This Water Goes North
This Water Goes North, by Dennis Weidemann
(Manitenahk Books, September 2008, $21.95, hardcover)
Reviewed by Bob Leonard (Knoxville, Iowa)
While for some of us, 1979 doesn’t seem so long ago, it was really a very different world. It was a time when personal computers, faxes, cell phones, i-pods and all the other accoutrements of modern life were unimaginable. Perhaps surprisingly, most of us who were young adults at the time were as distant, if not more distant, from the natural world than we are today. Yet, many young men and women of the time dreamed of becoming more attuned to the natural world, in part a result of a nascent environmental movement that may only today be beginning to be realized as we watch the green movement and sustainability become mainstream. All of us who held that dream knew that to truly seek nature was to seek adventure, escaping the “drab, flat” cities, towns and farmsteads that we grew up in for the unknown.
A lucky few did truly escape — and some of us were smart enough to come back, with an appreciation of home that sometimes can only grow with maturity. The young men in This Water Goes North were four of them—if only for a few weeks.
This is a gentle adventure as adventures go, in which four young Iowans climb into boats in Minnesota and paddle 1400 miles north to the Hudson Bay. There are no death defying feats on mountainsides, no battlefield heroics, just four guys paddling hard for many miles, through a few rapids, millions of mosquitoes, and too many burned pancakes and wet sleeping bags to count. Yet, it is a good adventure, an adventure beyond most of us, and at the same time teaching us that adventure is good, and that we should seek it relentlessly, even if we choose to stray not far from home.
I for one, am glad they invited me along, vicariously, 30 years later. I’m the better for it.