How strange to read the third-person description written by unknown hand about a moment in time I had mislaid, my friends and I young adults,girls and boys.
The one of them ... her hand in the water is I, my arm over the edge of canoe, trailing in boat’s wake among river waves, wind ripples, paddle whorls.
Even more startling, the image: my fifteen-year-old self, my friends caught unawares in age-bleached black and white (though I wore red). My desire
to always be in the water, even river flood, chilled and muddy, strewn with broken branches and swirling detritus, was rendered on film and archived.
That afternoon we slipped through the streets of our town made canals by risen Park River, zigzagged among trees, skimmed across lawns submerged, between hedges and houses. On north edge of town
Leistikow Park looked a temporary lake with picnic shelter roofs so much like rafts that we disembarked, rested on thin metal some minutes, swift, icy waters moving relentlessly east under us
while we held canoe against current pull, oblivious to how easily our shelter could have collapsed and the river swept us away like so much debris. But time accomplished what the river did not, pulled us away from our hometown, from sunny afternoon gliding through disaster, memories of 1979 so long ago.
Pamela Fisher was born and raised in Grafton, North Dakota. She currently lives in Grand Forks,where she teaches Spanish at a local high school.
Photo Credit: Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU, Fargo (2101.8.8)