When The Water Starts To Run

A poem by Pat O'Cotter

Along in early spring time, as the sun starts swinging North
To linger with the land it loves, and violets peep forth,
When the water starts to running thru the riffle blocks at noon
And you figure that you'll clean up, about the first of June.
You've been thru a long hard winter, but you see the end in sight,
You don't worry 'bout the cleanup, cause you know the pay is right;
But you're feeling sort of restless, as your blood warms with the sun
And your heart will start to itching, when the water starts to run.

You may leave your Camp at evening and mush away to Town
To dally with the hootch a bit, but the feeling will not down.
You may mix up in a poker game, or try the dance hall's lure
But you're fighting off a feeling, that the old cures cannot cure.
You've got that longing feeling that there's nothing satisfies,
And your pard can't interest you, no matter how he tries,
You're lonesome, moody, restless, out at Camp, or in the Town
Your mind will not rest easy, and your troubles will not drown.

Then memory pulls her picket pins, your thoughts go back thru years
To Outside, Home, and Sweetheart, and this last thought sort of cheers;
You recollect the days you spent beneath a Southern sky
And with regret you now remember they all ended with good-by.
It's the same old world-wide feeling that comes to man each year,
But it seems to hit us harder, when we're getting in the "clear";
It seems that it grows stronger, each year added to our life--
It's the hankering of the white man for a Pal, a Home, a Wife.

Man was not meant to live alone, why quarrel with Nature's laws,
God gave you strength to build a home, wherefor then do you pause?
Go forward like your father did, go forth and seek your mate,
For till you know a wife and home, you know not Heaven's Gate.
It's the deep inherent longing for a baby on your knee,
For the sound of children's voices, beneath your own fig tree.
The male instinct to have a mate, to love, to guard, to hold,
The one instinct that's left to us, that triumphs over gold.

With strength enough to build a home when once you get a wife
Bear gently with her follies, but guard her with your life;
Crowd full her heart with loving, yet hold a guarded rein,
Lest ye two now that rate as one, again be counted twain.
And if she come from Outside Camp, remember all is new
And give her time to find herself, teach her to lean on you.
And should homesickness grip her, and you find your wife in tears
Forget the jest and love her, remember your first years.

Then gone that restless feeling, gone all desire to roam,
Life's interest all is centered, deep in your Northern home.
Life waits in peace the cleanup, you pass up Outside joys,
And the tempter's voice is silenced by the music of her voice.
Then you're a true Alaskan, with a home won from the North,
God grant you children's voices when the violets peep forth,
And in the summer evening, beneath the midnight sun,
May your heart grow closer to her, when the water starts to run.

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