Poem: None of this Happens Without Effort

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Poem: None of this Happens Without Effort

None of this Happens Without Effort

Camp is about prep
and work and anticipation.
There’s no running water,
no light switches or air conditioner
or heater after sunset.
No roof over your head 
and no memory foam in your bed.
Wood has to be gathered, sawn
for cooking fire, for warmth.
Tarp raised
for shade and shelter from rain.
Tent assembled in lue
of your house back home.
Water taken from lake
and boiled.

Fire materials gathered,
tinder, kindling, small and medium and 
substantial wood, all dry, all down,
all dead.

Fire can’t just be turned on,
it has to be carefully constructed in layers
of loving attention;
it has to be started
(no easy feat if it is wet, windy or cold and dark)
then tended and watched
always — like a child by 
a swimming pool.
It cannot leave your sight.

Camp just doesn’t happen.
It grows from the first moment you 
arrive at the site, like a sunset does
all throughout the day, formed from
memories the day before
when it was home to other campers.

As you shift a rock, gather wood, prepare meals,
count the stars and tie tarp lines;
as you find the best angles and granite slopes
for your camp chairs and fishing poles to 
balance remember that tomorrow 
when your canoe glides away on
the surface mirroring the sky
you’ll be just another memory
good or bad.

Leave more than just footprints behind.
Leave kindness, leave passion for the wilderness,
leave a head start for someone’s new home…
some dry tinder, a clean camp, 
a safe-and-totally-put-out-non-warm fire bed,
clean grate, good seating, starter pile of kindling
and firewood. No trash.
Leave it better than you found it.

Take memories made. Take pride.
In how you shared this lake,
this place that is so much more
than a red dot on a map.

©Timothy James Stouffer 07082023 All rights reserved
#elystreetpoet Ely, Minnesota
photo Nick Jones @vnick763 Header photo Steve Piragis
#piragis #piragisoutfitting #boundarywaterscatalog #boundarywaters_elymn #visitelymn #upnorthmn #bwca #bwcaw#canoecamping

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