I’m a country girl at heart. I moved up to Minnesota from Arizona the summer before fourth grade. And this is what welcomed me:
At the far end of our property, in Greenfield, Minnesota, I could actually canoe through my backyard. We had 2.8 acres. Beyond a big sprawling, rolling backyard, was a thick wetland, divided from a patch of woods by a creek that flowed into a pond, that fed yet another creek, that flowed into yet another pond. Our first canoe was fiberglass, and was kept in the yard, right at the edge of the marsh. Sometimes I would even take my dog with me. His name was “Hunter” and he was half Samoyed and half Black Lab. He was one of a number of pets that I had. I also had turtles, rabbits, cats, and fish. But he was my favorite — my buddy. We ran through the backyard together, and he even tolerated my attempts at training him as a sled dog.
In the spring, the marsh was very wet. The water would get high and even flood up to the grass. This was great for canoeing! I would push my canoe, with the paddles in the bottom, while my legs were swallowed up with mud and algae, as I made my way toward deep enough water. Then I would scramble into the canoe, usually without capsizing it, and situate myself with authority on the wide seat in the back, and steer toward the pond. Along the way, I picked cattails and threw them into the bottom of my canoe. I would watch a turtle slide from a log into the water. And I would marvel at tadpoles zooming about just under the surface of the swamp water. And if Hunter were with me, he would jump out and swim around, letting me lead the way, though I didn’t have a navigational plan. I was just there to be there.