The current pushes a bit under an old railway bridge. Faint ripples slide across the water. I slip between two pylons, turn left, and leave the Ottawa behind.
It has felt like a long, slow march, grinding away miles past a half-dozen dams, around rapids, through storm after storm, into the wind and the slow drag of current. I always knew the Ottawa would come hard.
When I left Montreal, it felt like summer. The sun baked overhead, sweat drained off my skin, and warm nights turned my sleeping bag into a pillow. Now there’s an edge to the night, a coldness that feels like fall.
It’s not supposed to be this early, I say, but I feel that bite on my skin and can’t imagine it away with a calendar in my hand. Did I really think winter would stand still while I put pieces behind me? That’s what you forget when you’re moving, that the rest of the world is moving too.
Winter’s out there somewhere, pushing south, turning rain into snow, locking rivers and lakes with ice while I push north, both of us racing toward Lake of the Woods, toward the Angle, toward that silver metal marker along the border where all this began and ends.