The Right to Remain Silent

An evening paddle interrupted by the distant roar of motorcycles.

The sound of rushing water greeted us Friday evening as a friend and I launched our canoe on a small Wisconsin river which shortly downstream spilled into the St. Croix. We had fly rods and dreams of bass and muskies, and also my camera and thoughts of a summer sunset.

The birds sang their twilight songs and we paddled and waded, casting colorful streamers and poppers into fast water. When we reached the big river, it was in a place where the valley is a good mile wide, a multitude of channels weaving between islands.

The sun was not far above the Minnesota bluffs and the water was glassy. Although I’ve experienced such beauty and solitude on the St. Croix many times, it never ceases to amaze me when I can get to such a place an hour after leaving home.

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the beautiful summer night. From the Minnesota side, we could hear the roar of motorcycles on Highway 95, at least a mile away. They of course had no way of knowing that two men were paddling quietly through the backwaters below, though I suppose they could have guessed. There was no doubt in our minds that they were on the highway.


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