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Memory Swims

trees more than ten feet high. Before us the ground fell away steeply to form the nearer slope of a small valley. At the upper end of this valley stood the first beaver dam I had ever seen, the lake it enclosed, and, on the slopes surrounding the lake, a mixed woods of birch and some darker species of tree. I think Dad said something. It would have been like him – by then he would have been regretting any doubts he’d had about our guide, would have wanted to make amends, maybe say something about the beauty of the place he had led us to. But if he did speak, I don’t think the Indian answered him. In my memory

open ground, no road, not even any track that I could see, the three of us bumping along in the Indian’s old Corvair, my father visibly concerned, wondering what he’d gotten us into. Our guide stared straight ahead, never saying a word, eyes locked on the meadow before us, avoiding every rock, every grassy swell. It was, I think, at the end of that drive, when the Indian brought his car to a sudden shuddering halt, that I began to experience a shift in my allegiance. We stopped, as I remember it, beside a small stand of white birch – new growth, none of the

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