Unexpected Hospitality

In the central highlands,
of the northern clime,
runs a river mighty,
brings to mind, sublime.

In the land of the Chippewa,
where Ojibwa, too, did reign,
the French called her Flambeau,
for the fiery sky and rain.

Amid the virgin forest,
trees as old as weir.
We put canoes of metal,
into water dark as beer.

At times she can be angry,
after weeks of spring rain.
Taking lives with abandon,
a torrent of rocky pain.

This time she was placid.
An August kind of thing.
The rapids tamed by nature,
in her ever wax and wane.

So we put our paddles deep,
into water edged mossy slime,
and wandered down river,
searching for the sign.

Of waters peeking white ahead,
and a roar that comes to mind.
A mighty rapids upon to sped.
And a pathway to safety find.

Like the Voyagers of yore,
sometimes a portage is clear.
The pathways are well-worn.
From moccasins to hooves of  deer.

And oh, the splendor!
The eagle and the bear.
The heron
flying overhead,
and the ducks swim in to dare.

White pines standing sentinel,
from carved rocky overlooks.
White birches lining the riverbank,
like pages from ancient books.

And oh, the stories they could tell,
of warriors brave and bold.
Who killed an elk upon this spot,
in the glorious days of old.

Two days we paddled and waded,
following the Flambeau's course.
Sleeping on the riverbank,
fighting the mosquito's curse.

Reaching the Chippewa Flowage,
seeking shelter for the night.
We spied a ramshackle cabin,
a most welcome sight.

The screen door, it was open,
to the roughhewn, rustic inside.
A table covered with bat dung,
and the musty smell of pride.

The kitchen was well-stocked,
with pots and pans and things.
We cooked up our last groceries,
in the warmth journey's end brings.

The guest book said, "please sign me."
And we were happy to oblige.
When an unexpected hospitality finds thee,
open and friendly with nothing to hide.

  The dark peril of the Flambeau Rapids

Flambeau's Dark Water Rapids


More Poems

My Place

Read War's End, the Novel

Copyright 2006 © Ronald W. Hull

Photos Courtesy
Hudson Bay Expedition.com


Which way to go?

Which Way to Go?

North Fork Map