1. Pack a few canoes with everything you’ll need to survive for the next few days. Together with 8 other adventurous women (who aren’t afraid to pee in the woods), paddle across three lakes, carry the canoes and all of your provisions across two portages, and at the end of a long, arduous, but beautiful day, set up camp at the edge of the lake in the middle of the wilderness where you will see no other signs of human habitation for the next few days.
2. Sit around a campfire with those women, telling stories and eating food that could possibly be the most delicious food you’ve ever tasted because it was well earned and well prepared and you are outdoors. Finish off your meals with roasted marshmallows and tea or hot chocolate that may or may not have a few twigs floating in it.
3. After the hard work of paddling, spend a day or two doing little else but playing in the water at the lovely sandy beach down a short path from your campsite, and reading your way through a good book or two. As an added bonus, drag your therma-rest out of your tent, prop it up like a reclining chair on a rock under the shade-giving trees with a view of the lake, and create a comfortable little nest where you can curl up with your book.
4. In the morning, go down to that private beach where nobody but the loons can see you, take off all your clothes, and wade into the crystal clear water. Float, swim, tread water, stare down at your feet (visible through the impossibly clear water), and feel yourself deeply connected to the water, the trees, and the loons playing at the edge of the water. As you float, consider that this is how it feels to be in the womb of the Goddess who birthed you and all that you see.
5. In the evening, after you have completed your supper and you are relaxing in comfort around the fire, catch your breath with wonder when one woman in your circle spots the Northern lights through the hole in the tree canopy above you. All together, rush to the large rock at the edge of the water where you have the best view of the sky. Lie on your backs, watching the Northern lights dancing like playful angels in the dark starry sky. Ooh and aah for extra effect, especially when you notice the way the aurora borealis reflects on the water.
6. Pay attention. Be mindful of everything you see. The bald eagle carrying itself on powerful wings high into the sky where it floats in leisurely circles. The two butterflies sunning themselves on a rock. The sky turning pink as the sun bids you good night. The sound of loons calling across the lake. The taste of wild raspberries, blueberries, and saskatoons. The endless possible shapes of clouds. The loons racing across the surface of the lake, using their wings as paddles. The milky white petals of the water lilies. The many shades of green in the trees and thick beds of moss. The bear that stands up on a rock just as you drive past on your way back to civilization. (p.s. Be grateful that you were in a car when you spotted the bear and not in a tent.)
7. As you are carrying the last of your things away from the campsite and down to the canoes, ready to head back across those lakes, spot the large white feather lying on the ground next to the now cold fire pit. Remember what Amy Oscar, in her book Sea of Miracles, says about white feathers appearing regularly to remind her of the presence of angels. Say a silent prayer of thanksgiving that you have been surrounded by angels for the last few days.
8. Exhausted but happy, carry one last canoe on your back up the hill and over the railroad tracks to the waiting vehicles. As you put it down, and you stretch your aching back and neck muscles, congratulate yourself and the other women for being strong and powerful and courageous. As a reward, stop at a restaurant on the way home to eat a delicious meal on a patio and to share a few good laughs about the adventure you’ve just had. For good measure, add a delicious frozen sangria to your meal. Sip it slowly and mindfully.
9. Return home to your family, refreshed, alive, and full of gratitude for the beauty and bounty of creation. Carry the wilderness with you and remember what it feels like to be wild, free, and beautiful, next to the pulsing heart of Mother Nature.