The Fumigation As Wind Blows Free: A Paddling Poem

a tent site at the southeast end of Isaac Lake, Bowron Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia
The scene of the crime: our tent site on Isaac Lake

Several years ago my wife and I, together with our friend Heidi, completed a circuit of the famous Bowron Lakes Canoe route (though we used kayaks). While we ate excellently overall, one supper was unforgettable not just for its taste but for its after effects. I commemorated the occasion with this pastiche of Robert W. Service’s famous “The Cremation of Sam McGee“.

A warning and reassurance for my more gentile readers: the following poem contains references to bodily functions. Lest you stifle your laughter for fear the humour is too low-brow, I remind you that even Shakespeare penned fart jokes. So cut loose!

The Fumigation As Wind Blows Free
(With apologies to Robert W. Service)
By Philip Torrens

There are strange things done on the Bowron Run,
By the folks who paddle there;
The portage trails have their secret tales
That would make you gasp for air.
The tenting grounds have heard weird sounds,
But the weirdest they ever harked to
Was near the kitchen shack on Lake Isaac,
Where Heidi served us methane stew.

With Leanne and me and our friend Heidi, our group was a merry bunch,
Once camp was broke, we’d paddle and stroke, until we stopped for lunch.
For most of the meals, we’d made easy deals, ones we thought were winners;
“Chacun à son gout.” was what we’d do, but we took turns making dinners.

This scheme worked well for quite a spell, until that fateful night,
It was Heidi’s turn to boil and churn, and cook for our delight.
She had a recipe it was plain to see she had made with loving care.
Had we but kenned where it all would end, we’d have chosen other fare.

Fake chicken strips, dried ‘shrooms and bits, and nuts of the cashew;
How were we to know that it all would go to make a gassy brew?
We cleared our plates, and sealed our fates, and helped ourselves to more,
Little knowing where it all was going, and what bedtime held in store.

My wife and I went off to lie, snug in our foldable fabric abode.
To her solo tent, friend Heidi went. The seeds of doom were sowed.
My first warning of what was aborning was a gurgling in my gizzards;
A thing inside that would not be denied; it roiled like brawling lizards.

An apologetic groan and a mournful moan; the fumes could not be restricted.
From my better half’s gut, the cheese was also cut; like me she was afflicted.
We were watery-eyed and mortified. But then, with a bagpipe bleat,
From the neighbouring tent, came an echoing vent. The chaos was complete.

The rolling thunder from that culinary blunder rang out from either side.
At a dreadful clip we would let them rip; stormy bowels know no pride.
Again and again came the dreadful refrain as someone let another one hatch.
The tents they swelled and everyone yelled, “For Gawd’s sake, don’t light a match!”

As they continued to rip, I pulled down the zip of the tent door, seeking repose.
As it opened I spied, off to one side, a skunk fleeing while holding his nose.
With a steady pitter-patter, in a regular splatter, beats on the tent roofs drummed;
And it was plain that this wasn’t rain, but passing bats who’d succumbed.

The pressure popped our ears, and I had great fears that the tents would float away.
The tents did squirm, but the stakes held firm; they would camp another day.
But nothing put a stop ta that dreadful anal opera—and the resulting reek.
From that methane stew, it was “Sauve qui pue!” and turn the other cheek.

At last came along the crack of dawn; the sweetest crack we’d known for an age.
That deadly miasma seemed just a phantasma, a nightmarish, long-ago stage.
We packed our boats and got afloat, and fled the scene as fast as we could.
We put to sea. Like the wind, we blew free, and we quit that place for good.

We’d not been alone at our overnight home; others got wind of what had transpired.
And to be fair, something in the air told of a battle with endless shots fired.
The bush telegraph had broadcast our gaff, as strangers rushed to remind us.
But as for me, and Leanne and Heidi: We’d rather put all that behind us.

There are strange things done on the Bowron Run,
By the folks who paddle there;
The portage trails have their secret tales
That would make you gasp for air.
The tenting grounds have heard weird sounds,
But the weirdest they ever harked to
Was near the kitchen shack on Lake Isaac,
Where Heidi served us methane stew.

If you enjoyed this parody, you might also like my paddler’s version of “The Night Before Christmas.”

1 thought on “The Fumigation As Wind Blows Free: A Paddling Poem

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