tales of a girl in the city

mars 04, 2006

On the Lake

Wearing a Ducks Unlimited hat and one of my dad's huge flannel shirts--the excellent kind, the kind with the quilted lining--Dad and I paddle around the bog for nearly two hours. It's raining, but it doesn't matter.

A bullfrog somewhere in the reeds does more talking than we do, except when my father calls out the Latin names of the plants we drift by. "Nymphaea odorata . Water lilies," he intones. I think of all the creation myths I've ever heard; of the gods and first men and first women who walked the planet, giving names to things. "Oryza sativa: wild rice." My father and I are these people now. Typha latifolia: cattail. Agelaius phoeniceus: red-winged blackbird. Branta canadensis: Canadian goose.