Dec 25 2012
The girl found The River irresistible. Whenever she could, she scrambled over the cliff that rose precipitously from the swift waters. The snowmelt‑swollen spring torrents carved deep potholes in the cliff’s sheer walls, and when the floods receded, the girl sometimes found stranded trout in those dark recesses, swimming frantically in futile circles. That’s when she taught herself how to tickle trout, catching the imprisoned fish in her hands before returning them to The River. It was a difficult job, even a dangerous one at times, but seeing the trout swim free was all the reward that she asked — or wanted.
When she wasn’t climbing the cliff, the girl often dabbled in The River’s shallows, turning over cobbles to see who might be living under them. And sometimes she spent hours doing nothing more than watching The River flow — watching as it swirled around boulders, leapt over drops, and then reared up in steep standing waves, only to subside into ripples and linger long in tranquil moving pools.
In winter, however, she reluctantly turned her back on The River, exploring the woods that ran for many miles along its banks. She almost never ventured onto The River’s frozen margins. Her brother had died doing just that. The ringing ice that had seemed so solid when he stepped out on it proved to be as fragile as fine crystal, plunging him into the swift, dark waters, a prison from which there was no parole. It was a lesson the girl was unlikely to forget. So, when her world assumed an arctic aspect, the woods became her refuge. She slogged along on babiche bearpaws, following the tracks of fisher, fox, and hare, while towering white pines stood silent witness to her passage and spindrift sparkled in the winter sun.
She never once questioned her need to be outside in all seasons. It had marked her from her earliest days. Perhaps, as the saying then went, it was in her blood. Her father, too, was a woods‑wanderer and frequenter of secret waters, a farm boy who, early on in life, had traded his tractor for a rod and rifle. Remarkably — this just wasn’t done in those days — he nurtured his daughter’s bump of curiosity, sharing his love of wild places with her whenever the opportunity arose… Read more…
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