“The Wild is calling… Calling…. .Let us go…..”

January 2, 2017

I picked up a guide printed in the New York Times Dec 15 that said “Where to stream the Best Movies of 2016″….

Well since being an avid canoeist in my younger years tonight I decided to watch the film “Embrace of the Serpent” on Amazon Prime….

it said “Beautiful isn’t a strong enough word to describe scenes of the heaving waters of the Amazon and its tributaries, on which two explorers, …navigate in canoes, accompanied by the shaman…the last survivor of an Amazonian tribe killed off by European invaders.”

The language was like Tukanoan…an Amazonian dialect…the explorers were German..so Everything was subtitled which is fine with me…except the movie just dragged on and on..as I have experienced worse rapids and falls   in the Canadian Arctic  canoe trips with my father…..

and this was filmed in black and white except for one point when the shaman has a vision… which is in Color….

this led me to pulling out my father’s books/booklets that he had printed ….

he said to me you will Never Read these books until I am dead…

which was/is True…as I only wanted to read What he had written about ME….

I Totally admire my Father for what he did…what he accomplished in Life…but I did not have the Love for him that I had for my mother….

and he did not tell me he loved me…which REALLY was Totally Normal for men back then….until I saw him on his death bed…when he said “I Love You”…..and honestly at the time …. I thought a little too Late….

I though loved him for accepting my being Gay back in the early 70’s…

there was a moment in that movie “Embrace of the Serpent”…where one of the explorers has a wind up Victrola on the banks of the Amazon….which made me remember that our house on Burgundy Point which had no electricity…only kerosene lamps….had a wind up ….will never forget my Mom and Connie Dillingham doing the “Black Bottom”…a dance popular in the 30’s..but  the  noise it made when it came to the end of song…these were the old 78 records that you could break over your knee…or throw across the wall at a lover…which usually missed and  hit the wall and broke…

I pulled out his books this evening about our canoe trips…which I will now read at the age of 70…(sigh!!!)

his book “A Search For Adventure”…”Log of Matteson Family Canoe Trips Across Canada and Alaska to the Bering Sea 1958-1971”

his aim was to transverse  North America..and since no river flows that way….decided to divide up Canada, Alaska…into segments….as this one book says:

“Ever since I had been a canoe trip counselor at Camp Owakonze in Canada in the middle thirties.  I had wanted to go by canoe across Canada and Alaska from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  The problem was I could only get away from my job in
Washington DC for 3-4 weeks each year..”

(he worked for the White House as an adviser, for the State Dept..for the CIA…to the Seniorviser to the Director of the Arm’s Control and Disarmament Agency”…as an adviser for Nixon’s Pacification of Vietnam ….where he was exposed to Agent Orange…which I strongly believe gave him the Parkinson’s he died from)

“Each of these was a great experience. It was a wonderful way to bet to know our children and for them to get to know me…particularly since during 30 years…1943 to 1972

(an aside..my older sister Daidie was born in 1941…..he served in intelligence in WWII catching the  number 2 man in the Gestapo…Ernst Kaltenbrunner…making him quite a celebrity back home…….gosh that is another story…I was born in 1946…Ricky was born in 1950…Sumner in 1952….and Lizzie in 1956)..but to keep quoting him:

“I was abroad much of the time or working 12 hours a day in Washington DC…”

I was on I think 5 of the 7 trips…and Lord they were anything but Fun..as his desire was to go as far and as fast as one could…as he got his info from Old Canadian Voyageurs diaries from the 1800’s…and he wanted to surpass them..tho they had Much Larger canoes..and way more paddlers…usually Native Canadians….

we would fly in by chartered one engine pontoon  plane manned by a rough bush pilot…let off in whatever lake Father wanted where no human was for hundreds and hundreds of miles ….our canoe strapped to the pontoon….

were let go…and told that if we did not appear at our 500 mile away destination that the Canadian Mounties after 30 days would come looking for us…as this was before cell phones ….

these trips were physical Hell…but we loved the end of the day when Dad gave us one portion of   Rum mixed with the old powdered instant Myers Lime Juice  ….and we got high enough not to mind the mosquitoes…and gosh trying to take a shit…well you can imagine…and above the Arctic Circle the sun NEVER sets….nor do the mosquitoes go to sleep…they just drone on and on on your tent walls  waiting for you to come out and drop your drawers….

my first trip with Dad was in 1958 when I was 11….and my last in 1971 when I was 25 with my dear sister Liz…I experienced most of the trips with All of my siblings at different times ….they were ALL extremely memorable….and most very close to death….as Daidie and Rick will agree……as this was before cell phones …

Like Life….you just had to show up at your destination  or just  die…

as Dad quoted Robert Service  in his introduction..

 

“…There’s a Whisper on the night wind,                                                                            there’s a star agleam to guide us                                                                                           and the wild is calling, calling ….let us go.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Response to ““The Wild is calling… Calling…. .Let us go…..””

  1. Richard Steele said

    Great story, glad I did not have to go camping like that, I would have died. My father never told me that he loved me, I did however tell him so and he cried. Hugs R&R

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