Andrew’s back from his portaging trip to Algonquin. It’s different from the other times that he travels for work. Once he’s in the bush, there is no cell phone service, so there is no communication. When he’s away for work I get texts from him that say he’s landed safely, or that he’s thinking about me. But when he’s in Algonquin, I don’t hear the comforting chirp from my cell phone alerting me that he’s sent me a message.
Before he leaves, I usually have the same list of questions for him every time:
Me: “Did you pack your bear spray?”
Andrew: “Yes. Don’t worry I’ve got it.”
Me: “What about the bear bells? So you can make lots of noise while you hike?”
Andrew: “Got those too. Really, I’ve got it covered, Cris don’t worry.”
Me: “Okay. Wait!”
Me: “When’s mating season for moose again? They can be crazy and charge you!”
Andrew: “It’s not until the fall. Stop worrying!”
Easy for him to say! I’ve got the most overactive imagination. Within the hour that he and his portaging buddy, Trevor have departed I’ll find myself daydreaming about Andrew chopping wood to get a fire started. In the background I see bushes moving back and forth. Andrew hears the noise and turns around, but nothing is there so he continues to chop away with his miniature axe. Then I see the black bear emerge from the bushes, watching Andrew, licking its lips in anticipation for dinner.
Before things can get gory I shake my head and find something to do: wash dishes, vacuum, find something light and funny to watch on TV. But the feeling of dread creeps into my bones every few minutes. What if something happens to him out there? The only way I’ll know something is wrong is if he doesn’t arrive home on the day he says he’ll be back.
I picture myself bringing a map of Algonquin to the police station, showing the officer the route that Andrew said he was going to travel; tracing my fingers over the areas he said he would be camping at every day. It makes me crazy.
You have no idea how relieved I am when he gets back. He’s skinnier, tanned and needs a good shave, but he’s in one piece and home! I can rest easy now…until his next trip in a year.