It’s an eerie feeling…putting your small boat out into a river of stars. A rushing and gushing mirror of the milky way. It reminds you of how your ancestors must’ve felt putting their three-masted ships into the Atlantic cosmos.
They sat off in search of an old passage.
They found a new land.
And now there’s you,
and the New River.
You’ve beaten the sun up again. Those are the best ways to start off an adventure. When the only ones who know what you’re up to are you, the moon, and a few sleepy eyed barn owls hidden in the branches of the canopy overhead. You ease the bow of your vessel into the water, slicing the as-of-yet undisturbed waters with the precision of a surgeon. You let the hard plastic acclimate for a moment before making your own way through the frigid cold waters into the hull of your kayak.
The first few rays of sun are beginning to crest the mountains as you let your first paddle strokes fall silently against the water. Something about this life has always called to you. You feel pulled toward the water like a compass needle is constantly pulled toward magnetic life. Maybe it has something to do with the beauty of nature. So far this morning you have already disturbed a family of foxes: a mother and three kits. You barely caught the reflection of mom’s eyes in your headlights before she flashed out of sight into the forest. The kits however were a little slower to respond. They haven’t yet learned the dangers of this bright-eyed metal monster thundering toward them. You got stopped in plenty of time to watch them panic. The first two got their motors running after mom pretty fast. But then there was Doug. Doug looked at his siblings, then you, then the woods. After realizing he needed to move, Doug jumped straight up in the air, then to the right, then twice to the left, then thrice to the right and down into the bushes after his mom. Maybe you flow toward this flood for the flora and the fauna.
But if you were to look at it closely, magnify your relationship with water, you would find that just as much as water mirrors the stars in perfect clearness, this river also reflects the real you. The easy going stills, the emotionally driven rapids, the exciting drops. In any other outdoor activity, you are very aware of the inclines you climb. But on a river…in the water it’s all the same. The current pushes you up. Pushes you on. Maybe that’s what it is about being on the water that makes the time fly. In no time you’re at your extraction point. 20 miles down river. It’s been hours. You had lunch, had fun, had freedom. And now it’s over.
It isn’t until the end of the day that you realize you forgot your phone. No calls in. No calls out. Nothing to distract you from this day meant to distract you from the everyday. No pictures on file…but memories on hand. That is a reminder, that not everything can be found, felt, and freed in pixelated format.
And this is a reminder, that reading for leisure is not dead. Stories like this exist in the wild. There was no conflict in this story except for the classic one of man versus nature. Where man tries to tame nature, as she laughs sweetly at his pitiful attempts and, time after time, uses her beauty to save him from himself.
*As a fine wine pairs with a certain cheese or meat, you might find that certain stories and writings sound better when paired with the right song. If I might suggest, that for best digestion, you read this post while listening to the song below: “Down to the River” by The Duhks, from their album Migrations. Thank you.