day 46, what i learned

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august 6. wind-enforced rest day.

journal:

what did i learn about myself this summer? what are the epiphanies? the trip is almost up. either we end here – just outside of tsiigehtchic – or we have three-ish more river days. i have temporarily lost my good pen, somewhere in the tent i believe. i am sitting by a fire, looking at the shale cliffs across the river, realizing i am doing one of the things that is a haunting thought of mine – ‘specify why you want to canoe arctic rivers and cook over an open fire’. before now that was only a romantic notion in my head – being that person. now i am that person – wow. i’ve discovered that not everyone’s first priority is efficiency, and honestly i’m not totally sure that i knew it was mine. i think that i need to get all the important things done before i can relax. but that efficiency isn’t the first goal on everyone’s list is an interesting thought. what personal epiphanies though? i don’t know that i know yet. that i want to live here in the north, that is something. is it a romantic notion, or is it true?

i learned about currents, or didn’t necessarily learn things that may always be true, but learned how wacky and weird they can be on this big river. i learned how much i love it here. i learned how sick i can become of wood-smoke after days of forest fire haze inescapable and cook-fires and danny’s smokehouse. i am affirmed that it can get cold in the arctic mid-summer. i learned that sugar and oil can make me feel sick. i learned how easy it is to start a fire if you have birch bark. i re-affirmed that i love this form of travel and just living on whatever beach you come to. i learned that not every stream is clear water, especially if they run down mud-banks (the shale ones are good). that ducks are amazing in how they form and reform in lines and V’s in the sky. that all you need is what you have. leigh-anne in her letter to me said that control is like trying to hold water in your hands. you can’t hold much and not for long. so instead, rather than trying to hold on, cup the water over and over again and relish the feeling as it flows through.

arctic temperatures tonight. emma just heard on the radio, +3! i am glad to be here.

sun blinds off water/rippling mercury floats boat/follow buoys home

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