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Fish Camp: Part VI ~ Paintings

Have you ever looked at a day as a blank canvas just waiting for the events of the day to be added brush stroke by brush stroke across the page?  That's what today's journal looked like to me as I reread it now nearly a month and half later.  We're nearing the end but not before we experience a true Paul Bunyan tree cutting experience and finally a Lewis and Clark expedition. For now, enjoy the peace of the day.  ~ Shannon 

Fish Camp:  Tuesday, August 29th - Paintings: Another new day in our Canadian adventure land. Like a blank canvas awaiting its first brush strokes, each day has been like a masterpiece under construction.  Today would be no different. The words from one of my favorite contemporary Christian singing groups, "Selah" echoed through my head, "Creation's splendor speaks to who YOU are". That would be how this day started. Absolutely beautiful!  By now the "ahhhh" feeling of contentment was a familiar one that I was learning to enjoy. 

This morning, I actually beat the boys out of bed as they lay sprawled out in their camouflage sleeping bags still in a comatose state of fishland.  As I heard rustling around the firepit, I made my way outside only to be greeted with "Good Morning, Ready for a cup of coffee?"  Now this was heavenly! Not the way I had envisioned fish camp at all.  I loved these non-stressed starts to the day.  From fun bantering to life discussions.  All good. Today, Brian and I found ourselves reminiscing about our many backpacking trips with our youth group many moons ago and how thankful we were for the experiences we had thanks to Youth Leaders, Pastor Ed Pedley and Dr. Richard Charlick.  I honestly credit the experiences from these trips to my being on this one!  (For a truly real life journal type reading experience, check out Dr. Charlick's book, "Mission Possible"  An AMAZING book!)

This morning it was my turn to play Chef as some of the cooks made their way to the showers.  When I asked what was on the menu I was told "Oatmeal". As the boys know, Top Chef is not my official title at home...that is, quite happily I might add, bestowed on Phil, but I can at least make the we-won't-starve basics so "oatmeal" didn't seem like a too overwhelming task. Armed with oats, cinnamon and my "hope for a return invite next year ticket" of Traverse City dried cherries, I did my best to create a breakfast of champions on the level that had been set before me. While my deft at handling the one volume cookstove gas flame resulted in a slight darkening of the bottom of the pan--ok, I guess some would call it blackened or burned--I still passed the "it will fill the hole for now" test as bowls were filled and emptied ready for the KP crew.

With crayola blue skies, bright sunshine and calm water calling, the signal was given for the morning fish to commence.  Today Hunter would join forces with Tom and Jerry while Ethan hopped in the boat with Brian and Denton. While dad napped, I again found myself at my now favorite fish-camp perch (I mean, 'spot')...on the neighbors patio overlooking Lake Racine.  I so enjoyed not having the distractions of home coupled with a schedule to answer to.  I found it ironic that this mornings reading from my favorite devotional book, "Jesus Calling" started out with "There is no place so desolate that you cannot find Me there."  Well...this is about as desolate a place that I have been in a long time. What a blessing to read this reassurance of God's presence with us at all times no matter where we are.  I also relished in the newly made memories of the week so far and smiled again as I remembered Ethan's and my discussion before closing our eyes last night. I asked, "Ethan, are you having a good time?" To which he answered, "No--insert a bit of shock value to this mom, what?!--"I'm having a GREAT time!"  Even in the dark, I could see him smile.

