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Hello Dear Readers!

I am off to parts unknown (Morocco and the Sahara Desert) and for the most part will not have internet availability. So this chapter will have to suffice until I come back. However it is definitely one of the most adventurous escapades I encountered while weaving my way through the flora and fauna of the Northwoods. I will have many, many chapters to continue this saga with when I return. In the meantime, we've had quite a spate of good news on the health front. I (diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015) had had issues that replicated cancer symptoms, but tests showed it had NOT returned. Terry, during his recent stay in the hospital, discovered a node on his lung, and just yesterday we learned that it also was NOT cancer. So we remain thankful for your prayers and good wishes. They are most certainly working. He is still scheduled to have his gallbladder removed in mid-May, but he is doing great and back on-the-job. So now without further ado, I present DELIVERANCE!

The Paint River

The Paint River flowing by the cabin was originally named the Miskua River by the Ojibway Indians. Miskua means “red” and refers to the rusty brown color the water picks up from low lying areas. But whatever the name, the river captures the very essence of a beautiful woman. Because. She is all curves.

There are two branches of the Paint, the North and the South. Our camp is on the North Branch. For more than 45 miles, the Paint meanders through Iron and Gogebic counties in the Upper Peninsula. Eventually spilling into the Brule, the Michigamme, and the Menominee rivers before she reaches Lake Michigan.

Rimming the Paint are conifers, tag alder, and in slow water pools…water lilies. The bottom of the river is mostly sand and silt with areas of fist-sized rocks.

There are few places on the river near the cabin where the water goes much higher than your waist. For long stretches you can splash down the river and still keep your shirt dry.

On most days I would head downstream in the canoe. Toward Uncle Ben’s camp. Ben had dammed up the river right in front of his house (before DNR regulations), so he had a sweet spot for fishing. But coming home was an effort because either you had to attempt paddling upstream or get out of the canoe and drag it back.

Upstream meant going by old Lady Bingham’s cabin and risk running into the Junkin’s. But her property was on small rise of land which rose steeply from the riverbank. So looking out from the cabin afforded a view of the woods beyond the Paint. A person would have to pointedly look down into the river to catch sight of someone.

So my trip upstream seemed to be a fairly safe proposition. I didn’t want to bother with a canoe. I laced up an old pair of tennis shoes and waded into the water.

“Where ya going,” said my brother who had popped up on the riverbank.

I kept picking my water through the water toward the small rapids.

“Just up the river,” I called back. “You can come.”

He pondered this suggestion and since his dance card was apparently empty, he decided to come.

“Okay,” he called over the water. “I’m gonna get my shoes too.”

I motioned for him to hurry and found a large flat rock to stand on. From this viewpoint I was centered right in the middle of the river and watched it curl downstream and out of sight. Turning around I felt the sun on my face as I stared upstream. Even as a child, I innately understood how special this was. This stretch of woods and water completely untouched by human hand.

A splashing interrupted my reverie. I turned back to see my brother stomping his way through the water toward my resting rock.

“Did you tell mom we would be back soon?” I asked.

“Yeah, she said not to go too far,” he replied.

I nodded absently. Distances were truly a matter of personal opinion. My “too far” and mother’s were probably radically different. I never pursued the subject.

We stepped off the rock and waded upstream. The water quickly became ankle deep and relatively easy to navigate.

Here the bottom is mostly sandy with an occasional outbreak of small rocks. Minnows flashed sliver through the clear water. Crouching down on our haunches, we stood very still watching them congregate around our toes.

Occasionally I would bend over to pick up a colored stone that caught my eye. These small treasures were always emptied out into a small box at the end of the day.

Above ravens cawed flying from tree top to tree top. I stopped at a pile of rocks to point out the crayfish.

“Look here,” I said motioning my brother over. “Check them out, they look like tiny lobsters.”

Naturally he stuck his hand down to the rocks scattering the tiny creatures.

“Nice going,” I scolded. “You scared them away.”

“They’ll come back,” he answered having lost interest.

In fact the whole afternoon was wearing on him. He was bored and ready to walk back.

“Let’s go,” he said. “Let’s go see what dad is doing.”

“I just want to go past that next bend in the river. I haven’t been that far before,” I said.

“I don’t want to. Let’s just go.”

“Go then,” I told my brother. “It’s not that far, you know how to get back.”

He gave me a mulish look. “Aren’t you coming?” he asked.