We pulled onto the gravel bar way past noon. I can’t recall ever getting on the river that late in the day but it had been a last minute decision.
One outfitter was still working even though the water level was rated extremely low. He hand-picked a red canoe for us and that made us happy.
Even before we reached the water’s edge, my sister bent to pick up a skipping stone. Trailing along behind, I couldn't see her face. As she stepped forward and slung her arm to send the rock skirting across the water, I saw it in my mind, her tongue clinging to her upper lip. She always does that when she skips rocks.
The two of us have sent so many stones across this river. These rocks know us.
Leanne commented that we reserved the river for the day and it certainly felt as if we had. As teens, we were first introduced to this place. Most times we've shared the river with every color of canoe or kayak, but not this day.
Pushing off mid-afternoon, we wouldn’t see another boat.
We passed a lone man casting his line from the bank, a young woman fishing in her waders, her little one splashing in the shallows behind her, and an older couple relaxing in folding chairs waiting for a tug on the line.
We greet them because that is what you do, but we are quiet, seemed like saying too much might interrupt what they had come to the river to find.
“Low and slow,” she says. We have been on this river when the only reason you really needed a paddle was to use it as a rudder.
Today we plan for five miles and only a few rows of the paddles. We surrender life to the pace of the river. We are taken captive by peace.
We try to write poetry for Leanne’s college class assignment. With no paper, we decide to type it as a text message on my phone. The words just weren’t coming.
Leanne gets one line. "I am going to miss this shadow," while drifting along towering bluffs, the sun slipping toward the horizon. That one line makes me emotional. We won't get another.
The rhythm of poetry is stifled by the overwhelming beauty all around us. (Can there be too much inspiration?)
The bluffs are poems and the leaves golden on the mountain, the sky reflections of beauty against beauty, the water so clear we could see the oranges and yellows glinting from the scales of sunfish, the polka dots on a goggle eye, the spiked nose of the alligator gar.
We won’t interrupt the Creator’s poem to write our own.
The breadth of the river is deeper and wider at our destination. We sit in the red canoe suspended on a flowing river. Inhaling deep the beauty, the poem etches upon our hearts, this stanza a river sonnet.
Counting graces with Ann:
- red canoes
- skipping stones
- a twin, a friend for a lifetime
- crystal clear water reflecting the glory of the Creator
- poems written on hearts