Friday, July 25, 1997
MOBRIDGE, SD, INDIAN CREEK RECREATION AREA -- The dog was gone. Taunting thunder was rolling across the prairie, down the downy green slopes, across the water, becoming an almost imperceptible vibration by the time it reached the shore. Long sheets of lightning back-lit the horizon. The tall cottonwoods waved in a wind that hinted at more. Lake Oahe’s brown water slapped its muddy banks in short choppy bursts. The last minutes of dusk had just slipped into the Earth, taking the dog with it. Zelda, never the curious. Her contentment linked to wherever I am. Wherever we were. The car. Rescued from the Humane Society six years ago, she had spent the next eight months in a van, while we fished America’s fishing hot spots. The van was her first home in her second life. Now, as the elements began to coalesce, giving all creatures fair warning to go home, Zelda had gone somewhere else. I whistled into the wind. Loud and prolonged.
My calculated search of the almost deserted campground soon became chaotic and random. The night had suddenly become very black. On my bike, I searched the roads. I peered down the steep river banks to the rocks and mud. I inquired of the few campers at their dying campfires.
For two hours I scoured an eerily quiet campground as the wind began to fill the air with water. It was now after midnight. And the dog was gone. An acid sickness began to fill me. There was little to do but wait out the night. I read. I walked between sessions of rain. I read. I finished my book. I heard a dog barking, just down that road, there, a voice spoke to me. A man lighted by the peripheral beams of his flashlight came to offer his observation. I set off. I whistled my piercing whistle. To hell with the snoring fishermen in their tents and campers. And there she was. Like nothing out of the ordinary. Sniffing the wet grass. The trunks of trees. Following me back home.
Richmond Lake State Park, South Dakota