It’s hot, I’m sweating, the mosquitoes that had been quiet until then, were starting to buzz and bite, the leftover clouds from the morning’s rain were breaking up and the sun was out in full force making it hot and humid. Because why have just one when you can have both?
I love the idea of being a sustainable food source person (go local, go clean!) so there I was crouched over in a blueberry patch picking. As my mind went to how miserable I could convince myself I was, I looked down at my bucket of berries and heard a distinct voice in my head, “Bluuuuuuueberries! I picture them all like blueberries”.
Roughly 20 years ago my ex-husband and I had the incredible privilege of taking my nieces, nephews, and brother-in-law on a trip to the Boundary Waters. My former husband Shaun and I were the only ones who had any experience as BWCA people and we were both excited to share a place we loved, with my bright eyes and full of adventure family members. Having been someone’s Aunt Anne for more than a decade and a half before having my own child, I have a very special love for my nieces and nephews.
We all loaded up at my parents house on a Thursday morning and headed to Ely. Our first night was spent cruising around town for a bit and then settling in at the bunkhouse owned by our outfitters. We had a “girls room” and a “boys room”. We talked, we laughed, we giggled until we absolutely had to go to sleep. The trip was already off to a great start.
The next day we paddled out, covering lakes and portages before we finally settled into a beautiful campsite high up on a small peninsula in the lake with an incredible view. It was perfect and I could not have been more excited. While we had had a few moments of kids getting irritated and tired and eating lunch on a rock in the middle of a lake, they had paddled well, were tired enough to want to rest, eat, and go to bed.
As we unloaded, we noticed a few large black flies.
As we walked up the hill to the campsite however, we were absolutely over taken by them.
Huge black flies EVERYWHERE!
It was so gross! We set up the tent, in a mass of flies, we sent kids out to filter water in the lake, fewer flies. Shortly they all decided the best place to be was in the water so they went. The adults took charge of cooking dinner, covered in flies, we ate inside our tents, zipping and unzipping as fast we could to keep as many of them as possible out of the tent. We actually had to have one person unzip the tent, so the person entering could spin their arms like they were working to take off, and then make a dash out of the swarm and into the tent. It was crazy making. My brother-in-law was the brave soul that stood still at one point so we could see how many flies would actually land on him. I wish I still could find the photo, you can barely tell there is a human underneath them all. Disgusting.
By day two we had had it. Tired. Cranky. Running around in circles just trying to get away from those damn flies. They were all over our food when we ate. If you talked, they flew in your mouth (not kidding), if you went to the bathroom, well, they were EVERYWHERE, enough said. The kids and adults alike were over it completely. The three adults collectively decided that instead of ruining them forever to the point that they will hate every memory and never EVER want to come back, we would pack up and head home. So, we did.
On our way down the lake and around a corner we came upon two people sitting out on a rock who were eating lunch. One was cussing and swearing (they tapered it back when we came by with canoes full of kids) but clearly fed up with the same situation we were paddling away from. The flies. As we paddled by, we briefly talked to him about leaving due to the flies and he ranted about how horrible they were, and how miserable he was.
Right next to him sat another gentleman; paddling hat on, smiling contently, calmly eating his lunch, forkful by forkful, covered in…you guessed it, flies.
We asked him how he could just sit there with them all over him, his food and wasn’t making him crazy.
He simply smiled more brightly and said, “Bluuuuuuueberries! I’m just pretending I’m covered in bluuuuueberries!”
There have been so many times of discomfort in my life since then that I see that man in my mind sitting crossed legged on a rock, Tillie hat in place, eating off his green plastic plate with a metal spork, and I am reminded of the importance of attitude. Whatever life’s handing you, your attitude about it gives it its identity. Good, bad, fun, miserable, hard, easy, or whatever you decide it to be. Life is truly what you make it and a positive attitude is the secret sauce to a life well-lived.
Attitude is everything.
Forever the journey, Anne