Camping in the boundary waters, talking about life, and our place as millennial men in a changing climate.
I went camping in the boundary waters. The wilderness and conversations that filled my time lead me to consider climate change in a new way. This story includes a conversation on Naomi Klein’s 2014 book, This Changes Everything.
Music by Brian Travis
Thank you Collin.
Welcome to farming god, a podcast that goes to the places and speaks with the people of America’s spiritual revolution. Cultivating a compassionate language conducive to asking bigger questions to foster a shift in cultural values and expand our political imagination.
I went camping in the boundary waters. The wilderness and conversations that filled my time lead me to consider climate change in a new way. This story includes a conversation on Niomi Klein’s 2014 book, This Changes Everything. Links to it are in the show notes. Smoke signals at farming god.org
So here we are. a clear lake in front of us, a thick forrest behind us. The tents are pitched and the bags organized. Boots and socks drying on a rock in the sun. There’s no one but us within miles. And obviously no cell service.
We’re standing around an unlit fire.
CUT FIRE SOUND
Of course it’s not lit, it’s noon. Why am I even looking at it? Ryan is about to say something? We make eye contact, pause, silence. Quickly look away.
There’s nothing to do. And it’s scary.
The boundary waters are a series of protected lakes sprinkled on the US canadian border in the North east corner of Minnesota. I grew up in MN but never visited the boundary waters until last week. After a four hour drive from MNPLS, a group of 5 guys and I arrived at a bunk house outside of Ely, MN where we spent the night. The fluorescent lights, triple decker bunk beds, and signs that read, “group leader responsible for all bunk house damages” made me feel like a boy scout again. Except this time I was the real deal.
I, like the great Northern fur trappers who had gone before me, was preparing to enter true wilderness. No more earning badges for bowling a strike at the White Bear bowl, or slaps on the back for making it through Mr. David’s haunted hay ride without crying. This was adventure.
We woke up early Saturday morning, the air was crisp and quiet. I found my self jogging up and down the stairs, to my bunk, to the bathroom, to the breakfast area, “hey free coffee”, to the water spigot, to the bathroom, and eventually to the central lodge where we loaded the van scheduled to deliver us, our bags, and canoes to the edge of a lake. From here we’d begin the journey to our campsite, which consisted of a 10 minute portage, followed by a 1 hour paddle, followed by 3 more portages and 3 more lake crossings.
For the next two days we explored, fished, and talked. We covered the big things: religion, politics, and our place in society.
RYAN GENERATION CLIP
But we mostly talked about nothing: the best way to cut a bell pepper, how to tend a fire, this fish head broth better not ruin the curry. Every comment, statement, question, interrupted with another pun:
The trip blurred together into a sequence of eating, fishing, paddling, and talking. At some point, Collin, the shews man, referred to Naomi Klein’s book as the environmental work of our generation. Bold statements from thoughtful people catch my attention. So I read it the week we returned. I wouldn’t recommend consuming it at this pace. It’s alarming. Overwhelming and frankly, depressing. Out of a need for companionship along this desperate road, I texted Collin. “Can we please talk about this book?’ He said yes.
So a week after returning from the Boundary waters, we met in a park on a Tuesday afternoon. Couples were laying on blankets. Guys, playing 3 on 3. In the distance, girls wearing pink, blue, emerald hijabs, ran up and down a hill. The breeze was cool but the sun warm, on the back of our necks, discussing our place, amidst a changing climate.
I remember returning to MNPLS after the Boundary waters trip. The 6 of us were standing on the corner of 19th and como. The cars unpacked, bags organized. Boots and socks drying in the sun on the curb. The neighbor is drinking boxed wine on her porch, an off duty security guard doesn’t like the way we parked, and my phones buzzing in my back pocket. We make eye contact with each other, pause, silence. quickly look away.
There’s too much to do. And it’s scary.