When Dogs Go Camping

July 11, 2008




1. Always have your pet leashed or tethered.

2. Ensure that all tents and shelters are securely staked.

3. Never leave your pets unattended.

I Am Not At My Desk…

July 6, 2008

Groceries, bandages, cheap snorkel ensemble, propane tank… Give you three guesses.


All right! Turtle’s going camping!

Jack, E.g., and I are returning to Bon Echo Provincial Park, where we went camping two years ago. We are leaving this morning and will be away until Friday.

This time, we will have two doggies with us. Last year Cai accompanied us up the Bruce Peninsula. It was amusing to see him, at 8:30 pm, pawing at one or the other pup tent, asking to turn in for the night. We’ll try not to exhaust either him or Fergus on this trip, although rendering them happily tired would be good. “A tired dog is a good dog” is the expression, I think.

Unlike during our Paris vacation, I will be incommunicado on this trip. I have, however, scheduled a post for each day, so please continue to drop in and leave comments. I won’t be able to answer them until Saturday, but I look forward to reading them.

As a sneak peek, this is what I’ve prepared:

Monday: “Turtle’s Caption Contest”. Please come by and write a caption for the photo!

Tuesday: “Search Me”. Some search terms that have brought strangers to my blog, and why the terms make me smile.

Wordless Wednesday: Something came up that I wasn’t expecting.

Thursday: “Woof”. Wherein Turtle pretends to be a wolf.

We expect to be back mid-afternoon on Friday, and will be pretty busy, but hopefully I’ll have a moment to at least post a picture or two.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to read about my love for roasted marshmallows and how they make a great personal metaphor for blogging — I wrote this when my blog was just a little two-week-old baby — go see “Marshmallow Roast of the Vanities“.

If you haven’t yet read about my first trip to Bon Echo, and want to know a little more, you could read “Nanabush Chuckles“.

And if you haven’t seen what previous contest winners have won on this blog, I would humbly direct you to “A Few Lines on Striped Maples” and “Things are Crook in Tallarook“.

That oughta keep you out of trouble.

See you on the weekend!

Nanabush Chuckles

April 4, 2008

Mazinaw rock 2

Two summers ago, my partner — let’s call her e.g. — and I decided to take our almost-son, Jack, on his first camping trip. After researching the various Ontario Provincial Parks, we decided on Bon Echo. This beautiful park has everything we were looking for: a small swimming beach, a canoe rental and one-day loop route, a radio-free camping area, a history of visits from various Group of Seven painters, and Mazinaw Rock.

Mazinaw Rock is an escarpment that runs for just over a mile along one side of narrow-but-deep Mazinaw Lake. The cliff face towers 300 feet above the water’s surface (and maybe another 150 feet below it). On the rock at canoe level may be found over 250 red-ochre paintings. Because no foolproof scientific method has yet been devised for dating pictographs, no one is sure how old they are — anywhere from 200 to a thousand years or more — or exactly who made them.

Nevertheless, the pictures are definitely Aboriginal, and the Anishnaabek people recognize some familiar faces among them, the most popular being that of Nanabush.

Nanabush was the son of the West Wind and the grandson of the Moon. Some say Nanabush created the world, or recreated it after the Serpent People flooded it. His pictograph on Mazinaw Rock, the one that Bon Echo Provincial Park has adopted as its logo, shows him with canoe-paddle-sized ears, holding a stick as long as himself in his left hand. Is it a rifle? A spear? A tent pole? Jack thinks Nanabush is leaning against a tree, watching and waiting. I think he is hovering at his doorway, a crevice in the rock into which he will slip with a parting chuckle after playing a trick on someone.

For Nanabush is a trickster. He is a shape-shifter. He is a teacher, commissioned by the Great Spirit to help instill a little wisdom into humans.

On our canoeing day, we paddled the half-mile across the lake to view the pictographs more closely. E.g. took some photos.

tour boat

On our final morning, we boarded the 26-seat Wanderer Too’r boat to learn more. Our guide told us that Nanabush would sometimes put stumps or roots in front of children, to teach them to pay more attention to where they were going and what they were doing. I laughed, imagining those poor startled kids still lacking the adroitness of adults, literally running into Nanabush and his tricks.

The tour boat docked just below the gift shop. Jack and e.g. each found a souvenir they liked. I couldn’t resist a white coffee cup printed with the logo of Nanabush and the words, “Bon Echo” — the perfect souvenir! Smiling at my enthusiasm, the clerk wrapped the cup in tissue paper and placed it in a nice shiny bag.

On exiting the gift shop, we trooped over to the nearby comfort station. E.g. went first, while Jack and I took a seat on a bench outside. It was hot. I took off my bookbag, set it on the bench beside me, and placed the bag from the gift shop on my bookbag. Yes, the nice shiny plastic bag. Containing the coffee cup. Was resting on, not in, my sloping bookbag. But not for long, of course. Withing seconds, the plastic bag slipped off the bookbag, over the edge of the bench, and onto a pavement tile with the sickening crunch that lets you know that your brand-new souvenir china mug that hasn’t even come out of its shopping bag yet has broken and it’s all your fault because you put it on your bookbag instead of in it. I shrieked. Jack hovered solicitously, patient wisdom softly lighting his eyes.

Nanabush, pictograph on Mazinaw Rock; photo by G Barfoot, 2006

Unwrapping the tissue paper, I found the drinking part unharmed and the handle in three pieces. Perfectly intact pieces, mind you. Then I heard the laughter, and I laughed too. “Look at that, Jack! Nanabush has taught me a lesson! Do you think we’ll be able to glue the pieces back together?”

Jack was convinced we could. Once back in the city, I successfully repaired the cup, and it has held my morning brew ever since. I am honoured that Nanabush the trickster left me a unique souvenir of Bon Echo.