I also enjoyed this time to catch up on some reading.  In my book bag were two previously read books that I had hoped to re-read at a slower pace: "Heaven is for Real" by John Burpo and "365 Thank You's" by John Kralick. Both excellent reads and two books I highly recommend. This morning, however, found me perusing the pages of a book that Tom had actually given to my dad to read this week, "A Look at Life from a Deer Stand" by Steve Chapman.  Phil and I have enjoyed the music of Steve and Annie Chapman for years and I knew he was an avid outdoorsman so I continued to turn the pages beyond the introduction. I'm so glad I did. I found myself quickly immersed in the fun, humor and Godly insights of a man who loved his family as much as he loved the adventure of the outdoors. I found myself laughing out loud at the stories that, except for the prey being hairy, could be identical to what I was experiencing this week with my all-male entourage.  Priceless! I reached Chapter #3 before dad walked over to join me. Together we discussed that perhaps "today should be the day" finally take a shower. :-)  Walking the quarter mile distance to these deluxe amenities was well worth it.  My first shower since Saturday...heavenly!

The return of the morning fishing crews brought some nice walleye and of course, more great stories.  We enjoyed a "lunch/dinner" of Tom's homemade venison spaghetti. Again, made ahead of time and frozen in a huge ice cream bucket, it was woofed down by eager eaters.  The afternoon was spent napping, working on fish gear and a special treat...attending Mike's "Fishing Lure #101" class!  The boys had told me of their visit yesterday and were headed back today to finish their projects.  With calls of "C'mon Mom!" I quickly grabbed my camera and headed "to school".  What a delight!  Under Mike's skillful instruction, Ethan and Hunter created two lures from scratch.  Complete with brightly dyed deer tail hair from one of Brian's hunting successes, Mike showed the boys how to wrap the thread around the hooks and hair, apply the glue, add the hook and spinner and viola...your very own lure!  (Ok...I may have missed a technical step or two but you get the idea. :-) The boys could hardly wait to use them that night. Paula then surprised them both with "hot-n-tots" lures to add to their growing tackle box inventory. The boys were grinning so wide they could have eaten a walleye sideways.

"After school", the boys and I made our way back to the campground store to peruse its offerings.  We spied some items that would later become "thank you" gifts for our generous fish camp hosts and guests.  We also decided that it might be time to send Phil (aka, daddy) an e-mail to let him at least know that we were alive!  With no cell phone reception, we were totally "unplugged".  Little did we know that he was having an adventure all his own at you will hear about in his own words later. :-)

By now it was time for the evening fish and a test run of the new lures.  Boats filled with Brian, Dad and Hunter; Tom and Ethan; Jerry, Dan and Denton followed by Mike and Paula.  I was content to stay behind and simply enjoy the beauty of the surroundings.  I had spied some spectacular sunset pictures on Mike and Paula's "wall of photos" on their screened in porch and hoped to capture one of my own this evening.  Armed with my "Big Girl" camera and lens, a cup of coffee and my now must finish "Deer" book, I headed to the dock to enjoy this beautiful evening.  I was not disappointed.  Lulled by the song of the loons from a distance and humored with the pages of the book, I looked up periodically to just "take it all in".  The approaching sound and ultimate landing of a float plane just seemed to add to the canvas of tonight's painting.  I found myself adding a new word tonight to my inner thoughts...this is beyond "fun"...this is "peaceful".

I finished the book using up the last rays of daylight.  My hoped for killer sunset sadly faded into a kind of grayness of cloud mush leaving my camera chip empty only to await the opportunity of another day. By now the familiar mosquito like sound coming across the lake signaled the return of another nights adventure.  Tonight it was Walleye and a great Pike catch by Brian.  Settled around the campfire, we enjoyed Jerry's apple and cherry pie makings as well as a washtub size bowl of popcorn by Paula. With laughter dished out by the dozens I was beginning to believe that if laughing was likened to inward jogging that by now I had run a marathon. 

As we crawled into bed, I was tickled as I heard Hunter bemusing with Grandpa, "I've had so much to look forward to this summer...going back to the cabin, White Birch Lodge, this trip to Canada, and now I can't wait to see our new dog, Cole when we get back home..." To which Ethan and I chimed in..."and we can't wait until Christmas, our annual trip to Florida, our birthdays..." It's so fun to look at life through the eyes of a child...sometimes we just need to slow down long enough to actually do it. "G'night boys." "G'night mom..."