The Loci and the Loon
I will always remember the time i went to church camp when i was in 9th grade. I had to wake up at 4:30 am to pack and get on a bus headed for the Boundary Waters. I was excited but at the same time crabby as hell because it was so early. I didnt know anyone, i didnt have any friends on the trip, but i soon made some on the bus ride there. We arrived at Wilderness Canoe Base Camp in the depths of the Boundary Waters sometime midday. It was the most beautiful place ive ever seen, and what made it even more special was that you cant even get to the base camp without taking a 10-person canoe across a huge lake system to get to the island where it was. It had a boy's island and a girl's island, connected by a long rope and woodplank bridge that swayed and bounced as one walked across it.
This place was magical. Even the main lodge was just like a cozy home in the middle of the mountains. It was big enough to hold the staff and whoever would stay there, and the mess hall was neatly organized with rows of log tables. How northwoodsy. The entire reason why i love that place so much is because nothing really mattered up there in the wilderness, at the camp, nothing mattered except absorbing nature, breathing the fresh air, exploring and learning about the most elemental things.
There was only one shower, and since we were there for only 4 days, I only had time to sign up for one slot at 6 am, the rest of the day it was preoccupied. I wouldnt have minded if it had no shower. No one even cared if you smelled horrible on day 4, because everyone was in their happy place by that time.
I liked to sit on the bridge between the two islands and just sway over the lake system below me. You could see for miles, it seemed, across the winding path of it, beyond the islands plopped all over the place. The weather was your perfect spring day. The snow had melted a week before, so imagine the greenery was everywhere, swallowing you up in lusious life.
I was sitting on a rock, writing in my journal about how great i felt up there, about how free it felt, and nothing mattered but the sound of the wind in the trees, and the warmth of the sun on my back, when i spotted a loon on the lake. It was fishing, diving and surfacing several times a minute. It really made me think about how simple life is, and how complex we humans make it. There, in the wilderness, my life was simple. I had a simple, free-spirited life with the loon and the bridge. Back home, i had complicated school work with complicated relationships and mind-bending media all around me. I wouldve lived at the wilderness canoe base if i had the chance, totally.
The Genius Loci of that place is a bit hard to pinpoint, so i say it's "spirit" is nothing. It's not trying to be something its not. It's not wearing any masks, or trying to convey any points. It just is what it is. Purely nature. And it takes a certain type of person to see spirit in it, to see a Genius Loci in it, not just anyone would be able to appreciate it for what its worth. That place is as original and unfooled around with as it couldve ever been.