Canoe Country by Florence Page Jacques

By Florence Page Jacques

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We went off to investigate the eastern swamp, which had an evasive fascination. Rivulets filtered through the slipping grass. Strange plants swayed in the shadowy greenness under our paddles. Little three-petaled flowers, frail as apple blossoms, floated awry in the swamp pools, where tenuous shapes wavered and dissolved. It was a sliding place, without validity. But a west wind came up, and the air lightened. We found a small stream which led us to a hidden pond. Peering through the ice-green poplars, we discovered six deer bathing in the water!

Lee said that bears will not condescend to hurry if they know you are watching them, but they make up for it as soon as they think they're out of sight. Later in the morning a gale came up again while we were crossing Iron Lake. The water turned a deep violet, the waves were urgent and white capped. We had to struggle violently to make headway; it was fun, but it was a real combat. Cloud shadows and flashes of sun whirled by us, as we dug our paddles furiously into the surging assault. "I'll quarter against the wind," Lee shouted to me.

I'm writing this in a tall pine wood. Giant pines range up a long hill, with clean open spaces between the bronze trunks instead of all the undergrowth and ferns and twisted branches we usually have. Morning sunlight falls down to the matted needles in bars of brown sunniness and gold mist. The wind tastes fresh, pungent, and wild. How utterly different this forest land is from the other two I've loved! Fontainebleau, a medieval dream forest (of course we saw it in April); the New Forest, the essence of England's beauty, where Robin Hood might appear down any glade.

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