This morning I went for my first paddle in a canoe on Wolf Lake for the season. Every year I look forward to the first paddle after the spring thaw and the ice goes off the lake, and this year I wasn’t disappointed. The temperature was brisk with the promise of warmer temperatures to come, the sky was clear and blue, and the contrast of color and texture between the water, sky, rocks, and trees were stunning. But the part that I loved the most was that the water was completely calm. There wasn’t a single puff of wind and I felt as if I was paddling on top of a mirror. This feeling can happen quite often if you spend enough time by a lake, but after a long winter of ice it was great to feel it again.
Feelings like this naturally give way to memories and stories, and it took me back to one of the first Boundary Waters trips I lead as a Wolf Ridge trip leader. I was guiding a 5 day family canoe trip with a great family from Ohio and it was the last night of the trip. We had already experienced many adventures on our trip, including paddling and portaging through the woods, exploring wetlands, picking wild berries, catching and identifying dragonflies, and generally soaking in the wilderness. On the last night of our trip we were already looking ahead to the next day and making our way back into civilization, but before that we decided to take one more paddle at the end of the day.
The evening was extremely calm, in stark contrast to some of the windy days we’d paddled through over the past few days, and as we paddled over the silky smooth water it almost felt as if we were on a totally different lake. As the sun set, the colors of the landscape started with oranges, pinks and reds, giving way to cooler and deeper purples, blues, and indigos. Finally, as the stars started to come out and as we slowly cruised around the shores and islands of the lake, we started to hear the calls of the loons, a sound essential to the Northwoods and another sound that triggers more memories. When we got back from our brief evening exploration, it seemed to be a fitting ending to all the adventures we’d had out in the wild.
It’s amazing how little things can bring back great stories. I consider myself very lucky that some of my memories and stories are connected to wild places and Wolf Ridge. I’m grateful for all the stories I get to remember and tell and what stories are yet to be made. So, in honor of National Tell a Story Day, I encourage you to reach back into your own memories and tell a story of your own, maybe even one from an adventure at Wolf Ridge. The more stories we share, the more connections we make to the things around us, and those are the strongest connections of all.