Following Champlain

It’s a good feel,
And a painful,
And I’m stiff and sunburnt too.
And the camp is almost set now
And the kids are howling “food”.

It was in
The open water,
As they laughed and bent each back,
That I knew the group was willing.
Heading windward, tack by tack.

I was looking
For some cottage,
Where the river mouth began.
And they teased my indecision:
“You’re the tripper…trip, young man!”

Then I saw it.
It was yellow.
(They had told me white with green.)
And the dock was twice as long
As the last tripper here had seen.

And a lull
Inside the inlet,
Past the sheltering granite bluff,
Told each straining Hiawatha,
We would make camp soon enough.

And the stream
Now took to narrowing.
Stately pines right to the edge.
A barrage of bluejay banter,
And a weasel on a ledge.

With the late day’s
Sunshine angled,
Welcome silhouettes in shade.
Black-green fingers now caressing
Water lilies, gold inlaid.

And the flipping
Of a gar- pike
At a droning dragonfly.
And the Sun-God peeking through the pines.
A banquet to the eye.

And the creaking
Of the mesh seats,
And the dribbling of each blade,
And the knocking of the gunwales,
Music Champlain might have made.

Then a bending
Of the river.
And a sudden gurgling sound.
And an intersecting,
Sparkling cataract was found.

And across from it
A sand beach,
Clean and soft without a stone.
And an uphill mossy clearing.
“Girls, our temporary home!”

Quick the tents and
Knapsacks tossed out.
Quick the small craft pulled ashore.
Quick the centre-poles and guy-wires.
Quick the smoothing of the floor.

Here at last
Our one-night haven.
First the swim and then the feast.
And the growing sense of teamwork
From the ablest to the least.

After clean-up,
Crackling campfire.
And the night sky for a roof.
And the basso of the bullfrog.
And the happy songs of youth.


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