Snapshot of Adolescence I

During the summers, we canoe in the lakes, rivers, and streams of Ontario — just above those boundary waters of Minnesota. We campers exist without electricity or running water, air conditioning or toilets, televisions or the internet. It is something like dreaming, or so I feel as I carry the food pack on my shoulders. Hike the winding, rock-strewed trail between where one lake ends and another begins. We play euchre in the tents on the days it rains and thunders. And paddle our way across the waters lined with cliffs and firs on the days when skies are clear. Keep course on a blue and green map that I lay across my thighs as we drift, finger forever tracing across the expanse of miles and miles and miles of wilderness. Full-grown bull moose wade in the shallows, dipping their heads in and out of the water which drips from the massive rack of antlers perched atop their skulls. Their hardy jaws work, lake grasses and weeds between their teeth and watching us guardedly as we glide by in our canoes, quiet and still as hunted mice. A great northern pike is slick in my hands as I try to grab the hook sticking out from its lips. But he bends and strikes, his long serrated teeth clamping down on the fleshy place between my thumb and index finger. Moments later I watch one of the boys fillet that pike, slicing the blade of his knife into its belly. And the fish will still be alive, gills gaping open and closed, large liquid eye rolling in its head. I do not look away, as blood runs through the bandage I press into the open wound of my skin, dripping through the fabric and my fingers like rain.

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