* The novel opens in 1972 as a woman named Naomi Nakane and her Uncle Isamu are making a pilgrimage to the coulee, or field, in Alberta, Canada. The two have made the same pilgrimage for 18 years.
* Her uncle muses that his unsteady gait should be blamed on his old age, as he crouches onto the land. Naomi thinks that he looks like Chief Sitting Bull.
* The novel opens with Naomi sitting in silence as her uncle meditates, cross-legged in the grass, as he does every trip. Naomi wonders to herself if there are snakes in the coulee, and if the area is safe.
* Uncle Isamu turns to ask Naomi how old she is. When she replies "Eighteen," her uncle smiles and says that she is too young, although it is not understood by anyone, particularly Naomi, what she is too young for.
* Naomi leaves her Uncle in...
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