Goodbye northern ontario

this is a repost of an old bextales blog, with some minor changes.
i haven’t talked much about treeplant on the newsite, whereas the old site was predominately plant based.
this is the first fall since 2016 that i haven’t been planning the following year based on a return to hearst, which makes me surprisingly sad.

Four of us pack our lives into a car much too small and drive across the country. Last night and the night before we lived at the Howard Johnson, sleeping four to a bed and turning side to side to the warm bodies there, fingers drifting through hair and tucking in balding blankets. At Hornepayne we turn off the highway. 5 year old trees he planted straggle through the clearcut corridors that are turning back into forest. Hearst is fresh on the horizon, one of the places we call home, and Winnipeg looms large ahead. We sleep two nights on a hardwood floor of an auntie's house and straggle through markets and restaurants and bars. We’ve found our friends here, too, people we know from the forest alien in the city.

Strange to see treeplanters in other contexts- our friends, our family, intimate strangers. 'I love Farley Mowat,' somebody says, caressing the spine of a book. Acid dropping, forest dwelling freaks, who are literature majors and antique aficionados carpenters and painters and everything. Who knew. Two seasons ago I rolled into Hearst scared sick and heartbroken and yearning and now I drive across the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border with a dry bag ratchet strapped to the roof and the seats occupied by planters. Lifers. People I've danced naked with in the middle of Waxatike Road, driven buses with, cried to, exchanged letters with, confessed to. Mythical creatures. My heart full of love, the car full of sleeping bags that reek of sweat and sex and booze.

You, my carload of friends, sleep through Saskatchewan and wake to the dawn in a new province. In Banff we drive up into the mountains, an abrupt departure from the flat rolling prairies and their optical illusions. Even in the midnight darkness and our time zone skipping car stupor the mountains loom impressive and giant. One a.m, quiet night free of traffic, we roll our sleeping bags out on the grass verge of the highschool parking lot and sleep. "Do not be mistaken- we are, indeed, vagrants." We are a strange looking bunch still clad in longjohns and shorts, Buffs and pyjama pants and true thrift store gems from small towns where the attendants have been waiting all quiet winter for the life of spring and treeplanters to return. They pull out wool sweaters and ponchos with flourishes; we buy wedding dresses for two dollars and spill red wine on them, cherish Hudson's Bay blankets bought for fifty cents My lip is still split from the Companion mosh pit.

We drift into British Columbia without remark. The highway is winding and treacherous switchbacks. Smoke from the forest fires throws a haze over the sun. The mountains are ablaze. We are giddy with confinement and possibility. We have done it. We are free and wild. We are in love, with each other, with life, with the world. We make things happen.

Our scars from plant heal and the blood stains turn to cherry juice as our lives amongst trees continue.  Seas of trees and fruit around us and our friends, as familiar and as strange as a dream.