25th Trillium Award

The Dirty Dozen, with Darryl Blazino

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Darryl Blazino

Thunder Bay author Darryl Blazino finds that wilderness camping distills life into two beautiful essentials: food in one's belly and a warm dry place to sleep. This simplicity, however, can only be fully enjoyed if it's shared with someone else.

A Brief Time in Heaven (Dundurn Press) is Darryl's unforgettable book of essays and photographs that shares stories gathered over 12 years of experience exploring northwestern Ontario's lakes.

Darryl is courageous enough not only to paddle into the great beyond, he's also taken on the challenge accompanied by young children — so for him, the Open Book Dirty Dozen was a piece of cake. Today he tells us about coaching Eric Staal, splashing cherry brandy into the fish-fry pan and tying the only three kinds of knots you'll ever need.

Darryl Blazino's Dirty Dozen

1. Even though A Brief Time in Heaven was based on canoe tripping/camping, my favourite time of year is the last month of winter. Nothing is better than getting out on a bright, sunny day as the sun sparkles off of the snow. With a toboggan hill, ski trail and skating rink at our home, it is the ultimate ?stay-cation?.

2. I am an incurable ?map-aholic?. I could look at maps all day long and rarely do I buy a book which doesn?t contain one. I love anything that is either historical or adventure/explorer related.

3. My dream job is to be a comedy writer. All of my friends are hilarious and are very quick-witted, whereas I have no timing or delivery whatsoever. I do feel however that I could create a lot of good material for others. I probably have well over an hour?s worth of stand-up material that would be good in someone else?s hands but certainly not my own.

4. In the late 1990s I was a hockey coach at the Bantam ?AAA? level. We had a terrific run, winning three Ontario Provincial Championships as well as picking up a bronze medal in five years. I am not aware of another team that has come close to matching that record.

5. During my five years of coaching I was fortunate enough to coach seven players that have gone on to play in the National Hockey League, including Stanley Cup Champions Eric Staal and Patrick Sharp.

6. Other than canoeing I look forward to cross country ski season the most. I enjoy being outside in the winter. I find it both relaxing and invigorating, and we are blessed with world class ski trails here in Thunder Bay. I have completed seven 50km ski races.

7. As much as I pride myself on being an outdoorsman who could gladly last for weeks on end out in the wilderness, I am the first one to panic every time we have a power outage. It is quite comical yet I find myself running through a mental ?Armageddon checklist? if the lights don?t come back on within 20 minutes.

8. On camping trips I don?t eat fish as often as I used to. But the best tip I could give someone who is having a fish fry is to add a touch of either brown sugar or cherry brandy to the fish mix. Unbelievable!

9. If I were able to travel back in time to visit an historical figure I would most likely want to meet Jesus or Sitting Bull. Despite the tragedy of the Lakota people during the 1800s I have an inexplicable romanticized vision of life on the Great Plains during this era. Sitting Bull, to me, is the epitome of courage and wisdom.

10. The biggest reason that I love canoe tripping or even camping in general is the simplicity. Do I have food? Do I have shelter? Anything else is a bonus. That is why a good rain suit and tent are the only two essential pieces of equipment.

11. One thing that I am certain that I could never enjoy is a solo canoe/camping trip. Having someone with whom to share the experiences — both good and bad — is absolutely essential to me. I have an enormous respect for people who are able to head out into the wilderness alone.

12. As far as canoeing tips there are only three knots that one should learn, whether it be for tying down the canoe to your vehicle or hanging a rain tarp/shelter. The trucker?s hitch, the cinch knot and a bow line. All are very easy to learn. But as the saying goes, ?If you can?t tie knots, tie lots.?

Darryl Blazino has explored, camped and fished on hundreds of lakes over the past two decades and spends nearly 50 days a year pursuing his love of the out-of-doors. His articles and photographs have been regularly published in The Boundary Waters Journal. He lives in Thunder Bay.

For more information about A Brief Time in Heaven please visit the Dundurn Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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