A Different Kind of Fortune

May 27, 2017

The glorious sun was finally out and I was able to start drying my socks and trail runners as I walked on the road.  Walking up an down the asphalt hills has presented the smallest amount of strain within the left, anterior muscle compartment of my tibia; a small pain that could potentially become an issue.  I felt trapped.  I couldn’t stop.

I continued walking up and down the hills: my trail runners would soon be dry, then I would be able to change my shoes and all would my pains would be corrected, in time.

While walking down the road I came upon a freshly turned plot of land doted with outbuildings, with each building bordered by chicken wire fence.  Within the bounds of the property sat a small barn, and a small house tucked away in the opposite corner of the property.  Further down the road, I see someone crouched down planting something.  I stop at the side of the road, unbuckle my harness, and walk closer to the edge of the field to breath in the surroundings and taste that fresh air.  The small figure planting something is an elderly man with a blue, mesh baseball cap.  After a short pause he waves his hand at me, then begins to straighten up and unkink his back.  As he walks towards me, I yell out and ask for permission to take his picture and, with the wave of his hand and shrug of his shoulders, he gestures his permission.

When he arrives at the side of the road I sheepishly ask what he is planting, which is quickly countered by him asking me what I am up to and where I am walking with that golf cart thing of mine.  I reply, like many times before, “walking from Barrie to Anchorage, AK,” which garners little response.

To my left is an older lady cutting the grass, which he begins to wave over as we talk about the black flies and dreary weather.  He introduces the lady to me as his daughter, then tells her that I am walking really far this summer, to Anchorage, AK.  She immediately picks up on his misgiving tone.  She quickly responded, ” You would have done the same thing if you were able to do it when you were younger”!

The conversation then begins to wander around how long he has lived here for and how he loves this small patch of land.  He then tells me that he has lived here for 76 years — his whole life.  He enjoys living here; city life is different and doesn’t suit him, it’s just too different.  Anyways, he ends by tells me that living out here suits him just fine.

Although the land he has worked all these years has provided him with great happiness and accomplishment, it didn’t provide the fortune that city folks are on the hunt for — that big-house-nice-car materialistic and monetary based fortune.  Indeed, no cold-hard-cash or stock options grew in the field here, however, it did provide the type of joy those unhappy cubicle dwellers seek on the weekend and during vacation.  After a long pause and quick look around, I stated that I think he has a fortune here — but a different kind of fortune, though.  One that money can’t buy.   He shrugs his shoulders and straightens the beak of his blue Milk Board cap in agreement.

After three hours of walking along the road, I arrived at the beginning of another trail head.  Since it was getting late in the day and I was feeling tired, I decided to back track to a potential camp site I spotted a hundred meters back; a quiet voice whispered that I should rest this newly injured leg of mine.

Later in the evening, I was awoken up in my tent by the snorting and huffing sound of an animal, a black bear, which caused my body to stiffen up immediately.  I scurried my hands along the floor of my tent trying to find my headlamp, which ended up being on my head, duh.  I then grabbed my great grandfather’s old Royal Marine MP whistle and blew it with all my might.  The huffing stopped.  I hurriedly sought out my bear spray and clinched it for protection.  Shortly after, I grabbed the zipper to my tent door in the same careful manner one probably moves an unexplored explosive device to safety; creating the smallest of opening.  I peeked out of the small hole and saw nothing.  In a prepubescent boy tone I then yelled out, “Hey, hey, go away”.  After a short pause, I unzipped the door in search of this black bear.  Nothing.

Nervously, I closed my tent door and laid back on my air mattress like a corpse with a headlamp on.  I was rattled.  I was scared.  And I was still half asleep.  Then I ran all the scenarios that could happen to me.  Eventually, I came to terms with the situation, and there was no need to be scared; all food and scented items were hung in a tree far enough away from my tent.  My reaction was natural, a human emotion, triggered by a situation out of my control: fear.  Every so often it needs to be reined in.  Anyways, I hung all food and scented items far enough away from my tent: what else can I do?  Nothing

A few very long minutes later I fell back to sleep, survived the threat, and woke up the next morning to walk again.

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