~Written by Karin Grundt
After an exhausting cleanup morning in May, my dog stood with ‘crossed legs’ at the door, demanding his running time. If only I had his energy. To please him (after all he is the man of the house), I took his chucker, ball and leash; and commanded him into my truck and went down the golf course road to let him loose and run. If he could talk, I could hear him say, “Yippee!”. And chasing after a vehicle to the chagrin of some motorists, is always the highlight of happiness (thank you for not killing my exuberant dog).
Another pleasure however, is catching his ball that I throw as far as possible with a chucker and for him to retrieve it. And said ball landed in front of the fence that encloses the lagoon, and behind it stood a young couple. First I thought I was imagining things – did I have too much sun exposure? No, they were real.
Both smiling with big backpacks standing between them and as I always react when surprised (mentally with my mouth open), I asked, “What are you doing here?”
The young man answered, “I’d like to try and fish”.
“In a lagoon?” I asked, looking at the ‘No Trespass’ sign a little further. “By the way” I continued, “Where are you from and where are you going?”.
We are from Quebec – going to Vancouver,” I could detect a slight accent. He continued, “by the way, my name is Simon” and pointing at the girl, “This is Corine, she does not speak too much English, but she understands. By the way, what is your name?”
After the introductions, I took a closer look at the two. They were clean, Simon had short, cropped hair and a trimmed beard. Corin was a pretty thing, long blonde hair, kept in a braid towards one side and behind a pair of big, hornrimmed glasses, sparkled blue eyes that smiled. First impression: trustworthy, AOK.
“So, you want to fish?” I continued our conversation, “But not in a lagoon – do you have time and like to stay a while in this area? I have a humble camp, not far from here, right by a lake, would you like to stay there?” Both agreed right away after Simon translated in French to Corine, what I had offered.
They stepped over the wire fence, loaded their backpacks in the truck which contained everything, except the kitchen sink, my dog behind the seats. Oh yes, and Simon retrieved a container with worms from a shady hiding place and off we went. I still had my bulky “Volunteer Clean Up sign” on the tailgate, and had to drop it off at the house. I grabbed some clean clothes, intending to have the first sauna of the season. Simon asked if we could stop at The Beer Store and of course, buy some groceries, for their time in the wilderness, “in case he did not catch fish” he added with a twinkle in his eyes. As this was such a spontaneous decision on both parties, and within 15 minutes we were rolling.
I felt I had to explain something to the trusting ‘hitchhikers’, because a few years ago as I met and offered the same stay in the wilderness to a German couple with their young son, it almost turned into a fiasco. Not knowing the bush, as we are used to, they were horrified when they saw the rocks, potholes, no oncoming traffic and a locked gate we had to enter. They surely thought I had evil on my mind until after some agonizing minutes in total silence, the bush gave way to a scenic lake with a rustic camp and some big sunflowers.
Simon laughed and said, “No problem, we are Canadians” and then he told a story where he felt uncomfortable during one of his hitchhiking trips, where he actually jumped out of a cab during a stop light. Yes, bad things happen unfortunately. By now we were chatting back and forth like old friends and as we arrived, I heard a lot of ‘Ah’s’ and ‘Oh’s’.
I put Simon to work to bring water up from the lake to make a cup of tea, and fill the water buckets in the sauna; while I fired up the oven (sauna) for a good sweat. Sitting on the deck, slurping a good stiff cottage tea, and seeing a loon couple swim by, enjoying the heavenly silence – we all agreed, “Life is good”. Following that with a sauna with eucalyptus vapours compounded that feeling. Simon was brave enough to test the lake after a good sweat with a dunk.
Now the question arose about their journey – When to pick them up?, or how to communicate just in case. I had intended to go back on the highway the next day to clean up another stretch, since the weather was good, and I had helpers. Simon said, “Corine has a cellphone, we can leave a message on your answer machine about the time…” Having had bad experiences with cellphones in the wilderness, I asked Corine to test it by calling my house and her smiling face told me that it worked.
I left the two, knowing they were responsible and at a safe place; I had also things to do.
The following day, after my cleanup, I heard a message from Simon, “Karin. we would like to stay another night. It is so nice, please pick us up on Sunday at noon.” They must have fallen under the same spell that I feel everytime I am out there, it is hard to leave the place.
The next day, I prepared some food for the two ‘kids’ (who know where they would find their next meal” and drove out to pick them up. Both devouring the schnitzel and between eating, they told me about a beaver they observed under the dock, and, and… Corine beamed, dark chocolate. Their enthusiasm was infectious. They also read some of my stories in the booklet (My Life in the Shadow of the Goose) and asked to purchase a copy. Even Corine enjoyed and understood, and promised to read them all.
It was Mother’s Day, and who knows where their mothers were. I dropped them off past the Goose, near the RV Campground, and after hugs and good wishes, many thanks, I left them to themselves, hoping they would find a pleasant ride and make it safely to where ever they were heading.