The adults didn’t come back. When the autumn began to turn I could tell the old woman was worried. That terrified me. The sky turned to the pale, washed-out blue of late October. Geese were in flight and my grandmother used some of the shells to bring down a few. We plucked them and slow roasted them over a green wood fire along with the fish I’d gill netted. She showed me how to use moss and thin strips of sod from beneath the trees to line the edges of our tent, and then we padded the floor extra thick with spruce boughs against the frost. As the nights became colder, ice appeared at the edge of the water. I set snares in the woods but they came up empty. We woke to snow one morning. The old woman walked off into the trees alone with her pipe and her rattle. I could hear her singing and praying. I sat by the fire and waited, and her keening echoed back from across the water as though others were with her in the trees. She came back and sat beside me and we drank tea.

“We can’t wait for them,” she said.

“What will we do?”

“We have to take the canoe and go down river to Minaki. My brother’s son Minoose lives there. We can stay with him through the winter if we have to.”

“Where did they go?” I asked.

She set her cup on the log and took out her pipe and loaded it and sat and smoked and stared at the fire. “I don’t know,” she said, finally. “I asked the grandfathers and the grandmothers for vision, but they have moved beyond the reach of the Old Ones now.”

“Will we find them?”

“I don’t know. But here we will die.”