Floodwood means a lot to a lot of people. I tried to capture of a little of that elusive meaning here…hope you enjoy it.
I’ve never been sure of what I’m chasing, but I’m always certain when I find it.
It might only be a moment, a brief instance in time. The sparkle in the shallows, the way a spider web catches the sun suddenly, or the solid shapes on the edge of the sky as the day fades to night.
Perhaps it is my heart pounding in the weightless silence as the canoe glides through reflected stars above, or the enriching first sip of cowboy coffee at day break.
Or maybe it’s simply freedom.
Regardless of whatever that feeling might be, Floodwood was the first place I felt it. When my paddle first dipped into the tannic headwaters of the Saranac that feeling came and hijacked my heart, and so I have been chasing after it ever since. And oddly enough, the chase always leads me back to where it started.
There is a certain something special about Floodwood. I’ve always felt that way. But why was that feeling of freedom born there? It was always a mystery to me until I returned to Floodwood in 2015 after being away in more northerly environments for the last decade. It was midweek during Week 2 of last summer, I was sitting atop Floodwood Mountain, about to run down to West Pine for an evening dip and paddle, to a pond I had not paddled in 10 years. Ten years of wild times and ten years of wild paddle trips across the Arctic. And looking out over the world – camp below visible through the trees, an unending green swath of trees to every horizon broken only by small lakes – 10 years suddenly felt like a very short period of time.
And then, as if time unraveled before my eyes, I realized that right here and right now are all that is real. Everything else is memory or imagination. And I thought, I think that perhaps this is what the Floodwood “old timers” I met at the reunions meant when they claimed they lived those summers on staff on “Floodwood time.”
That saying, to me at least, meant they honored the present moment, that they appreciated their consciousness, and they celebrated the idea that no future moment could ever be more important than the moment they have right now.
No wonder I first discovered that feeling of freedom at Floodwood, and always felt it stronger with each new visit. That location, and this emotion are forever married to each other.
So I dropped down into the canopy that surrounds Floodwood Mountain, and I went wild on the mountain running down to West Pine Pond where I jumped into my canoe more alive than ever, listening to the graceful hiss as the hull carved a line across the pond. I felt the breeze beneath my arms, and while the water flowed and my wake rolled, so did my imagination.