Hard trips can make for beautiful flowers. Arctic cotton, half the size of small dandelions, their usually puffy tops wind-straightened, their short slender stalks bent yet holding ground. Countless colourful wildflowers, spectacularly small in this harsh, wild place and vibrant in the northern light, offer us medicine of hope and beauty.
The northern sun’s trajectory makes long shadows of black spruce atop a ridge. The shadows run like children down the steep stone walls to dip into the rushing water. Just ahead, a bald eagle lands in the river, pauses in float, then ascends to enjoy its catch on the hoodoos.
We sang to keep up against the wind and to focus — Blue Boat Home and Safe & Sound. We had one good night out there on the river and took wild rose photos while pretending to translate the rambunctious raven community meeting.
Hard trips expand time — moments, minutes, hours distilled and layered in memory. The days taut with every rapid bounce and wind twist of the canoe. The senses at full open so that when we are given pause, we quaff this large magnificence — in the confluence where both nothing and everything happens.