My husband, Ric, used to tell me that the week after Burning Man was when fall began in Canada. He was right. Even though we no longer attend the event, in a lot of ways, we still time our year by its timeline.
Far away from the dusty lakebed playa, on the other side of the continent, there’s a nip in the air. The green leaves of the deciduous trees look tired and ready for their next colorful phase. I’ve seen more moose lately. Their season of rut is approaching. And there are far fewer bugs.
The deep woods for us felt deeper this last shift. The road to get here was closed, leaving us to take a detour to get to the pavement. The first time on the other route, I tried to keep my bearings, but the multiple turns dispelled that notion. Finally, I found myself behind a logging truck with a full load. I figured that that truck was heading for pavement. I was right. I left camp later than usual that day, which set my return at the twilight hour.
On my way back to camp, the dark gravel road had me scanning for glowing eyes in the treeline. That’s when I came across the moose, running just ahead of me on the road. When he finally turned into the woods, I could see by his rack that he was not yet full-grown. Still, he was impressively large and tall enough to be at my eye level as I sat in my truck. Rebecca was beside herself, barking away at the giant deer. The moose spooked me a little and reminded me that we are in the wild.
With shorter days, I wake to full darkness in the morning. I walk from my truck to the kitchen trailer, noting the position of the Big Dipper every morning, and then look east for signs of light. Heading into the mess tent, I turn the lights on in hopes of scaring creatures that may be lurking. Thus far, I’ve only seen mice. They’re pretty bold and will often appear in broad daylight. I hope that’s all I see. The thought of bears worries me, but it’s doubtful that one would be bold enough to walk into this human-smell-o-rama.
Although I’m living in the great outdoors, I sometimes feel confined. I’m confined to our camp, to the kitchen trailer, and my truck bed. I could drive the hour to town, but for what? I don’t need anything. It’s odd feeling so stagnant while on an adventure.
Being isolated is tiresome. Some time back, on a day off, I spent the morning being a person. I went to the town square in Mirimishi, had coffee, and went to the drug store. I felt very normal for a moment.
I do get reminders that there’s a big world out there: a call home, news of the Queen, and before I know it, it’s day 3, and I get to sleep in and then go to town again for another moment of normal.