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Essay: Against the Wind

When we begin paddling, the wind is at our back and we float easily through the deep
woods. But soon the Betsie River widens out into a vast marsh where the current zigs
and zags among the cattails. Here, the wind plays hide and seek.

Sitting in the bow of the canoe, I look for deer and mink and otter. Behind me, my
husband keeps binoculars at hand in hopes of seeing the bald eagles.

We have a long history with the Betsie River and are grateful for this small patch of wilderness in the midst of so much civilization. The only houses out here belong to muskrats.

Turtles sun themselves on logs and I see two yearling deer watching me from the reeds.
They hold my stare for a long minute before leaping away, tails flashing.

At the Grass Lake Dam, we stop for coffee and cookies. The water tumbles over the barrier with a splashing music that must contain joy.

Finally we head upstream, paddling against the wind, then with it, against and with, all
the way back. Like we did coming down. The wind is always there, at my back or in my
face. On the river and off.