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Driving the truck down gravel roads

and logging trails

with the first colors of autumn in tow

and canoe cap overhead

The black spruce push pole

is finally trimmed and sanded —

its happy duckbill honking in the wind

And we’re there

 

Lakes like grass prairies

Sora rail, muskrat, and blue winged teal’s favorite restaurant 

The all-you-can-eat Wild Rice Diner

History, word of mouth, websites,

and scouting point the way

And we’re there

 

Standing in the stern

Balanced like a gondolier

Each plant, push, and recovery

a dance

with weeds and wind

Keeping time 

with the swish and knock of rice sticks

as the rice bends over the gunnels

and ripe grains tap a staccato riff

on the inside hull

The heavy head of the grain dives down

and waves a fine beard in the air

Soon green/gold fur covers the floor of the boat 

and buries the ricer’s feet in bounty

An open stretch of water

reveals a muskrat lodge

its daub and wattle dome 

squatting 

like swamp meatloaf 

ready to bake 

And we’re there

 

Munching on smoked string cheese and apples

Trying to drink enough water

Trying to breathe in the smells and sights and sounds

so when we cook the rice next winter

It all comes back

And we’re there

WILD RICING: a poem by sherry rovig

The Wild Rice Project extends recognition of the original stewards of the land that is now our project area and home, the Anishinaabe peoples. This NE Minnesota region was ceded to the United States government under the Treaty of La Pointe, 1854.