G O D I N A G O D F O R S A K E N L A N D  7 “Cross near the lake,” Otto had advised. The idea was to stay away from the deep water where the river channeled after leav- ing the lake. The land lay dark, yet the snow reflected some light, and as my eyes adjusted, I could see rather clearly. The sound of the water as it flowed past the old burned stubs of the bridge pilings gave me a good gauge of how far I had to go to reach the river. I heard the flow of water past the shoreline, tinkling the ice shards as they moved in the current. The charred posts pro- truded eerily above the flowing water. My toes stung from the cold, and my tattered mittens allowed the cold breath of frosty air to stiffen my fingers. A few stubborn leaves still clung to the oak trees, determined to make the winter without falling to the frozen ground. Yet my mind imagined the ringing church bells of my youth in Germany, now calling us to worship here in Min- nesota, and I smelled the green and flourishing crops that I knew would overtake this land. As I approached the river, I became uncertain of the exact place to cross. Otto’s instructions were probably clear to anyone who had forded before, but I had only ever crossed on the old bridge, and on the winter’s ice. Now with the snow and high water, I could not be sure of the exact spot. I surveyed the whole shore, searching for a level point to enter the water. The old gray knew better, as evidenced by her reluctance to wet her feet, even as I prodded her with the whip. The remains of the burned bridge were fifty yards downstream, and I was advised to cross upstream from the old bridge, so it seemed like the correct place to enter the water. This was the only logical route with the only probable crossing point. Upstream was Rush Lake and downstream was a stretch of the river that was wide and marshy before it entered Ottertail Lake. Ice rimed the edge of the bank, the wagon slid sideways as the old horse hesitated, knowing better, but submis- sive to my command—whipped into submission as my very soul felt whipped into the submission of service, weighed with the