If someone offered me the choice between bars of gold and a canoe, I’d choose the canoe every time. I wouldn’t opt for the security of financial riches over the investment in quality of life and canoeing is sustaining for me. When I’m in a canoe life seems right. I feel confident and competent, safe and at ease and I never want to go back to shore.
I’ve been taking myself for 1.5- to 2-hour paddles every few evenings lately and the balance canoeing breathes back into my soul is immeasurable. Hard to explain I suppose, unless you’ve spent a lot of time in a canoe living self-sufficiently and adventuring in one, relying on it to be everything from a vessel to a shelter to a kitchen counter to a sled to a party palace …
The canoe is home.
This is an old aluminum canoe that I’m borrowing and it does feel odd that it’s empty. Tonight the wind picked up and I had to pull over to shore and put a couple of big rocks under the bow seat to weigh it down some so I could stern it better.
I saw another beaver that slapped its tail about 10 ft from the boat and two deer that I managed to sneak up on pretty well but my Canadian stroke needs some practice!
And would I be disappointed come winter that I’d chosen a canoe over gold? Nope. I’d be thinking about that canoe all winter long with fondness and probably even visit it on the canoe rack at Bear Trap, sleeping soundly under the weight of snow. I’d talk to it. Remind if of the beautiful things we saw the previous summer and dream about the outings we’d go on at break up in spring.
A long trip is always best but I am discovering that even a two-hour paddle on the same little lake night after night feels amazing. I love the wind on my skin and that my arms and back and abs are getting strong. I love that I know how to move a canoe through the water and wind efficiently and I enjoy the pace. Each time I go out the shoreline changes and the wildlife is different and I absolutely never tire of it. The song of waves and trees moving. The call of various birds and strange little sounds that water makes as it splashes and swirls among features like rocks and logs.
And the sky …
oh the sky and weather to guide me and decide what shore I’ll follow. Mother Nature determines how much time She will give me on the water. Some decisions are mine and others are Hers and it’s quite possibly the only place on Earth where I don’t mind relinquishing control.
Benediction that we used to say after canoe trips followed by a Voyageur cheer:
May your paddle always pull water
May you never feel strong winds
May your footsteps never falter
Return safely to your friends.
Oom bella bella bumba-la
oom bella bella bumba-lay
oom bella bella bumba-lo
oom bella bella bumba-la bumba-lay bumba-lo
AH! EH! OH!