The Steamboat

 In Boot Hill

Written by: Collette Cottingham


I live in a canyon surrounded by large rock formations. The elders say a mighty river once flowed through this canyon. Hard to believe since the canyon is filled with sand, clay and sagebrush. According to Pa sagebrush and kids are the only things that grow in this canyon.

Elder Moses says our ancient ancestors angered the God’s. They wasted the gifts the land provided and poised it with their excess waste. The God’s dried the river up.

An old steamboat was left behind in the bottom of the basin. The large boat is now a fossilized rock that sits in the middle of the dry canyon.

I dream of climbing the steamboat, but pa says it is too dangerous. Plus the sun is a scorcher today. The sun has drained our basin of any liquid, even the air is dry. There is no shade, only sun and the dry cracked land.

I found an old stick and tried to scratch my name in the soil. It was too dry. You can’t carve nothing in this land.

I closed my eyes and listen to the spirit of my branch. I heard the whispers of “Go Fish.”

I knew I found this stick for a reason. It has a purpose. I let the stick guide. I emerged at the basen of the boat. The spirit told me to climb the boat. It was a pretty simple path, well shaded and offered relief from the blazing sun. As I climbed higher the path got more rugged. I slipped on the loose gravel. It almost sent me over the edge. The spirit of the stick saved me.

I grasped the stick and relied on the spirit to guide me the rest of the way and she did. I envisioned my on the steamboat floating down the mighty river. I imagined all the different places she would take me, places with soft green grass, colorful dancing flowers, lakes filled with fish and then I crested the top.

It was a large smooth rock bed just like the local football field. I could see for miles. I screamed with delight and it echoed back. I yelled hello world! The canyon yelled hello back. It was magical.

I looked out into the great wide world. I could spy several different communities, terrains I had yet to explore. There was a whole world out there waiting for me. I realized that no matter how far I traveled the spirits would always guide me. I should not be afraid to explore other watering holes and discover new fish.



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