August 13, 2005

Two rivers

My first memory of being in a boat

The first time I remember being in a boat was in Alaska when I was 4 years old. I've been in a lot of fishing boats-- anchor at one end, outboard at the other, stringer off one side, net and bailing can rattling around-- so none of them stands out in my memory as the first boat even though I'm sure it was. But the boat in Alaska was not like any of them.

We drove from Minnesota to Alaska for vacation that summer, Mom, Dad and five kids in a Ford station wagon pulling a camper trailer. The smell of that camper is the smell of summer-- canvas, musty rug, foam rubber cushions with covers showing old-fashioned money, a waft of Coleman stove. As I said I was four, and my two brothers and two sisters ranged in age from 11 to 17.

It was a long drive, hot, dusty since most of the trans Canadian highway wasn't paved then. Alaska had strange things I had never seen before like mountains and pink salmon in a can. Each of my sisters bought a small seal sewn from seal fur and I didn't get one, even though I wanted one very much, because I didn't have something called an allowance. My father bought a wooden model of an Indian salmon-fishing wheel as a souvenir. In one town everyone was in the car and it started to drive away without me, I remember my hand stuck in the chrome door handle and me running alongside. My brothers and sisters told Dad to stop the car, and they opened the door and I got in-- Dad said he thought everyone was along. It gave me the idea that I had better keep an eye on myself.

One day we went on a tourist boat on a river and went upstream to a place where two rivers met. One river was the color of coffee with milk and the other was crystal clear, glacier water. For a long ways downstream from where they met you could still see the two rivers, sometimes mixing, mostly not.


At August 14, 2005 5:43 AM , Anonymous Tim said...

good story. I never knew you went to Alaska when you were 4. must have been a loooong drive.

At August 19, 2005 6:16 PM , Anonymous Andrea said...

I was a long drive. Especially when you get car sick. No air conditioning, gravel roads, 7 people. There was a shipping strike so there were a lot of trucks. Whenever one went by we had to pull over, roll up the windows, and let the dust settle. But it was beautiful and an adventure.


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