Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 12: To lose my arm would surely upset my brain

After a quiet day of floating I approach Redcliff and Medicine Hat. The origin of Medicine Hat's name is obscure, but Redcliff's is obvious. The banks of the river here have continued to rise and become more vertical. There are sections of badlands, but just before Redcliff there are cliffs, and indeed, portions of them are bright red.

The cliffs here are not merely passive barriers to contain the river. Or, if they are, they are under a siege, a constant attack by the river. For, staying in any one place long enough, it is inevitable that you will here a light rumbling, and looking at its sourse, you will see a few rocks or small boulders fall off the cliffs into the water.

I stopped just before Redcliff so I can enter town in the morning, and take my time there. I laid down in the afternoon sun to take a nap, tilting my hat forward to cover my face. When I got up I noticed my right ring finger had swollen, to almost twice its normal size. I immediately worried about what kind of poison had gotten in there, and visions of amputations danced through my head.

Now, maybe its because I'm right-handed and clumsy, but it seems my hand is frequently cut or bruised or swollen, and each time I become concerned about what I would do if I no longer have a hand. This feeling extends to at least my right forearm, which received a nasty burn one night in the Illinois steam tunnels, and a rather deep gouge one day as I stopped my bicycle by running into a stop sign.

Probably more than any other member of my body, I fear the loss of my hand. And why not? As a writer, a builder, an artist, as a creative in general, my hands are my true vital organs.

I think it is the nature of first aid books and the like to only discuss the worst possibilities, and in mine the closest fit to this malady was a black widow spider bite. Oh, but it said not to worry, the effects of the poison only last six to eight hours.

I don't know if it was a black widow or not, but certainly my finger was back to normal within a couple of days.

Day 12 ended: 50*03.809N, 110*52.622W

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