Tag Archives: wilderness

A Voyageur’s Poem


Awake at dawn to fog calm mists

We stow our packs and check off lists.

Hoist the canoe up on the roof –

Secure her place at bow and stern.

We’re off to lakes in God’s great North

With maps and compass, oars and mirth.

What hazards on this journey wait?

What pleasures, sights and mysteries great?

Banish thoughts of bears or borish winds.

Dwell not long on fears of white-water plights.

The gear is piled down on the dock

Our tethered craft on waves doth sway and rock.

Smartly load her now with bags.

Nimbly step into her sides.

Paddles sweeping silently,

We glide on trails that glaciers plied.

How vast the lakes and woods we find

In this Ontario’s untamed wild.

If winds be gentle and our compass true

We’ll stop at dusk and pitch a tent for two.

It’s quiet and our shoulders ache

So occasionally we take a break.

Perhaps jump off a rock to swim

Or gobble up blueberries in a tin.

The sun beams down upon the lake

Reflecting cliffs with pine and birch.

Across the water loons cry out.

An eagle screams from his high perch.

Here and there a fish leaps up

And we both jump to sudden splashing!

Will we hear the wolves tonight

or see a moose thru brush come crashing?

In pink and grey the sun sinks down

The crackling fire an ancient rite.

The canoe she rests o’er turned by pines

And we keep watch by Northern light.

There’s magic in the path and paddle…

Healing in the North country.

Nowhere in this world compares.

Nowhere at all I’d rather be.


“When you look at the face of Canada and study the geography carefully, you come away with the feeling that God could have designed the canoe first and then set about to conceive a land in which it could flourish.” – Bill Mason, Path of the Paddle

The Last Portage

P7113185_Quetico plus

I love this lake and all its moods.

Love how a loons song oft intrudes.

Paddled water in deep blue and green,

From her bays and islands to her feeder stream.

I know these rocky tree lined shores,

I know them well… but nothing more.

My vessel’s safe and strong.

I hate to get out and yet I long….

To see what else.  And is there more?

Hard tho it may be, I know what the portage is for.


* For me, this poem is an allegory about moving on from a place that is familiar to a place that we don’t know… often through the course of a trial or struggle.  The word “portage” means “the carrying place” in French.  Anyone who has struggled across a rocky or muddy 1000 meter portage while carrying a 50 pound backpack and balancing a canoe over their heads JUST so you can see “what does the next piece of wilderness look like?” will understand this metaphor for life.  I wrote this at the time that my grandfather was passing away.  His last days here were such a struggle.  It reminded me so much of a difficult portage.  I prayed for him while he made his way through “the last carrying place”.  I just know that when he reached the other side of that struggle that it was beautiful.  I am sure it was hard to let go of this life — because it is a beautiful life and it is familiar and comfortable and we know what to expect.  But when the time comes to leave… I hope that I have the courage that it will take to “carry over.”

Morning Song

Solid Shores

I am the banner of bright Northern Lights,

Shining and whispering in your coldest dark nights.

I am the wild goose constant and true,

Hell bent in the pursuit of reaching you.

I am the deep inland sea,

That swells and surges and ravages thee.

I am the fragrance that floats on the breeze,

When Autumn winds sigh through the evergreen trees.

I am the rock that you stood and built on,

And I am your Shield; ancient as the first dawn.

I am the sweet fruits warmed by the sun,

That explode with a taste which compares to none.

All of these things which you’ve tasted and seen

Are Me and my love and always have been.