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Olson001 - ;’'I'HE LONELY LAND" J hem into the hot...

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Unformatted text preview: , -;’ 'I'HE LONELY LAND " J hem into the hot bacon fat. Elliot mixed a batch of mashea '1 p tatoes, and we ate until we could hold no more.‘ ‘ ith what was left of the fried fillets, I stirred up e o‘fugh? fish c. es for breakfast, using the old recipe of fish, ashed 7 potatoe dehydrated onions, a dash of flour to hole them to- gether, a - some powdered egg for color . . flavoring}; 1' Twelve cak were placed in a pan to wait for d n. Then I wen to work on the remaining fo fillets, cleaned them thorough] rubbed them down wi salt, pepper andi'; bacon fat, and lai them on the grate 0 er a smoldering fire'i‘i‘ made of peeled sticks tom an old bea r house. No spruce or "' l. pine went into the smo ng fire,o l ~ the cleanest of birch or « aspen, thoroughly dried a d cure. The fillets quickly turned $- to a golden brown and I te . e . hem carefully, knowing that for days ahead we would ha something other than sausage and cheese for lunch. We could have caugh dozen ~ e had we wished, for the: waters between the f and the ra- ds were alive with min- ‘- nows. I am sure we . uld have taken s eral hundred pounds)“ Samuel Hearne ' early journal menu 'oned the size of the . pike. “Pike,” h said, “also grow to an in edible size in this: water, and I ave seen some that weighed u wards of forty; pounds.” The t ee we had taken were large, but I kne they could ‘ be eve larger. One recorded 1n the Quetico regio was well ‘1 over orty pounds. " i ong after my friends had rolled m, I sat before th fire??? nding the big steaks. It was a satisfying task. The prepara -' 1 n \ 150 .: .——_—_————h TROUT lAKE FALLS and basted them with o r they are fat 1n them- one of them, salte bacon grease. Trou -- The night was clear, the stars bright, no bird calls, no loans or huskies, no sound but the rushing of water. Around me the great silence once more. It was good to sit there watching the slow fire and listen. This was still the old north, the Lonely Land, but I wondered how long it would remain, with Can- ada’ 5 industrial expansion on the way and the burgeoning pop- ulation increase, not only in the United States, but within Can- ada herself. This was the soft underbelly of the last great wilderness on the continent. I could see the civilization to the south lying against it like a hungry young animal probing, pushing, ex- ploring, milking the untouched resources above, and as it fed, making its grOWth felt. Like all feeding young, bursting with vitality, it must gorge itself with the sustenance there for the taking. Already there was talk of a road from Lac la Ronge, another to lie 1 la Crosse, and one to Athabasca to tap the un- exploited country to the north—the oil and the minerals with which it is blessed. Wilderness had come to be a precious thing to us and to many thousands and I wondered how it would be if people no longer had any knowledge of wild country or any opportunity to know what voyageurs had known. The falls were fading now in the dusk, but I could hear them 151 ‘(l ‘I'HE LONELY lAND .7, more plainly than ever, music that had not changed in thou-. ", sands of years. Then it seemed as if there was a different note”) a certain somberness that had not been there before. As I lis— tened, I could hear still another sound, an obligato to the rest, 3, an exuberance and a pulsing-with—life as it always is on the " frontiers of the world. I turned the steaks once more. They were all an even, golden brown now and their flavor about right. I put on a few more}. small sticks, banked them with ashes so they would not flame.'j.f moved the grate a little higher, then went into the tent. As I j lay in my bag I could hear the singing of the rapids, with the deep roar of the falls as a steady undertone, and I lay there half ,, asleep listening to a symphony with many shades of meaning.f According to Omond we were 208 miles along our course” v—almost halfway to our goal. Ahead was the Lake of the Deada'v‘: I wondered about it and the story that would surely come“ when Eric read from the diary again. It was hard to imagine5 any great tragedy in such a peaceful land, but I knew Wham, disease could do to native tribes, as well as starvation and bitter if f. winters when gales howled out of the Arctic and the mercury dropped to fifty or sixty below zero. These summer months '1, were the easy ones on the Churchill. There was a flicker of light from the fireplace. Evidently one of the sticks of aspen was burning too brightly. I went out 'p of the tent and covered the wood with ashes once more. Tony "_ waked and joined me and we sat in the soft glow of the embers. “It has been a good day,” he said. “One of the best. And ; wasn’t that something having three pike on at the same time? " 152 TROUT lAKE FALLS‘ You know, some nights I almost hate to go to sleep for fear I shall miss something, so when I found you were not in your bag, I came out.” I cut off a sliver of the smoked fish, handed it to him and he sat munching it before the fire. He smacked his lips. “Better than smoked sturgeon,” he said “better than caviar from the Caspian.” , I cut off another sliver for myself, and it was very good. We had about ten or twelve pounds to carry with us and could have smoked enough to last us the rest of the trip, but there would be fish everywhere and a fresh smoking was always best. Before we went back into the tent, I once more stoked the fire very carefully. We carried the three great heads and the skins and entrails to a little point of rock just below camp. Gulls would find them in the morning and clean up swiftly. Their calling and screaming would wake us at dawn. I53 ...
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