Belle Isle, Isle Royale National Park – August 6, 2012
This is a guest post written by a box of wine:
I was young once, with crisp corners and a bright label that said, “Pinot Grigio” in bold, proud letters. This was back in California where the sun shines year round and girls wear bikinis in January. I thought life would be simple then. I’d hang out on a corner store shelf for a bit, some brunette with sun-soaked highlights would pick me up along with a pint of ice cream, and I’d call it a life after a girls-night-in.
Then they packed me in a crate and shipped me to Minnesota where four Canadians pulled me off the shelf after debating between me and a box of shiraz. Not everyone can pinpoint the moment their life changed, but I can, it was right there, right when they closed the lid on that shipping crate and the truck’s engine fired to life.
Shoved in the hull of the Canadian’s boat, I rode the wild waters of Isle Royale. I landed on hidden beaches. I crossed open channels. I saw more stars than there are grapes in California.
I knew it couldn’t last forever. The bag of granola I met the first day disappeared one morning. The can of tuna left a few nights in. Every time we stopped I wondered if it was my time to go, but they never came for me. After a week, we’d circled the entire island, over a hundred miles by kayak. It felt insulting that they never drank me, like I was just some 2-buck-chuck not good enough to be remembered, or worse, a cooking wine.
I still held some hope that they were saving me for a huge celebration at the end, then I heard one of them say to a stranger, “I’ve got a box of wine, if you want it.”
A moment later, they pulled me out of the hull and handed me to a lone American who had a big smile. They gave me away after all we’d gone through together, can you believe it? Just thinking about it almost turns me to vinegar.
The American looked at me with no appreciation for my subtle hints of citrus, peach, and pear, then shoved me in the nose of a yellow boat so far that my corners bent.
That’s where I’ve been for the past week, circling the island again, this time in the other direction. We stopped at three lighthouses, rode giant waves, and saw ships bigger than buildings. The wind began to howl three nights ago when we landed on Belle Isle. For two days we waited, feeling like we’d never get a chance to move again, then this morning, even with the wind blowing, he began to pack the boat.
As the last hatch closed, I heard the voices of three men calling out to that lone American.
“Don’t go! Don’t go!” they said.
The American stopped. I could tell he was antsy after days on the isle waiting for the wind. He wanted to go anyway. Then I heard the men’s voices again.
“And Keith caught a steelhead this morning,” one of them said. “So we’re gonna eat well.”
I heard the sound of a sprayskirt and life jacket hitting the ground.
“Why didn’t you just tell me that in the first place,” the American said with a laugh.
Later that day, as the sun set in the sky, the hatch opened like it had a hundred times before, but somehow I knew that this time it opened for me.
Three fishermen from Two Harbors and the American with the big smile are hardly the sun-soaked brunette and a girls-night-in that all boxes of wine dream about, but I wouldn’t trade my life for any other.
“I thought pinot grigio was red,” the American said as he poured me into a blue solo cup aboard the Absolut-ly Knot.
Mine was a life of adventure.