I met Lorina Stephens, the publisher at Five Rivers Publishing, through SF Canada, a wonderful group of Canadian speculative fiction writers. I remember her kindness, writing to me in detail when I was struggling to get an ITIN (US tax number). But I was blown away by her answer to my question, “What does it feel like to camp?” If she writes this well on Facebook, can you imagine how good her novels are?
I will share with you a remarkable memory of canoeing in Algonquin Park many years ago. Gary Stephens and I had set up camp late one day at the mouth of the Otterslide Marsh where it empties into Big Trout Lake, on one side the quiet meanderings of wetlands, on the other the immense vistas of a large lake. The weather had turned cool that August, very fresh, clear skies, water gurgling on the rocks as the stillness of night set in. As the sun set a loon wailed, an eerie sound that tugged at your heart and made you think of lost souls and homecomings and the completeness of nature. We’d cleaned up from our dinner. The pack was hung high up in one of the ubiquitous white pines in some distance from our small camp, just a tent, the canoe, and our modest fire. Everywhere was the resinous aroma of confiers, that unmistakable richness of big water, and the welcoming smell of woodsmoke that promised warmth, light and a sense of safety. As night crept round us I remember watching sparks chase up into the air like miniature fireworks. We were very tired after a long day of paddling and retired early, but this time decided to sleep with our heads to the front of the tent, with only the netting in place, the flaps open. For awhile we lay there, still feeling the rocking of the canoe despite the duff-covered granite beneath us, a breeze cooling our skin. And as we watched out that small portal, a golden moon rose over the marsh, full and round as a peach. It was a moment of immeasurable and unspeakable grandeur, of knowing your place in the order of the world.