Despite my best intentions, I was off to a late start, as usual. It was midafternoon—late afternoon, maybe—by the time I launched the boat and started rowing up Hanson Bay. I wasn’t sure because I hadn’t brought a watch. Given the jumble of gear I had hurriedly transferred from car to boat after launching, there were probably other things I hadn’t brought. And there were also things I had packed in such a rush that they wouldn’t be seen again until I unloaded the boat to trailer it home a in a week.  But now that the boat was in the water, none of that mattered. I had finally managed to find my way to Ontario’s Lake of the Woods, twenty years after I’d first seen a chart of it.After parking the car, I took what little cash I had on hand into the marina store in a gesture to bolster the local economy, but I didn’t see much that looked useful. I finally bought a candle-powered flying lantern made of tissue paper—a red one, of course: a red lantern is the traditional award for a race’s last finisher, which suited my intentions for a languid cruise quite nicely.  I handed over my last few Loonie coins, collected my change, and headed back to the boat.“SOAR TO NEW HEIGHTS!”  the lantern packaging read—and, this being Canada, “S’ENVOLENT VERS DE NOUVEAUX SOMMETS!”  The picture on the label showed a trio of glowing red tissue-paper spheres floating through a starry night above a skyline of spruces and pines. Airborne candles in the north woods? Last summer, a three-day stopover in Georgian Bay’s Churchill Islands had given me a front-row seat to a major forest fire. This year I’d be able to start my own.

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