For our fourth Boundary Waters trip, we decided to base-camp on a lake with several others close by and easily reached by portage, to give us lots of day-trip options. As it turned out, our “home” lake was such a puzzle that warnings about even experienced map-readers getting lost on it were given (and warranted).

Sure enough, we got lost several times, but nothing serious came of it. It was a matter of perspective: it’s easy to mistake any of the lake’s many islands for a shoreline (no matter in which direction you’re moving). You had to get right on top of a shore before you’d know if it was island or mainland. And mistaking one island (or one passage between them) for another was surprisingly easy. Following the shoreline was the best solution. So we ended up just day-tripping on our one lake, to get familiar with it.

This was even more of a weather year than past trips. We had four big thunderstorms, three in the first four days. Luckily, our tent is good and waterproof. There were also several consecutive strong-wind days, which is tiresome after seven or nine hours. Welcome to the New Normal Crazy.

Luckily, we weren’t confined to camp too much, getting out to paddle on six of our ten days.

As I lay in the hammock looking skyward, the winds inspired this:

white pines on white sky
tethered fast to unseen Earth
ink brushes whisking

Along with some spectacular clouds, we saw the usual lots of creatures: eagles, with a nest high in a dead tree in the Pagami Creek burn area; duck families numbering more than ten; loons, turtles, beaver, etc. We missed out on seeing any moose, and fortunately encountered no bears once again. Others’ mileage has varied significantly this year; a lot of bear problems have been reported.

My mental soundtrack for all of this was the customary Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel, and I was loving it as always.

Less satisfactory were my own attempts to get some good sound from my Charlie Hind Alto ocarina. Accurate intonation is a major issue, and I have so little time to give this that I don’t expect to get good at it. Luckily, I happen to know a fantastic player, for whom I want to write a piece on my “vision quest” tribal-ambient album. I anticipate having a lot of guests on it. That’s the recording project planned for after the guitar symphony – which itself might not begin until next year.

For the second time, we enjoyed our wedding anniversary in the wilderness, and marked the birthday of my 2016 album Souls Adrift, in Disrepair. This haiku was written that day:

rain without raindrops
dimples placid evening lake
water skaters’ world

I had time for many reflections on music. Now that I’m branching out more as a composer, I’ve updated my website to reflect this.

I’m wondering if any Chapman Stick (or other touch guitar) players would be interested in a “classical” sort of piece. My first thought is that Stick players are such a breed apart, what need would they have for someone to write them a piece? They do very well on their own. I like the idea, all the same…

While I still fully intend to work in Just Intonation, I’m feeling a little less fanatical about it. It can wait for a particular album, which is about fourth in line right now.

I’m missing both Stratford, Ontario and the Tibetan-Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington IN. Hopefully both can be visited again before too long.

It’s always nice to spend a few hours in Grand Marais MN, after we come out of the wilderness. There is a great bookshop there: Drury Lane Books. I hardly ever buy books but, in honor of the vacation occasion, I got a little carried away and bought three:

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville; I’m probably the last specimen of my generation who hasn’t read this. It’s high time…

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, the third Japanese-born Nobel laureate, and the only one I haven’t read.

Baudolino by Umberto Eco; one of my favorite writers. Foucault’s Pendulum is a riot, and I would’ve bought that had it been in stock. Name of the Rose rocks, too.

I also would’ve bought A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, The Master of Go by Yasunari Kawabata and Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto had they been in stock, but anyway…

We came home to our adopted pair of swallows, who nested just outside our back door over a month ago. The five hatchlings emerged just after we left and began fledging at 17 days (at the oldest). Life goes on.