(This post was written as part of a series. Start at Minnesota Memories 1 of 4 and continue to link 2 of 4, etc. to read.)
As he paddled away, Johnny glanced up at the farmhouse and then out to the lake. A loon was making its usual strange noises, earning its moniker, “crazy as a loon”.
The trip into Bigfork wouldn’t take too long. It was only about two miles. He paddled around the peninsula they called Piney Point as it was covered with virgin pine trees that were never cut down for their lumber. This was quite surprising, since the trees stood so near to the lake. It would have taken little effort to harvest them and float them down the Rice River to the saw mill in Bigfork. Johnny had heard that the pines still stood because the peninsula used to be a burial ground for Chippewa Indians who had inhabited the area. Johnny would often walk through those woods looking for Indian artifacts, but without much luck.
He paddled past the point, and into the slow-flowing Rice River that would take him into Bigfork. Although this would be his last canoe trip of the season, once the river froze over he could ice skate from his farm into town, but that mode of transportation wouldn’t last long once snow starting piling up on the frozen river.
As he entered the river, he saw a small otter dive underwater. Skippy barked loudly and wagged her tail profusely.
“Settle down, girl. We’re not going after that one,” Johnny said softly as he paddled near where the otter had plunged beneath the surface.
Skippy had always been valuable to Johnny, especially when he used to have a trap line to catch animals for their fur. Skippy would run up to wherever a trap was set, and bark near the trap until Johnny either would pick up the dead animal, or if the trap was empty, he’d set and re-bait it. Without Skippy’s help, the traps would be a lot harder to find. Skippy made the trapping more efficient, plus Johnny enjoyed the companionship.
However Johnny didn’t have the heart to trap anymore, ever since he’d found a leg of a fox, stuck in a trap, where the fox had chewed it off to save itself. The bloody trail of a three-legged animal leading away from the trap had made Johnny sick that day. He unchained the trap from the tree, and went to pick up the others. His trapping days were over.
In the past, he might have made a note about the location of the otter, and set a trap to catch it, but now Johnny was glad he wouldn’t be back for the otter. He even hoped no one else would try and trap it. Besides, the fur looked just fine on the otter. He’d miss the extra money the furs would bring in, but he’d sleep better at night.
Once he got into Bigfork, Johnny pulled the canoe to shore under the pedestrian bridge that linked the downtown area with the high school, and then secured it with a rope to a small bush.
“You’ll have to stay here Skippy. I’ll be right back. Sit! Stay!”
(To be continued.)
Loons in the Mist by Steve Wall
by Steve took it