Taking the shortcut

“Or you can take the shortcut and paddle to one of the passages in the Huron River, which reflects this world so clearly you can see into the next one. When wild flags blossom along the river’s edge in this world, snow whitens the banks in that one. And when trout and sunfish sleep under a skin of ice here, swamps there hum with bees and cicadas, kingbirds and vireos and warblers. Walk against the current. Follow one of the streams that spill into the river till you find the spring at the bottom. You have found a doorway into the spirit world. Be careful. It is not safe to pass through that doorway without a guide.

“But maybe you don’t travel that far. You say, Ann Arbor is far enough. Stand still in the stream. Listen. Thomas Bearheart’s cousin picks up her hammer. Can you hear it ringing as she forges copper fishhooks in Drowning Bear, Wisconsin? Put your ear to the water as if it were a train track and listen for travelers rushing toward you, invisible as the dead and noisy as a pack of dogs.”

Nancy Willard, Sister Water