Canoes And Swans

As you enter a canoe, I sort of like the uncertainty of the boat. It sways. It
rocks. The ones I use are the old fashioned metal kind, so as the water slaps the sides, there is a tin-can sort of sound. Everything seems as if the canoe is bound and determined to throw you into the cold water, but then I reach the seat, I get situated, the sky is blue above, and I am not wet. Canoes. What a great invention.

We go as a family. My husband, the two girls, and me. There is the usual excited banter as we push off, the rocks scraping the bottom, everyone giggling. Then we get out into the middle of the waters, and a sort of reverence settles over us
like clouds on a mountain. A family in awe. Listening to the birds, oohing over fish below.

I like to reach into the water and grab turtles. No one wants to hold them but me because of their scratchy claws and mucky shells. I like how they feel so old. What do they know, these turtles? How many stories could they tell? My short reverie is interrupted with:

“Why do they pee on you when you pick them up. mommy?”

“Because they are scared,” I answer. “Wouldn’t it be funny if we peed on people when they picked us up?”

I get stares. “No…” they say. “No, mom, that wouldn’t be funny. And…we’d get in trouble!”

“You’re right, ” I say. “I am so silly.”

We glide on in the blue-ish/greenish waters. I can see far down to the bottom. I like how my husband and I get the paddles in rhythm. It ‘s fun to have him at the stern, kids in the middle, me in the back. We are a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We’re the bread, the kids are the center.

There are these two glorious swans; they are always together. I am told swans mate for life, like eagles and wolves. And sometimes…people. These swans are fearless, magical, elegant. They appear out of no where, effortlessly gliding to the side of the canoe, peeking in for hand outs. Sometimes we remember to bring bread; if we do, we’ve already given it all to the crazy ducks and mucky turtles. The funny things about swans is that you have no idea what they are thinking. Their expressions never change. They would make good therapists, I think. Or poker players.

So, today will be canoe day. After doing office work, talking on the phone, catching up on emails and DVD mailings, it’s nice to do a little nothing, as Winnie the Pooh might say.

2 Comments on “Canoes And Swans”

  • t.a.


    when i was in alaska last year (sitka), i went kayaking one afternoon. it was a rough, windy day, but really not a problem in a kayak (unlike some times i’ve had in a canoe, with the wind blowing up the river and the day spent working working oy).

    but we had a great time and stopped for a rest break on a little island. did i mention: this was my first time ever in a kayak? well, i went to get back in. i held the boat with my hand, my left foot on the shore, my right foot into the boat the way it is supposed to go. you can, of course, see what happens from here. the boat begins to slide away from shore, and my weight pushes it further, and i quickly reach the point of no return and somehow manage to fall into the water without ripping a quad muscle or anything else useful.

    but it was fun. falling into the water while boating or hiking is always fun at the time; it’s later when you start having less fun, like when hypothermia sets in and you face death and the loss of bodily bits. not a problem this day, however, and besides, we were having too much fun watching 3 eagles overhead fight with each other.

    and if i can give your kids some advice: do not let your dad try to “improve” his fly casting by standing in the canoe. nothing good can ever come of it!

  • kim


    this is just like talking with you,
    which we dont do nearly enough
    and except for the fact that I usually
    say a lot more when we do. when
    you are happy, I am happy, too.

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