6 AM. Even the waters of Brant Lake slept; not a ripple disturbed the calm. The reflection of the massive birch, leaves touched by fall, cast a golden hue on the water. Soon, a breeze would arrive from its haven behind First Brother and the lake would become turbulent. Then it would be too blustery for me to set off in my red Mad River canoe. And I knew that too soon the days would close in and the canoe would rest for the winter in the barn, its only company a century old mahogany guide boat, too precious to row or to risk bruises from rocks and scratches from the sandy beach.
So, bundled in a fleece, I carried the canoe from the beach to the water’s edge, a final foray into Brant Lake. Balancing precariously I entered the unsteady boat and took my place on the cane middle seat. The family of ducks, now fully grown, that had visited my bird feeder during the summer, scurried away from the canoe.
My destination was Point O’Pines, the girls’ camp a mile south of my house. Usually, in early-morning, fishermen trolled the lake. Waves from their motors would traverse the water, moving to each shoreline then back again. Sometimes my canoe would rock in the disturbance created by these fishermen. But not today. On this morning I could glide through the water without interruption. Only a loon off Schultz’s Island broke the stillness, casting a haunting sound as it dove and surfaced. Dove and surfaced. Overhead a giant blue heron scanned the water’s surface searching for breakfast.
Reaching the Point I began my return trip and, near my home, I looked over my shoulder to follow the wake behind the canoe. With even strokes I cut through the water. The waters split then merged. Mesmerized by the consistent pattern the canoe sketched, I continued to paddle on the right side of the boat, looking backwards over my left shoulder.
Until. Until suddenly the boat ceased to glide. Turning forward I realized I had become entangled in a bed of yellow lily pads in shallow water, too shallow for the canoe to forge ahead. I dug my paddle into the sandy bottom but failed to release the canoe. Sliding off one side of the boat I pushed it into deeper water then carefully eased my way back inside.
Hopefully, no one noticed my awkward grounding. Fortunately the lake was still deserted. But if someone had witnessed my journey’s abrupt ending, snared by the lily pads and shoals, what would they have said? ”Cityfolk! They should know better than to look backwards if they want to move forward.” I would agree. And it is not only cityfolk.
Days pass and years go by and we either flow into the future, or, dwelling in the past, we remain fixed in time.
And who desires to be grounded–as the seasons pass?