanketswhich, regrettably, I can now sing along with… on the only radio station that comes in clearly: Country Something Something FM;  nothing so affirming as knowing one can survive on a small amount of fresh, local food, cooked on an open fire made with tinder and twigs and logs collected, sawed by hand (splinters removed with a sewing kit needle); the stars at night, a glass of red, a cup of tea, a handful of stones in an empty Unicorn kidney beans can to shake occasionally (due to bear warnings, not to mention the sight early one a.m. of a big black furry paw pulling at branches on the serviceberry bush outside the door—two metres from the door—of our rented trailer).

Which is exactly why I don’t do tents.

The deer were there too. This year a family of five: mommy deer—not thrilled about our big camper thing but tolerant—who tossed a few as long as you remember who was here first looks our way; twin babies, but for a torn right ear on one, who really really wanted to come closer but I worried mommy deer might have something to say about that so gave my ever-present Unicorn can a little shake (was considering wearing it on a string around my neck); papa stag, who merely followed or led or did whatever he was told to do and seemed mostly concerned with the size of his new antlers, stopping to let us have a good look at them from various angles; there was also another mid-sized adult tagging along, rather unwillingly I thought, which I took to be a visiting aunt. Numbers are significantly down, due, I suspect, to proximity of big black furry paws—only the very brave and the slightly witless linger (and deer aunts who are there under duress, possibly to attend some torn ear’d deer niece or nephew’s birthday).

Then there was the bread.

Loaves of it made by a guy with a donkey that turned the grist mill that ground the flour that was then mixed with fresh mountain spring water, sea salt. Sourdough. Toasted on the fire, buttered, with a slab of jalapeno cheese, slices of fat red onion or made into a pan-fried salami/turkey/romaine sandwich or as accompaniment to red kidney bean soup in chicken broth with chopped coriander, carrots and garlic. We had bread with eggs, bread with fruit, bread salad with yellow tomatoes and garlic bread and green salad with croutons; we had bread with bread and bread with jam and juice and by the end of the week, all that was left of the entire food supply was one tiny crust of donkey milled bread (somehow we’d managed to ration down to the last slice of shallot), which crust I packed and ate on the flight home.

As for the Milky Way—it’s usually directly and conveniently above our campsite but this time the nights were either too cloudy, too bright with the moon, or too windy dark and bear scarey. So, like the serendipitous way of the world, today, on returning to emails, we find this amazing time lapse video waiting for us, sent by someone who knew nothing of our starry starry quest.

Looks bad. Tastes good. I think this is roasted veg: carrots, peppers, garlic. Might be potatoes.Notice the temperature control lid/no lid technique… which we’re not sure made a blind bit of difference but we felt like coureur des bois for having thought of it.
Elusive left-handed windshifter.
Members of our extended family.
The loaf we brought home.
Thinking next time maybe we’ll get a couple of these for our campsite… makes the feet look so pretty.