Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Most Dangerous Game

Heard a story from Ben about another of his canoeing trips, this one with his friend Danny. While paddling in the Okanagan valley in central British Columbia, Ben and Danny took a canoe up one of the feeder creeks.

I'll pause here to note that Ben's never actually purchased a good canoe. He's always just found a canoe, in a friend's back yard or on Kajiji or sunk in a bay. These aren't good canoes. Usually if a person owns it, he or she says "It's got a big crack in it, but you can have it if you want it." Ben gets to work with a container of Epoxy or something, and voila! a floating boat that he can use for a summer and then give to someone with room to keep a canoe. Often it ends up as a planter or else gathers dust till someone else wants to get out on the water.

Two summers ago, one of these rattletrap old canoes took Ben and Danny up a creek for four days of minimalist camping. When they paused to set up camp the first night, Ben assured Danny that they did not want to let the canoe drift away during the night. This mishap had happened to him before on another river camping trip, and he had walked downstream for two days before coming across that canoe stuck on a sandbar. Never again! Danny could go right ahead and set his sleeping bag on the bank above the creek, but Ben intended to sleep inside the canoe under a bit of tarp with at least one of the paddles. That way, even if the canoe drifted away, at least he wouldn't lose it -- and he'd be able to steer.

I'll pause here again to wonder why the guys didn't just tie the canoe to a tree. Camping on Quadra Island, I lifted the small boats onto the bank above the shore. Also, I tied my inflatable kayak to trees while camping on the Red Deer river, because weather changes in Alberta can be sudden and strong, causing rivers to rise or winds to blow strongly enough to roll canoes and kayaks. Maybe there weren't any trees along that Okanagan creek, and maybe the bank was very steep.
I'm also wondering whether Ben has ever awakened in a canoe that is unexpectedly bobbing downstream without a paddle. There are some things a mother just doesn't want to know.

But I digress. When we left our story, our intrepid adventurers were settling down for the night. In the morning, Danny woke first, sat up, and had a terrific view of the creek and the canoe and the tarp-draped shape that was Ben. Abruptly, Ben snorted and sat up, clawing the tarp away and grunting. Unfortunately, he wasn't alone on the edge of the creek. A Canada goose had curled up there as well.

Found this photo of a Canada goose in attack mode in an article online.
Big bird, so it and Ben were sitting up looking at each other eye-to-eye.
Startled, the goose panicked and screamed a loud hooonnk. It struck out at the sudden movement of this noisy, hairy creature. And it didn't just punch him with its hard beak, which I can assure you (as the veteran of goose battles on the farm) leaves one bruised and bleeding. Nope. It slammed both wings forward hard against Ben's head and boxed his ears. He went down like he'd been hit by a bus. 
Now it was Ben's turn to scream. By the time he kicked off the tarp, his ears were bleeding, he had an instant thunderclap of a migraine, and his head was ringing like a gong. The goose made a hasty and noisy retreat.
Meanwhile, Danny laughed hard enough to roll off the creek bank.
"I'm deaf!" screamed Ben. He added some choice words about the evil bird that stayed just out of reach as Ben fell out of the canoe and flailed about on the shore.
Danny couldn't stop laughing.
Ben had some more choice words about evil companions.
By the time they set out downstream, Ben had enough of Danny's laughter. Since Ben's head felt vile and he could barely move, he decreed that Danny could make up for laughing by doing all the paddling.

1 comment:

  1. Poor Ben, must have been upset with the goose incident, can't blame Danny for laughing, it is really funny indeed!!