Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 5 No. 3 | Fall 1983 (Portland) /// Issue 19 of 41 /// Master# 19 of 73

Wildcatcarrieswithhimall thecomfortsofhome:changesofclothes, canned goods, whiskey,melons, alargewoodenkitchenbox, arifle- whichpark regulationsstrictlyforbid-andammoenoughforawar. S ANOEING Coyotean They glory in the beauty of the Canadian north woods as they stroll back. They inhale the loamy forest air. Now Wildcat shrugs the canoe to his shoulders, and trots off up the path. At the first canoe rest, a log nailed high up between two trees, he drops the bow on it and steps out from under. “Look, Coyote, they have places to lean your boat in this wilderness. I am testing it.” “I will test the ground itself,” pants Coyote, and lies down. Now Coyote takes the canoe. He gets beneath it, he struggles to lift it. It shifts on the crossmember a little. Now he lifts it with all his might, and staggers away. Onward he falls forward, step by step. Now he is breathing hard. Now the sweat rolls down his angular nose. Now he pants openly. The boat is heavy! Why are their canoe rests so far apart? Wildcat disappears ahead. Wildcat waits for Coyote. Flies buzz, birds fly past. Finally Coyote staggers up the path. “I will take it,” Wildcat says. “No, I will carry it,” Coyote snaps. But soon he allows Wildcat to take over the burden. Completing the third trip, they mound the canoe high. Now they climb in. The boat sinks low in the water. They are canoeing at last! Swiftly they glide across silver-blue Kibbie Lake. A loon calls, a flock of ravens skirt the shore. Wildcat steers and Coyote mans the bow. They come to shore. “We land sideways,” Wildcat directs. “I always come in bow frontwards,” Coyote exclaims. “My new boat will be scratched.” “ It is only mud.” “Sideways.” “Bow foremost.” “No.” “No.” “Shut up Coyote, it is my boat.” They set up Wildcat’s yellow dome tent. Coyote builds the fire, and has a smoke. "Takethegunback,"Coyotetellshim. "Ohno,therearebearsinthesewoods.” "Youfearbears?" "Inmyhousewespeakoflittleelse,"saysWildcat. U B g ByRickRubin Paintingby T. Michael Gardiner I B U ildcat calls from San Francisco V W in the cool of a July morning. “Do you want to go canoe The Bowron?” he asks. “Where’s The Bowron?” Coyote asks. “Look it up,” Wildcat tells him, “I’ll be there in a few days.” Coyote and Wildcat have been friends for 20 years, since Wildcat was a college student and Coyote a hang-around type. They lived on Cable Street in the bohemian Goose Hollow district. Nowadays when Coyote is in San Francisco he bunks at Wildcat’s Portola Hill row house; and they drink at Harrington’s in the financial district, Wildcat’s regular watering hole. So too, Wildcat is a welcome guest at Coyote’s Northwest neighborhood Victorian, and they drink at The Goose, Coyote’s long-time beer joint. Coyote looks up The Bowron, and finds it’s a famous canoe circuit of lakes and rivers with short portages scattered here and there between, amidst exotic wildlife in a Canadian wilderness. A string of 13 lakes near the Alberta-B.C. border forms a rectangle of water that appears to bring you backto.where you started. The British Columbia parks department brochure he gets describes a mere 8 kilometers of portage, against 14.4 of rivers and 90.8 of limpid blue lakes, amongst the frisky grizzly bears and jagged mountain peaks. Wildcat shows up with a fine new canoe atop his station wagon. “Ha, ha, Coyote,” Wildcat says, “ I bought this boat on my way out of town. I haven’t even told Black- Necked Stilt about it. Let’s go canoeing.” Wildcat’s beard is grey now, and he wears glasses, but his muscles bulge as of old. Coyote is clean shaven for once, and between wives again. His hair is grizzled but he is still a wiry little fellow. They have been friends all that time, but have never gone on an expedition together. Now they drive north. Wildcat lights a fat Dutch cigar while Coyote enjoys a pipeful of his funny smoke. Two nights they camp beside the Canadian road and then they reach Bowron Provincial Park. They are eager to canoe. Wildcat knows perfectly well that there are many portages, but he will carry with him all the comforts of home: changes of clothes, canned goods, whiskey, melons, a large wooden kitchen box, a rifle — which park regulations strictly forbid — and ammo enough for a war. “All your gear make me tired before we start,” Coyote complains. “Have you never back-packed, Wildcat?” “No matter," Wildcat tells him. “ I am strong, I will carry it all." Before they can canoe they must portage. The brochure says 2.4 km. “That is far,” says Coyote. “I wouldn’t know,” says Wildcat, “At home we speak only miles.” Coyote squirms under his 60-pound pack and struggles to his feet. Wildcat too carries such a pack, but also shoulders the wooden provisions box. The narrow track goes up and down, among spindly pine. Rocks turn their ankles, roots confuse their feet. Coyote will (puff) not (puff) be the first to (puff) weaken. Wildcat is strong (huhh), he needs no rest to carry these (huhh) little things. Uphill goes the trail, up it continues. Now it goes down a little ways and then (puff) (huhh) up again. After several rests, they come to the landing. “That was the longest,” Wildcat assures them, “The portages will be easy after this.” “Ha,” says Coyote, “We must make two more trips yet on this portage.” 4 6 Clinton St. Quarterly