Tuesday, July 26, 2011

To the Closet with You, Gumboots.

Well, It’s been awhile. I promised stories of camp life and then entered camp, my very own black hole. I should have known I wouldn’t write much during the season; my life becomes a tent, a kitchen, and eighty hungry tree planters. Though I managed to check the internet most weeks, Russia could have fallen off the earth and I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

Twelve weeks later we’re done, and it’s time to re-enter the world. There were many things I looked forward to while at camp: couches, flushing toilets, and not having to worry about a bear potentially biting me while in bed (yes, that happened, and one planter now has the most wicked camp story ever) but off course there are more things I’ll miss.  I spent nearly every day with my kitchen crew, Jess and Allison, and most of that time we were laughing.  Sometimes out of pure exhaustion, but laughing nonetheless. Three people in one kitchen for fifteen hours a day are destined to either despise one another or fall madly in love, and we were blessed with the latter.

Photo by Hannah Klassen
Camp conditions this year weren’t exactly ideal. First we were in a gravel pit, then in BC’s premier mosquito breeding grounds, then rained on for three weeks in Chetwynd. In just a few days our camp transformed into a slick mud-pit, greedily swallowing up sandals, trucks, and pretty much everyone’s dignity. There was no escaping the unstable black earth, and it became wearing after awhile.
The poor weather meant no days off at Flatbed Creek, no hikes into our favourite waterfalls, and no adventurous campfire cooking. What the weather couldn’t discourage, however, was one very special camp event: Joel Gorrie’s 7th Annual Glacier Rapids Festival of Fine Wine and Poetry.

Photo by Tyler Wilson
Because of the mud, this traditionally creek-side party was moved into a spare semi-trailer filled with benches, a bar, and even two very posh bartenders. Joel decorated the place beautifully, finding a stage for performances and placing tea-lights in tart shells strung from logs. They gave the party a certain glow, a sort of Martha-meets-Mantracker aesthetic that shamed even the swankiest of parties I served at during university. People brought and shared wine, cheese made its appearance in the form of Goldfish crackers and cheesies, and countless musicians and poets proved the talent of our camp.

I contributed a bottle of Prosecco (a little homesick for Italy, I suppose) and decided to girl-up. I put on a dress, did my hair and makeup, found some earrings, and even wore perfume. The only ‘camp’ left on me were my gumboots, though I wasn’t about to give those up. I tried some great wines and chatted endlessly, then watched the inevitable Peter vs. Michelle 2a.m. mud-wrestling match, illuminated for the crowd by headlamps and seriously enjoyed by all.

Photo by Tyler Wilson
It was my favourite wine fest yet. Amidst the music and Merlot-induced haze, my love for treeplanters’ joie de vivre and ingenuity grew even more. There are times when 3:45am wakeups and fields of mud become worth it, and this was one of them.
Goodbye camp, it’s been a slice. Now, to the real world.